When I was seeing my last therapist (you know, the one that was actually so helpful that I haven’t had to go back to therapy since seeing him?), he and I would talk a lot about the ‘language of alcohol’. There are lots of different aspects to it: the use of ‘you’ when what someone really means is ‘I’, talking around subjects instead of directly about them, lying--especially by omission, and many others.My therapist and I would talk about this alcoholic-speak as my first language--my native tongue, if you will. And it doesn’t have to be called alcoholic speak. A better descriptor of it might be the language of the Disease; alcoholics use it, addicts use it, codependents, etc. By any name, it was the way I learned to talk growing up. Sorting through this way of communicating helped me to get a handle on how the Disease shaped me in my early years.It helped me, too, to understand what exactly it was that drove me so crazy as a child and as a teenager. To this day, I still hate being lied to--especially by omission. I’m a big believer that a lie of omission is far worse than an outright falsehood. But there are other things about this language: it’s a dishonest way of communicating, certainly; disrespectful? Absolutely; and in general, when someone communicates with others in this style, they in effect treat others as less-than. At least, that’s how it feels to me. It’s a recipe for failure because a lot of this communication is dependent on the other person figuring out what is actually meant instead of taking what is said at face value. If you can’t figure out what the person meant, well then that’s your fault; in their mind, they expressed themselves very clearly. But no human being is a mind reader.Anyway, I have done a lot of work to learn a different way of communicating, but I still find myself in situations where people do talk this way. Like anyone who grew up speaking a ‘different’ language, I fall back into it easily, like putting on an old, comfortable leather coat. And it’s only after I’ve been wearing it a little while that I remember, “wait a minute--I hate this jacket!”It gets my anger up. I can’t even say for sure what makes me angrier. Is it because I allowed myself to fall back into old patterns? Or is it that old feeling of being a failure for not being able to read someone’s mind? Or the failure at not being perfect? Or just general anger at the unreasonable expectations that this way of communicating is based on?And yet... people communicate this way all the time. So it’s fair to say that this is a challenging area for me. Even if it’s something most other people handle without a second thought, it’s difficult for me. And that’s okay. Even amongst those of us with the Disease, we each have our specific challenges.Call it whatever you like; it’s a communication style that I’ve worked very hard to change in myself, and it’s something I work with my sponsees on, too. The language we use shapes our thoughts. Changing the way we speak helps to change the way we think.
read more: “Drunk Talk”