I Didn’t Want to Bother You

Facing fear alone is the worst possible approach.  We wouldn’t wish it on anyone we care about but we often choose it for ourselves. It’s self limiting and it leaves us with an intensely empty feeling of loneliness and disconnection.

When a person in recovery (addiction and/or trauma) is afraid to do something, our minds immediately conjure a hundred reasons why we can’t possibly involve others. They sound compelling:

  • I don’t want to impose/be a burden/add to their plate
  • They have their own problems, they shouldn’t have to deal with mine
  • I have trust issues
  • I need to “figure it out” before I can share it with anyone else

It’s all bullshit. The fear of being a burden is simply the fear of opening up and letting folks in. Even if they have too much on their plate, they’ll usually be relieved to take a break from their shit to help us with ours. Bottom line: we know how good it feels to support folks we care about but we deny others the opportunity to feel good by supporting us.

When we’re emotionally raw, we tend to withdraw. We spend time thinking and quickly become lost. Overwhelmed and uncertain, we revert to fight or flight. We hide. Nowhere in this mindset is the idea that others struggle similarly and that reinventing the wheel is a terrible idea.

When we share our struggles, we open doors for others. We give opportunities to relate and identify. When we allow them to share their experience, strength, and hope, we provide an opportunity for something meaningful to come out of their pain. Two heads aren’t just better than one – they’re a million times better than one.

Folks like me often struggle to get out of our own way. Paralyzed by fear, we will quickly become stuck until circumstances force us to take action. Ill prepared and short sighted, we’re likely to regret whatever happens next.

For as terrifying as we may find vulnerability to be, it lends itself to being completely understood, empathically supported, and it provides us the opportunity to be reassured that we’re ok, that things will turn out ok. Quite often, the things that paralyze us are “paper tigers.”

We need reality checks (fear limits perception). We need outlets (baggage is heavy and stress is an inevitability). We need to share our secrets (whatever we cannot speak holds power over us). We need hugs and relief and to have someone express their faith in us.

Everything else is white knuckling. Everything else is too lonely. Everything else is limiting the ways in which we’ll allow a Higher Power to help us get what we need.

I’m convinced that my Higher Power wants me to have countless brothers and sisters. These are the genuine, loving people placed in my path (I just had to learn to stop pushing them away). They routinely save me from myself and because of them; I never have to be alone again.

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.