BY DAVE BRIDGEFORTH
Before he walked out of my life, he said his only hope for me was that I become so great and powerful, such a success, that all the things he had done to break my heart, all the betrayals, lies, humiliations, all the pain he had caused would then mean nothing to me.
I write because I know I am not alone. If my heart is stuck, there are tens of thousands stuck also. It then becomes my mission to navigate through these experiences, the community at my heels, with bated breath along for the ride.
No one wants to be bitter, which is why most of us run from the idea and any slight accusation. We claim betterment in hopes to hide the down spiraling effect that takes place when someone you trusted enough to place your all on the line snatches the air from your lungs in an instant. When the knife that we never thought we would feel punctures our skin, into our flesh, tearing away at the wholeness we once knew, we many times are reduced to futures influenced by pain.
It’s like that taste in your mouth that wraps around your now wicked tongue, reaching down your throat. That after taste that has glued itself to you; it taints the experience of everything that comes after it. Some might say that they are not bitter, but that they are angry and simply tired of having their time wasted by boys trying to be men.
Most of us carry trash bags full of regrets like crosses to bare; our hearts are raw with rage from losing one too many times in the name of love. Broken beyond repair, the pain oozes through the cracks in our crumbling hearts. Where are all the apologies that our guts tells us we are owed for the devastation we’ve endeared? How many men do we carry in our hearts who no longer care to have heart for us? How many men's names do we speak of with passion who don't remember our faces?
We find peace in the arms of other men because we need to feel someone familiar, as close as breathing. Our hearts need reminding that we are not alone in this cruel insensitive world. Those same hands that palm us, many times because of the dysfunction that comes with us, find themselves wrapped around our necks in rage. We testify of how those trusted to love us end up abusing us. Raped, battered, betrayed, and abandoned all by those like us; those not removed from the struggle of being colored and queer under the scrutiny of the greater other.
It was at the end of my 20s that I noticed the residue, the accumulation of wrong doings shot in my directions. I didn’t know that being young, attractive, bold, popular, and passionate would have its effects on me. It was at the end of my 20s that I realized I had become bitter, cynical at best. I had suppressed all the pain that had built up over the years, all the incidents that had happen to me because of who I had chosen to be in the world. I was sick in silence over all the secrets I had forced myself to keep; in part because I believed that a victim is never attractive, and I couldn’t find the purpose of complaining about all the guys I let enter and break up the good china in the cabinet of my heart.
Three of my boyfriends with their lack of concern for me tried to give me HIV. I've been physically assaulted twice by someone who said they loved me. I've opened by life and home to men with intentions only to know my business. I've slept with guys who only wanted to know what the hype was about, to know where I lived, or to know the expression my face makes when I orgasm. I've loved guys who took photos of me asleep, naked, after sex in efforts to blog publicly about their experiences. I've been loyal to lovers who have, also, been lovers to my friends and colleagues at the same time unbeknownst to me. I've committed my heart to boys who offered theirs to the highest bidder. I've made love to my boyfriend in front of an audience in an attempt to prove my love. I've slept on beaches, in cars, and was homeless in love with a boy. I've committed my life to working on behalf of the community, the same community that took turns running trains on my boyfriend. You would be amazed at the attention that visibility affords you and at the same time taken aback by the byproduct of being the boy on the cover. I've been the butt of jokes, the objective of bets to see how long it would take someone to bag me. I've been objectified by those I called my own. And I've never said a word as I uttered Lord forgive them for they know not what they do, while remembering that it all comes with the territory.
It’s taken me years to be able to find peace within myself for I was a bitter bitch and didn’t know it. Bitter that I see his ways infused in with my own. Part of my laugh now favors his and my attitude now lingers in his direction. Bitter because while in the arms of another man, I still dream about him. He finds his way to me, he becomes familiar in characters that I do not know. He becomes men I wish he was when we were together. In these dreams, when I see him, my heart still sinks, and just like always I began to gamble all I have for the chance for him to love me again. Bitter because I haven't learned how to let him go though I've done away with images of him, as I no long frequent our pictures. I stopped saying his name a year ago in hope to free myself of nostalgia, but it is his scent that chases me for I still wear his favorite cologne, because it is my own. Bitter because I trusted someone else over myself.
I was undone because of the bitterness. Resentment stems from lack of trust and faith in the only thing that really exists, love. We pinch ourselves off when we don’t trust the process, and that is what bitterness is —a pitching off of the goodness within us in effort to hurt them for hurting us. Trusting the process looks like surrendering and allowing the energy of love to serve unto us nothing but love going forward. Trust looks like understanding that everything that shows up in our space, though we may perceive it to be negative, is here to teach and evolve us, to prepare us for everything we’ve been dreaming about. Faith looks like knowing the love that God has for us is the same love that keeps the planets in formation and the atmosphere conducive for life. It is understanding that this love is in every fiber of our lives, infused in every experience. It is understanding that the pain of our heartbreak is energy that was given to us. It is our responsibility to reconstruct and transform that energy into power for the dreams living on the inside of us.
So I set my own self free, day by day. I talked my bitter ass into kindheartedness. I pulled my depressed self off the couch slowly for two years. I learned how to take sorrow and mold it slowly in the palm of my hand. I forgave those who trespassed against me. I prayed for my ex-lovers. I fasted. I learned how to disappear. I learned how to be a lover to my own soul. I studied the breadcrumbs trailing behind all greatness.
You ask God for water to drink and he sends floodwaters over countries. You ask him to let your life have heart and it will be broken and stepped on rudely. What I’ve come to know is that in the moment of your greatest pain is your greatest gift, for what you choose to transform your pain into can change worlds.
I am no longer a Bitter Bitch, I am beyond better and all the secrets that have made me sick are not secrets anymore.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them…. You should be angry. But you must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” -Maya Angelou