Speaking the Language of Recovery

I’ve been in recovery since March 2007. There were a lot of terms and phrases I didn’t like in the beginning. Luckily, liking them was not a requirement. There were no requirements. For me, the path I chose was entirely voluntary. Still, the language did bug me.

“Recovery,” for example. C’mon, really? I just want to quit drinking. That’s all. Recovery. It sounds so medical. So clinical.

“Clean,” as in “clean and sober.” Clean. I beg your pardon?

Speaking the Language of RecoveryAnd the phrase “getting sober.” It implied, I thought, that I’d been drunk all the time. Not so. I had a regular life. Finished high school. Went to college. Graduated. I was a successful and independent young adult. Then marriage. Two kids. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Birthday parties, class trips, PTA meetings, group exercise classes at the YMCA. I did all that. I functioned. I wasn’t always drunk.

I had rules, too. Only on weekends — except girls’ night out or dinner with the book club. Only after five — unless it was an afternoon barbecue or a football game or lunch with the girls. Never drink alone —unless I was cooking a sauce or getting ready to go out. Never liquor — except maybe a few margaritas while eating Mexican or martinis during a “Sex and the City” marathon. Shots? Never. Well, except sometimes an ice-cold, expensive tequila shot with the other fun, fabulous moms. You know, to celebrate us.

Yep, I had rules. Some say that’s a sign. Having rules.

For a lot of the women, vodka is the end of the line. I never made it that far. The wine finished me off good. Red wine. In those final months I couldn’t even pretend to be following my rules. I could barely string three days together before a craving to warm my insides with the insidious liquid overcame me.

That’s how it gets in the end. If you’ve been there, you know.

I needed help. If that meant accepting terms like “recovery” and phrases like “getting sober,” so be it. When in Rome, do as the Romans. Just help me, please.

I soon learned that quitting is the easy part. Figuring out how to embrace life minus the booze is a process. It’s a process of recovery. I came to understand that sober refers more to a state of being than to the absence of drink. To be sober is to be content, serene, present and at peace. To be sober is to live with gratitude, purpose and intention. Of course, to get sober, I first had to quit drinking.

Today, I speak the language of recovery with ease and fluency. I get it. I quit drinking long ago. Today, I live in recovery. I’m sober. Some days more than others.

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    24 Responses to Speaking the Language of Recovery

    1. Avatar
      Margot July 17, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

      Brilliant..well said, the love it.

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      Margot July 17, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      I meant I love it 🙂

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        Jeanne July 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

        Thank you Margot!!

    3. Avatar
      Lauren Aguillon July 17, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      I love the honesty and find these to be very powerful words. Great article!

      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

        Thank your hank you got the nice feedback. 😉

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          Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 11:59 am #

          Oh goodness. Typos. Looks like a drunk text. Lol (thank God texting came out after I quit!)
          *thank you Lauren ( Not hank ) for the nice feedback.

    4. Avatar
      Summer July 17, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

      An honest self-reflection. Beautiful in its simple truth. Whether we have known addictions or not, we are all working on sobriety, living in the present, content and at peace.

      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

        Thank you Summer. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

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      Kelly May July 18, 2015 at 7:37 am #

      Jeanne, this is most excellent! What a great talent! Wishing you all the best in every way. Mostly wishing you were here, miss you terribly!

      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

        Kelly Mae!!!!
        I miss you too.
        Thank you for stopping by to read and for taking the time to comment.

    6. Avatar
      Heather July 18, 2015 at 9:19 am #

      Well done!

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        Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

        Thank you Heather!

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      Susan July 18, 2015 at 10:06 am #

      You hit the nail right on the head, Jeanne… I could definitely relate to the entire process. Please keep sharing your wisdom – we can all use it.

      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

        Thank you Susan. Thank you for reading, relating, commenting and encouraging. I really appreciate it!

    8. Avatar
      Christa July 18, 2015 at 10:19 am #

      Love it! I truly enjoy reading your articles!

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        Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

        Thank you Christa!

    9. Avatar
      Anne Younger July 19, 2015 at 6:31 am #

      Good article. I think you captured that whole thing about defining oneself with labels, which makes it so hard to get health.

      To me, using a label means that I am kind of stuck with an identity that I might not want. (I am a democrat, I am a mom, I am in recovery.) Those words can feel like boxes, limiting me to some kind of character or stereotype. “I am so much more,” I want to say.

      But I can see that you are still you; greater than any label. You have a wonderful and unique voice. I get it. Well done. I look forward to reading more.

      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 20, 2015 at 11:57 am #

        Thank you Anne. That’s exactly it. We are so much more than our labels!!

    10. Avatar
      Erin July 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

      Words resonated with me. Sober. Hated that word. It meant sobering thoughts to be without red wine. Now. After 15 months I embrace my sobriety.


      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

        Way to go Erin! Keep on keepin on. It gets better n better!!
        Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    11. Avatar
      Nancy July 24, 2015 at 7:06 am #

      Jeanne, you are awesome! The girls mentioned your blog and I have read all of your articles.

      I am proud of you and love your language. I admire who you have become. Being present and in the moment is critical for well being. I am working to STOP processing myself, a poor lesson learned too early in life, probably as a coping skill dealing with a highly dysfunctional family and later dealing with my dysfunctional self (thank God I’m not alone).

      I can remain hopeful for healthy change for myself., although the “work” part of change is hard We can remain hopeful for many, many more articles from you for healthy change for the masses…until you write the book!! LOL

      Looking forward to the next one! Love you and miss you!!!!

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        Jeanne July 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

        Thank you Nancy, for reading commenting and everything! A lot of people, when they quit booze, find they have to quit their friends too. Not me. You girls have been so supportive. Im very lucky! Miss you all.
        I’ve got a partially empty nest down here. Plenty of room. Ya’ll come on down!
        We’ll eat laugh and share dysfunctions (byob cause I don’t have any, lol)

    12. Avatar
      Dave July 24, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      Hey Jeanne, I love this sentence: “Yep, I had rules. Some say that’s a sign. Having rules”. It so true; “normal drinkers” don’t think about Rules when it comes to drinking. Thanks for your post, Have a great Sober weekend! Dave

      • Avatar
        Jeanne July 27, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

        Thanks Dave. Such a simple sign too. I wish I’d recognized it as a sign all those years ago. So glad I finally did!
        Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment!

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