The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
-Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
I've been trying to find the right words to explain the differences between the way my husband uses language and the way that I use language. I've Googled it, and done my nerdy research thing that I do when something is confusing and fascinating at the same time, but I can't quite put my finger on the right words to explain the differences in how we use our words.
Which, in some ways, is an excellent example of how I use words. I seek them out. I look for just the right words to explain something that I believe to be true. I've observed something again and again in my husband's use of words, and I want to find just the right way to say it, to write it down here, to explain it to myself and to the people I'm explaining to and to him. There is a thing that I believe, and I want to find the right words to represent the thing that I believe. Words are representational in my mind...and it's my job as a writer, or as a communicator in general, to make the words that I write or say match as closely as possible the image, idea, or event that exists in my mind.
Something else happens when my husband uses words, especially when he's in active addiction. Almost every time he opens his mouth to speak, there is an outcome that he is trying to achieve. There is a goal (obtaining money, sympathy, drugs, space and time to use drugs, etc.), and he sets about matching words to the scenarios he believes will make that goal happen. His language is rarely representational in the most basic sense...he is seldom trying to express a copy of an image, idea, or even what already exists in the present moment. He is creating future moments with his words, plotting schemes and manipulating emotions by tossing words around that have no referents.
Does that make sense? (I find myself asking that question all the time. My first therapist ever asked me again and again, "Does that make sense? Do you understand what I'm saying?" Something about the phrase has stuck with me. Probably, it stuck because it's important to me that my words really are representational, that you read and understand something very close to what I'm understanding when I write. I want to know if I've written something plainly, clearly, and in a manner that is interpretable by the person on the other end of the writing. Does that make sense?)
That said, being someone who loves words, who values their power in bridging the gaps between people, who works hard to make sure that what I write or say matches up as closely as possible with what I understand or intend...my husband's strange use of words drives me mad. I often find myself digging into his words, tossing them over, trying to predict what it is he is attempting to root out of me, what response he's beckoning. It's a habit I've formed through the years of being manipulated. It's a useless habit, really. I know the things he's trying to get from me when he's weaving a word web...he wants to use. I waste my time in trying to predict, to decode, to understand or interpret or figure out the hidden truth.
I have more to say about addict language, but I'm not sure what else there is I mean...I'm opening comments so you can tell me what it is I'm talking about.