Yes, I do. I swear.
Just the other day I had a long discussion with a woman friend about social behaviors and courtesies. With some friends, a swear word may pop out of my mouth during both carefree and care-full times. With others, my language is kept suitable. I would prefer not to use bad words. As my writing expands, I am more aware of the superior impact of well-chosen words over the alternatives.
Recent inner dialogue I’ve been having with myself has included consideration of how I want to be perceived in this new normal of a life; it includes being well-mannered. I don’t want to swear and ought to stop cold-turkey. In fact, at church services this past week I even made a silent promise to avoid swear words and asked for God’s assistance in keeping that commitment.
On that same Sunday I finally had time to read the prior day’s Wall Street Journal. Oh, my goodness, the issue included an article written by Emma Byrne entitled “The Many Benefits of the Occasional Swear Word.” (WSJ, January 13, 2018, p. C3) What? Really?
Dr. Byrne noted researchers have found that using off-color words when in pain actually reduces the pain’s impact. This is true not only for physical pain, but also social pain – leading me to infer swearing may help relieve emotional pain. I use inappropriate words more frequently since Rick’s death, and it is way beyond time to wipe them from my personal vocabulary. Somehow saying shocking words have allowed me to express my frustration and pain in a way that called others’ attention to my neediness. As I noted in my last post to this blog, I am feeling “whole” in a way I haven’t for over eighteen months so I don’t need them anymore.
Just over sixteen years ago Rick had his first surgical procedure for his newly-diagnosed bladder cancer. He was discharged from the hospital with a catheter. I know I don’t need to describe the immense discomfort a man experiences from one of those. As he sat home, waiting for the days to pass until he could be released from his unwanted tether, he discovered HBO’s “The Sopranos.” There’s a lot of profanity in that show. I think just simply watching others say words which rarely, if ever, crossed his lips, provided some relief from the physical discomfort. Over subsequent years his personal relationships, motorcycling, bicycling and lifelong learning habits were all better tools for coping with his disease.
There are better tools in my toolbox, too. So I will stop cussing.