If I could erase one emotion completely from my life, I would eliminate bitterness.
Anger frightens me. When someone annoys me, I bite my tongue and inwardly scream until I have no voice. If a person hurts me, I fake a smile and brush off a few tears as a cauldron of fury bubbles inside.
But I struggle to confront or actually deal with the anger. Complain to others? Perhaps. Face my own anger? Never.
That is when the bitterness begins to grow.
One of my main goals in life is loving others. However, bitterness gnaws away kind thoughts and even respect for others at times. I find myself snapping, cold and apathetic to others. If I thaw a little, a gushing ocean of anger will drown myself and those around me.
Replacing bitterness with anger seems simple and safe. Just bottle up everything and pretend that it’s fine. Then guard that bottled anger, let it ferment into bitterness, and then sip a bit each day. Gradually, you might realize the bitterness is poisoning you. Yet, its disgustingly soothing taste and promise of safety from conflict make it appealing.
For example, I want to be a good Catholic. Mass, fellow Catholics, confession, religious holidays – many of the things I miss the most about being in another country revolve around my faith. However, one bottle of my bitterness is from other Catholics growing up and my sheltered Christian university. The belittling of others, lack of information on safety, crushing pressure of purity, judgement against other denominations, inability to welcome in others – none of this was what I believed or what I was taught to believe. All of this was what I witnessed. Instead of responding, I sat there and let the bitterness begin to fester.
This happens in many other situations though. With friends, jobs, countries, the healthcare system – nothing can escape anger at times which means bitterness can possibly follow.
However, I want to break that trend. Maybe that means speaking out more in frustration. Maybe that means journaling more and letting hurt go. Maybe that means finding out pain and finally expressing anger from years ago.
The journey to healing from this is still murky for me. However, changing and healing in this way is certainly not impossible. Difficult, yes, but possible. It’s a journey that I need to embark on if I want to live a peaceful, happy life.