I Physically Cannot Say That Word

That One Topic...

Talk about anything but that

Words are powerful tools that we can use to help build up others or tear them to pieces. Yet, they are also simply words that are meaningless until we give them a definition and context. So some people contest that these things we utter have no power expect that which we give them.

However, words are so vital to communication that all cultures give intense meanings and implied interpretations to their vocabulary. Because of this, we have words that are censored on television or shameful to repeat. Nouns evoke an image while adjectives paint a picture. Verbs can make a mother gasp in worry or a child laugh with excitement. Even particles play an important role in how we understand the world and everything in it. For example, “my dog” has a much different connotation than “that dog” or “the dog.”

Over the years, I have grown to fear certain words. This list of banned words continues to grow despite my progress in recovery. Not only is it nearly impossible for me to utter these things, I also struggle to write them. One therapist made me make her a list of all of the frightening words. Although I attempted to do so, most of the list was unreadable. Cryptic phrases such as “that mature thing” or “the thing that sometimes happens” filled the paper. Most of the session, my therapist attempted to guess the actual items while I nodded or shook my head in response.

Certain words feel dirty and unsafe to me. A while ago, I wrote a post skirting around this issue. That blog mostly focuses on these words related to PTSD. Fear of past events certainly keeps me from wanting to say certain things.

However, I am starting to wonder if there is more to this paranoia than underlying trauma from the past. Could my other mental health conditions contribute to this inability to face certain issues?

The more that I thought about this point, the more correct it seemed. Anxiety about growing up too fast and having to face adulthood contributes a great deal to this area. Also, I worried about people thinking I was a bad girl instead of the innocent, sweet child they appeared to believe me to be. OCD also might play a role. Perhaps I am obsessing over certain words but not saying them aloud. Even aspergers could trigger this fear because of its black and white thinking about things being good or bad. A word that is “bad” should never thought of much less uttered.

Thinking about this made me also wonder if other people struggle with not being able to say certain things as well. If you have a mental illness, aspergers, or another diagnosis, I would love to hear from you on this subject. Are there words you cannot deal with or that cause you great fear? If so, know that you are not alone.

Words bring us much joy and pain. Yet, most of their power comes from the meaning we give them. One day, I hope not to be held captive by fear of certain words. This might not be possible, but I will keep hoping for this area of recovery.

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7 thoughts on “I Physically Cannot Say That Word

  1. hellokalykitty says:

    Reblogged this on disordered self and commented:
    There are many things I just cannot talk about openly. Including that thing adults do :/

  2. A very thought-provoking post. In the past there were words I could never say (I even managed to report a rape without uttering the R word!) but now my ability to say certain words depends very much on the context. I can speak at length about rape and sexual assault in abstract terms but when it becomes specific and about my experiences I often can’t say the words. I can discuss things in a clinical way but combining the emotions with the words seems overwhelming. I think that is likely to be PTSD related. My therapy sessions are filled with “that thing that happened” and fears of “bad things” happening again.
    One of the things that helped me was to write down the words and then I progressed to whispering and finally saying them aloud in front of a mirror. It was a suggesting from a sexual assault charity who were helping me prepare for court. I still really struggled (particularly with body parts) but it did make things easier. Although trauma was a major reason for struggling with the words, anxiety also played a big role. I was scared I wiould get so nervous and embarrassed that I would mispronounce the words and the jury would think I was stupid or, even worse, a liar.

  3. seanmirza says:

    Excellent article.

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