This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!
Yes, I have the mouth of a sailor and I’m pretty sure I don’t give a fuck.
I can remember when and where and from whom I learned all of the “bad” language from like it was yesterday. I remember the first time I heard “hell,” “shit,” “ass” and “goddammit” and “bitch” and especially the word “fuck.” Fuck became one of my most favorite words in the english language and I can thank
Eugene for that.
Apparently my Taiwanese friend there was an occasion for the word in every other sentence. Fuck this shit! and Holy fuck man! and his most favorite, OOOOOOOH MY FUCKING GOD DUDE! – this was typically expressed with as much emotion that he could muster as an 8 year old and especially when we were playing video games, like Kirby’s Dreamland, Super Mario, and (of course) Contra. I remember fondly sitting in his living room as he shared his venomous hate for Bowser with a hearty Fuck youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! when he died, which was often.
At that point though he would hand the controller to me and I would easily navigate the level to the next stage, hand it back to him so he could literally fuck it up and die more and so I could get another turn when he realized that he lacked the skills to beat the level. He gained friendship (I think?) and a competent video game ally while I gained an entirely new and colorful vocabulary.
Foul language can go hand-in-hand with autistics. I have read enough to know and seen much research that makes this very understandable as we do not realize that what we say has any significant impact on the people around us or that what we say might actually be offensive. Autistic people sometimes do not even realize that what they’ve said is offensive in the slightest and while the rest of the people standing around are nervously shifting their weight and giving each other looks the autistic is grinning ear to ear pleasantly unaware that what was said should not have been said.
I know this first-hand because for the longest time I just assumed that the words on my mom’s “bad list” were just that, words. Words to be used just as often as “happy,” “sad,” and “love.” They were just words, neither good nor bad but words to be used in expression. There was no need for a filter as there is no need for a filter to cover your mouth when you breathe. It was just natural.
Of course, as a child and youth growing up I could not as easily recognize, analyze, and understand body language or facial expressions. Over time I was able to pick these up so as to know that certain words expressed in certain situations is really not appropriate all the time, or ever perhaps. My parents, being raised as conservative Christians quickly created this boundary for me as grew up and the most common punishment that I received as a child was a big mouth full of soap.
I remember one of the worst soaping was after I had messed up in a public piano recital and I just stopped playing, right in the middle of the song. Since I had messed up I personally felt like I could not move on but I knew that wasn’t possible in a recital. I just stopped and expressed myself: Dammit. I didn’t yell it but rather shared it somewhat beneath my breath but my parents were mortified. I was promptly removed from the program and never was asked to play the piano again. When we got home, out came the soap.
Dove soap to be exact, in the form of a bar. This was because Dove soap was generally softer than other brands so that when my mother ran the bar of soap into my mouth a few times and when my teeth caught the bar as she scrubbed there was an extremely high chance that I would have large remnants of the soap stuck in my teeth as a reminder for the rest of the day. She allowed me to rinse post-soaping but it never did the trick fully – there was always some soap deep in my throat or stuck behind some tooth that my tongue couldn’t reach.
My parents explained that it just wasn’t what we did around here and that was that. There wasn’t much more explanation needed as I knew that for whatever reason it was I knew for sure that I hated the taste of Dove soap – I quit using those words at home. But at school (and any other place outside the home) was a different story entirely.
I came to realize that for whatever reason these words were some of the most deeply expressive words that humans use. When we experience intense frustration or pain we use them. When we experience joy and even when we’re having fun we’ll use these words. When we are betrayed or emotionally damaged we’ll use them. And when there doesn’t appear to be any other word to express an emotion, well, we’ll use them.
For me, since I wasn’t able to develop my own emotional cognition and perception naturally I relied on these words to help communicate what I was feeling. What I upset? Dammit! was a good way to express it. Was I really upset to the point of not being able to express myself in a way that wasn’t an all-out tantrum? Fuck me. was a decent way to share what I was feeling. In fact, most of the things that I experienced I felt could be enhanced with dropping the f-bomb. If I was going to share any expression, any emotion at all I might as well go all out.
Naturally, NTs learn that you just don’t go all out every time you stub your toe and certainly stubbing your toe does not equate with failing a test but to me it was the same thing. Fucking shit!
Over time my parents realized that they couldn’t control or apparently find a mechanism to change my “wayward” tongue and found other ways to ground my use or to justify it away. I remember one significant phase was in middle school where they realized that I had apparently amassed a very large collection of gangsta rap and the lyrics were strewn with every word under the sun. Upon discovery she made me take each compact disk and smash them with a hammer as I cried and told her that my life was ending. She was certain that my language was sourced from these CDs. This was the last time she really tried to enforce my language because as I moved into High School I was generally wise enough to hide anything that might get me caught.
Moving into college I had free reign. I didn’t care about my language and neither did most people I encountered. It was only after some time I began to realize that my rough speech was precluding me from making relationships with certain types of people. I analyzed these signals and over time I suppose I learned to behave. But to be honest, managing my language still requires a lot of energy and is not a natural behavior of mine. I must still practice and prepare when I know that I’m engaging with certain people and in certain social situations. I’m most relaxed and most comfortable when I can just drop an f-bomb whenever and wherever I want and in some ways I know that I’m in thebest of company now – those that know me well do not take offense but simply know Hey, that’s John for ya.
I have a potty mouth and so do many other autistics. Please, don’t take it personally because it’s really not – it’s how we communicate and if you can give us grace when we say something that may offend you then we’ll do our part to attempt some form of management as best as we can. But know that if you do end up befriending us and you accept us for who we are then it’s quite likely that you’ll hear a few words that you may not necessarily use yourself – take it as a deep sign of affection and an expression of trust; perhaps even friendship.