January 20, 2021

“The Bitterness Within”—Understanding the Ego & our Self-Inflicted Wounds.

The egos inward spiral and bitterness within.

The natural cycle of the earth is to create itself, eradicate itself, and reincarnate again. As humans, we are a part of this natural cycle, and on a smaller scale, we go through the same cycles without even recognizing it.

We create ourselves, an image and perspective which at some point gets destroyed or wounded. Afterward, we become someone different, a newer version with raw and untreated outlooks.

The process is inevitable, and the cycle is constant, whether it’s on a small scale, a large scale, or the earth and the universe scale.

Another innate aspect of us as human beings is our ego. That conscious part of our mind that identifies and recognizes our own identity as the self. In Latin, “ego” translates to “I.” A dear friend of mine used to sing along to one of his slightly peculiar song choices that said, “The ego is the most expensive thing.” How true this is. It lingers within us all, continuously anticipating a realistic way to obtain personal pleasure and satisfaction. As well as manage perceptions of and from others.

This is not about the ego’s journey inward and how it manages to overcome its conceited self. Rather a guide for us all to recognize and identify whether we are personally evolving and moving through the natural cycle(s) in a healthy way. Or whether we are merely using the reincarnation of self to satisfy our own deep desires for validation, idealization, and defense.

This is about awareness of our subconscious selves. Recognizing it, understanding it, and reflecting on it. The self who is ever-present, deeper than our physical bodies and the chemical firings that surge through our brain.

“The load of bitterness within.”

This refers to any feeling of resentment, anger, or hatred. Any negative emotion we have stored away for too long. That festering bitterness we hold against ourselves and others.

For me, this was one of the hardest things to recognize and digest. I came across the term and definition while listening to Les Brown’s “Love Yourself” speech. It made me uncomfortable to believe we all have a bitter side—some form of inner emotional baggage. Uncomfortable, I guess, because I have encountered it a few times and have carried my own over-weight suitcase before. We all have. But instead of recognizing it as this load I was carrying around, the blame was shifted to the other parties who made these feelings arise inside. (A great effort of the ego.)

There are situations in life where people do us wrong, and they cause immense pain and heartache. But that is a completely separate affair. I am talking about that irrational side of us. The part where the ego takes over to ensure personal satisfaction and protection, ensuring we don’t have to face the difficulty of confronting the reality and meaning behind our emotions and actions. A self-preservation act, if you will, all in the name of egotistical esteem.

We all love to play the blame game. It is unexacting to be angry rather than to dig deep past our own downfalls, our traumas, and identify our relentless egos. I will expand on this concept through an example of my own personal encounter with “the load of bitterness within.”

When I was 14 years old, my mother, my two sisters, and I immigrated to Wales, United Kingdom, from South Africa. A decision I had no choice in, as I was a child (obviously). I didn’t want to go, and I made sure everyone knew it—before we moved, while we were there, up until the very last second before I moved back to South Africa (without them) a year later.

During this time in Wales, I refused to eat any food we couldn’t get in South Africa. I got involved with some unsavory characters, neglected my nutritional needs, and had severe insomnia; I was the epitome of depression. I drank copious amounts of alcohol on the weekends, to the point of mild alcohol poisoning, in some manic attempt to escape my world-crumbling reality. I experimented with a dirty chemical and just reveled in being rebellious and making my mother “pay” for what she had done.

I guess I wanted her to see how much being there destroyed me. I wanted her to feel as lost and useless as I felt being dragged halfway across the globe, away from my father and my life. I was so angry with her! I was in such a dark space; I never thought I would see myself again—my true self.

It was time to go home.

However, upon my arrival back in South Africa, it dawned on me that this was not the same home I left behind. It was the same physical country and town, but the home we used to live in was not my place of residence anymore. My dwellings were in a loft on my step mother’s property. A loft away from the main house—away from my dad. A wooden space that was home to the cockroaches before I moved in.

My school was the same, but the friends I once had were no longer my friends. They treated me like a stranger and kept me even further than arm’s length. The bus to school was no longer the same route, no longer the same people.

When I got back after school, I would sit alone in the dark and dingy loft, eat my food alone and fall asleep alone. No sisters to comfort me. No little sister to make fun of; no older sister to look up to; no mother to curl up into bed with or get shouted at for wearing my socks outside. Just my amazing father, who now had to work even harder and longer hours than before to ensure he could look after me.

What had I done?

I came back hoping to retrieve and revive the life I lived before we moved, only to get there and realize that life had died when I died inside in Wales. I became just as sad and depressed as I was overseas. I was lost, trying to reestablish who I was. No longer that innocent and naïve girl everyone knew me as. I wanted her back so badly; I was so angry that my mother took her away from me!

Now I was filled with sadness and frustration in a space that was supposed to save me. It made me bitter, and I held it against her in some way for a long time. It was her fault my life was flipped upside down, chewed up, and spat back out, right?

For a good few years, I held this bitterness inside me, the sadness that I didn’t have her and my sisters with me, the bitterness that I had felt things so deeply and that it changed me as a person at such a young age. It reflected in my attitude toward her and my retaliation against change, as well as decisions being made for me.

What my mother did was actually incredible. She spent all of her savings to get my sisters and me out of the country and obtain passports. She was in search of a new life, too; one she hoped would satisfy her biggest dream to move overseas, which in itself was daunting for her.

My once timid, painfully shy, and introverted little sister blossomed into a confident, beautiful lady with many close friends. It gave her space and the environment to escape her shell. My older sister graduated as the top student of the year, she met an amazing man, and they live happily, paving the way for their lives together. They are worldly women.

That bitterness I held against my mother and Wales as a country for years and years was unnecessary.

The sadness I felt was rational; such life-altering events inevitably have some psychological effect. But the anger and bitterness was my subconscious protecting herself by refusing to believe that I was the victim of my own crime.

That crime being me actively choosing to make my life in Wales hell, consciously resisting and knowing what I was doing was wrong. I couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the change that was already happening. The change that I was a part of.

As I grew up, I started to embrace the deeper side of myself, and I began to work through these self-inflicted traumas. I began to understand how I “cut off my nose to spite my face” and realized that all that hardness, anger, and bitterness I had toward my mother and Wales was merely me projecting the frustration I had within myself but would never admit.

That is the first natural cycle I can pinpoint—the cycle of destruction, reinvention, and reidentification of self. The only thing that stagnated the cycle was that my ego took control. It ensured I was personally satisfied, leaving Wales, blaming my mother, and it made double, triple, quadruple sure it “wasn’t my fault.” It tainted my view and rotted me from within for longer than it should have.

The load of bitterness within is something that needs to be constantly evaluated—checked and rechecked with open eyes and our defensive walls down. The ego needs to be set aside.

This is a process that needs to happen throughout life: reflection and accountability.

As sentient beings, we have emotions, and we have an ego; it is intrinsic and makes us who we are. The ego is important for our sense of self, so it is not to be shunned but rather embraced, recognized, and understood.

The more we can understand ourselves and why we act and react to certain things, the more we can try to get to the root of our views instead of mindlessly allowing our egos to take control and satisfy themselves in whichever way it pleases.

The load of bitterness within reveals itself in many forms, as I mentioned above: anger, hatred, resentment, and one which I also believe is strong specifically in this social media age, jealousy.

Do you hold any unprecedented jealousy toward someone?

Do you hold any unsubstantiated anger toward someone?

Is it worth your energy, sadness, and bitterness?

Identify the emotion felt when thinking about the specific situation or person. Try to recognize whether the feeling that comes up is sincere or misguided by your ego.

This load we all carry in some way or another will always linger. But instead of letting it rot our mind and body, we should try to actively and consciously understand what has taken over and why.

Reshape the mind, not to eradicate the ego but rather to let it unfold and have the capacity to evaluate the bitterness and irrationality critically.

That is how we create space for happiness and a lighter life.

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