Oral Tendencies / by Dana Bergstrom

Do I cuss too much? Yes. Yes, I do. And I love it! Here's why:

Growing up in a religious environment, I was extremely sensitive to the concept of Hell. We'd go for family car rides and I'd obsessively worry that if we got into a fatal car crash, my last word ever spoken might accidentally be "Shit!" and I'd immediately be sent to the dark, fiery depths of Hell to suffer and burn forever and ever.

So, like any tiny planner and flame retardant wannabe, I created a car transportation salvation plan! I'd jam my kid-sized mouth so chock full of purple and pink bubble gum that there was no way I could cuss. It'd be physically impossible. I figured I'd shout "Phhbbt!" and God couldn't punish me for that, could he? Nope! 

Or if I didn't have enough Bubblicious, Hubba Bubba or Bubble Yum on hand, there was Plan B. I would pray real hard and picture Jesus' face before the crash, then that would cancel out the accidental swear word. God would definitely show some mercy and let me into Heaven instead. I was pretty sure I had my bases covered.

Spending so many years worrying and trying to be as good as possible because I feared earthly punishment, as well as an eternal blazing lake of fire, wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs or a barrel of monkeys or a barrel of laughing monkeys.

However, I've learned so much from the whole experience. The main takeaway is that the fear of God (or anything, really) only breeds more fear and that love creates more love. And now that I understand Hell to be a state of mind, not a place, and I'm a wild, mood swingin', perimenopausal, middle aged lady with a bunch of shit to say, I just say it!

It seems as if cussing has actually become a symbol of love for me now. If I feel like it, I can swear up a storm and not live in terror since I finally understand what unconditional love is and that it's always available for me. Love/Heaven is also a state of mind. I just have to decide whether or not to open up and allow it in.

I'm not the only pastor's kid in our family who has this penchant for blue language. My aunt married the son of a preacher who was raised with a very similar theology. I love hanging out with both of them, and whenever my uncle and I are together, we laugh and CUSS. IT. UP! One time my uncle said something hilarious and slightly vulgar that got us both giggling and my lovely aunt looked at me and said, "He's in his 60s. I thought he would've outgrown this by now." Guess not! Lucky for immature ol' me! Who knows...maybe cussing is a symbol of love for him too.

In my uptight goody two shoes days, I would've found too much swearing offensive. But words cannot actually offend. It's the person's interpretation of the language that creates a sense of offense within themselves. We each get to interpret words and language any way we want. Of course, language can either be said with love energy behind it or not. It's the energy infusing the words that people often sense and feel. This is what's so great about knowing that I'm fully responsible for my experience. You can say whatever you'd like to say to me (with or without love) and I get to choose how to respond (with or without love).

It really is the most freeing thing in the world to not expect anyone to be any different than they are. That's called unconditional love and, well, love without conditions...that's what the Bible's Prodigal Son story is all about; that's what Jesus' main message was about.

To love myself and others without conditions is my ultimate goal. And I totally suck at it whenever I listen to my fear-based inner bully/ego, but when I can do it for myself and others, that amazing blissful feeling of unconditional love is absolutely the best f***ing thing I've ever known.