owning words


Do I have your attention?


Good, cos this is probably a post best to be avoided given the self-indulgent rambling which follows.


You’ve been warned.


Once upon a time, two girls with ‘ris’ in their names had a discussion about a book. The freckled, chubby one tried – unsuccessfully – to explain to her tall, gluten-free mate why the frequent use of the word ‘slut’ made her extremely uncomfortable.  ‘Yes,’ said the occasionally-wiser-but-only-cos-she’s-old-er ‘ris’, ‘though don’t you think because it was the character in question calling himself a slut that he actually took ownership of the word?’  The pig-tailed one pondered this and acknowledged – reluctantly and would always deny it forevermore – her soul-friend-in-black was right.  The end.


Or was it??


What made me remember this chat with Chris about Heidi Cullinan’s Special Delivery was a recent conversation I had with someone which left me feeling very upset and hurt.


I talked about it with the Mumma, who hit the nail on the head when she said the other person had bought into and was reinforcing the stigma; the stigma associated with depression, that is.


Mumma’s insight made me think again about words and how hurtful they can be. 


Yet, at the same time, words can be extraordinarily positive and lead to empowerment.  Especially when you take back words that have had or still have negative connotations and make them your own.


Like ‘slut’.


Like ‘cunt’.  


Like ‘gay’.  


Or like ‘mental illness’. 


So, as much as I hate my depression at times and as much as I go through phases of wishing I could be different, I am not ashamed of the fact that I have a mental illness.


My name is Kris and I have depression mixed with a strong splash of OCD and a hint of ADD and anxiety.


And, if you don’t like it, well, you can go and fuck yourself.


I absolutely refuse to be ashamed of who I am.
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About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
This entry was posted in chris, heidi cullinan, me, words. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to owning words

  1. Jason says:

    My name is Jason, I have repressed memories, managed neurosis and a laundry list of other things. 🙂 I don't like that you have problems but I love you regardless.

    …may I still go fuck myself?

    😀

  2. Tam says:

    You go girl. 🙂 It's possible to be amazing and not fit the societal stereotypes of what perfect is.

    It's complicated. Is someone calling themselves a slut and are genuinely unapologetic for it, or are they just saying that and laughing to pretend they are fine with it but really it hurts? I'll call myself a bad word before you can and take the power away from you to hurt me. But it does hurt, thinking it hurts.

    Does it also come down to only the people in question using it, like the “n” word. Black people can call each other that, but others can't. Can a girl call another girl the “c” word (GOD I hate that word) in a non-hurtful manner but if a guy said it he'd get a stilleto in the eye? I'm not sure that's “taking back the word”. words don't belong to a group or a gender, they just are, they float in the ether and have many meanings to many different people.

    I think there are many words that people shouldn't be ashamed of anymore. Sometimes language changes more slowly than reality. Deep thoughts.

  3. Tam says:

    Oh yeah and what did they write on him with? Liquid bubble gum? That denture cream I see advertised on TV? Weird texture and colour.

  4. Chris says:

    *admires how many digs Kris got in to the first few paragraphs*

    Depression solidarity, Kris! I have treatment-resistant dysthymia. We deal. And rock. 🙂

    Tam makes some good points of cutting oneself down as a defense mechanism, but unless I'm misremembering Special Delivery (very possible), that wasn't the case.

  5. Jenre says:

    Wish I wasn't so tired and could contribute coherently to the discussion but I am, so I'll just say that I agree – with both you and Tam. On one hand taking back the word is a form of empowerment….

    ….on a side note. I went to see the Vagina Monologues with my friend. During the performance they get all the women to shout out 'Cunt' several times as a way of taking back the word for themselves. After we shouted ourselves hoarse for a few minutes I overheard a young woman behind me say in a slightly shocked tone, “Did you say it, Mum?” and the reply came, “I certainly did!”. It still makes me giggle when I think of it…

    ….and on the other hand I can see why some people would pretend indifference so as not to give the power to the person throwing the insult. I may not have been called a slut but I certainly spent my years since puberty having people call me names because I'm well endowed in the breastage department. This often leads me to get in on the self-deprecatory comment before anyone else can comment.

    Now off to rest my tired brain.

  6. KB/KT Grant says:

    Words only have meaning if you allow them to. So if someone calls you a fucking fat cunt or something you find hurtful, you've given those words power and the person behind it saying them.

    I admit I'm a wack-a-doo redhead with a bad Ryan Reynolds lusting fetish. And I'm proud to admit it.

  7. Jambrea says:

    Good for you. You should never be ashamed of who you are. And I totally agree with Tam. 🙂

  8. Eyre says:

    My name is Eyre, and I have Major Depressive Disorder/clinical depression, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. The people who don't “get it” and think that depression is just a “little sadness”, etc need to have to spend a day in our shoes. *hugs*

    “Slut” is one of those words that doesn't bother me in certain contexts; however, I have no patience with words like the “c” word, the “n” word, or the “f” word–not the “f” word that rhymes with duck. I agree with Tam that at times people may call themselves those words as a defense mechanism.

    I really wish we could just obliterate those words from the language.

  9. Kris says:

    Jase: “I don't like that you have problems but I love you regardless.”

    Back at ya, hun, and like you need my permission. 😉

    Tam: It is definitely complicated and I use self-deprecation myself as a defense mechanism – as you may have noticed – so I get what your saying.

    I face depression differently, though, or am trying to. This year is the first year that I've really started to acknowledge things about myself and to talk openly about it to my family and friends so for someone to use it as weapon against me?? No. I won't allow it. Even if it does hurt.

  10. Kris says:

    Chris: I think I got more digs in at myself. That self-deprecation thing. *wry smile*

    “We deal. And rock. :)”

    Indeed we do. 🙂 And, yes, you're remembering Special Delivery correctly. It was both an empowerment and a kink… I think…

    Jen: “On one hand taking back the word is a form of empowerment…. and on the other hand I can see why some people would pretend indifference so as not to give the power to the person throwing the insult.”

    Yes, that is true. I guess I would just hope that the hurt is less than it could be.

  11. Kris says:

    KBC: “… you've given those words power and the person behind it saying them…”

    I think that's partly what upset me so much… that I had given the person behind the words so much power and that they appear to have used it against me. That's what hurt.

    Jambrea: “You should never be ashamed of who you are.”

    No, you shouldn't, but some of us tend to be way more accepting of others than we are of ourselves.

    Eyre: “My name is Eyre, and I have Major Depressive Disorder/clinical depression, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.”

    Good. (((HUGS)))

    “I really wish we could just obliterate those words from the language.”

    Me too. Although I think talking about words and their meanings and the thoughtless way we tend to use them, does help people understand their power and, hopefully, make them think twice before they use such words.

  12. Mariana says:

    Just sending you love and bunches of hugs 🙂

  13. Jambrea says:

    Kris Said:
    “No, you shouldn't, but some of us tend to be way more accepting of others than we are of ourselves.”

    That is very true. I'm guilty of that myself. 🙂

  14. Kris says:

    Mariana: Thanks, luv. *snugggles*

    Jambrea: Me too. 🙂

  15. Kaetrin says:

    I agree with Tam also but would add:-

    Words absolutely have power – we book lovers know that – words can move people to any number of emotions – look at Martin Luther King Jr's “I have a dream” speech for example of a postive one. I actually think that the words themselves have the power – I get what KB is saying about allowing words to have more power than they should but I think that words are powerful in themselves – just like I don't allow a Mack truck to be powerful – it just is. That's my take anyhow.

    In the movie Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts tells Richard Gere that “the bad stuff is easier to believe” and that's so true. Negative words can do so much more damage and it takes so many more positive words to try and fix it. Makes me mad!

    I'm glad you're owning your own words Kris! May you always be surrounded with good words and good people to tell them to you.

  16. Jackie says:

    Hugs to you Kris. Wish I had a Unicorn Chaser to erase the bad words for you.

  17. Kris says:

    Kaetrin: “… it takes so many more positive words to try and fix it.”

    That is so very true. It's always one of the main reasons why I try to thank and praise people when it comes to things they've been able to achieve. I think we tend to criticise too easily and not be positive.

    “May you always be surrounded with good words and good people to tell them to you.”

    Look at you being nice. *squishies* Totally makes up for your bragging about Magic Slays.

    Jackie: Thanks, sweetie. (((HUGS)))

  18. Mental illness is still treated with so much fear and suspicion, yet all the most fascinating people I've ever met have suffered from some kind of mental health problem. You're in excellent company.

    My bff and I were talking about this the other day as I accompanied her to a psychotherapy appointment. She's allowed to call herself “barking mad” – I have to be very, very careful if I'm going to use terms like that but I can get away with it occasionally in jest as she knows how much I love her just the way she is. No one else is allowed to call her mad, crazy or doolally, because she doesn't know if that's coming from a position of love or fear.

    I don't have a problem with offensive words being reclaimed. I don't have any issues with the words cunt or slut – but then again, I'm a woman with a misspent youth so those I words I can reclaim. The thing is, almost any word can be offensive if spoken with hate and fear, and conversely, if spoken in love, we can invest any word with a strange beauty.

    Don't know if that makes any sense…

  19. Kris says:

    Josephine: It makes perfect sense. 🙂

    “… if spoken in love, we can invest any word with a strange beauty…”

    This is so very true, and I think your friend is very lucky to have you in her life.

    What I realised when I was speaking to the Mumma was that the other person was deliberately trying to hurt me. Once I got past the height of the upset, I could see that. I'm still not sure why, but it strengthened my determination to not hide my mental illness anymore. I don't want to be the happy Kris who hides how she feels all the time. It hurts too much. This post was the outcome of that acknowledgement.

  20. John in MS says:

    Gotta say, I”d far rather know people with real problems than fake happiness. Surely everyone has periods of mental illness – some short term, some long term – and the pretence that this doesn't go on, well, who has the energy for that?

    Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

  21. Kris says:

    John: That was pretty much my reaction when I realised that this other person was forcing their own shame about depression on me. I've worked too hard this year to slide back into that situation and I'm fucked if I will be ashamed of what is a part of me.

  22. orannia says:

    You don't ever have to be ashamed of who you are. Like Jason said, I wish you didn't have to go through all that you do, but those things are part of you – and I luvs all of you not just certain parts.

    *hugs*

    And words so have power. It's hard to learn not to let them. It's hard to claim them back. But it's so worth it.

  23. Kris says:

    Orannia: “Like Jason said, I wish you didn't have to go through all that you do, but those things are part of you – and I luvs all of you not just certain parts.”

    Thank you, dear heart. I love you too.

  24. Noni. says:

    Hey Kris!
    I read your blog written yesterday, and had a similar experience myself. I was devastated.
    Here's a quote from LadyBird Johnson (wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson). She said “Nobody can make You feel inferior without your consent”.
    And it's so true!!

    People will think and say what they want, we have no control over that fact. BUT, we can control how those words can make us feel. It still hurts our feelings, (no matter if you have an illness or healthy). Just because someone says something doesn't mean it's true. Words are just words, it's how you accept to use them that matters.

    You are a better person than someone who hurts others. You're better off having one less friend than having a “friend” like her.
    Thanks for your blogs!

    My mother once told me that words are just words, it's how you use them that influences people.

  25. Kris says:

    Noni: “People will think and say what they want, we have no control over that fact. BUT, we can control how those words can make us feel.”

    That is so very true, Noni. As is the quote from Ladybird Johnson – thank you for sharing that, I love it.

    Once I talked about it to the Mumma and started to think about it a bit more I realised that I was allowing her words to hurt me in the way that she obviously wanted. By realising that, by saying 'oh, hell no' and by owning the words, I have taken that power back for myself. Yes, I still feel that hurt, but it is much less than what it was.

    Thanks again for your comment, Noni, and for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

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