Factoid: The old children’s proverb “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was used as early as 1862 to refrain people from engaging in verbal bullying. Over time and with experience, we gained a new perspective. I found a poem that perhaps is an indication of reality,
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me and sticks break only skin, while words are ghosts that haunt me. Slant and curved the word-swords fall, it pierces and sticks inside me. Bats and bricks may ache through bones, but words can mortify me. Pain from words has left its scar, on mind and heart that’s tender. Cuts and bruises have not healed, it’s words that I remember.
Now, bullying depends on it. A multitude in the population depends on it. Some words have worn out their worthiness and are worthless.
William White wrote,
For more than two centuries, Addicted and recovering people in America have been the object of language created by others. People experiencing severe and persistent alcohol and other drug problems inherited a language not of their own making that has been ill suited to accurately portray their experience to others or to serve as a personal catalyst for personal change. The wrong words stigmatize and dis-empower. In 2001, in St Paul, Minnesota, the group assembled learned that by our silence we let others define us. We gave birth to Faces and Voices of Recovery. Understanding the sound of silence led us to the making of our language and it’s resounding and growing joyful noise about the reality of recovery.
Orange County California’s The Purpose of Recovery organization, TPOR, is offering a series of informative learning experiences through virtual presentations. We have done The Science of Addiction and Recovery and a most recent one was on Recovery Messaging. William White wrote,
Many of us have carried a message of hope on a one-to-one basis. This new recovery movement calls upon us to carry that message of hope to whole communities and the whole culture. It is time we stepped forward. Shape this history with our stories, our time and our talents.
Across the board all the moms and dads mention one golden rule of Inuit parenting. Never yell at a child.
Our movement can’t be successful when led solely by those impacted by addiction and accompanying injustice. We need to share our message and inspire allies and others to come join us in the new recovery movement. The learning opportunities in the Recovery Messaging are the result of years of study, revision, feedback, and evaluation of retention and useful purpose. Among the slides is the information that choosing the language of recovery is key. It is followed by examples titled “Say this, not that.” Examples of current language, alternatives, and reasons. I have focused on a few words. The latest is relapse. I prefer and promote set-back. It leads to a mindful slogan. Get back, on track, and don’t look back. Labels have a sticky side for a reason. stigmatizing labels like “addict” and “alcoholic” stick when identity as a “person in recovery” is positive and appropriate when recognizing substance use disorder.
With others from TPOR, I completed a 10-week CRAFT course, Community Reinforcement and Family Training. It teaches family and friends effective strategies for helping their loved ones to change and seeking to better themselves. Of course, words were involved—words and the nature of response. What to say and when might promote a change of behavior remembering, it’s a process not an event. Use reflection with positive reinforcement and patience and take pride in small changes. I learned of a counselor who suggested 80% listening with reflective and positive attention and 20% “I” centered response, I feel, I see, I hear, to promote understanding and trust. I do not have family issues but as a peer recovery coach, it adds greatly to TPOR and my tool kit.
I read an article about a book titled Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaelean Doucleff. She visited and wrote about visiting and embedding with families in small villages in Mexico, Alaska, and Tanzania She observed parenting by the moms and dads in the villages. What caught my attention is her statement,
The children’s conduct and behavior was very good. Say what? Doesn’t yelling put more power in words no matter whether addressing a child or adult? In the context of this writing, the words we use to encourage behavioral change should not need volume to communicate. Too many decibels are numbing and dumbing. I like the expression, “He drives words with a velvet hammer.” The voice I hear and the words I hear are mine. I pay attention.
Don Coyhis is President and co-founder of White Bison, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Don is the founder of the Wellbriety movement The book Red Road to Wellbriety is a book of healing that is culture-specific to Native Americans, but it may be used by all people. He and William White have written many words together about addiction and recovery in Native Americans with cultural considerations and challenging the “firewater myth” among them. I love the words I read.
Native purification and healing practices (sacred dances, the sweat lodge, and talking circles). Such elements as teaching metaphors (e.g., the medicine wheel), symbols (e.g., the sacred pipe, eagle feathers), rituals (e.g., sweat lodge, smudging ceremonies. These words say healing to me. Don Coyhis wrote,
Words are important. If you want to care for something, you call it a flower. If you want to kill something you call it a weed. A word to the wise, use words wisely.
Merlyn Karst — Recovery Ambassador
I woke this morning with one day left in 2020. It was a year that surely altered and illuminated our times. In a recent blog, I referenced Harry Potter’s weird world. If you are familiar with Potter’s world, in 2020, we had our own Voldacovid and all those dementors flying about. We had no magic wands— and the spells were all on us. What to do? Find a task. Find a cause. Find the Joy.
Donella C. and I first spoke on April 9 and imagined and spoke about an RCO or two in Orange County—and the train left the station. In my mind, with Donella as engineer and Janie as conductor, this was the Recovery Bolder Express. Of course, I contributed some experience and communication about staying on the track but mainly loved the ride. Working virtually, We paused at stations for needs and deeds, but our destination was Costa Mesa on October 13, for the introduction of The Purpose of Recovery—TPOR.
TPOR gathered for the first time and met, masked and in person, from 6 feet away in Costa Mesa, California. We found the Joy. As I recall 2020, October 13 was my most joyous day of the year, filled with hope and literal togetherness. TPOR founders had the virtual opportunity to speak of the joy and happiness of recovery as discovered through The Purpose of Recovery. The food and accommodations through the day were outstanding as well as the company who enjoyed them. I closed my eyes, did a review, and called it most memorable and filled with the joy shared by all.
As you know, this train and any different recovery train is no express, just moving, sustained, progress for those continuing the journey. No ticket to ride. Just stay aboard and enjoy what is the trip of a lifetime. I’ll be loving the ride with you and all the fellow riders.
Merlyn Karst – Recovery Ambassador
From a family recovering journey, I have gone through the stage of typical denial, anger, and confusion. When I finally surfaced my head above the dark water, I found not only my loved one but a lot of his recovering peers are also struggling more or less. I found my family members and friends are still confused. It made me keenly aware that there are many obstacles and hidden challenges along the way. It also made me fully recognize the importance of the needed support for you. I guess I can throw a few key words of support, like make connections, families, friends, sponsors, .. and more. But, what strikes me the most is finding truth to ourselves, finding the value you see to yourself, and finding a purpose in your life.
Through this, I found my purpose. My purpose is to support you. And yet, HOW? My little lived experience, without knowing the landscape of what you have gone through, I struggled again. Thanks for a lot of friends and families, I found comfort knowing I am not fighting this by myself. That family peer support allowed me to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that got me through the most difficult time, and allowed me to stand on my own feet right now. I felt the peer support and peer coach that got me through this, ought to be the support to all of you and your families. This is in addition to whatever your current recovering path you are on. Coach is someone with the same lived experience that connects with you to guide you with your own decision.
Then, I look at Orange County, and found no organization offers that. Hence, The Purpose of Recovery is established just to offer that and more of course. So, if this concept is new to you right now because we are the first organization to roll this out, we know there will be more in the future. Thanks for the hard work from the team and special thanks to Merlyn and Donella, we are happy and ready to share our vision with you today. I also want to thank my own family that taught me to be compassion and loving each other from a different perspective. We all know recovering is a lifelong journey. Just to know that we are here alongside you. Again, I am glad you are with us today!
Merlyn Karst - Recovery Ambassador