I’ve met her at least a dozen times over the last 20 years. Sometimes she’s short and brunette; other times, tall and blonde. Her resting facial expression is a scowl, and she frequently stands with her arms crossed or hands beside her in clenched fists. Her mouth may force a smile, but her eyes speak of continual pain and deeply rooted resentment. She used to be very pretty… maybe she still would be if the bitterness of life hadn’t put those worn, angry wrinkles on her face.
She breaks my heart, every time.
She is terribly lonely and wants desperately to be in a meaningful relationship with a man who will love her… just the way she is. She tries so very hard to be attractive; she manages her weight and always does her hair and make-up before going out. She asks me if I think she needs cosmetic surgery… maybe men would be more attracted to her if she got a boob job, or a face lift.
She tells me that it is just men in this town. What is wrong with them? People in other states are much friendlier. She thinks she should move. When I ask why she hasn’t moved yet, she gives me a list of very good excuses. But she is still certain that happiness would be hers if she could just move to Florida. Or California. People are so much friendlier there.
I suggest finding a way to be happy right here, right now. I tell her that a joyful spirit is very attractive; not just to men, but to everyone. She gives me a very long list of reasons why she can not be happy. She is stuck in her misery, and it is not her fault. It is never her fault.
She will not see that she is the cause of her misery.
Frequently, she will even tell me that she is NOT unhappy. She has a wonderful life except for this one thing, yet this one thing is all she ever talks about; that or the crimes committed against her by the men in her past. It always seems to come up in the conversation. Around the time of my divorce, I found myself falling into that trap, too. I remember how it felt.
I want so desperately to help these women find relief from this torment.
I make suggestions that would actually help the situation and don’t involve cosmetic surgery. They cannot hear me. They keep going back to the excuses they have formed, like concrete, in their heads. They won’t see that they have made a decision to be miserable, and nothing I say will persuade them otherwise. My heart hurts just writing that.
Do you know this woman?
Are you becoming this woman?
Do you swear that you are not bitter; all men are just pigs and that’s a fact of life?
I believe that nothing is more attractive to a person of quality than an open, joyful and loving heart. People like being around others who are that way, regardless of the gender. I want to stress again that NONE of these women I have met are physically unattractive, but they are so angry and bitter and obviously in pain that they may as well wrap themselves in police “caution!” tape. Men are afraid to talk to them, and so am I. It’s just a matter of time before I say something that will offend them and set them off. I definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of THAT kind of pent-up fury, and neither do the fellas.
So what’s a woman to do?
I realize that it’s not like the “Happy Fairy” is going to wave a magic wand and suddenly everything in her life will be transformed into sunshine and rainbows. It took time to get this miserable. It’s going to take time to heal and find contentment. It’s not going to be easy, either. Facing yourself can be terrifying, and changing our comfortable (but destructive) patterns is painful.
Here are some things that have helped me and some other women I know who were starting to slip down that hole of bitterness. Please, please, please read the whole thing before dismissing it as something you don’t need or want to do. Just read it and think about it as a possibility.
1. Personal Development Workshops
Okay, these take money, but WOW are they worth it. I went through the Center for Leadership Design and it rocked my world. They’ve been around for nearly 30 years and still don’t have a website, but the phone number is 407-671-7517. There’s another place where the classes are much bigger and therefore aren’t as intensive (so they cost much less). It’s called Landmark Education. Everyone I know that allowed these programs to change them agree that it was worth every penny. So how much would you be willing to pay to stop being angry all the time?
2. 12 Step Programs
These are free programs that have a great process for finding relief. Isn’t that what you want? Relief? There’s one held at many area churches called “Celebrate Recovery” and I know of at least one church in the Boulder Colorado area that has a group just for angry women. And don’t just go one time and decide that it was worthless. That’s a cop-out. Go at least once a week for 6 weeks and see if it has any merit. Come on, it’s free and who knows? It just might help. Wouldn’t that be great?
Alcoholics Anonymous is another outstanding program. Lots of people don’t think they have a drinking problem, so they don’t belong there. Did you grow up in an alcoholic family? Do you drink on a fairly regular basis? Check out the program. You might be amazed at how it can transform your life. I’ve heard that it’s better to be involved in AA than the one for families of alcoholics. Try regular AA for a while and see what you think. Hey, it’s free and it just might lift the tremendous burden you’ve been living under for all these years.
I’m not talking about the “killing for Jesus” types of church that are full of angry, self-righteous jerks. Obviously. There are lots of churches out there today where they are preaching the gospel of love, grace and forgiveness… just like Jesus did 2,000 years ago. Many of them have websites and you can listen to a service or two before you ever step foot inside the door. I challenge you to go EVERY WEEK for two months and see if it doesn’t help you to feel a little better, lift your spirit, and give you more hope that things can get better. And again, it’s free.
Find an organization you believe in. Work with kids with Down Syndrome, or the elderly, or puppies. Get your focus off of yourself and focus on making someone else’s life better. You might be amazed at how it can shift your thinking.
5. When All Else Fails, Therapy
But I list this with a caveat; if you’re not with a therapist who is going to challenge you, don’t bother. You don’t want to pay someone $120 a week (or more) just to listen to you whine. You should be reading books that will help you to grow and trying new things with your behavior that are totally out of your comfort zone.
If you know this woman, would you send her this article? It will almost definitely tick her off, but it also might give her the one candle she needs to light her way to finding a path towards a happier future. Bitterness can sneak up on us all, like weeds in a garden. Don’t let it choke the beauty in your heart and on your face.
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