I’m a recovering cuss-aholic

Bad WordsHello.  My name is Shana.  I’m a cussaholic.  No really.  I am.  I never thought of my bad habit of cursing like a sailor as an addiction until recently, when I decided to quit cussing. Oh, sure, I’ve dabbled in the idea of quitting.  But up until a few weeks ago, I have never really tried to quit. I have come to believe that the reason I haven’t tried to quit is this: Sadly, I REALLY like to cuss!

So you might be wondering why after a lifetime of “f-ck that” and “holy sh-t” that I have finally decided enough was enough. Two words (not counting the conjunction): Margaret and Filumena.  They are my daughters. I don’t want them to think it’s something that is OK to do. And it’s not because they’re females – I don’t buy into the whole “it’s not becoming of a girl” crap (by the way, “crap” is not a cuss word despite my 6-year old emphatically claiming it is. And even if it is, it’s my nicotine patch until I’ve detoxed completely, dang it!).  So it’s not a sexist thing; even if they were boys I would have decided to quit.

Let me explain.

I cuss.  And then I feel like crap after I cuss. And then to feel better, I cuss more.  It’s a vicious verbal cycle. And when I cuss in front of my kids, it’s the worst feeling because I know in my heart that I am doing such a disservice to them. (For the record, I do not cuss in front of other people’s kids.)

What is amazing is that my girls don’t cuss.  For a while, I would tell myself that my cussing was strategic on my part, that I’m doing them a favor because my girls see on a daily basis what a nasty habit it is and they won’t want to behave the same way. I would cling to my delusional strategy when I felt the worst about it.

One day, I was chatting with a friend, dropping the “f” bomb like I was bad-ss, feeling the rush every time I used it as an adjective, and I happened to glance over at Margaret nearby. She had this look on her face that gave me pause. And then it hit me: She was embarrassed of me!  I’d heard from people my entire life that cussing makes people sound low class, uneducated, and trashy.  While I agreed, that never stopped me.  I suspect that is because I am very blessed to have had parents who were both able and willing to give me a very thorough education.  So while I cussed when I spoke with friends and family (and co-workers who also cussed), I drew the line when it was inappropriate to cuss  – and could easily speak articulately on a dime.  But seeing my daughter recoil because of my filthy, nasty habit was enough for me.  It’s like EE Cummings says, “The eyes of my eyes are open!”

So, I am committed to not cussing.  I’m not saying that I am not tempted.  Or that I don’t mess up sometimes. When I am mad or driving behind an annoying driver, it is the worst.  It really is one of the hardest things I have ever done as pathetic as that sounds.  Because at the end of the day, sometimes what I say is just as important as what I do.


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