By: Marilyn L. Davis
“If you have discovered a truth, tell it first to a parrot! Every new truth needs insistent repetition!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
Don’t You Know the Slogan?
The other night there was a new woman in the group I facilitated. When I asked her why she chose to come to treatment, she replied, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Now, I’ve heard that slogan for more than 30 years and believe that each of us is sick and tired of one or more aspects of our addiction. But what one person is sick and tired of may differ from someone else.
So, I asked her to elaborate and give specifics on what she was sick and tired of, so we understood her situation.
Her response caught me off-guard.
“I was taught in my other treatment center that this was the correct answer. Don’t you know what that slogan means, Ms. Marilyn?”
Personalizing a Slogan
I explained that I knew what it meant for me, but that my sick and tired of being sick and tired might be different than hers or other group members, so if the other women would give us their sick and tired, we might see the differences. Here are some of the responses:
- I hated that all my money went for dope, and I got sick and tired of being broke.
- It got embarrassing to be high, and I got sick and tired of people noticing and commenting on my condition
- When the cops chased me, I knew where I was going – jail, and I got sick and tired of being in jail
- I got sick and tired of not being able to be there for my children
- Losing several jobs put me in financial difficulty, and I got sick and tired of being fired
After we went around the room, the young woman realized that these responses personalized sick and tired of being sick and tired and that there was more to the slogan than she knew.
Expanding Our Understanding Beyond Slogans
Knowing that we all learned the vocabulary of dope, I think it’s important to know the language of recovery as well.
So, we looked at some other slogans and decided that some people were only using the slogans as a predictable, accepted answer without genuinely understanding its application for them.
Sounding Good or Understanding the Intent?
One young woman finally said, “I’m not sarcastic, Ms. Marilyn, but I could probably teach a parrot to quote the slogans.”
Another group member said that she used the slogans to sound like she belonged and that when she repeated it, people would nod their heads in agreement, but now she questioned whether they knew what they meant.
Some Use the Slogans as a Way to Fit In
Then we decided to look at the slogans and see if we understood its implication. You can discover if you are only repeating something that sounds good by asking yourself, do you ever:
- Quote the slogan in a sing-song voice or like a question and not a statement.
- Question why anyone is asking you for further clarification?
- Assume that everyone knows this often repeated and supposedly known expression?
- Use these slogans when you think they are the accepted answer?
- Overuse these slogans as answers?
What Does the Slogan Mean to You?
The following is a list of often used and often not understood 12 Step based phrases:
- “Let go and let God.”
- “Easy does it.”
- “One day at a time.”
- “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
- “Think, think, and think.”
- “Ninety meetings in ninety days are how to stay sober.”
- “Call your sponsor.”
- “Meeting makers make it.”
- “Principles before Personalities”
- “This too shall pass.”
- “This is a selfish program.”
- “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
- “Act as if….”
- “Recovery is education without graduation.”
- “There are none too dumb for the program to work – but there are many who are too smart for it to work.”
- “Change is a process, not an event.”
- “Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens.”
- “We give it away to keep it.“
Applying the Intent of the Slogan for Yourself
All of the slogans of 12 Step programs have meaning, but unless you understand what a slogan means, merely repeating it may be an effort to sound good to others, not necessarily an indication of understanding the intent of the saying.
It is not just 12 Step based recovery-supportive meetings that will have meaningful slogans quoted without understanding.
Regardless of the type of meetings you attend, become familiar with the intent and meaning of a slogan before using it as the predictable response.
Next week, listen to how many times a slogan is repeated and then apply the intent to yourself because now you understand the underlying meaning.
Writing and recovery heal the heart.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink.
She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.
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