Bitterness. It Looks Bad and it Tastes Worse.


July 2, 2014 by lucieromarin

There are, of course, many reasons why we should try to avoid becoming bitter, but most of those reasons are pious, well-known to us all, and easier said than done. Meanwhile, I’ve found it helpful to keep two very natural and immediately rewarding incentives in mind, for those days when the long term incentives (e.g. Heavenly glory) seem very far away.

The first reason to make sure that you don’t become consumed by bitterness about life’s losses or injustices is that it’s bad for your skin. I’m serious! You’ve never in your life described someone as ‘so beautiful and bitter,’ and there’s a good reason why the words, ‘bitter and twisted’ don’t make you think of radiant skin, dewy eyes, or lustrous locks. It’s because bitter people don’t have them. Sure, where someone is blessed with the raw material for traditional beauty, bitterness won’t actually realign the cheekbones or put blotches on the skin, but it poisons that material and dominates it, so that a woman who should have been thought of as beautiful will only be thought of as ‘psycho.’ And, in those of us not blessed with much or any of that raw material, bitterness destroys what little we had to work with in the first place. Honestly, when I get up in the morning, I don’t fall instantly into a kind of mystical contemplation that leaves me indifferent to what I see in the mirror. I cannot avoid growing old, but I can avoid growing pinched and hard. Don’t let bitterness give you another reason for hating your life.

Truly, if you’ve experienced some kind of disappointment or injustice, you owe it to yourself not to let the experience ruin your appearance as well as whatever else it ruined! Besides, you can’t find happiness if you deliberately repel it, and bitterness repels happiness; it repels it because it refuses happiness; it refuses to look at anything other than an injustice; it refuses to cling to any thought more than the thought of how much you hate something.

And this brings me to the second important reason for avoiding bitterness. It makes you lousy company. You may think, to begin with, that you can control your bitterness, that it’s a kind of sophisticated drug, the use of which proves you’re more daring or interesting than are the boring sweet people who can’t handle its taste. But, like any drug, it will eventually consume you, and, while your tragedy may not be as great as that of the poor addict who ends up begging on the street, it will still be a tragedy. You’ve met the monotopical person who can’t let go of his issues; every conversation comes back to the evils of Vatican II, or Men, or Women, or Society or the Church, or whatever the thing is that Ruined Everything. Bitterness has stolen their ability to be normal, eating away any possibility that they’ll rediscover friendship, much less love. It’s not easy to give a sympathetic ear or heart to someone who is all anger and grievances; bitterness repels that very compassion which you resent not receiving.

Okay, I’ll grant you that not every bitter person ends up completely wizened and utterly friendless. But surely we want more for ourselves than poisoned good looks and relationships tainted by our own bad habits? Do we want any more bitter friends?

Now, I’m not saying that anyone should deny that his or her sufferings were real or that Things Got Ruined. What I am saying is that bitterness is a bad, bad, bad, bad means of pain management. Don’t do it!

2 thoughts on “Bitterness. It Looks Bad and it Tastes Worse.

  1. Charlie's sister says:

    I have a couple of friends who are in the social work field, and they sometimes see people with a problem who have simply become their Problem. It’s a pretty terrifying sight by all accounts.

    I think CS Lewis touches on it in The Great Divorce – the grumbler who becomes nothing more than a grumble.

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