Hi chumps, I’m back. My husband and I spent a few days of spring break in New York City, and now that I’m happily stuffed with pastrami and culture, I can return to my blog duties.
Apparently, a kerfuffle about my potty mouth broke out while I was away. I see that as an excellent opportunity to talk about language on this blog and the language that surrounds infidelity. My potty mouth is completely deliberate. I mean, I swear quite naturally (talk to anyone who has driven with me), but certainly not blue streaks of invective every day. IRL Tracy is quite different than Chump Lady. It’s not like I fling eff bombs when ordering groceries or visiting elderly relatives. But I do enjoy salty language and see nothing wrong with indulging in it when the situation warrants.
“The sort of twee person who thinks that swearing is in any way a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just fucking lunacy,” says Stephen Fry. In the video clip above, Fry makes a wonderful argument for the pleasures of swearing, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s one of life’s little “extras,” as he rightfully points out.
But the swearing I do on this blog isn’t just to liven up my language. Certainly there is a danger of over egging the pudding if you swear too often. No, the cursing I do is to bitchslap you out of your chumpiness. To get you angry. And to shock you out of the ridiculous euphemisms we use when discussing infidelity.
Ever hit your thumb with a hammer? GODDAMNSONOFABITCH! You can’t even help it. Reflexive swearing kicks in with the pain. Well, infidelity is a hell of a lot more painful than hitting your thumb with a hammer. Writing about infidelity is writing about PAIN. I’m not sugarcoating it. Being cheated on hurts like a motherfucker.
So why do we use such stupid words to describe the experience? Like “wayward.” OMG I fucking hate that word. I’ve written an entire post on how much I hate the word “wayward.”
“Wayward” sounds soft in the head. Like they weren’t off pre-meditatedly boinking someone they met on Craigslist but rather got befuddled, lost their car keys, and couldn’t find their way home until a kindly adult came and pinned the directions on their sweater.
It’s a euphemism. It masks all the ugliness of CHEATER, (keyword: cheat, which comes from the Old English, to fuck people you aren’t married to), with the gentler, dulcet sounding waaaywaahrd. Oh poor Wayward. He knows not what he does. He’s lost and a bit dim. You’d stop and help a Wayward. If Cheater were there sticking his thumb out at the side of the road, you’d drive on past lest he rape you in a ditch and leave you dead.
I don’t like “betrayed spouse” either. I prefer the word “chump.” Because I think it better describes the experience. It’s not enough that you were betrayed — you were defrauded. Played for a fool. Conned. Humiliated. Assumed to be stupid. Disrespected. “Chump” conveys all of that. “Betrayed spouse” puts you in victim mode. I am a Spouse who was Betrayed.
No, you are a spouse who was cheated on, and played by a con. You were chumped. That says more about the con artist than it says about YOU. You were just the mark.
Why do we encase our language about infidelity with words like “fog,” and “brokenness,” and “midlife crisis”? Because it MINIMIZES the experience. The language reflects the CHEATER’S narrative about infidelity. It benefits the perpetrator of infidelity, not its victims. Those people have a very different narrative of what happened. Which is more like GODDAMNSONOFABITCH! They’re in pain.
Who wants you to eat that pain, and describe it in lesser terms? Cheaters. I call this dynamic “eating the shit sandwich.” Not eating the liverwurst sandwich, or the moldy sandwich, or the gluten-free sandwich — a SHIT sandwich. It’s a not a nice thing. It’s just disguised as a nice thing. (A sandwich!) Upon closer inspection…. (Shit.)
So, hère on this blog, we call a thing a thing. I don’t want you lost in a soup of regret and warm fuzzies for your cheater. I don’t want you beating yourself up about this. I want you to get righteously pissed off and OWN what happened to you. And use the language you need to describe YOUR pain. Sure, some of you may prefer to do that without swearing, but my sense is most of you say GODDAMNSONOFABITCH when you’re in pain. Not “sugar plums!”
Is it a permanent condition, this pain? No, it’s finite, if you let it be finite. You won’t stay in an agonizing anger forever. But while you’re getting to meh — swear like a sailor. Hell, swear like a sailor when you have to remember it. Let your anger remind you that this person is NOT your friend. They suck.
Sometimes I think I’m like Rent-A-Spleen. People write to me because they can’t get mad about things. They’re stuck. They’re confused. They want me to get mad for them, at these injustices. And I do that. I lead the charge. HELL NO can they treat you this way! STAND UP! Get angry! Say FUCK NO!
Does that make me an angry person, stuck in some anger stage? No, it makes me a coach (a profession not known for their gentle language). Get on the field, kid! GIVE ‘EM HELL!
And use your potty mouths.