By REBECCA SPARROW
One itty bitty word. Just four letters long. But dammit, I’m going to force myself to stop using it.
So what’s the word?
Wine. Just joking. (Have we met?) And if you think I’m not going to be muttering the word ‘wine’ – or more precisely ‘Give me all the wine’ – post delivery, then you’re cray-cray.
Nope. The word I’m planning to ditch from my vocab is “just”.
Think about it.
When women are feeling self-conscious, not good enough, as though they need to justify something they’ve done, they tend to use the word ‘just’ in their answer. It’s a word that signals to the world that you’re excusing yourself away. Belittling your own choices. Feelings. Decisions. The word ‘just’ – when used in an answer to a question – tells the world you’re apologising for who you are.
Q. So what do you do?
A: Oh, I’m just a stay at home mum.
Q. Are you going back to work already?
A: Well, it’s just that my maternity leave has finished/financially I need to return to work/I miss my job/living with baby Epponnee-Rae is like living with Anna Wintour coming off a nasty ice habit.
Q. Did you seriously quit your full time job to go to Magician’s School?
A. Well, it’s just …
Sound familiar? Ever found yourself in a situation where you are repeatedly apologising for the choices and decisions you’ve made?
What’s really interesting is that psychologists will tell you that women and men who are routinely berated (read: verbally or emotionally abused) by their partners often use the word “just” when explaining what they’re doing. In her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship: how to recognise it and how to respond, author Patricia Evans says:
‘…the partners of verbal abusers often say, “I was just …”. And if they have been berated quite consistently, they may preface most of their actions, even when no-one is around to hear them, with “I’ll just …”, such as “I’ll just vacuum this room because I have a little time before I have to pick up the kids …”. The partner’s habit of saying, “I’ll just …” may be a way of saying, “I hope no-one will find a problem with this and berate me for it or vent their rage on me , or devise a negligent or malevolent motive for my actions.”
Devise a negligent motive for my actions. BINGO.
At no time do women worry more about being seen to have selfish motives than when they’ve just given birth. That’s when the word ‘just’ gets one hell of a workout. All of a sudden the delivery, the feeding, the sleeping habits, the care of that baby are (apparently) EVERYBODY’S business and you are forced to justify your decision making.