If you’ve landed up on this page, it is likely that you’re curious about your consistent state of discontent or you’re someone willing to dig deep, modify and acknowledge it.
Bitterness, and mind you I say this as a person who’s been there, is as experiential as it can get. It doesn’t really matter how much you possess in life or how much you have lost. This context isn’t very dissimilar from happiness.
Ever heard of the saying “happiness is an inside job”?
Well, bitterness too is a bit like that and by saying this, I, in no way mean that they aren’t valid feelings.
When I fell into the grasps of “it” a few years ago, not knowing my life’s purpose, feeling like i was changing more rapidly than I could keep up with.
The first time I was able to overtly articulate, I described “it” as something like this : an entourage of heavy clouds rising from the pit of my stomach, spreading inside of my body and soul, poisoning every inch of my being. Soon enough, I was feeling vexed and frustrated all the time, at everybody and at everything.
It took me a while to realise that this onset had been a insidious process. Perhaps a slow coming out of and a slow growing into something else. Initially, I didn’t track it for weeks, as it spread through me, dripping ever so slowly into my consciousness that I could easily pass it off as another bad day.
However, you can imagine what happens when the bad days add up. Even when you are backed up with compassionate and genuine friends, an inherently enriching work, understanding and satisfying interpersonal relationships or talents that can get you places- none of these things matter anymore when bitterness begins to grasp you.
Now the question is,
How do you know you’re becoming bitter?
I didn’t know or even attempt to stop and look for almost two or three months, as it was happening.
What signs should you then look out for?
1. The grudges keep building
Bitterness has a lingering feel to it. You want to enjoy a drink with your coworkers but all you can think of is how one of them shortchanged you in a petty political game at a recent meeting.
You’re with your mother over the weekend watching a film after ages, but all your thoughts are directed to the one time she should have apologized the way you’d expected it.
The instances that I just cited are in no way uncommon. Coworkers can act as backstabbers and mothers become the imperfect figures we don’t want them to be, but here’s the fact : you get over these instances either by talking about them or by reassessing what can or can’t happen or even by thrashing it out with your therapist.
With bitterness setting in, that’s not how it works. You’ll mull over it and sit on it, without perhaps even lifting a finger and doing something about it.
At times it also feels like home; you refuse to give it up at any cost.
2. The anger won’t subside
I remember that time when one day my partner had passingly mentioned how he’s not able to find his favorite mug in the kitchen. This was right in the middle of my bitter phase and the mention of something so innocuous had my hair standing.
I remember having experienced an inordinate amount of anger and the trail of thoughts was never-ending, “he’s actually telling me I am at fault”, “he’s always giving these subtle hints”, “what have I gotten myself into?” “Decision to be with such a person is my own stupidity”, “Damn, I can’t even do one thing properly.”
It’ll probably not take much for you to see where this is heading. It is a guilt trip, an accusation trip, a bile trip, all of it, all at once. In a different state, you might be able to look at the situation at hand and say, “Ok, let’s see what to do about this”