I’ve been a wordsmith, a player in words, for most of my life. It is as much an obsession as it is a compulsion, to understand how certain words strung together can change meaning with inflection, or juxtapose two unexpected words together (as poets do) and find a strange but unsettling way to describe an emotion. Words are as much about definition as they are about conveying an attitude. I’m picky about words and how they function as a whole.
But the other day, I decided to toss a phrase into the word bin, relegating its usage to sipping a thick milkshake through a straw. The reason? I understand the sentiment behind the phrase, but I also think it can come off as indifferent, callous, and send entirely the wrong message to someone who is tired and depressed. The other is that it’s inexact, and as a wordsmith, I can’t ignore the recklessness of such a phrase.
Suck it up is therefore tossed into the bin with you’re too weak, it’s your fault, and don’t complain. It’s a brutal phrase, and while I understand it, and comprehend how one can toss it out offhandedly for a certain machismo effect, it’s also one to be used with care. And conversely, the wrong thing to say to someone who fights the tendency to self isolate, and go into their world, one where images and thoughts might revisit them time and again, disrupting their lives so they are no longer able to enjoy the events going on around them.
The only correct way I could use it in the context of WarRetreat is to say: Suck it up and exhale, then do it again. It’s called breathing, and let us help you find a way to find that life force called breath.