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Four-letter Words


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Is is possible to not use any “four-letter” words? Linda Hill’s prompt for today is “four-letter” words. Here’s the place to see her prompt:

I was wondering if I could get by with writing no “four-letter” words in today’s post. But as I try to do it, it’s not too Stream of Consciousnessy. So I quit! So much for that idea.

Four-letter words can be useful.

I’ve never been much of a cusser. Not out loud anyway. I cuss just fine in my head, not all the time, but when the situation warrants it. I only  cuss out loud when I stub my toe or something like that, or if I’m alone.

But I have a hard time cussing out loud in front of people. Must have something to do with my parents. I don’t remember my mom ever cussing. Or my dad. But he was a marine for 20 years, so maybe he just didn’t cuss around us kids.

When I was in my early twenties, still living at home, I was talking on the phone to a friend. Back then we only had one phone and it was attached to the wall, so there was no privacy. I told my friend that something really “p—-d me off.” See I can’t even write it.

“Watch your language,” my dad said firmly from his recliner.

So now I rarely cuss in front of people. It’s sort of fun though when I cuss out loud in my car by myself.

I’ve worked as a substance abuse counselor for about 30 years, so I’ve heard my share of four-letter words. Some people don’t even know they’re doing it.  In individual sessions, I let it go. In groups, I’ll ignore an occasional slip. But every now and then, I get people in group who have no idea how much profanity they’re using. Since some people in the group might be bothered by it, and since people might need to learn to limit their use of four-letter words, say like for job interviews, etc., what I’ll do is put little hash marks on the board, discreetly, for each time the habitual cusser says the word. I usually only do it for the “F” word, since that seems to be the most offensive one. Though the “n” word is the most offensive word to me, and that’s not a four letter word. No hash marks for that one. Just stop it.

Eventually some one in the group catches on. I’ve had clients with 7 or 8 hash marks in a half hour, and they weren’t even mad about something. When they realize they said the “F” word so many times, they say they didn’t realize they were doing it that much, and they’re usually apologetic.

My goal is not to be authoritative or condemning, but to help them realize how often they are using the word and encourage other words. Sometimes clients have a goal to stop cussing so much, maybe for employment reasons, or they don’t like hearing their kids repeat those words, or maybe saying those four-letter words so often doesn’t fit with the new lifestyle they want to create.

It takes a conscious effort to change a habit like that, but it can be done. They can ask someone to discreetly point out to them when they say certain words. It’s like me telling my husband and my daughter that it’s okay for them to tell me if I’m hunched over. I’m often unaware at how bad my posture is until I see myself in a mirror, or notice how short I’ve become. I guess cussing is like that too.

So, I’ll be standing tall and cussing quietly… my head.

My husband says up north they call it swearing, instead of cussing. What do they call it where you come from?

If you’d like to join the Saturday Stream of Consciousness Fun, visit Linda at the link above.

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

15 thoughts on “Four-letter Words

  1. thank you for your profane
    healing words!
    when i was discharged
    from the service decades ago
    i could have used the help 🙂

  2. You are welcome! My husband of almost two years says he used profanity constantly working in the emergency services field. He’s done a great job virtually eliminating this habit (around me anyway) without me even asking him to. I trust you’ve made significant progress since your time in the service. Thank you for that service, by the way. 🙂

    • It makes sense that releasing tension that way could help some types of pain. I wonder if it matters which word you use, and the type of pain. Interesting.

  3. I would call it swearing or swear words. I like you grew up thinking the f-word was the worst swear word. Now we hear it so much it almost becomes neutral. Not quite though. I too usually used to save it for special times when I am really mad and usually in private. But I have used it more in recent years. Maybe it’s because there seems to be more to swear about. 🙂 It carries a charge for me and I don’t like to hurl it at anyone. Just once in a while.

  4. I admit I drop F bombs a lot, but usually only in the company of my own friends, who also do so. (Many of us are heavily influenced by the movie The Big Lebowski.) Working in customer service through most of my adulthood I have grown quite adept at filtering my mouth in mixed company, though there was an incident a couple weeks ago when I smashed my finger while working and let out a not so subtle F bomb. I glanced around to make sure there were no customers nearby who may have heard me. There was only one, and she happened to be a nun, which I knew as she was wearing all the usual regalia. (true story.)

  5. Thanks for that true story. Dropping an F bomb when you smash your finger is forgivable, in any setting. And when only in the company of friends, it’s no big deal.

  6. I should do something like your hash marks to show my eldest son how much he says the f-word. Then again, he’d probably only get p-d off with me. 😛
    Thanks for the idea though. 🙂

  7. 🙂 I’ve heard of people putting quarters in jars for each cuss word. You could tell him you are going to donate it to charity. Or buy him some duct tape. Just a thought. My daughter has that problem, though she will often apologize, knowing it bothers me to hear my 22 year old baby to say the F-word. I tell her about how my older sister got her mouth washed out with soap. I had forgotten about that til now. Maybe it was just a threat.

  8. I basically never swear or curse (whichever people want to call it). This is not for religious or moral reasons, so much as that I don’t know what most of the words actually mean. If I ever used them in anger, I’d never be quite sure what I was telling people to go off and do and whether or not it was anatomically possible.

  9. I was actually asked in an interview about my profanity quota. It was a form of disrespect for me, since so many of them talk about women in degrading ways. This was good to know.

  10. It is a creepy question, but you’re right about it being good to know in advance. Did you take the job?

  11. I was raised not to use profanity and still do not. I can tolerate it in others, but only to a point. Most people know enough to refrain from using it around me.

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