Saturday, July 02, 2011

Bitter Pill

I went for a wee hike with a "start-up" friend yesterday.  It was a lovely day.  When we started out, i was anxious.  For no specific reason, my anxiety has a life of its own.  But gradually the day and the hiking and the outdoors calmed me.

This woman, i'll call her Cari, is two years into being separated from her husband, because of his alcoholism, and she is going through the divorce process, with all the attendant difficulty of dividing up the money and the stuff.

Another friend told me to be careful who i spend time with.  Cari is very bitter, and will talk frequently about how awful her husband is.  I listen, not responding in kind, and then she will wear herself out and move on to other topics.

I was chatting with Em later in the evening, telling her about Cari and her bitterness.  I told Em that i don't want to be bitter.  She said that it would be okay if i was a LITTLE bitter.   So what i hope, is that i will be a little bitter for a while, and then stop.  Bitter isn't pretty, but neither are lying, cheating and divorce.

A memory that came to me unbidden a few days ago.

When i was 13, i had a much anticipated trip coming up where i would be spending the whole summer with another family far away in California.  A family where people laughed and listened to one another.  We would be going on a long car trip and backpacking and visiting with people.

As a countdown to leaving, i got a jar and gathered pebbles so that each morning i would throw one pebble away, and the last pebble would be thrown away on the day i left home. A ritual.


Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Bitterness is something I struggle with mightily. When I let it take over, it eats me alive.

More power to you, Meno - don't be bitter.

Sabra said...

A beautiful story about the pebbles. I've always found it curious that we have no rituals connected with divorce. Signing papers. That's about it. And it didn't feel like much of anything.

Lynnea said...

what a beautiful thing to do and at 13 you thought of that.

I agree with Sabra, it seems like there ought to be ritual around divorce. Like somehow that would make it taken more seriously but then I think I'm being rather romantic even about that. It most likely wouldn't make a difference in the number of divorces or reasons for them. But maybe the answer is what you did at 13, finding our own ritual around the things that pain us. I will be thinking about this for some time. It's a comforting idea.

mischief said...

I adore the pebble countdown. Maybe you can count down the same way to the end of this painful process you are now working through. And I think it's okay to allow yourself a bit of bitterness, and a bit of ice cream, for comfort. Your sense of humour isn't gone; you still make me smile.

nick said...

A little bitterness is okay, it's only natural in the circumstances. But don't let it take root or it'll poison you.

Dick said...

Sometimes we actually learn more from observing behavior that we DON'T want to do than from seeing that we do want to do. I think that your "start-up friend" will find coming out of her funk to be a whole lot harder than you will yours.

The feelings of sadness and depression are natural, but I think that your basic makeup will let you come through them in better condition than most people do.

Anonymous said...

Not only is bitter not pretty, it eats away at you from the inside. But Em is right, a little doesn't hurt, not for awhile. I think it's pretty normal. I still get angry at my "will he ever be my ex husband" from time to time. It passes.

A hike sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I also like the jar with the pebbles. A wonderful idea.

flutter said...

I love the pebble jar. You're not bitter, you're angry and hurt. You have a right to both

Asha said...

Hi, Meno, I came to your blog a few months ago, from another blog. I empathize with the terrible phase you are going through, and I wish I could do something to make you feel better.

I remembered this poem which has helped me enormously, which reminds me to enjoy my self, my life, the small joys of my everyday life, instead of hanging my happiness on the whims of others. The lines "Sit. Feast on your life" puts everything back into perspective for me.

Here it is, on my blog -

I hope you feel better soon and plunge into life again and drink deep, joyously.


De said...

I got nothin. Except that you are really only responsible for yourself and what you do, and remembering that can avert the bitterness.

jaded said...

Coping with life's trials is effing complicated. The line between venting and bitterness is a fine one, the division being that venting can allow us to let go. It's a process be, patient with yourself.

Cat said...

No, you don't want to become bitter...on the other hand, a little bitterness could be an outlet for a lot of hurt and anger. Make sure you let some of that out, so that you don't turn it on yourself, o.k.?

LOVE the pebble ritual. Do you remember anything from the trip?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Surely the pebble jar ritual could be used somehow in your present situation. I'm sure you could create a new one that would be helpful. Em is right, a little bitterness is only normal, I think. But when it threatens to engulf you, it's time to do something more worthy of your energy. You might want to limit your time with Cari, too, because that kind of attitude won't help you to move past this mess, not of your own making. After two years, she is probably substituting her bitterness for building a new life, and you have far better things to do with yours.

Mrs4444 said...

That's a sweet memory. I also have sweet memories, of "meeting" you, loving your blog, and appreciating your support in my first year of blogging. I've popped in today just to say thanks :)

You are doing this the "right" way, whatever that is; you have class, anyway. I'm glad Em is so awesome :)

glnroz said...

ms, Meno,
By chance, i came to your site from "dot,dot,dot". You have a very easy writing style -humor ( noted from comment you left ) The pebble story was unique for such a youngster. I read a little more and discovered your "other" story. I can offer no suggestions to make it better except to say that you do project the strong person you believe yourself to be and you will triumph. I hope I didn't intrude, thanks. Glenn

sari said...

I like your ritual. Do what you can. Be a little bitter. I think it's good for you. But you already recognize you what you don't want, that should help keep you from it.

Taradharma said...

bitterness is only a natural outcome of what you have been put through. It will pass (an observation from someone who adores your writing and your way of thinking). I don't think you'll end up carrying with you for an undue amount of time. I've read that grieving and getting over a relationship takes roughly half the time you were in it -- how do they come up with this stuff?

Your posts echo the pain that many people pass through, and you are a light. A beacon. Really.