When you cannot stop working

I see myself in every addict of every kind. When I say, “There but for the grace of God go I”, I am relating and identifying. I do so with compassion, but more importantly, with empathy. Compassion is feeling for someone. Empathy is feeling with someone.

It’s not that I am more blessed than anyone else. It’s that I have suffered to the point that I am willing to pay close attention. I more readily receive the lessons and more importantly, the people my Higher Power puts in my path.

I thanked my wife this morning. The secret to my success is that I have surrounded myself with strong women. To say she’s my rock is cliched but true. The accountability I show to her and to those closest to me is the difference between passion and madness.

Favorite Facebook meme, “Let me be clear. I am batshit passionate.”

My life’s work always has the potential to be an addiction. In the past, it was, and it led to burning out over and over again. I overcame that and I have the scars as a reminder.

At face value, it looks like getting lost in your life’s work. It’s not. Hiding is not getting lost. Running away from yourself isn’t getting lost – it’s what you do because you are lost. And every time you stop, there you are.

And it hurts and it’s scary and you hate yourself for having limits.

The most honorable way to destroy yourself is in serving others, but it requires justifying hurting a good person. A dear friend told me years ago, “If you never do another good deed as long as you live, you have already done more than enough.”

But I’m a good addict – how much is enough? All of it. Immediately.

Making life manageable and sustainable does not come at all naturally to me. I am a slow learner with a high pain tolerance. In the end, my hypocrisy was my undoing. I have to practice what I preach in order to be effective. All healers and leaders have this in common: No matter what, we want to be optimally effective.

I get to serve the most instinctual and intuitive people in the world, which means they can read me like a book. Today, I like what they’re reading and that makes me far more effective (people like me don’t like authority figures, much less hypocritical authority figures). I do a lot, all the time, but it’s healthy, manageable and sustainable. When I start crossing lines, those who love me call me out.

I’m doing that for a friend today. I’m calling out a kindred spirit because I see myself in them.  I am powerless to do much more than to love them enough to offer my truth in no uncertain terms. It’s time to stop, my friend. It’s time to change. I’ve been where you are. It’s lonely and it’s terrifying. It’s also inevitable – we who have great empathy for others lack compassion for ourselves.

I’m here when you’re ready.

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 is the cofounder of Sobernow.com an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity