I swear, it’s a curse

I want to start off with a disclaimer; my mother did not raise me this way. I was the oldest of three neat young boys raised by a single mother. We were always taught not to swear. I think my mother took pride in raising her kids ‘the right way’. And as far as I can remember, we didn’t curse or swear, ever. (Even my mother only sweared when she hit her head, or whatever) I think my memory on this is pretty good and accurate. To be honest, my mother still rarely swears, and, I think, neither do my brothers. Admittedly, I rarely speak to them face-to-face these days, because they live far away. They are very well-mannered in video calls. Maybe they’re a bunch of foul-mouthed sons of bitches whenever the line breaks. Nah, probably not.

So where the fuck did it go wrong with me?

I don’t know what happened to me specifically, and why it all went downhill with my language etiquette. I’m the only one in my family that ever went to university, let alone obtained a doctorate. I’m also the one that can curse in six languages. You would think that obtaining an academic degree would come with a certain level of well-spokenness (I think I just made this word up). I can’t remember any teachers ever cursing. (Except when they hit their head, or whatever) I don’t know where I picked up all this garbage. But I did.

As a teenager, I had a lot of anger inside me. My father is the kind of dipshit that leaves his kids behind, never to return again. I haven’t seen or heard of him since I was eleven. I never thought it hurt me much when I was younger, but I have recently learned that – well – it may have scarred me for life. As a teen, I was just cynical towards everything and everyone. I was literally hating on everything, all the good things in life, including friends. It’s probably one of the reasons that I’m no longer speaking to any of them, except one (whom shares a similarly shitty background which I think creates a bond too) I may at times have been bullyish to various friends, colleagues or classmates. I was neither a good friend, nor a nice person to be around.

When I started university, I did not notice that this angry attitude affected the way people interacted with me. (I was pretty oblivious to this fact for the first two to three years into my education) My first two years in uni were a real horror show anyway (another story), which led me to really make a proper attempt to be a good student only from the third year. I had somehow figured out by then that interactions with others were what made life beautiful. So it was also in that year that I started gradually developing more meaningful friendships and connections. Meeting my wife Heike may have helped in this too (although she is certainly included in the meaningful connections, she deserves special mention) – it took a whole lot of being nice to convince her I was Mr. Right, but somehow I managed. And here we are, twelve years later, still being very nice to each other.

So, I gradually turned into a nicer human. Friendlier, kinder, certainly more fun to be around (although I’m never that much fun at parties). But at the same time, my vocabulary took a turn for the worse. It almost feels like it functions as an emotional release, that allows me to be nice, while channelling some of that anger, which is still there. I see my therapist for a good reason (and have learned so much about myself in the process – therapy, I recommend it!).

My foul language is becoming a problem. I can certainly ‘behave’ when I’m in work meetings and I think I usually twist and turn to phrase most things professionally, without cursing much. (I hope. Do I?) But whenever, I’m off. Fuuuuuuuuck. All the fucking time. Having a toddler that is learning new words every single day, this of course becomes a problem.

I try to be mindful of my language in his presence or to him.

This evening, Heike caught me asking my son why ‘he turned all Daddy’s clay figures to shit’. I don’t even notice it anymore. I need to work on this. Thus far, he has only picked up good words. Maybe it is good that we raise him bilingual (German-Dutch), and I often curse in English?

I’m wondering what will happen if I suppress it, but I should try. They say anger makes for the best writing. Maybe I will suddenly produce writing filled with hatred, so if it affects you in any way, I apologize deeply in advance.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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