In fifth grade, my favorite subject was Vocabulary. I loved getting new vocabulary lists every week, writing each word down on a 3×5 index card with its respective definition on the back so I could quiz myself (sadly, none of my family members was quite as enthusiastic about vocabulary as I, so yes, I quizzed myself).
My biggest heartbreak that year was not an unrequited crush on the cutest boy in class but rather, losing the school-wide vocabulary bee. I can’t even remember the word that was my downfall. What I do remember was the cute boy writing in my autograph book (remember those?) this poem:
Kids can play
Kids can run
You’re great at vocabulary
And you should have won
Can you imagine how I swooned? He’d even gotten all the grammar and spelling correct! Even if he didn’t return my affections, at least he respected my way with words!
There is a reason I’m dragging you all down memory lane with me, I promise.
Now, although there certainly have been occasions since elementary school when I’ve learned new words – it had been decades since I’d expanded my vocabulary exponentially.
But then my son started experimenting with alcohol, marijuana and other substances. And suddenly I was learning new words and phrases – or new meanings of words – I wish I never needed to learn.
Here’s a sampling:
Special K/Vitamin K
Vitamin R/Kiddie Coke
Substance use disorder
Intensive Outpatient Program
Partial Hospitalization Program
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Therapeutic Day School
Multi-Family Processing Group
Transitional Living Program
Single-Case Agreements for Out-of-Network Providers
This time around, learning new vocabulary wasn’t so fun. It was frightening. Overwhelming. Paralyzing.
But I familiarized myself with this new glossary of terms out of necessity, desperation and the desire to feel in control in some small way.
As the saying goes: “Knowledge is power” – but it can also be salvation. And it was for me.
Because I learned a new meaning of a word which now carries such weight, depth and life. That word is RECOVERY.
And although I wrote “a new meaning” – there are actually several meanings, nuances and feelings I now associate with the word, “recovery.”
Recovery brought my beloved boy back to me, back to life, back to a new reality, respect and relationship we share and enjoy together.
Recovery brought me to a new career. I spent 25 years in print and broadcast journalism, met celebrities galore, worked my butt off and had the time of my life. Or so I thought.
Going on a journey of recovery with my son was so enlightening in that it showed me there are things much more rewarding than getting that great scoop or TV soundbite.
When my son and I would share at multi-family processing group and other parents or their kids would tell us what we said helped them – that was an accomplishment of which I could be truly proud. Those moments made my heart soar. And I knew getting another great interview from an actor or rock star just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
So my temporary leave of absence from that big morning TV show became permanent. I trained to become a Recovery Coach, and now I work at a sober living facility called The Lighthouse | Recovery 365.
And at my new job, in my new career, I’ve recovered the joy of learning new vocabulary again – or rather, learning new meanings to words I thought I understood pretty well.
Here’s another sampling:
It’s a cliche, but I do learn something new every day.
I guess with recovery, comes discovery.
Which brings me to another weighty, bursting-with-meaning word I use and hear often:
I am so grateful my son chose recovery and found his way back to me and to us.
I am so grateful I decided to change my life when he changed his.
I am so grateful to meet people in recovery who inspire me and fill me with awe.
I am simply so grateful to have found RECOVERY.