The recovery community has a lot of confusing lingo to a newcomer, especially in the 140 character world of Twitter.

First of all there’s the dang hashtag, which turns all things to nerdspeak: #alanon, #sanetown, #meetinginmpocket.

Then there’s the abbreviations: #xa, #aa, #BB, #HP. #xa is a way to search others in recovery. The x stands for “anything – name your particular addiction” and the a is for “anonymous” which has been urbanized to equate with recovery. So #xa means recovering from any addiction. (If you’re confused about the hashtag, take a quick moment to read this recent article explaining its evolving use: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-06-13/social-media/29652792_1_hashtag-messages-search)

#aa is obviously “AA” (duh), and after a few months of following recovery folks on Twitter I figured out that “BB” means “Big Book”. I might have learned that sooner if I was in AA but I am Lone Ranger-ing this sobriety thing (ill-advised, many will tell you). The Big Book is a collection of stories and lessons about alcohol addiction that is essential reading for those in AA. Many #aa-ers seem to treat the Big Book with the same reverence as the Bible. (Just this morning I read the enthusiastic tweet: “No matter where I open it to, it’s exactly what I need to hear at that moment! #xa #BB”) I do have a copy of the Big Book on my nightstand. I purchased it on eBay early in my recovery journey, however I have yet to crack it open. I am sure my house cleaners are fascinated by its presence. No one else seem to have noticed it, although to be fair it is stacked with four other books I have also yet to read.

#HP took me a while to figure out. “H” often refers to someone’s husband (“Date night for me and my H”, “H’s turn to cook tonight – ordering pizza!”). Sometimes you’ll even see DH (dear husband). So admittedly the “H” threw me since I assumed it referred to a husband and started trying to figure out the “P”: Husband’s Problem? Husband’s Pal? Husband’s Pecker?

I tried out various meanings as I read my Twitter feed: “I am having a great day thanks to my #HP!” Read: “I am having a great day thanks to my Husband’s Pecker!” Certainly true for many women on any given day and yet an unlike tweet. I knew I was off track.

Eventually I figured it out – HP = Higher Power – the respectfully non-specific term that AA’ers use to avoid alienating one another with individual belief systems. It doesn’t really matter what you believe in, as long as you recognize that something other than yourself is in charge. This is a really important part of the 12-step recovery process. Although I am not involved in the program myself, I appreciate and respect many aspects of it. I have learned an enormous amount from others who regularly tweet succinct lessons and insights. Fellowship is one of the most fundamental components of recovery, and I have found it through the online community.

All I had to do, was reach out and learn to speak the language.