For the entirety of my journey through infertility-land I have heard the word bitter. I've been called bitter by quite a few people. I've been told not to become bitter. I've heard about the 'bitter infertile' stereotype. It has become very apparent to me that people will think you are and call you bitter if you go through something difficult for a long period of time unless you act like it is just all roses while you're going through it.
This has prompted me to explore a little more what the word 'bitter' really means.
This is the definition of 'bitter' as given by Merriam-Webster:
a : being or inducing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is peculiarly acrid, astringent, or disagreeable and suggestive of an infusion of hops — compare salt, sour, sweet
b : distasteful or distressing to the mind : galling <a bitter sense of shame>
: marked by intensity or severity:
a : accompanied by severe pain or suffering <a bitter death>
b : being relentlessly determined : vehement <a bitter partisan>
c : exhibiting intense animosity <bitter enemies>
d (1) : harshly reproachful <bitter complaints> (2) : marked by cynicism and rancor <bitter contempt>
e : intensely unpleasant especially in coldness or rawness <a bitter wind>
: expressive of severe pain, grief, or regret <bitter tears>
— bit·ter·ish adjective
— bit·ter·ly adverb
— bit·ter·ness noun
Lets go through this.
Regarding #1- (a) I am not a taste. So, no. I'm not bitter in that sense. (b) You bet! I find infertility extremely distasteful and distressing of the mind.
Regarding #2- (a) Yes. I am experiencing a bitter pain. I suffer. Infertility is horrible. (b) Yes. I am determined. I will be a parent. To will fight to become one until the bitter end. (c) This is the one I think people keep referencing when they talk about infertility and bitterness. Yes. I bitterly complain to God about my inability to get pregnant. Yes. Infertility has given me a lot of cynicism towards life. Most difficulties in life do. This doesn't mean I wish bad upon others. I don't wish my pain on others. I just wish others would try to understand and acknowledge my pain.
Regarding #3- Yes. I express my emotions. Right now, those emotions include severe pain and grief.
Based on this definition of 'bitter' I'd say it has a lot more to do with pain and grief than with the hatred and resentment that so many people seem to be confusing it for. Based of this definition I am most certainly experiencing bitterness. It is more of an emotion than an adjective. Hateful is an adjective, and I don't think I'm hateful. If anyone or anything is bitter, I'd say it's infertility. Infertility is bitterly painful.
I'm not in the habit of hiding my emotions. In my experience, that leads to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and depression. I'm not going to put on a fake happy smile when I feel like I'm dying inside. You wouldn't ask a person going through cancer, a divorce or the death of a loved one to just slap on a smile. My grief is just as real, so please don't ask me to do that either.
Most importantly, the next time you start to call someone bitter, maybe you should think about what bitter really means and recognize the pain and grief that person must be experiencing. Maybe instead of calling them bitter you should love them through the hard times. That is what we do for the people we love, right? Love them even when life isn't all roses?