I can’t do normal anymore

I can’t fake it anymore.

I used to be really good at pretending. I could look like I understood when guys talked about what they just picked up at the Home Depot.(The only thing I can do with tools is hurt myself).

I would nod appropriately and look impressed when people told me about their investment accounts and spoke of property values. (Even though I was up to my eyeballs in debt and screaming  inside my head, “I don’t care! Why can’t we talk about stuff that actually matters?”).

I was an excellent chameleon when I believed it was necessary. I only ever did it because I was coming from a place of believing I was less than them.

There are only two types of people in this world – “Us” and “Them.”

For a long time I didn’t have an “us” and that is the loneliest feeling I’ve known.

For decades I believed that not fitting in was due to me being deficient. I felt broken, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to believe that I was broken.

Later in life I went to therapy. I learned how to let go, how to challenge everything that I was taught about my self and how to seek and speak my own truth. Then I got to make a living out of helping people like me do those things.

People like me. (I still marvel at that) (kindred spirits).

People like me come in a million varieties. There are a few major distinctions amongst us that I never think about because I care infinitely more about what unites us than what divides us.

There is one major difference that I think about more and more:

Some of us can easily pass for normal and some of us – no matter what we do, can’t. All I have to do to pass is get a haircut and cover my prosthetic. Some of my people don’t have that option. Some are just too big in stature (giants aren’t normal). Some are too visibly scarred.

It’s got me thinking that I don’t want to be able to pass anymore. It’s an option I’m never going to want, so why leave that door open? The challenge is, whatever I do can be undone, or covered up, or otherwise hidden. I can’t eliminate the option.

For nearly all of my career, I kept my tattoos easily hidden. Now I am progressively covering my forearms. Long sleeves will cover that. I think about things like gauges and piercings and other forms of self expression and yet, all of them can be undone or hidden.

So I come back to the only real option – it’s a lifestyle to be genuine. It’s not something I turn off and on. Increasingly, it’s a compelling reason why I shouldn’t even be allowed in close proximity to “normal people.”

Being genuine means trusting my intuition. Sometimes I just see a person and empathically I feel their pain. I want to rush up to them and say, “It wasn’t your fault!” But you’re not supposed to do things like that at Wal Mart.

So more and more, I remain in the company of people in recovery (from addiction, trauma, abuse, life…). Progressively I spend time with progressives (artists, writers, healers, dreamers). I speak of things that matter to those who matter.

I show no malice to those who are pretending. I just won’t adjust to please them. Accordingly, my wife feels that I should come with a warning sign. People who are bored with their lives often get curious when they learn that I’m a therapist. It gets the better of them. They ask me if I’m analyzing them (no, you’re boring).

My wife will warn them in a subtle fashion by saying something like, “Don’t ask him anything!” It’s not analysis – it’s intuition. You don’t have to know a lot about people to extrapolate. I then tell them what they hide in hopes that they’ll see it’s unnecessary and invest in getting better.

Everyone deserves to be free. Most folks are just too afraid to be.

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.