How to Dilute Your Bitterness

The end of a marriage, especially when it comes with infidelity, courtroom drama or excessive vitriol, is like taking a large shot of concentrated bitter. Bitterness comes when we feel a situation was unfair and outside of our control. It is fed by blame, when we feel as though someone else could have prevented the situation.

You come out of the fugue renouncing marriage, blaming the institution for your ills. The thought of starting over again in love and allowing someone unfettered access to your heart brings an acrid taste to your tongue. You look down at affectionate couples like the Grinch looking down at the happy celebrations in Whoville.

You may generalize your rancor, for example painting all men as lying, cheating bastards. Or you may keep the bitter concentrated in a bolus of poison focused on your ex or the affair partner. Sometimes the bitterness lives on the surface, making itself known in most interactions. Other times, it buries itself deeper where it is harder to identify yet it still colors every thought.

Bitterness is anger past its expiration date.

Anger is a sign that something needs to change. It’s a fuel that drives us when we would otherwise crumple in sorrow. Anger sparks when something or someone is testing our boundaries. It tells us to stand up for ourselves and our rights. It’s a neon arrow pointing to what needs to change.

In contrast, bitterness is the residue left once the anger has served its purpose. Bitterness has no purpose. No direction. It may be less intense than the initial anger, but its effects can damage your entire life if you don’t rinse it out.

Since bitterness tends to be more diffuse, permeating every cell, it’s easier to lessen its impact by diluting it rather than trying to simply excise it in one big cut.

First, be truthful with yourself. Be willing to admit any bitterness you carry.

Identify the form your bitterness takes. What words, thoughts or stories carry the acid?

Institute a gag order of your bitterness. Ban the offending words or thoughts.

Eliminate all or none thinking. Life isn’t so black and white.

Bitterness thrives on victimhood. Refuse to be a victim.

Find the lessons within your situation. It doesn’t lessen the pain, but it gives it purpose.

Accept that there are situations you cannot control. And that you can never control other people.

Bitterness feeds upon itself. When you are acrimonious, others will respond in kind.

Take a lesson from cooking. Sweetness cuts bitterness. Find ways to add smiles to your days.

Bitterness holds you back. Letting go allows you to embrace the rest of your life.

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12 thoughts on “How to Dilute Your Bitterness

  1. These are really good tips for letting go of bitterness. I know I certainly was bitter for a long time over my divorce, angry at him for cheating and for the web of lies he created to maintain a girlfriend on the side. But eventually, I realized that I wasn’t hurting him or the new girlfriend by being bitter. I was only hurting myself. It took me a long time to escape from feelings of bitterness but I eventually got there. Thanks for the tips and the well written post!

  2. Hows this for diluting bitterness?
    1. My ex-husband STILL has my name tattoo’d on the middle of his chest, creepy! A ex-wife and 3rd ex-wife to be after me, man this must really piss all those women off! Why they tolerate that crap I will never know!
    2. When I come across the widow box, (you know divorce, married, single), I pause and laugh!
    3. I think it all comes down to knowing your marriage not working out is more a reflection of who they are, not you. My ex was horrid to me, and if he didnt leave me, I would of stayed. I believe everything he told me. He even admitted, in a very mean way, he had to leave me or else I wouldnt go. I truly had no clue what he was up to, now I know way to much, and he hates me. Like I care. Hmmp! 😒

      1. I had his name as well, my boyfriend, bless his heart, never said a word, I think it was my birthday, (we have been together for 9 years this March, I know it was our first big gift giving thing), asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted my ex’s name covered, it was on the nape of my neck and my hair is waist long. He said “oh I never noticed, it was covered in 3 days, he’s such a liar. But he never mentioned it, and he asked me why I never said anything before, he would of covered it for me sooner, I said I was embaressed. He just hugged me. But, hes a gentlemen like that. 😊

  3. Powerful post. So much truth in what you say. I love that “bitterness is anger past the expiration date.” Never heard it put like that but that is right. Thanks for sharing.

  4. “Anger sparks when something or someone is testing our boundaries. It tells us to stand up for ourselves and our rights. It’s a neon arrow pointing to what needs to change.”

    I often wonder why I get accused of being bitter by my ex…when I truly don’t feel bitter in my heart, though I often feel angry. I think with your post I found a way to explain. I no longer feel anger that he had an affair. I no longer feel anger that he left his family. I no longer feel anger that he forever changed the fabric of our children’s lives. I ONLY feel anger at the currently occurring interactions that happen with such frequency that sometimes I can’t seem to recover from one before the next arrives. He constantly attempts to test my boundaries which causes me to feel bound to standing up for myself and my rights. Once the interactions cease to occur, I think I will then be ultimately free of the anger and any possible bitterness that resides under the surface. Right now all I can do is limit interactions to the best of my abilities and try to maintain my calm in the knowledge that I am doing the best I can and that I have the right to have expectations about how I wish to be treated and the right to have limits to what I should be expected to do for him.

    1. I was upset one day about something my ex did, and how he reacted bothered me, ( as if). My therapist (the mean one, i have a nice one and a mean one), says “K, you asked him for A, B, C – how he reacts to it is his problem, you have no control of anyone else, if he doesnt want to help or whatever, all you did was ask, find another solution”. Man, I hate it when he is right! So I have been taking this approach of late, I find I am less frustrated, I am only one person! I cant make anyone do anything, even with court orders!

      1. Oh and I think they like to say BITTER, because women associate the word to a old ugly spinster alone with a million cats no man could possibly ever love again! Lol I told my ex when we first seperated lol – “I can be bitter and be HOT!” The look on his face was worth it! Hmmp! Lol, the stupidity that comes out of our mouth when we are angry knows no boundries. Haha! It shut him right up though!

      2. Yeah, I don’t even ask him for anything. More often it is my ex having expectations that he feels I should be doing for him…keeping his calendar of kids events, going in together on Christmas gifts, responding in some way to informational texts (not questions), etc

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