Bitter Bitch

October 27th, 2014

 bitter bitch post

I’ve always heard that as you age certain negative character traits simply get more intense. In other words, our personalities ossify and become more rigid. I’ve found that to be disturbingly true in my case. I grew up with a very pessimistic mother who in turn grew up dirt poor in the Depression, had an unhappy marriage and didn’t trust other people much. My early lessons were mostly warnings about lowering my expectations:

“It never rains but it pours.”

“The rich get rich and the poor get screwed.”

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

As a consequence, I’ve had to struggle as an adult against a tendency to catastrophize small problems, focus on the cloud rather than the silver lining and fear happiness or success as it might draw the attention of the gods. Because the gods will cut you down to size. As I get older, I find myself forming knee-jerk reactions about the world and the people in it. I find fault with where I live too often (the proliferation of new McMansions with fortress walls around them in my modest neighborhood). I make snap judgments about situations (I’ll hate that party so why go?). And worst of all, I’m often obnoxiously judgmental about other people who probably have their own invisible-to-me struggles. Bitter Bitch meet Nikki.

I do think it’s possible to remain open and curious about the world  as you age, and I want that for myself.  When I started walking every day, it was something I dreaded. After a few weeks of forcing myself to put on shoes and get off my ass, it became second nature–a huge “step” for someone who loathes exercise. That makes me believe that I can change my attitude about other things as well. I’ve been reading Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, and it’s been a major factor in making me uncomfortably aware of how inflexible parts of my personality have become. Harris believes that how we pay attention to the present moment determines how we live our lives and that meditation is key to being able to live in the here and now, mindfully and attentively and kindly. I’ve tried and failed at a regular practice so many times, but starting out again with 10 minutes a day is realigning my reality in the same way that walking every day has changed my relationship with my body. Bitter Bitch meet your match.

2 Responses to “Bitter Bitch”

  1. harriet apostolou says:

    This is great, Nikki.

  2. Clare says:

    Hits home perfectly. Too perfectly. I’m going to aim for ten minutes a day. Thank you for this.

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