It was a moment I’ll never forget. . .
She’s an 87 year old lady
who looked up from her bed at me
and asked me if it was ok for her to say the word:
“F * C K?”
It rolled so sweetly off her tongue. . .
from her lips. . .
and I remember distinctly not being able to hold back a smile as I asked,
“Do you need permission to say anything, to me, to anyone?”
“It’s just a word that for all of my life has seemed to sum up everything,”
“. . .when I’m mad, when I’m happy, when I’m afraid and scared or when I’m in pain. . .”
“. . .Do you think it’s wrong. . .Do you think I’ll be punished for it?”
“Was you intention ever to hurt someone or embarrass them?”
“Oh no, never. . .I guess I always said ‘f * c k’ to make me feel better.”
“Always. . .it’s my go-to-sum-it-all-up-word. . . .”
Some nearly twenty years later. . .
Every time I hear
t h e w o r d
I think of her and smile. . .
Back then I didn’t have the
that back up her empirical feelings. . .
I’ve swallowed bars of soap. . .
Sat in countless TIME OUT Chairs. . .
Been sent to my room. . .
Felt a hand across my face. . .
Been embarrassed. . .
but it seems that the
c u r s i n g
problem, isn’t a problem at all.
Now this is not a blog post
to make ok
to put a stamp of approval on
m u d d i e d w o r d s
but the studies are showing support
for what my hospice patient felt all of those years ago:
THAT SWEARING ACTUALLY RELIEVES PAIN
. . .and isn’t that the real goal of emotional outbursts:
TO RELIEVE PAIN ?
Richard Stephens of Keele University in England led a study that measured just how long 67 college students could keep their hands submerged in ice water. . .The group of students were encouraged to yell profanities for one controlled testing, and then to use non-swear words while completing the test. . .is it surprising that the 67 volunteers endured the cold temperatures for some 40 seconds longer WHILE SCREAMING OBSCENITIES and more, the group actually felt less pain overall. . .Stephens even went so far as to say, “I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear.”
Of course, there is a sanitary, clinical term for this:
HYPOALGESIC EFFECT OF SWEARING
Richard Stephens also concluded 10 other reasons why swearing may be good for the Soul:
IT MAKES YOU FEEL STRONGER
IT ACTUALLY DOESN’T MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID OR IGNORANT
IT SERVES AS A GREAT COPING MECHANISM
IT HELPS YOU FEEL MUCH MORE RESILIENT
IT REALLY DOES MAKE YOU FEEL SO VERY MUCH BETTER
IT’S MORE ENGAGING WHILE WATCHING TV AND MOVIES
IT HELPS CREATE CLOSE BONDS WITH OTHER PEOPLE
IT’S INNATE AND EXPRESSIVE
IT MEANS YOU’RE CREATIVE
IT HELPS YOU EMPHASIZE YOUR POINTS
Timothy Jay, a psychologist at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has spent the last 35 years studying the use of profanities. He states, “It allows us to vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness, grief. . .It’s like the horn on your car, you can do a lot of things with that, it’s built into you. . . .”
Maybe all of those years ago. . .
without the studies and the research. . .
my sweet, hospice patient was right that day. . .
After I prayed with her that afternoon,
her blue eyes twinkled with a sly secret
that couldn’t quite hold the surprise any longer
as she reached up and touched the side of my face and said,
“You’re such a nice f*cking man. . .
we laughed for the
b e n e d i c t i o n
and honestly. . .
f e l t better