Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Language of Recovery

It’s increasingly clear to me that those of us in recovery speak a common language. To me, it’s like mathematics. It cuts across all cultural boundaries and is recognizable to anyone who understands it.

Looking back at some of the people I’ve known, I recognize now that they were in recovery. Sometimes, it’s obvious what fellowship they likely belonged to. Sometimes, I have no idea. But the language is unmistakable.

I think back to a yoga teacher I had early in recovery. My husband and I were on a combination vacation/work assignment in the Costa Rica rainforest. It was a remote location. There were no meetings. But there was yoga, and I was the only guest who signed up. Every day, twice a day, I’d meet with this resort’s yoga instructor and we’d do yoga and meditate and he’d talk recovery to me. I still think of him as an angel God sent to me to help me get through that time.

In the yoga instructor’s case, he told me he had come back from Vietnam using drugs and alcohol. He couldn’t just stop using. He needed to replace his addiction with something more positive. At the time, I thought he was talking about yoga. And that was probably part of it. But now I see that he was talking about program.

A guy I used to date talked a lot about doing things “because he wanted to” or “because it was the right thing to do.” He was not sober, so I presume his program did not involve drugs or alcohol. But it was program language nonetheless.

And so my ears perked up listening to an interview with Michael J. Fox. Here’s what he said that got my attention:

“…I think your happiness grows in direct proportion to your acceptance and in inverse proportion to your expectations. It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Doing the next right thing.”

Program language.

I may be the last person on the planet who didn’t know Fox was in recovery, but I’ve never been good at following celebrities. So I Googled the topic and found that Fox started drinking excessively after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He found help from “an ever widening circle of friends, all of whom prefer to remain anonymous.”

In the past, I would have thought what Fox said was profound. That he was wise. That I wished I could possess whatever wisdom and serenity he had. The difference is that today I know I can.

Hubby and I are off on assignment. Back in a few days. I'll catch up on our return. Meanwhile, take good care.


  1. At my second to last job, the boss's wife and I were at the copy machine waiting our turns and she asked me something which led to my telling her, briefly, that I was in a 12 step program for codependence. She asked a couple questions, and then she looked me in the eye, and said "Thanks for sharing". And she held the look. I didn't say anything, nor ask any questions, she was the owner's wife for heavens sake, but I just knew that she had first hand knowledge of a 12 step program. That's not much, just those 3 words, but you had to be there....

  2. I didn't know that about Michael Fox. It isn't a surprise though. He has truly lived in the solution with his illness. Amazing. Be safe and take care on your trip!


  3. This is so true! I've done the same thing, looked back on previous conversations with people who seemed like wise Gurus, and realized that what they were saying likely came from a meeting just like the ones I now attend.

    Kathy, I picked up my first sponsee last night... I'm looking for advice wherever I can find it. Of course I've talked to my sponsor and my counselor already, and I've been perusing the internet and have found some very good info. Even so, I would really like to ask you if you have any tips for me as I begin this process.

  4. I work with my Al-Anon sponsor. Sometimes when we have "chit-chat" conversations and other people are present, she'll say something program which will go right over the other's heads, but I pick up the "hidden" meaning.

  5. I am so glad I found you! My husband and I are both in recovery so I could immediately relate to your stories. I am looking forward to following you on this journey. I might also suggest my friend Peter's blog on depression.

  6. When I started going to Al-Anon I heard people say, "these rooms" and thought, I'll never say that! So I was talking to my husband the other night and heard myself say... yep!
    I had to laugh at myself when you said about having the wisdom & serenity MJF had, and you said now you can (meaning through Al-Anon). And I said, "me too" and hit the print button! I print out things I like to refer back to... sometimes I think I should just ask for the hard cover edition of your blog!
    Enjoy your time away!
    God bless.

  7. Your not the very last person to know about MJF. I had no idea. What a story his wife must have. I'm going to be on the look out for program language. (Madison)

  8. I didn't know about Michael J Fox either....So happy for Him. I always liked him alot.

    You are right.....there is a peace in the ones who know the program. I am so thankful to God for all He has taught me.

    My first sponsor Margie was an angel. She is with Jesus now. I really miss her.

    Thanks for sharing,:)


  9. Thank you for sharing this post Kathy. Blessings.

  10. no, you're not the last person to know. i didn't know either. hmm... i think i've always recognized the language. i just never attributed it to AA. i connected it to religious or spiritual types. i guess we're all in the same boat really.


  11. thanks Kathy for this post...and stay safe out there. Sarah (also didn't know about Micheal J. Fox).

  12. I didn't know about Mr. Fox either. But he understands the program well. I like to hear program language. It comes up sometimes outside of meetings, and I smile to myself because I know that the person who is talking is one of us.