A Quiet Celebration of Desperation and Bitterness

There are certain emotions we have a hard time discussing or telling stories about. The two that come to mind right now are Desperation and Bitterness. We can talk about being lonely, we can talk about disappointment. But there is something deeply shameful about the other two. It’s like you have not only lost the battle with loneliness or disappointment, but also with your inability to maintain your dignity in the face of those losses. You’ve let yourself be overtaken in a way that is unseemly, in a way that makes the other human animals want to reject you like bad food or a foul smell or a reminder that the capacity to lose themselves in the same way is something they carry inside, as well. Those things are too human. What could be more human than needing love and contact the most when it seems most unattainable. Or resenting having your dreams of yourself and your possibilities stripped away by unfair circumstances or betrayal. But it is fundamentally unhealthy to give in for too long to those things for reasons that are real and dangerous. Other emotions pass, those emotions are among the few that can transform into states. Conditions that do not need outside support to sustain. The emotions we fear are the ones we could get lost in forever. So we have a hard time looking directly at them, or talking about them, or telling stories about them. Still, I would not trust a person who has never had to look over those ledges, who has never felt loneliness in a way that left them absolutely desperate or their dreams dashed in a way that left them bitter. It is terrible to lose yourself to those things. But it is coddled and thin and soft to have never experienced them, to have never felt yourself lost there, and to have never had to find your way back out. Here’s to the Desperate and the Bitter. May you one day be fun at parties again. Until then, good luck, humans.

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