If you say it out loud, it’s real

In his memoir on early recovery, Augusten Burroughs shares an insight that you have to be a little F’ed up to understand. He describes the attempts of two men in AA to befriend him. They see that he’s a mess and ask, “Hey, do you wanna talk about it?”

Augusten responds, “No. I don’t want to talk about it. Talking about it makes it real”

Anyone in recovery can identify with that statement. I often talk with folks who feel they’re falling apart because “things are getting really real.” Like most aspects of recovery, it’s counterintuitive to see that clarity that connects us to pain is progress.

Epiphanies are powerful things – they just often hurt like hell initially.

We are people who try not to know what we know or feel what we feel as we block out the most painful and defining parts of our lives (most often our childhoods). We do this to maintain detachment and the illusion that: maybe it didn’t happen, or maybe it was all a bad dream, or maybe it wasn’t so bad, or maybe we made it all up. or maybe we won’t have to see how hurt and angry we really are. We go on blaming ourselves because it’s what we know to do.

We don’t just wrestle with self doubt; we go fifteen rounds with it daily.

We’re trapped by the fear of trusting ourselves (how can I when I’ve made so many bad decisions?). We’re hindered by the false belief that what we perceive isn’t true (dad isn’t passed out, he’s just tired). We get stuck in the disconnection between what we know and what we can accept.

Acceptance is a terrifying proposition…for us it leads to changing everything.

Maintaining distance from ourselves perpetuates all the lies we believe…like that we’re not good enough, not deserving, not worthy, not capable, not talented, not intelligent, not loveable, not acceptable as we are.

None of which is true…not of people who seek recovery and to become something greater than we are.

The concept that’s so vital here is “just believe that we believe.” In order to build confidence and faith in ourselves, we need people who believe in us and have confidence that our lives can be better one day at a time.

A man I greatly admire in local recovery posts his conviction on Facebook daily to those he befriends and no matter how many times I see it…I tear up:

“I believe in you all.”

You have to be a little F’ed up to get why that’s so beautiful I can barely stand it.

I love a seed of doubt. I love when folks get so much validation and affirmation that they want to crawl out of their skin because “it’s too good.” I love when folks start to question the contrast between how we see them and how they see themselves. I like to remind them that we’re incredibly intuitive people. You couldn’t fool us if we tried.

Simple: We’re right about you. If you accept that, you’re forced to take on the responsibility of changing, growing, healing, and becoming who you were meant to be/who you want to be/who your Higher Power wants you to be.

I love when folks can’t pretend anymore, or better yet – don’t want to. I love it when people become willing to go to any lengths to get better.

So, yeah. I want to talk about it because I love it when things get really, really, really, real.

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.