Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Sharing A Foreign Language

Should there be some earthly disaster requiring people to seek shelter for an extended period of time, have no fear, come to our

When you’re married, have no children and get pure enjoyment by finding a “deal” a at big box store, your basement will soon look like
ours.  We have enough canned goods, paper towel and bottles of water in our basement to last a lifetime.  Yet we visit this big box store each week as it has somehow become a “Date Night” excursion.  Don’t’ ask.  If you’re married, you understand.

Point being, when I ask my husband to grab “some of that stuff” from the basement, without a word, he’ll descend the stairs and brings back
the precise “stuff” I need.  I don’t have to spell it out, he just knows.  Like many people living together, we have a sort of foreign language, spoken or unspoken, which only we can decipher with clarity.

It dawns on me how similar this same type of connection exists in all kinds of environments.

When I was working, my team of many years knew exactly what each other needed or meant by something as simple as a nod of the head or a
raised eyebrow.  It takes time to develop that type of connection, yet when it is set in place, it feels comforting because we’re part of something  uniquely our own.

When I was drinking and rarely eating, there was a lot of conversation in my head.  Never was it shared with anyone else because these thoughts were like a pendulum.  One moment I’d be justifying my irrational behavior and the next I’d be mentally berating myself for having such thoughts.  Back and forth, back and forth.

I carried on with this internal metronome of sorts for years.  I was absolutely certain anyone else would consider my thinking to be not only completely foreign, but would never understand it as “normal” on any level.

That all changed when, at the age of 40, I entered the world of recovery.

At first, I was thrilled to be told to just sit and listen. I dreaded the idea I’d be required to talk about what I carried in my head these years.  Never mind the fact in those early days, my thinking was still quite foggy as I was most assuredly malnourished barely breathing a sober breath.

I listened, yet the words and phrases used sounded like a foreign language to me.  I had absolutely no idea what these “steps” were and, after a quick review, was absolutely certain I wasn’t going to do any of the things these steps required.

However, I was willing to continue listening and soon enough, I started to hear bits and pieces of my internal “foreign” language being spoken OUT LOUD by other people.  Men and women were saying things they had privately carried just like I had.  That’s when I started to realize, “Hey, maybe these people actually get it.  Maybe, just maybe, they’d understand my pendulum way of thinking.”

And they did.  They did because it was the way they used to think too.  Over time, and with a good deal of help from those who had the kind of recovery I wanted, I started to understand their language.  It was the language of healthy recovery.

Today, when family and friends outside the rooms of recovery read what I write about, they have no idea how to respond let alone what I’m talking about.  However, my friends (my “family”) within the rooms understand it completely.  They’ve all been where I’ve been and have helped me get to where I am today.  Now we talk in a language that does not require deciphering for clarity.   It isn’t foreign to me anymore and I am eternally grateful for that.

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One thought on “Sharing A Foreign Language

  1. Absolutley love that you share y0ur insight with all who struggle with the daily battle…..thank you so much for sharing.

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