My father was very particular about word choice. You could not use foul language, and to him everything was foul. I've written before about how he would not tolerate disagreement. If you expressed an opinion different than him, you were being disrespectful and a smart-aleck. I longed for the day when I was adult-enough to express an opinion to him and disagree. However, even when I spoke with him briefly a few years ago, I was told I was being a "smart mouth" when I very politely tried to explain to him how his actions made me feel. Guess things didn't change much with him.
My mother criticized word choices. If she asked a question, I had to be very cautions answering her. She would get impatient with my carefulness. I would try to stall, pretending I didn't remember or understand the question, while I thought of exactly how to phrase things. She would get aggravated and tell me to "stop playing stupid." I can hear her saying that when I get stuck with words now and it increases my anxiety. We only had one shot to explain things with Mom. After that it was over and we could not go over it again. So I was very cautious in how I worded everything - from simple requests to pick up something at the store or go over to a friend - to more serious discussions. Mom's favorite method of discipline was lecturing. I'm talking two hour lectures. I couldn't tell you what they were about, except that I learned the art of hiding my disgust and outrage at what she was saying - learned that after getting slapped across the face a few times when I rolled my eyes, failed to hide a look of disgust, or even worse, dared to disagree. (should have slapped her back - that's what my sister did and it stopped the lectures for her).
Along came Toilet who loved to argue about anything and everything. What a change from both Mom and Dad. In some ways, I enjoyed arguing with him. I did learn some argument strategies. He would pick subjects that would make me furious. He'd make racist remarks and call my friends and family names. Then he'd laugh at me when I'd get emotional. I learned not to let emotions get in the way - I learned to turn emotions off and be cold. Nothing but the facts, ma'am.
However, interestingly I was also allowed to be the "boss" with Toilet. It was an odd thing. Around age 10 or so, I complained to my dad that Toilet just sat around and watched TV and I never got to watch my shows. Dad mentioned that in the divorce papers, the TV and VCR (a somewhat valuable asset back then) were distributed to us kids - in other words Mom got to take them to her house for us. So Dad told me they belonged to my Sister and I. The next fight we had, I told Toilet it was my TV/VCR and he couldn't watch it. Walked over and turned it off. I was truly acting like a snot-nosed kid then and being quite disrespectful. I would have expected that he, the adult, would call me out on it. Nope, he shrugged and walked away. I did that over and over again. It went on for months. My mom never said anything to me either - and I know he complained to her. As a parent now, I can't fathom letting my child act like that. (although I do have to smile at the memory of getting the best of him).
With Toilet I could say anything to him and get away with it. I could call him anything when we were arguing. He actually enjoyed making me lose my temper to the point where I would curse and call him names. Sister and I used to call him "Asshole." It was a proper noun - capitalized. That was his name. Until my Sister had children who could repeat things and we decided to tone it down to Toilet. One summer when I was in highschool or home on college break, he drove up and I yelled out to Sister that "Asshole is home." He heard - the windows were open. He came in and yelled and screamed at Sister. Just went off. She was laughing which just infuriated him. She finally choked out between laughs that it wasn't her. She said his expression was priceless. He came down the hall, walked right by me and said absolutely nothing. Later my mom told me I had hurt his feelings. At the time I think I felt bad. But I also found it odd that he didn't say anything to me.
I find it all interesting. I can see how each of the adults in my life influenced my issues with words. From Dad, I learned to be very careful about not saying anything that comes across disrespectful or crude. From Mom I learned to rehearse anything I say well in advance, over and over. I think she is the reason I have to plan things out so much. Like the Aguilera song "Fighter" which says, "Makes me that much stronger; Makes me work a little bit harder; Makes me that much wiser; So thanks for making me a fighter " - I do think some of my lawyering skills were learned from interactions with Toilet (not that I'll ever thank him or give him credit).
One thing I don't understand --- How was it that I was so powerful that Toilet wouldn't confront me when I shut off the very TV he was watching? Or called him names? Yet he still chose me over Sister to actually touch? (blech - add that word to icky words). In hindsight, I think he was scared in some ways of me. I wish I had realized that then. Maybe I would have felt some sense of empowerment.....