I grew up with a verbally abusive mother. She swore, screamed, and said nasty things when she was upset, and she still doesn't understand the impact that her cruel words had on my feelings. As an adult, I'm learning to accept her for who she is but unfortunately, I've also become conscious of the fact that I've inherited her out-of-control mouth; and I don't like it. I've been called "harsh" and "blunt" since I was a preteen, but only now have I realized that those terms are just euphemisms for "mean"! I've begun to catch myself making mean jokes at others' expense, swearing like a sailor, making judgments, and being rude in social situations. The worst part is that I can only seem to catch myself five seconds after the horrible words escape my mouth. I have many friends and a loving boyfriend, but I'm afraid I will drive them all away with my insensitive and harsh words. I'm a good person and I want to change, but I'm not sure I can. Is it too late? — Potty Mouth Patsy
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Dear Potty Mouth Patsy,
Your concerns are valid and I'm glad you're willing to change your ways — admitting your wrongdoings is the first step. It sounds like you have a classic case of not thinking before speaking, but it's not too late, Patsy. First off, try to process your words before saying them out loud and see if that changes anything; I bet it will. Since re-training yourself might take a while, be sure to acknowledge your mean statements and apologize if you fear you've hurt someone's feelings. We all say stupid things every now and then, but it's important to take action and make amends if necessary.
Since you've been clearly hurt by your mother's behavior, you should consider talking to a therapist to work out how her actions affected you and why you're repeating history. You can change this behavior in yourself if you set your mind to it so be patient with yourself and use that fear of being abandoned by your loved ones as motivation. Good luck.