I'm better than bitter, I'm bittersweet

UnknownOne of the key words that brings people to my blog is the search term "Bitter+Infertile" or "Bitter+Childless". And every time I see those string of words I cringe. The word "bitter" leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I find my cheeks pulling in as if I just sucked on a lemon. There are several definitions for bitter and I have to admit that I am not sure which kind of bitter these Googlers mean. There is the acrid or sour taste kind of bitter and the kind that indicates intensity or severity, such as bitter cold.There are  bitter losses and deaths that indicate an extraordinary amount of suffering. There is the vehement or determined style of bitter and the bitter enemies that indicate an extraordinary level of animosity. One can describe one as bitter when they are harshly reproachful or cynical and full of rancor. And then there is the intensely unpleasant style of bitter such as bitter cold and bitter tears that come from severe conditions, pain, grief or regret.

Bitter is not a way I would  describe myself. There are plenty of words I would use describe my varying emotional reactions to being childless-not-by-choice.  Resentful? Sure, I have felt that. Angry? Uh-huh. Dissapointed? You betcha. Sad? Sure. I have felt all kinds of feelings about being infertile. Bitter? Not really. I mean, yeah, I am and have felt bitter losses and bitter pain and bitter disappointments in my infertility journey...but that said, I wouldn't describe myself as bitter. I rightly or wrongly associate bitter with a fixed state of being not just a momentary experience. Having had long-term suffering could certainly leave one bitter. But I don't see "bitter" as an emotional experience. I see it more as a noun-like-adjective, sort of like being short or tall( Height is fixed. You can be tall and sad. The feeling may change, your height is not going to). Maybe this will make more sense if I bring in the differences between the two Spanish words meaning "to be".  The verb ser is used to describe the unchanging characteristics of a person while estar is used to describe the changing characteristics of a person. "Bitter" when used to describe someone who is "childless" feels like it is used in the ser sense of the word. Now, I get that is not necessarily what people mean when they search for the term. I get that this could solely be my subjective take on it.

That said, according to the Biblical dictionary, "Bitterness is symbolical of affliction, misery, and servitude (Ex. 1:14; Ruth 1:20; Jer. 9:15). The Chaldeans are called the "bitter and hasty nation" (Hab. 1:6). The "gall of bitterness" expresses a stateof great wickedness (Acts 8:23). A "root of bitterness" is a wicked person or a dangerous sin (Heb.12:15)." Now, I am not one to quote the Bible, however I can tell you that all of those associations to bitterness do nothing to make me feel better  about the people coming to my blog looking for a "Bitter+infertile".

When I think of "bitter and infertile" I imagine a person who cannot find any sweetness in life because  they are childless. To my mind such a person would have an enormous chip on their shoulder and hence be unable to find any joy in life because of their resentment.  I imagine the archetypal neighborhood witch. Most neighborhoods have one, mine had Mrs. Crabbyapple( that isn't her real name, it is the name that we kids gave her. Actually, I don't think I ever knew her real name). You likely knew such a woman in your neighborhood as a kid. She  was a women who hated all the kids in the neighborhood.  She wouldn't give their ball back if it landed in her yard. She wouldn't buy my Girl Scout cookies and she was often heard cursing at our boisterous games of Tag or Red Rover, "You damn kids!"  It is Mrs. Crabbyapple that I think of when I think of "childless+bitter." I am not her. I am not Mrs. Crabbyapple. If your kid's ball lands in my yard I will ALWAYS throw it back. I decorate my house for Halloween and Christmas and I will buy your kid's lemonade and I will coo and aah over every baby I see. Is that bitter? I think not.

And, to give Mrs.Crabbyapple a break, I don't know why she was so bitter and/or if she really was bitter. Maybe she was just mean. Maybe she didn't want kids. Maybe she always hated kids. Maybe she delighted in her child free state. Maybe she was fertile as Mertile.  How would I know? But to my mind, that is what bitter looks like and I am not that. Yes, I have been impacted by childless and it has hurt like a son of a bitch---but it is not my identity. I can enjoy life. I can savor its sweetness. And I can even enjoy your sweet children.I think, if I had my drothers, I would prefer to be described as "Bittersweet+Infertile" or "Bittersweet+Childless".   So, dear Googler, if you are looking for "Bitter+Childless" you better keep your Internet search moving along, you have found yourself at the wrong blog.