Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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On Bitterness

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This cute little gopher tortoise showed up in our garden!

: having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet

: causing painful emotions : felt or experienced in a strong and unpleasant way

: angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment

Am I bitter?  I’ve been told that I am.  Okay.  Maybe.  It depends on which of these definitions you use.

Have there been experiences in my life that have left a bitter taste in my mouth?  Who hasn’t?  That might be a shorter list.

Have I had experiences that were painful or that I felt in a strong or unpleasant way?  Who hasn’t?  That might be a shorter list.

Usually, though, when someone calls you bitter it’s that last bit of the definition they’re alluding to.  Am I angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment?  The short answer is no.  At least I don’t see myself that way. Then again, we often have trouble seeing ourselves as we truly are.  But I don’t feel angry or unhappy.

Having said that, I do get angry sometimes when certain topics come up based on my experiences.  For instance, when someone – be it a man or a woman – says that a wife’s submission is the bee’s knees and that it’s a perfect plan for harmony within a marriage.  It’s God’s plan afterall.

You know what?  I’m not totally opposed to submission.  The way I experienced it had horrific results.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for anyone ever.  Sometimes men choose to submit, too.  Sometimes people just want all the little details taken care of and never to have to make any decisions.  If the two people involved are cool with that then who am I to say that submission is a terrible idea?

In fact, there are many relationships where one is submissive and the other more dominant.  And they aren’t all religious.  If it’s a free choice made because a person knows themselves well then I think it can make for a mutually beneficial relationship.

However, if the submission is based on coercion (i.e. lording religious precepts over one’s head)?  That’s where I can become angry.  If, based on your religious beliefs, you want to submit to your spouse, by all means go right ahead and do that.  But if, based on your husband’s religious convictions he forces submission by continually reminding you it is your wifely duty, that you are sinning if you don’t, or threatens you in any way – emotionally or physically – it isn’t willful or chosen freely.

In fact, if your husband is doing any of those things you might be in an abusive relationship.  The teachings on submission within religions are but mere weapons in the arsenal of an already abusive person.  Anyone who uses scripture to guilt you into doing things to suit them is being abusive, be they male or female.

So, the long answer to the question of whether or not I’m bitter depends on whether you believe that a person’s life experiences informing their ethics makes them bitter.  If you learn nothing from the experiences you’ve had, if you can’t recognize what you’ve been through and honor that with future life choices and held values without being labeled bitter it is likely that there is something wrong with the label maker – not the labeled.

That is all.

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