Effing & blinding…


Image © Bortn66 | Dreamstime

I am so grateful for how I grew up.  I lived in a family where the worse thing you could be called is a ‘besom’ – as in ‘you little besom‘ which, translated from Irish means broom. This – of course  – was only when you had done something naughty. Otherwise you were ‘angel’ or ‘darling’.

Swearing simply did not feature. Even my dad, who was a man’s man in his work – at home, an officer and a gentleman. I can never recall him being profane. Emotional, yes. Ugly in his language towards others. Never.

So…I am somewhat amazed how over the last year or so,  I seem to have morphed into a sailor with Tourettes. This is not a new phenomenon, but after yet another frustrating conversation this evening, I found myself muttering the F-word darkly…even worse, aloud!

Now, there are many women out there who – at this point – will loudly shout that it’s our right as feminists to use language as we please. Yes. It is. We can and should claim our power. However, I spent my youth filling in Readers Digest ‘Improve your Wordpower’ quizzes, and I have a postgrad degree in English Literature, so actually, I have no excuse. I have at least 171,476* words at my disposal, so effing and blinding should not be my ‘go to’ strategy.

  • Note: This is the actual number of words in the Oxford English Dictionary – Google it, if you don’t believe me.

The truth is that I am angry. And I am not being heard. And therefore not understood. Language can connect us, but it can also create barriers – we think we speak in the same way, but actually our words are the bricks we use to construct the walls of silence that bind us unwillingly…or…the brickbats we lob at one another when we feel threatened.

I feel like shouting and swearing. Yes, it will relieve my frustration (temporarily). Yes, it will make me feel like I’m expressing my emotions (temporarily). But it will not and cannot remove the core issue, the seed of this extreme emotion. My anger. My hurt.

Which got me thinking…in this hour, and of this evening…might silence be the better option?




The Lost Word

The weight of words

Two very unexpected things happened today. Number One. I found myself at a loss for words – which, if you know me, isn’t a regular occurrence, despite the tumble weeds rolling through the blog of late. Number Two – which really should be called ‘the reason for number one’ – a letter.  Not a bill, though it demanded my attention. Not one of those ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme, though it’s given me something money can’t buy.  A letter from someone who in quiet moments of reflection still occupies a place in my heart.  And whose letters I’ve kept, along with a book or two… This latest note I’ve read and re-read this afternoon. I still don’t know what to say. It isn’t a love letter, but it was written with love. Strong feelings underpin every word.

It took courage to write – but even more to send. Which got me thinking about the weight of words. Heavy words for heavy hearts. Lost words for lost lovers. Those things that go unsaid because we carry the burden inside ourselves. Unspoken.  I know why silence is the preferred option for most of us. When we are angry or hurt, words become weapons. But they also have the power to heal. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to have the courage to speak first.