“The butter melts out of habit/the toast isn’t even warm.”
Oh, Ani. She has so many words to express my feels.
I have been making it a habit to have ten minutes of silence sometime throughout my day. Ten solid minutes where I purposely shut my mind to my extraneous thoughts and to-do lists. Oftentimes a word or phrase will come to mind and that will be my theme or mantra for the day. Last week it was the word still. And in my mind’s eye I went through different “stills” from my life. The nursing staff that mistreated my husband. Words that cut me to the quick spoken by a mentor. The family member who lied. And it all came back to me holding on to the grudge, refusing to forgive because I want (demand?) justice.
I want their blood (not literally). I want them to pay. For the nursing staff to lose their licenses. The cutting words to be choked on. The liar to be publicly humiliated. For me and my honor to be vindicated.
I know that is ugly. And it is also true.
I am bitter.
Bitter out of habit. Bitter due to neglect of acknowledging the grudges I hold onto for dear life.
The bitterness leaves one haunted, hardened, homeless.
And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
Ruth 1:20, KJV
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”
Ruth 1:20, NIV
I read that verse in different versions. I used to read it and think that Naomi was crazy to not see how good she still had it, ungrateful to blame God for the life she was living. Then recently I read it and thought it was wonderful that everyone else still called her Naomi instead of Mara; and I took that to mean that they still saw one who was pleasant (Naomi means pleasant) and not someone who was bitter. That her loved ones saw her in a beautiful light; no matter what frame her mind was in. Now I read it and admire her: she was bitter and she owned it.
There is a saying that you cannot conquer what you will not confront, and you cannot confront what you will not acknowledge. And I cannot change what I do not own. I hate it when cliches are true for me. Ugh.
I will not stop being bitter until I own it, put it in my hand, and admit it is in my possession. And I do not want to own it because it is ugly. And I like some ugly things. It is true–ask anyone who went to school with me. I was a bit eclectic and I liked it. But this.. this bitterness? There is nothing eclectic or unique or redeeming about it.
It is just plain old ugly bitter. I cannot get accustomed to the taste of it: no one can.
I don’t wanna, either.
It is dark and ugly and lonely. And I cannot change it when I refuse to own it. Either way it is mine: but when I refuse to own it I don’t see how I can change it. When I own it I can think, be, different.
I can assure you that is not my elephant…
I do not have the ending right now. I have not arrived. And I am a bit miserable and it is difficult to see beyond the big fat bitter elephant in the room. Still fighting to make it so I do not have to own it because it stinks to know I am bitter and that other people see so clearly what I thought I had hidden. It is a process. I am learning and doing. I am moving forward… inching forward at a sloth’s pace… closer to being like Mara… closer to being like me.
Mara was such a brave lady. She flat out said that God was dealing with her bitterly and that is what she would be calling herself until further notice. I never thought I would ever say I want to be more like Mara; but today I do. Brave and owning up to who and what I am. Even the ugly. That is what oftentimes makes a person beautiful: when they own the ugly and use it for beauty.
Oh, Frida. She took the things I remove from my face and made them iconic.
Use it on purpose and not out of habit. I want to live on purpose, not because of obligation, and surely not because it is habit. I want to breathe and move and love and live on purpose: not out of duty or because it’s just what I do. And if I am going to be bitter I want it to be a choice and not something that blindsides me. I will be bitter on purpose or not at all. And I will keep choosing until the choosing sticks; one day the bitterness will be spread more thin and the pleasant will be more substantial. I’m practicing living by choice.
Mara was brave because she lived on purpose. I want to live on purpose, too. Join me? Living life on purpose even when it sucks the breath and force out of you? Choosing bitter or pleasant because you have the choice? I did not get to choose my growing up or genetics: but I do get to choose how I live with them and adapt. No matter what you believe as far as spirit or religion: you have a free will. Use it and use it on purpose; eyes wide open and heart thumping with abandon.
Be more than butter that melts out of habit. Because you are more.
Please do not go it alone. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or here in the comments.