Bittersweet. Moments of mixed emotions. A beautiful sunset shared with a dear friend but soon they have to leave. A touching movie with an ending that left us sad. A relationship with so many wonderful things to share together, but “those things” that worry us, or annoy or even anger us about our partner.
Life is about mixed feelings. Many of us choosing a spiritual path assume a life of all love, care and happiness is just around the corner. Or if not around the corner, at least eventually that’s the life we’ll earn. Our just reward for a life of service! Yet so many wise ones have told us for centuries that without sorrow, grief or unhappiness, we could not experience, let alone appreciate, happiness, joy and compassion. Let alone the myriad of other feelings that create our experience of being human. It is an art to being human, and our palette contains so many feelings and emotions.
The trick, I’ve found, is allowing ourselves to truly feel the “bitter” moments, without becoming stuck there. Negative emotions have a unique power to pull us down into their self-critical, judgmental, life-suffocating vortex. I know this for sure! But the heart and our soul’s evolution want us to learn from what we feel, so we can become stronger, more sensitive, more caring, and more compassionate. Truly experiencing the pain of a situation is the doorway to creating a new situation with grace and love, free from the past. It is from the honest, deep acknowledgement of what we feel that our heart can reveal what makes it sing.
Indeed this is what I have learned. If you know my story (see “The Healing” in this blog), you know i went through a two-year period of significant health and emotional challenges. I would not wish this on anyone. It was as challenging as anything I’ve ever experienced. But now that I am healed (and the physical recovery is mostly behind me) I feel a joy and a zest for life that is new, it’s fresh, it’s youthful, and it was borne out of the deep gratitude that I’ve received a “second chance from life”. I’m determined to make the most of it. I’m grateful for all of it.
Bitter and sweet. To be authentic and not whitewashing myself right now, I need to say there were many moments that were extremely bitter and wrenching for me. Important relationships became strained or fractured entirely. I had many moments of self-doubt and despair.
There were other moments, however …. and more of these are happening all the time… that have been undeniably sweet and unforgettable. I became aware through this process that while some of my “down” moments felt truly depressing, there were many other times that were happy and hopeful beyond anything i could have imagined during those dark times.
Is life sweeter now because i allowed myself to feel and fully experience the bitter? I know in my heart that is true. Am I more compassionate of others because I was compassionate with myself and tried to love myself through the times of fear, anxiety, and failure? Yes, unquestionably.
Bittersweet isn’t really so bad you know. It’s the doorway to another world, just waiting for us.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of unbridled joy. Sign me up for as much deep gratitude and wonder at the mystery and magic of life as I can handle! But the sweet becomes sweeter when you allow yourself to taste the bitter, and not let your spirit be poisoned by it.
Love always… all of it