Did I Just Say that Out Loud?

My friend Karen Foley (and you should read everything she writes including her grocery lists) accurately described me recently as a person who loves random encounters. She’s spot on. I like it when things get weird. I try to live by Daughtry’s words, “All that I’m after is a life full of laughter…”

There are a lot of wonderful side effects to my way of living. Being in the moment, finding out what’s possible, and connecting to another human being is what I’m all about. I pride myself in being quick witted, which usually endears me to folks and occasionally causes my poor wife to wonder why she married such an incredibly uncouth and ridiculous man.

Sometimes I crash and burn. I did that last night.

I’m at this point in my life where if you’re under 30, I’m going to relate to you as I would one of my kids (Zac and Jamie will be turning 26 and 25 shortly). I’m everybody’s dad and while this is generally well received by young people, there are moments where…

Shit. I don’t just cross lines, I leap frog over anything that could be even remotely construed as socially acceptable.

It started out innocently. I was in a local restaurant on a Monday night. It was slow and the waitress had a great sense of humor. We got bantering back and forth and she referenced a joke someone had made at her expense about “being easy” because of her “daddy issues.” She had a quick come back and it was a good story. Except…

Her humor was self deprecating and I felt the pain behind it. I hate that we refer to promiscuous young women as having “daddy issues.” It’s a cheap term that references a huge social problem – the failure of far too many fathers in our culture.

I heard myself say to this beautiful young woman, “Your dad was wrong about you.”

I was vaguely aware of my son face palming. I was extremely aware of the sadness that rose immediately to the surface in the server’s eyes. I back peddled furiously and honestly explained that I meant this as a positive affirmation.

God help me, I’m a well intended idiot. I just wanted to hug her and tell her she’s worth so much more and that she deserves to be appreciated for the whole of who she is.

I pulled up from the wreckage as best I could and told her the truth, which is that she’s awesome. She’s obviously very bright and insightful and she has a million good things going for her. There just wasn’t any dignity in her self deprecation and it hit my heart.

My hope in confessing my sins to the world is that in sharing my vulnerability and the risks that I take that it will touch someone else’s heart. We need to connect more and tell our stories – even if they’re about ridiculous middle aged men who mean well but cannot remove their feet from their mouths.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.