REPOST: Why I Swear So Goddamn Much

I’m on holiday this week (damn right!), so please enjoy a repost of one of my favourite blog posts I’ve written. I’ll get back to being productive next week. xxJ


Hi. I’m Juliana and I like to swear. Like, a lot.

Okay, I’m not exactly Eminem or Lil’ Kim, but I do like to utter expletives on a fairly regular basis.

But why?

I’m a university educated individual who studied classical music and English. I have degrees in music and education, and an early childhood education diploma. I have two young daughters at home and I maintain a professional life as a music teacher and tutor, which involves presenting myself competently to parents and my fellow educators.

But, I still love to swear.

Especially on this blog, let’s be honest.

But whyyyyy, Juliana, why????

Because I fucking can!

Because I fucking didn’t before!

(Because I fucking couldn’t before!)

I grew up in a family that placed politeness at the top of the list when it came to expectations around behaviour. Unfortunately, because of my tendency to be passive, insecure, anxious, and an all-around goody-two-shoes, I deeply internalized this messaging and wouldn’t allow myself to do something so embarrassing or inappropriate as swearing, not to mention anything else that might be considered rude or attention-seeking. Tut tut. This tendency to avoid “inappropriate” language carried forward into all my other relationships. When I got involved with my emotional abusers, I was held to a high standard of behaviour and was both implicitly and explicitly told that I shouldn’t swear, so I kept my mouth shut.

But times have changed…and I’ve changed! And now, I swear whenever the hell I want to!

It’s incredibly liberating and it’s a small act of rebellion against my abusive exes and my polite upbringing.

I spent 30 years of my life swearing only in my head, silently enjoying the sweet sound of a well-timed “fuck” in the lyrics of a song I happened to hear, or quietly typing curse words in the poetry I wrote as an escape from my life. I spent 30 years being repressed in all ways and changing the language I use has been a small, but impactful choice I’ve embraced now that I’m on my own.

I’ve talked about the power of language before (here, here, or here, for example) because it’s an important tool for abuse survivors to use in their healing. Language is also something emotional abusers use to manipulate their victims. In my experience, abusers use their words to repress and reprimand, while elevating themselves by adhering to a completely different standard of communication.

And swear words have power. They hold weight. There’s a reason 10-year-olds whisper and giggle if they hear someone say “ass.” (Side note: I’ve learned that “bad” words completely lose their potency with children if you treat them like any other word and explain the contexts in which you should or should not swear. My daughters both know a bunch of swear words, but basically ignore them. In fact, they usually insist on saying “heck,” “dang,” or “darn” when they need to vent some frustration. Honestly, I don’t even know where they learned those words; Mommy uses the “proper” swears!)

Being liberal with my utterances of “fuck this” and “goddamn shit” has enabled me to feel a sense of power over my words again. And I take every opportunity possible to enjoy moments of feeling like I’ve re-claimed my life.

Swearing has the bonus of being a small act of rebellion within society too. I may look like a soccer mom, but I can sound like a total badass babe when inclined to do so.

I can think of other modest insurrections I practice in order to feel a sense of control in my life again. Like, setting up my home and yard however I like and in spite of my nosy neighbours. I can hang pictures and art that I choose in the way I want. I can make plans without getting permission to do so. I can walk around without shaving my armpits and not worry one damn bit about what someone else thinks! There are all these little, itty, bitty ways that I can subvert the expectations previously placed upon me—it’s like when you break up with someone and you feel sad, but then realize that you can now go to that Thai restaurant your ex hated but you love—and it feels so damn good!

So, fuck not swearing. Some people may not like my potty mouth, but then this blog isn’t for them! I think the people I’m closest to actually appreciate my new ability to be authentic. Especially because I’m not stepping beyond what would be considered appropriate; I’m just using my language intentionally and allowing myself to enjoy the satisfaction of calling someone an asshole when that’s exactly what they’re being.

Will you join me? Have you tried swearing more often and experience the liberating effect of articulating yourself through curse words? I would highly recommend it. And if you’re not convinced, watch this famous video of Sir Billy Connolly describing the power of the words “fuck off” and get a better sense of their potency and maybe a chuckle or two as well.

xxJ

Image credit: falseknees.com

High Hopes

My unintentional mantra in years past turned out to be “high hopes, low expectations.” I continued to hope for the best—and worked my ass off trying to make “the best” happen—but learned to expect unmet expectations. It was a heinous cycle in which I imagined an idealized past, present, and future, but lived a life of perpetual let down. 

Bump the timeline up to now and you’ll now find that I have legitimate issues with managing expectations.

First, because I never learned how to manage them! How could I? My expectations, no matter if I communicated them or not, remained almost entirely unmet. They were either totally ignored or, very occasionally, they were blown out of proportion in grandiose displays of “affection” (read: control/love-bombing/overcompensating).

Second, because I couldn’t tell, and still struggle to tell, whether my expectations were/are reasonable or not. Spend well over a decade being told that you are irrational, hot-headed, dramatic, and “too sensitive” and you would be confused too! 

So my expectations during adolescence and adulthood were sabotaged by wildly unpredictable responses to what I asked for or needed. And I learned to rely on other people to tell me what I wanted or needed instead of developing expectations or ideas on my own. The worst part was that even when I subconsciously resigned to being told what to need and desire, the people telling me those things remained unpredictable and would promise or hint at something and then completely undermine it by doing something different.

And now, despite the years of therapy, the hard work of self-development, and my efforts to become independent, I continue to second-guess myself when it comes to expectations or I remain unaware of what I actually want or need.

I still end up dreaming about having my expectations met. I have hopes and wishes, and not just the truly fantastical ones; ones about building a career, getting off my meds, finding a life partner, and feeling less insecure. My anxiety focuses a lot on my expectations—I want so badly to be affirmed in what I’m thinking and feeling. I require feedback and input and consistency in order to feel even close to secure. This drives me to believe that I’m needy and therefore annoying/undesirable/a nuisance which does wonders for my self-esteem, let me tell you!

I’m trying hard to change my mantra from “I’m needy” to “I have needs that deserve to be met” (Big thanks to my new counsellor for that gem.). 

“I have needs that deserve to be met”

And isn’t that entirely reasonable? Doesn’t it make sense that someone should have their needs met? Isn’t it reasonable to think that anyone who doesn’t or can’t meet those needs is either unworthy or your time or has some legit personal work to do? 

I suppose it might seem unfair to the people around me that I have this high hope of getting my “needy” expectations met, because what *I* need requires more feedback and takes more effort than what other people need. The truth is, that after all I’ve been through, and after all the expectations and hopes I’ve had go unmet, I really do need more validation and engagement than others do.

What expectations do you have for other people or for yourself? Do you see yourself as needy, or can you embrace your needs and communicate them without feeling selfish?

I am quite literally repeating the mantra “I have needs that deserve to be met” a few hundred times a day because I want to internalize it so much that it becomes a key part of who I am. Maybe adopting this new, core belief will make it harder for me to connect with other people…maybe they will think that I’m selfish or overly confident or needy? I’m starting to suspect that won’t be the case though. I think the kind of people I want in my life—those who can offer authentic and connected relationships—will be people who respond positively to me communicating what I want. And perhaps, my hopes won’t seem so high anymore and my expectations will come without guilt or shame.

xxJ

She’s got high hopes… High, apple pie, in the sky hopes.


Master of Anxiety

We can’t all be virtuosos, but I’d like to suggest that I have, in fact, reached the status of a master in at least one area.

It takes a lot of hard work to master something. Dedication. Focus. Consistency. Repetition—you can’t achieve master status without these things. 

Sometimes people are born with innate talents that lend themselves to mastery in one area or another. Think of some amazing musicians, athletes, or public figures like Beethoven, Venus Williams, or Oprah. But along with those inborn abilities, comes a strong sense of drive and a helluva lot of hard work. 

In my case, I was both born with and have spent many years honing my particular skill. It’s something that has taken many hours to master, although these hours of hard work have been complimented by my natural instincts and inclinations. 

Friends, what I’m talking about is my incredible gifts with anxiety.

Not to brag, but I’m confident that I fall into the category of the elite when it comes to overthinking,  second-guessing, and rumination. I can take any situation and infuse it with a level of anxiety so high that food loses all taste, music sounds completely bland, and just taking a breath becomes a challenge.

It’s incredible, isn’t it? I mean, I should be as famous as Oprah given my latent abilities. I seem to leave people wondering: “how does she do it?” Yup. I’m that good.

So what does it take to be an elite in the realm of anxiety?

Well, firstly you must possess a deep sense of worry and insecurity. You need to really feel like anything could go wrong at any moment and that you can in no way trust yourself. 

Second, you must experience trauma that undermines this already fragile sense of security and safety. This can come in the form of physical or emotional stress and can happen at any point in your life.

These two steps will guarantee success in becoming highly anxious. But wait! There’s a third step to truly reaching first-class anxiety and it is this: you must hold onto the first two steps indefinitely. In spite of counselling, moral support, life changes, or personal development, you have to cling to the comfort of your discomfort and allow it to seep into all parts of life, both good and bad.

I know I’m painting a picture that may be hard to see yourself in; it’s only the upper crust of the anxious who can really get to this level. But with hard work and a smattering of bad luck, you may one day find yourself sitting in the upper echelon of anxious people. 

Here are the signs to look for when determining your anxiety status:

  1. Having panic attacks
  2. Frequent rumination
  3. Physical ticks like lip-biting, skin-picking, tremors, or leg-tapping
  4. Exhaustion complimented by bursts of intense/manic energy
  5. A deep sense of unworthiness
  6. Hyper-vigilance
  7. Isolation
  8. Lack of appetite and/or voracious eating
  9. Constant second-guessing
  10. Catastrophizing
  11. Self-sabotage
  12. Pretending everything is fine while feeling exactly the opposite

I myself have mastered all of the 12 Signs of Being Severely Anxious. It’s truly been a lifelong effort, I have to say, but I don’t even have to try anymore—it’s just so easy at this point. 

Are you a member of the Anxious Elite? Have you mastered the 12 Signs? Don’t worry if you haven’t (easier said than done, I know). 

Not all of us can be Oprah, but we can all master something, even if that something is a bitch called anxiety.

xxJ   

Anxious AF