Monday, January 23, 2012

Bitterness (an embarassing confession)

Ah, bitterness.....

What a dangerous thing it is.  It never really announces it's arrival, does it?  No.  No, instead it slowly creeps in.  And if you aren't vigilant, it can a take a foot hold in your heart.  And that, is destructive.  I can't think of one person whom I have ever known as bitter, to have either happiness or joy.  Nor do they spread those attributes around to others.  What they do accomplish, however, is spreading around their misery, and destroying who they once were.  Ah, Bitterness.  I wondered when you'd show up. 

This has not been an easy past week for me.  I had 3 sick kids, and was sick myself.  I had received more disturbing news about my Grandfather's condition (if you follow this blog, you probably can surmise that by my last entry).  And yes, even my husband was under-the-weather.

If you're a mother, you know how difficult it can be to have a sick child sometimes.  The clinginess, the whining, the crankiness, the mood swings, and their constant needs are quite the thing to try to manage.  But we do it.   Now multiply that by 3.  Three sick kiddos, and maybe you can start to understand my week.

If you're a mother, you know how taxing it can also be to take care of everyone when you, yourself, are sick. And want nothing more than the aches to stop, fever to break, and to stay in bed, and can't.  You know how difficult that also can be. 

This past week I had both.  It was hell.

Over the past several weeks, several friends had sick children.  They post about it online.  And of course, we all feel bad and send them well wishes.  That's what friends do, right?  Lift one another up. 

Well, when the same support did not come flying in like so many others I had supported, I also started dealing with hurt feelings.  My heart ached as I started to deal with what I saw as rejection.  And yes, this is most embarrassing to admit.

How come no one cared for me like I cared for them?  I let the hurt fester through out the week (big mistake).  Did I do something to hurt them?  Did I do something wrong?  Maybe they aren't really friends after all.  And if that's the case, why in the world should I even bother anymore?  Why should I put for the effort to be supportive and be a friend, when they can't?  What's the point?  Ah....Hello Bitterness!

The truth is, a few people did offer support.  And they have NO idea how much I love them for it.  I NEEDED it!  Who knows why others did not.  Maybe they were busy.  Maybe they really didn't care.  I don't know.  I'll never know.  And you know what?  I'm okay with that. 

I really am.  Why?  Because, it doesn't matter.  Their actions do not define me and who I am.  I AM a friend.  I do care about those I call friends.   But am I really going to let what they did, or did not do, change who I am at my core?  Someone who does care about and for others?  That would be giving them a whole lot of control of me now, wouldn't it?

Bitterness will do that to you.  It will creep in, and make you vengeful.  It will make you forget who you are if you aren't careful.  I really thought about those questions I asked above this week, and this is what I have come up with:

Did I do something to hurt them?  Maybe.  But if they don't tell me, I can't fix it.  I have to let this go.
Did I do something wrong?  Again, maybe.  But if they don't tell me, I can't fix it.  I have to let this go.
Maybe they aren't really friends after all.  And if that's the case, why in the world should I even bother anymore? Am I really going to jump the worse case conclusion here?  Haven't we all made mistakes before?  Maybe they were just busy.  Maybe they are just sick of reading about sick people.  Maybe....anything!  Why in the world would I just jump to that kind of conclusion?  Maybe it was lack of sleep.  Maybe it was medicine.  Maybe, maybe, maybe....   Who cares.  But I don't want to be "that" person.  And if they aren't really friends, time will tell.  But I refuse to jump to "worst case scenario"  immediately. 
Why should I put for the effort to be supportive and be a friend, when they can't?  What's the point? Because that is how I was raised.  To be kinda to everyone.  To treat everyone as I would want to be treated.  It doesn't mean they are going to treat me the same way I treat them.  And that's ok (although, it would be nice.).  I wrote a whole blog post about accepting others as they are.  I can't let their actions (or lack their of) change who I am.  And that's what bitterness does.  It changes you.  And never for the better.

I was childish this week.  And maybe it really was the stress, and illness, and lack of sleep, and medicine.  Or maybe I just needed to grow up a bit.  Honestly?  I think maybe perhaps it was a bit of both.  But I did realize that bitterness was starting to take root.  And it did want me to lash out at others.  I don't want to be that kind of person.  I really don't.

So Bitterness, you can take a hike.  There is no room for you here.  I CHOOSE to care.  Even if I am never cared about, it's still who I want to be.  Who I was raised to be.  I would rather suffer a thousand broken hearts, than live my life in bitterness.  I would be rather be the "fool" who cared too much, than hallow shell of person bitterness leaves behind.  I choose to love.  I choose to support.  I choose to be friend, even when I'm hurt.  Because that's what friends do.  And we move forward, together.

What about you?  Are you harboring bitterness in your heart?  Toward a friend, a family member, colleague, or spouse?  If so, how's that working out for you?  How far is that going to take you?  What good is going to come of it?

Would you care, even if they didn't?   What kind of person do you want to be?

I pray that I can raise my children to people who care.

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