Hello. 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.