Beautiful, Brilliant, Scarred, and Scared

Coffee? Lunch? What’s the pretext we’ll meet under?

I always think of the line from Good Will Hunting in which Matt Damon points out we could just as easily get together for some caramels. The setting is arbitrary.

Our desires and fears often align – we fear pursuing what we most want. We won’t just say, “I’d like for us to know each other.” We crave connection but fear both vulnerability and intimacy.

We impose structure around gathering because giving ourselves an escape plan makes us less afraid. You finish your drink. The bill arrives. There’s just a natural ending to things like this. No commitments and no expectations. It’s just a drink.

You’ll be sure to ask me about me and you’ll give me lots of time to tell you about myself. You’re a great listener, but the whole time I’m talking I’ll be visualizing us dancing around what you’re afraid to me ask for.

What you truly need is terrifying to admit to yourself, much less ask for. You said, “Let’s do lunch sometime.” I spent half a moment wondering if you’ll ever propose a time and place. It’s safer to have it just be an idea. You’re expressing a lovely sentiment – that you’d like to connect with me. You’re afraid to. That’s okay.

People like you and I are highly intuitive – we see the truth about each other.
I see you through father’s eyes. I know that you’re a beautiful mess filled with huge potential and some self destructive tendencies.

If ever we do have lunch together, order the salad – you can take it home easily and your stomach is going to be in knots for most of our time together anyway. You’ll be nervous and making jokes. You’ll come prepared with at least three anecdotes. I’ll be patient and hopeful that you’ll choose to open up.

You’ll flirt with these ideas (and the server too). You hate feeling like a cliché and if you open up you’re going to cry and it’ll just be a scene in which that amazing waiter has to pretend he doesn’t notice.

The best servers – whether we’re your therapist, bartender, or hair stylist, are survivors. What makes us so good is that we can read people like a book, connect to them on their terms, and empathically and emphatically make them feel like a million bucks. We can see someone from across the room and know how they want to be treated, what they want to hear, and how they’d like us to be. We give them what they want. They tip well and come back for more.

Our struggle is in being served.

So just in case we never have lunch, I’m going to tell you what I know. My challenge to you is to not water my words down and to not get overwhelmed by the ramifications of “what if he’s right?”

You’re beautiful and while you kinda almost know that, it makes you feel exposed. You’re very smart, which you largely dismiss because you don’t see yourself doing enough with it. You’re charming, intuitive, and highly skilled. You’re remarkably perceptive, quick witted, and highly skilled. You’re brilliant at survival and afraid of living. You’re creative, talented, sensitive, compassionate, and generous to a fault. You’re a one way street and it’s hard for you to accept love.

Let me leave you with a few thoughts to roll around in your head:

You’re a slacker in the truest sense. You only have two fears: success and failure. You’re well worth investing in and you need to be fair to yourself.
Stop limiting yourself and let’s resolve the inner conflict that drives your self destruction.

Simply put: It wasn’t your fault.
And you need alcohol like I need a hole in my head.

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.