The problem with people like me

…I have an unlimited amount of caring about a limited number of things.

I took Mark Mason’s advice (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@ck) long before he wrote it. While I haven’t mastered it, there is a pretty narrow focus in my life: I care an awful lot about people like me and very little else.

People like me are survivors of trauma. We live with mental illness, addictions, and a million self-destructive tendencies. We’re social misfits and the underdog in any fight.

The adage is, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” That’s true, but we learned the hard way that you have to stop battling with yourself before you can overcome your oppressors.

Sometimes they make movies and television series about people like us. The latest of which is NBC’s The Village. I have a love/hate relationship with the writers of that show. They make me cry in each episode. They depict PTSD accurately and intimately.

In general, they pull no punches, but there’s a relatively subtle quality to the show: Heartache, fear, loss, and pain, all lead the characters to alcohol.

Sometimes I wish I were a more reasonable person. I bet normal people don’t cry and plead with fictional characters not to bury their pain and risk developing addictions.

In a weird form of stress management, I play poker regularly. Poker is the opposite of my day job. Poker is about lying and taking other people’s money. Ideally, I wouldn’t come to care about any of the people I try to take money from, but if I play with them frequently enough, I often do.

Most of them are people who are very, very lost.

I have a standard line I use with people I care about, “You need alcohol like I need a hole in my head.” I frustrated a young man recently by saying this. He admonished me, “You don’t think anyone can drink!” I corrected him, “No, lots of people can. People like me can’t.”

When you have an addictive personality, it doesn’t make sense to take risks with addictive substances.

I am blessed to have reached middle age at relative peace with myself and only a handful of scars. I am drawn to people who like me, have been profoundly lost.

Adage – “It takes one to know one.” I see you because I see me in you. Please stop. Please reach out.  It’s not ok to destroy my kindred spirits. Call a truce and listen to your gut. There are millions just like you. Find us and let us find you.

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 an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity