What Happened When I Believed That You Believe

Today’s blog is by guest post by Abbie W. Abbie is a friend in and advocate for local recovery. May you be blessed to know her and others like her. That alone will change your life for the better as it has mine.

When I was new on the recovery journey I was blessed with people who came into my life that had been on this journey longer than I. I say blessed because when I finally found recovery I was nothing but a shell of a girl. I lived with a sick mind, a sick heart and a broken spirit. It was those people who breathed the first breaths of life back into me.

They told me things like; the substances were but a symptom of my problem, that I suffered from a disease from which there is no known cure, and that I couldn’t fix an internal problem with an outside solution. They told me the only thing I needed to change in my life was absolutely everything.

What they had to offer me was their experience. A hand to hold when I was afraid, a shoulder to cry on and an ear with which they would listen. They told me that they would love me until I learned to love myself and that as long as I was willing to do the internal work required that my spirit would grow. I thought these people were truly crazy. I was convinced that I was terminally unique, that if they really got to know me that they would surely not like me, let alone love me.

I was also convinced that there was no such thing as redemption for people like me and that I was broken beyond repair. They told me the greatest piece of information that I have ever been given; to just believe that they believed until I had enough evidence for myself. With that; a hopeless, faithless and Godless girl set out on a journey of recovery.

I was taught early on that I needed to seek out a higher power. I had been an Atheist all my life, and had long ago decided that if God did actually exist, that based upon my life experience, I didn’t want any part of it anyway. I was also taught that if I wanted to recover that I was going to have to get willing to do whatever took. Against my better judgement I decided to give it a try.

I began collecting information from other people who were believers. Those people were more than happy to share their experiences and beliefs with me. While they all came from different faiths, there was one common theme that seemed to be at the core of all of their faiths, that was love. I thought they were crazy but I believed that they truly believed all the things they were telling me, and so I struggled on.

Around six months into my journey a woman in my life charged me with the task of making a list that expressed all of the qualities I thought were needed in a healthy relationship. I made the list and very proudly read it to her. She became sad when she explained to me that I was missing the most important one. She became even sadder when I didn’t know the answer and she had to point out that the one item that was missing, was love.

She suggested that I pray and then write why love was not on my list. I didn’t really believe in the power of prayer, nor did I know how to pray, but I was willing to give it a try. I told her I would pray to her higher power and asked her what I should pray for. She told me to pray for evidence, it would be another six months before I would find an answer.

A little more than a year into my journey I met a stranger who shared about his struggle to identify love. Of course it caught my attention, as I too suffered from this affliction so I listened to every word patiently waiting for the answer. He talked about how he had once looked up the word love in the dictionary, and that it hadn’t meant what he had always thought. He said the definition was; a genuine care and concern for another person’s wellbeing. I knew that moment that was my struggle. The disbelief that anyone including any higher power had ever felt that way about me.

The next morning, I was traveling with two women (one of which I had shared my list with). During our travels we discussed my previous day’s experience, it was at that moment that we missed our turn and had to pull into a fast food joint to change direction. When we came around the side of the building there were two men standing in the middle of the exit, blocking the way. Instead of yelling out the window for them to move, we sat silently and watched.

One man was wearing a real nice 3-piece suit complete with leather shoes and shiny briefcase. The second man was dirty and wore dirty, holey clothes. He carried a black garbage bag over his shoulder and he wore no shoes. We couldn’t hear what they were saying to each other but we watched. We watched the suited man set down his briefcase, take off his shoes and hand them to the homeless man. We watched as he took money from his wallet and handed it to the other man. We watched as he stepped toward the man with his arms open wide and hugged him, heart to heart for what seemed like an eternity. We watched him walk away in his fancy suit, briefcase and no shoes. We watched the homeless man sit on the curb, put his shoes on, wipe the tears from his eyes and then disappear into the restaurant.

I don’t believe in such things as coincidence and so I began to cry. It seemed that what those crazy people had told me was true after all. When I chose to believe that they believed it opened up just enough space within my hardened spirit, that the higher power I did not believe in was able to finally provide me with all of the evidence I would ever need. That principle that played out in front of my very own eyes, that love, those people had told me about, the existence of a higher power that I could no longer deny, and the awakening that I too, was worthy and deserving of the life recovery has to offer. In that moment my life changed. I found hope. I found love, and I came to believe.

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.