I have never met anyone in my 38 years in all the places I have traveled that has made it through life unscathed. No one has lived a life free of conflict, pain, and hard times. What I have seen is that there really are just two types of people: Bitter or Better. I also have learned that this dichotomy isn’t a matter of fate or how the cards fall. It’s a matter of which one you want to be–the choice is yours.
A little over four years ago, I suffered devastating losses. As a mother of three wonderful children, welcoming number four was a dream come true. Well, it didn’t quite happen like I had planned. All the times I sat with the kids deciding who would help feed the baby and who would change the diapers all went out the window. You see, on Thanksgiving of that year, I spent several hours in the ER only to learn that my daughter, Kiley, was dead. How’s that for a Happy Thanksgiving? I spent several days in shock and unwilling to forge ahead, but then I realized that I still had so many reasons to try. Could I have stayed bitter? Yes! Would anyone have questioned why I was upset or why I had become bitter? No! My pain was legitimate.
There was no one deciding which path I chanced upon–the choice was up to me alone. I chose that day to become better not bitter, and so my journey of healing began.
Let me tell you this: I did not heal overnight. I did not heal in a month or even a year. It took me almost four years to truly get past the pain and allow myself to heal, but what I did in those moments of choosing my own path set me on that course for healing and no longer hurting. (What I left out was that I actually suffered another miscarriage three months after the first. I had to move past not one but two devastating losses.)
When you stay bitter, you are really just staying hurt. Allow yourself to heal and know that you always deserve better.
These steps are the ones I took to become better and move past bitterness:
1. Feel gratitude. Yes, it seems like the furthest thing from your mind and heart when you are hurting, but being grateful for what you do have is a great way to experience more peace in the middle of pain. Surely you can find some reason to have gratitude if you search your heart.
2. Let others express sympathy, even if you don’t want to hear it. Hearing others’ healing well wishes is more than therapeutic; it puts forth into motion that very healing you are seeking. Let your friends tell you they are sorry for you. It doesn’t make you weak; in fact, it strengthens you more.
3. Allow yourself to hurt. It is ok to cry and feel heartbroken. You must do this in order to put it behind you and move towards peace. In spite of what you have been taught, crying is not for babies, it’s for healing healthy people.
4. Move towards a goal. Any goal will do just as long as you can move towards it. Set your eyes on something that you want to achieve, and make steps every day to get there. This will move you past the pain and into something else that is good for you.
5. Laughter is, in fact, medicine. Get together with that one friend that always makes you laugh, and let yourself laugh. It doesn’t mean you aren’t grieving or you aren’t upset with what happened. It means you know that you need a little dose of human interaction sprinkled with some good ol’ fashion chuckles. It will help you in so many ways.
Be the better version of yourself, heal the wounds and know that the choice is yours. You have the power, and I am over here cheering you on!
Bitter or Better–which person are you?
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Photo: Maria Shanina, Stephanie Krist, and Harli Marten via Unsplash