“Bitterness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”
― John Ortberg Jr., Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them
There’s a lot in this world to be or get angry about. I think we can all agree on that. I can say from my recent endeavors to discover and learn more about myself and my family that, there’s a LOT I could be angry about. I have a lot to be bitter and upset about.
But I am not bitter.
At least, not the majority of the time. And hey, I’m human – we all have weaknesses and we don’t get to pick and choose what we feel. We only get to pick and choose what we acknowledge as our feelings, coping mechanism, etc. But picking and choosing certain things to acknowledge and certain things to ignore, we are choosing to either be better or to be bitter.
It took me a long time to realize that being bitter wasn’t working for me. People weren’t picking up on my passive aggressive hints that I wasn’t having my needs met, or getting what I truly needed, etc. And that left me feeling even more ignored and out of place and to be honest, simply “not good enough.” I was bitter for a whole slew of reasons, the majority of which have since then been resolved, mourned, or worked through. Geeze, I think I was even bitter about feeling bitter, so I eventually just chose to numb everything out and not feel anything at all. Which in turn, made everything fester.
We all have a choice. We can choose to get better or to stay bitter. Feelings can be really hard stuff to understand, work through, and process. I know I’m not at the point yet where I can completely handle them on my own (thank goodness for therapy and uplifting church services, right?!) I’m not saying it’s easy, but by making the conscious decision to work towards getting better, we are choosing recovery from whatever it is we’re going through. For me, it’s an eating disorder with a side order of anxiety and a massive desert of depression. For others it may be one of those, OCD, people pleasing, co-dependency, alcoholism, anything under the sun. We are all on a journey and whether you are explicitly “recovering” from something specific, everyone at some point encounters the opportunity to be bitter. Choose not to be.
This topic comes to mine specifically as I have a conversation with a close friend tonight. We were in the hospital in Denver together for quite awhile and became very close through that time of struggle. Tonight we discussed how everyone who was in treatment with us seems to be relapsing. Here’s the thing some people don’t know about treatment: It’s not just sitting around knitting and eating 6 times a day – it’s work. You are forced to sit in individual therapy, countless group therapy, family therapy, meetings with dieticians, etc and talk about your feelings and any trauma that may have brought you to where you are in your life. It’s hard. Easily, hands down, no questions asked, the most difficult 3 months of my entire, short, 20 years of life.
But she said something that struck me, as I talked about how we need to be able to call each other when we notice the other struggling. She said, “I’m here to support you and listen to you 100%, just know that I won’t be here to watch you get sick again…” And I was like, woah…that’s actually SO profound.
And it brings me full circle, back to the point: WE ARE EMPOWERED. WE HAVE A CHOICE. Each day I wake up and place my feet on the floor is a day that I’m faced with a choice:
1. Am I going back to being bitter?
2. Or am I moving forward towards being better?
The choice may be pretty obvious, but friends, sometimes it’s a difficult one to make. But I have proven for the past 5 months that I can (and mostly will) make the right choice, and my goal is to continue that upward climb towards being and getting better.
Regardless of whether your ailment is psychological, physical, emotional, all of the above, or anything under the sun – you have a choice to make. You can remain bitter about past wrongs that have been dealt to you, or you can choose to get better, improve your outlook on life, keep moving forward.
Every day is an opportunity, friends. What will you decide?
“…you might want to decide fast. We live in a dangerous world. If you see a chance to be happy, you have to fight for it, so later you have no regrets.”
― Ilona Andrews, Magic Bleeds