A Conversation with Bitterness.

I have a pretty vivid imagination. Things are never black and white to me. I like picturing how things work and why. Recently I have been struggling with bitterness. I do not like holding onto such a negative emotion. It makes me sad that I can’t find a way to erase it, rather than just pushing it out of mind. So I started thinking about what bitterness looks like inside. What would it look like if my brain was like a company at work? If there were a bunch of people in there minding their own business just trying to do their jobs and get through the day. What would it look like if they had to go in for performance reviews? This is the imagined scenario that ensued.


Before me is a stark white hallway. I walk as quickly as possible, following a man in charge of performance reviews, nervous that I will trip over my own feet. My palms are beginning to sweat.

“Right in here,” the man in front of me says as he opens a wooden door that says ‘conference room’. He extends his arm allowing me inside in front of him. He closes the door with a small ‘pop’ and I place myself shakily in a hard black chair adjacent a sturdy mahogany table. The man sits across from me, placing a folder in front of him and opening it, clicking his pen into the ready position.

“So let’s get right to it. Thank you for coming in for this interview. Like I said before, it is no big deal, we are just trying to better the functionality of the cerebral process here.”

I nod once. Ready to get it over with. I hate this.

“Ok so first, tell me about what you do.”

I blink twice, thinking. I guess I don’t put that into words often. What do I do? “Well. I am an emotional assistant, so I help control the body’s emotions… When the eyes saw mountains in Yosemite I triggered an emotion of feeling small in the world. I trigger sadness when someone dies, and pain when we are hurt…” I pause, unable to think of more to say. This seems like it should give him a pretty good idea anyway. “Is that ok? Do you need to know anything else?”

“No thank you, that is perfect.” He scribbles on his notepad for a long moment. “Now, since we are trying to improve functionality, could you tell me the greatest weakness you possess with regards to your position?”

Great. This is my most dreaded question. It is something that I refuse to think about, pushed to the dark recesses of my own mind in an attempt to keep it from seeping into my life, including my work.

“Bitterness.” I say simply.

“Ok,” he scribbles more. “Can you explain further?”

“Um, sure,” I say. Nothing comes out of my mouth however. I can’t think of more to say. I don’t want to think of anything more to say. I want to push it back down where it was.

I must not answer for a long time, because the interviewer says, “There is no need to be nervous. This interview is to help you. I am just a representative of the brain. Sent to make you aware of yourself. All I ask for is honesty.”

Those words rattle through me. All I ask for is honestly. All I ask for. Like it’s a small request. It sounds so innocent, but it gives me the feeling of standing in the snow without any clothes. Exposed. Vulnerable to the bone chilling cold. I don’t want to acknowledge my own weakness. I want to bury it. I don’t want to think about it. And I definitely don’t want anyone else to know about them. If I tell this interviewer then he is going to spread it around the brain. There may be talk of it all over. It will churn around like liquid in a blender. I wont be able to avoid it anymore. But technically I volunteered for this interview, and he asked for honesty. I take a deep breath and plunge into the darkness I so want to ignore.

“I hold onto bitterness,” I say. “It makes me feel spiteful and distrusting. If someone has continuously wronged me then I eventually stop trusting them. It makes me bitter. When they ask for trust again, or when they refuse to recognize the problem, I become angry. And after that everything they do is wrong. It poisons them to me. I don’t want to be bitter. It makes me tired. It makes me unhappy. It affects my work and the emotions I trigger. I can feel my own bitterness seeping into the decisions I make during work hours, but I can’t figure out how to let it go. That is my greatest weakness.”

He nods as he writes. Who knows if it’s a good nod or a bad nod. I don’t think I care anymore. It’s all out now. I thought it would be harder. I might even feel a little relieved. The bitterness is still there, but maybe now I won’t have to pretend to myself that it is not. Maybe now I will even have some help to work through it.


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