“Bless Your Heart”
Today I had the pleasure of being the only person on the opposite side of the “BYH” debate. What am I talking about, you ask? Well, you see, I am not from the south. I was born and raised in a small town in the upper peninsula (the U.P.) of Michigan. I fell in love with a GA boy, and have lived here since graduating high school. So, for me, when I hear those dreaded words (yes, for me and many others, they are dreaded I fight the urge to slap someone across the face. I smile,find the quickest kind words to say in order to excuse myself from the conversation, and look for the nearest exit.
Now, if you’re from the south, please, kindly pick your jaw up from the floor and PLEASE, I implore you to finish reading this. You will (hopefully) find my explanation to be an eye opener. Whether I’m right or wrong, I would just like the chance to explain myself, and PLEASE feel free to explain yourself, or your frequent use of the phrase, in a comment. I love and appreciate all commentary. You won’t offend me, I promise. And, I should add (in case I haven’t already), I hope this doesn’t offend you. I am very blunt and honest – radical honesty is my motto. Jesus proclaims in the Bible, that “The truth will set you free.” I am always honest, sometimes it gets me in trouble, but I never mean to offend anyone. I just believe, firmly, that honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. Did I mention I like to be honest?
Now, with that being said, I feel that I should explain the discussion over the dreaded phrase. “Bless your heart”. Three words. Some say it’s a blessing. And a blessing in its most sincere form, nonetheless! It should be a phrase that brings peace, reassurance, and blessings to the person receiving it. So why, you may ask, do I dread that phrase? Well, I’ll tell you. I mentioned I’m not from down yonder, so for me I hadn’t heard the utterance until 2000. I was confused the first time I heard it. I stood there, pondering for a moment what had just been said. (No, I can’t remember the first time I’d heard it, but I know that I must have stood there, confused, because I still do this every time I hear it today). Bless – my –heart. What does that mean? It sounds like a blessing. Did they say God Bless you? I know that one. No, they said bless your heart. What does that mean? Does it mean my heart needs a blessing? From whom? My blessings are from God, so they must mean it that way… but it isn’t what they said. My heart needs a blessing? Does that mean I’m somehow inferior to them? Does that mean I’m wrong? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!?!?!?!
Now, I have heard today from many women who were, let’s say, less than pleased with my accusation that their prized phrase was somehow an insult… they all mentioned quickly that they say it often and it is meant as a sincere blessing, often when they have no other words…
Ok. Sounds believable, right? Wrong. That is all you could think of to say? Granted, if someone’s dog just died, their mother just died, grandma got run over by a reindeer, I could see how you’d be at a loss of words. But for the ordinary everyday small talk, if you are one of those women who feels the need to say this phrase repeatedly, you obviously are quite uninterested in the conversation! Why not just say so, politely excuse yourself and walk away? I mean, honestly. If you have no words for ordinary small talk, then why not leave? No one’s forcing you into this situation.
So, this is my point. For most southern women, the dreaded phrase is a much-loved, go-to phrase when they are at a loss for words but want to comfort someone. However I have heard many southern people laugh at the fact that the phrase can, —– and is often —– used both ways. As in, “Awww you poor thing”, and as in, “Hahahaha look at how stupid so – and – so is”. Or, “You’re stupid”.
Now, I was simply explaining how much I dislike the phrase, and rightly so, because most southern people will admit it has two meanings. And Call me crazy, being that I’m not from the south and all, but I don’t really have many phrases I use that have a double meaning that happen to be polar opposites. For example, and please forgive the example but my desire to be understood causes me to use the blunt example: when I say “F*** you!” to someone, THERE IS ONLY ONE MEANING AND I HAVE A FEELING YOU’RE NOT STRUGGLING TO UNDERSTAND IT. If I call someone an idiot, it’s always calling them an idiot. There is no way I could be giving a sincere blessing to someone when I’m calling them an idiot. And when I say, I don’t like you, it means, I don’t like you. It doesn’t mean, awww, you poor thing, may God Bless you. Now, do you understand where I’m coming from? That is why the dreaded phrase confuses me so. And I am not alone in my confusion. My husband (bless his heart) LOL! HAD TOO…. Was born and raised in Atlanta. He hates the phrase as much as I do. He was also the one who told me kindly one time many years ago, that the phrase had a double meaning; and that the way his mother had said it to me probably was the less kind of the two…. To which he became very upset with her. Now, you see, I have a man whom I admire more every day I am blessed to be his wife, telling me that the phrase has two meanings, and he doesn’t like the phrase because he sees it as a back-handed jab, a passive-aggressive insult, if you will.
Now my intent of writing this blog post is not to take away from any good southern woman who uses the phrase, and as I mentioned above I hope I haven’t offended anyone. I do, however, hope that I have shed some light on the confusion of this phrase, and why many people dislike it. I suppose the bottom line is, if used properly – and when the occasion calls for it, I can completely trust the authenticity of the comment. However, if you are one of those who uses it in everyday conversation, then I only have one thing left to say to you,
Bless your heart….