The WordAholic: 12 Steps to Expression

1. We admit that we have power over words, that we use them as elements to manage our speech and writing.
2. Came to believe that when used properly, words can change the course of history.
3. Made a decision, to learn the meanings of words so we could understand them.
4. Wrote down all the words we didn’t know and looked them up in the dictionary.
5. Communicated with other human beings in concise and meaningful sentences.
6. Became entirely ready to study our language with the intent to improve.
7. Humbly asked others what they thought about our pronunciation of words and how well we convey our thoughts in written and spoken words.
8. Made a list of all the misspoken words we used in a sentence and became willing to correct them.
9. Made direct changes and corrections in spelling and grammar except when to do so would ruin a quote, poem or story.
10. Continued to monitor our spelling and grammar and when mistakes were made, promptly corrected them.
11. Sought through the dictionary and thesaurus to improve our conscious understanding and use of words.
12. Having learned the proper use of language and words we continued to use the dictionary and our knowledge to communicate well with others.

Hello, my name is Fill in the Blank, I am a WordAholic. My story begins when I was a small child. I remember reading children’s picture books and soon after road signs while traveling with my family. In the first grade, it was Dot and Jim and Dick and Jane. Vocabulary, phonetics and pronunciation came easy to me. That should have been a warning to me. I was slower than other kids in my classes. My teacher called me “lazy.” I thought something was wrong with me. I realize now that I was going through a process of absorbing words and simple sentences in my mind.

I’m not so sure if my WordAholism was genetic or not. My mother was an avid reader and very adept in her use of the English Language. She also spoke French Canadian. However, her focus was tabloids, and Romance novels.

I could not keep up with other kids nor could I focus on the lessons at hand. My mind would just stay in one place to soak up every part of a word or sentence. It was as if every part of language had to be slowly injected into my brain. Often words would remain dormant and overload my thought processes. Sometimes and without warning words would just spew out of me in the most creative ways. In conversation, I often had to repeat myself. Not because my speech was muffled but so many words would show up at the wrong moment and I would need to clarify thoughts to others. Often times I would sneak off somewhere with a dictionary and go through it from A-Z. Just saying words out loud and learning how to use them to communicate was an indescribable rush. Somehow, I knew this was not normal behavior. Somehow, I knew I was doing something intellectual.

In High School I turned to the use of drugs and alcohol to quell my brains demand for more and more symbols, words and sentences. I just barely graduated. This lasted about eight years and in that amount of time, the withdrawal from language was so detrimental to me. I shied away from normal conversation and writing. My communication was always confabulated. It became so bad for me that I wound up on skid row speaking to street people because they just didn’t care what I said or how I spoke. Curse words and slang became the norm for me. I felt so lost for so long. The worst part was that I couldn’t communicate or express what I was experiencing. I seemed to have lost the right words.

Oh, I was at the bottom. I was so far down that Sesame Street couldn’t help me. Crawling around my apartment one morning looking through stacks of unread newspapers and trying to just read the comics, I found this add. It said, “Do you have a desire to learn?” I called the number in the add. A wonderful counselor answered my call. She could tell I was desperate. She later became my academic advisor. This well-spoken angel conveyed to me that it wasn’t going to be easy. She said I will need to start at the bottom and relearn basic English. I said I was willing and anxious to start. She told me to start that day. She advised me to go and buy a big dictionary and thesaurus. I did exactly as she said.

I gave up the substance abuse and began to move forward. I had to restart my language development with all remedial courses. That was a blow to my ego as, a long time ago I could communicate with the best of them. But I was willing. I did not want to go back to that word conundrum that almost took away my ability to write and communicate.

To make my long story short, I graduated from College with a Bachelor of Science degree in the health sciences. I learned how to write technical papers and began to grasp English literature. My creativity slowly came back to me. I cannot fully express my gratitude for the English language. I have since began to study the origins of words to truly absorb the fullest meaning of language. I want to sincerely thank all my teachers, professors and advisors who helped me along the way. A special thanks to Tudors and classmates that spent countless hours with me. I could not be writing this if it weren’t for all of you.

Yes, today I admit that I am a WordAholic. I continue to crave knowledge and wisdom through spoken and written language. I used think that something was terribly wrong with me. I was so afraid of the stigma placed on WordAholics and WordAholism. I was so afraid of being labeled a nerd or a geek. But today I am proud of my ability to speak and write. I owe it all to the 12 Steps of expression, my advisors and my new well spoken and written friends. I hope to continue to improve and share my thoughts and Ideas through proper language and writing. My future goal is to someday write a bestselling novel and embark on a book signing tour and public speaking engagements. Remember this. If I can learn proper language and writing, anybody can.

Thank You!

Patsy S., 2016

Registered Nurse, Transgender Woman In a lifelong transition, Parent, Grandparent, Normal every day run of the mill person, realizing my place here.