January 11, 2020

To Those Struggling with Bitterness - A Final Unapologetic Message

As you are now aware, I am in the process of sharing my final thoughts with the world, one personal message at a time. This message contains my final words to anyone who is struggling with bitterness in their lives.

Dear friends who struggle with bitterness,

Please find a way to get rid of that shit. Right now. Bitterness will absolutely destroy so much goodness in your life.

I was such a good person in so many ways before I started this blog and for quite some time after. I gave. And I gave. And I gave some more. I gave my time. I gave my mind. I gave my efforts. I gave my money. I gave my support to others wherever I could.

I gave freely and without any expectation, or so I thought.

Then one day, when I had just received some unexpected good fortune in my life, I told my followers that I would send $100 to the first 30 people who privately messaged me and told me that a hundred bucks would really, really help them and their situation at the moment. It was purely an integrity thing, I told them, and it was truly something I was giving without any expectation. Or so I thought.

My inbox flooded. It took less than a minute for thirty people to message me, and I kept my word when they did. I sent them all a hundred bucks. Three thousand dollars total.

Then, when it was all over, I literally only received two messages in return saying, “thank you.” I sent thirty different people a hundred bucks, and only two people even bothered to say, “hey, thanks Dan.”

I guess it turns out that I did expect something when I gave the money, and the lack of gratitude from those people festered inside me until it became sincere bitterness.

That was the start of a long period of bitterness in my life that really started to hurt my life in so many ways. For the better part of a year (and maybe even longer), I just didn’t want to give anything to anyone else anymore. I didn’t want to do good in the world anymore for nothing in return. I sure as hell didn’t want to share with anyone else.

I began looking at anyone who needed anything from me as someone who was just entitled and selfish.

I began finding fault in people where I had never even thought to look for it before.

I began assuming the worst about people and situations, and never believing that their difficult situations were as dire as they made them out to be.

The world became one big dishonest and greedy scam to me, and I became negative, cynical, and judgmental. Those were three attributes that were not part of my personality before the bitterness hit me, but they certainly were after.

After all, I wasn’t even close to fucking rich when I did what I did. I was actually struggling at the time. I actually gave more than half of my new good fortune that had come into my life to complete strangers. How could they not appreciate that? How could they not at least thank me for that? How could they not understand that that money actually could have really helped me? HOW? HOW? HOW? I became sure that none of them actually needed that money at all. I became sure that all the people I gave to lied to me and used me.

Those thoughts became a fucking cancer in my soul. They ate me from the inside out. After time, I really hated myself for the way I felt toward the world. I told people about what happened. I shared the story with others to prove how unthankful and entitled humans are. I lamented about it any time I needed to feel good about myself and also not feel bad for stopping caring about other people.

And for what? Because a few people didn’t say thank you? I let something so trivial and out of my control have that much control over me?

It was only when I realized what I had become that I dissected the bitterness for what it was, and did something to eradicate it from my thoughts.

Whether it was true or not, I forced myself to sit down and assume the best about it all.

I told myself those people were all working at least three jobs, and they didn’t have even three minutes between working and trying to raise kids on their own to show they were thankful, but they were all so thankful for it.

I decided every single person who asked for it truly needed it.

I decided that the hundred bucks helped every single one of them not lose their electricity, or their car, or their home.

I reminded myself that I didn’t ever tell them just how much that money actually could have helped me in the moment I gave it. They couldn’t have known. They couldn’t be held responsible for that.

I told myself for some reason most of the thank you messages got lost in transit, but they were indeed sent.

These stories and reminders which I gave myself began to ease the bitterness that had begun to consume me until I finally was just free enough of it that I was able to remind myself why I did what I did in the first place. I was able to remind myself that I went into it not expecting anything in return, and if I was being honest about not expecting anything, that should include not expecting “thank you” messages.

Eventually, with a lot of the right self-talk, the bitterness over it was gone.

I began seeing the world in a positive light again.

I began seeing people in positive ways again.

I began having compassion for other people’s needs and situations again.

I began believing in human goodness again.

I began doing good for others again and giving to others again.

Life was so much better when all that became a part of me again, and it stayed better for a few years.

Then a woman did something to absolutely hurt and betray me. What she did doesn’t matter. Just know that it fucking hurt me and rocked me to the very center of my being.

I went through the exact same ugly bitterness cycle, even though it had a different face on it. I lost myself greatly for a while and eventually had to do the same things to find myself again.

And for what? Because one person did something that hurt me? I let something so trivial (and yes, I mean trivial in my grander scheme of things) and out of my control have that much control over me?

It took a long time to get over the bitterness cancer that time. Life improved drastically for me and for the people around me once I finally did get rid of it.

The next time I definitely went through the bitterness cycle was spring through November of last year, after the hardest and most damaging relationship I ever had finally came to an end.

The bitterness from that relationship absolutely consumed me and it threatened to destroy me beyond repair more than any bitterness ever has.

And for what? Because someone brought chaos into my life? I let an ultimately temporary situation have that much control over me?

Thankfully the bitterness from that is mostly all gone now, too, and my mental state did improve drastically once I got rid of it. The hurt and the chaos happened. I can’t change that. But I can let go of it instead of being bitter about it.

I am a good and awesome human. I know that I do so much good in the world. I have the gift I have to bring perspective and some degree of happiness to others. It has always been a fundamental part of my character to do just that, too…

Until bitterness takes over.

In other words, I have come to truly believe that bitterness is what kills goodness.

Friends, if you have bitterness in your life, please find a way to get rid of it.

Find a way to make peace with the betrayals that have happened to you and let go of the expectations that for whatever reason weren’t met.

Your bitterness does not hurt anyone else nearly as much as it hurts you. I promise you that. Your bitterness slowly kills all the goodness inside of you, and if you hold onto it, eventually you will become an unfortunate reflection of that which made you so bitter in the first place.

If you truly are a good person, find a way to shed the bitterness as quickly as possible any time you feel it. If you truly believe in the goodness of the world, do not let it fester. If you truly are better than the moments that could easily make you bitter, don’t give bitterness even an inch of room in your thoughts.

People in your life are probably going to be hurtful sometimes. People are awful sometimes. They are abusive sometimes. They are liars sometimes. They are manipulators sometimes. They steal your happiness, your security, and what seems to be your entire life sometimes. Bitterness is so easy to let creep in because of that. SO easy. And sometimes it is so difficult to get rid of once it is there.

But… Get rid of it you must if you ever want to find the version of you that you loved before the bitterness took hold.

The hard truth is that…

Most wrongs in your life will never be righted.

Most injustices will never be balanced.

Most hurt will never be properly acknowledged.

Most loss will never be replaced.

Most brokenness will never be fixed.

Learn to be okay with that. Learn not to hold onto those unfortunate truths. Learn not to let the actions and deeds of others destroy the goodness inside of you. Don’t waste even a single additional moment being bitter. Please. Take it from me. The world really needs the side of you that existed before the bitterness took hold. There were a few different times it needed the side of me that disappeared, but that side was nowhere to be seen.

I really think bitterness is like carrying around a 200 lb backpack. You’re only going to get so far with it before you give up and literally can’t take another step in the direction you are hoping to go. Getting rid of the backpack frees you so that your steps are almost weightless and your destination is much more easily reachable.

Instead of being bitter that 28 people didn’t say thank you, I needed to be thankful that two people did. I guarantee those two people really needed it, and that alone makes it worth it.

Instead of being bitter that the woman I loved betrayed and hurt me in the end, I needed to be thankful for the incredible times we had together and all the goodness she brought into my life before it happened.

Instead of being bitter about this last relationship and what it did to my life and sense of self, I needed to be thankful for the lessons it all taught me and for the perspective it has given me on the world.

That is how I take off my own 200 lb. backpack of bitterness. That is how I lighten my own steps on my journey.

And it’s how you will, too.

Swallow your pride. Let it all go. You will never want to carry that weight around again once it’s gone.

Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here (formerly Single Dad Laughing)