Bitter who?

My sister Joy gave me a shirt last Mother’s Day that said, “I’m not bitter, I’m just unsweetened.”

Maybe I am.

A lot of people I know, even people I don’t give a dog shit about, people who feel like they know me because they can comment on my Facebook status or read my blogs anytime, assume I’m one dried up old bitter fag. You think because you knew me in high school, because you saw me drunk, crying, heartbroken, pregnant and sorry, because you knew how I went through loser after loser and still ended up single, that you can smile condescendingly, shake your head like some indulgent parent of her bratty kid and say, “Oh, she’s just bitter.”

Maybe I am.

Yes, some people have been through the same, or even worse hell that I’ve went through, and they still manage to come up all sunshiney and optimistic and stronger than ever. Well maybe that’s why my story ends up here and theirs get published in Chicken Soup for the Soul.
What you don’t understand is I can be bitter and still move on. Guy leaves me? Okay, let’s get drunk and crazy and he better not show up his face this side of Elbi again. If you ask me about him five, ten years from now, of course I’ll still hate him, I’m no saint. But that doesn’t mean I’m still burning a candle for him. Another bastard cheated on me? Well good riddance to men with compulsive infidelity syndromes. That doesn’t mean I’m going to swear off mean forever. Just the itchy ones.

I got some officemates and friends – male, married ones– who pick on me because I’m so bitter daw, that I’m never gonna get married because I don’t trust guys, that I always think the worst of them. “Hindi naman lahat ng lalaki manloloko, Jazgirl,” they say defensively. Oh talaga? Then I look at their wedding rings and the pictures of their wives in their desks and Facebook accounts and remember their discount cards at Sogo and Eurotel and their countless boast of one-night-stands and extramarital affairs. Right, I’m just bitter?

Maybe I am.

And yes some of it is my own damn fault. I’m a loser magnet. I think I’m a fixer, that I can change them all damaged, broken men, but I just end up being as screwed up as they are. I don’t think I’m good enough for someone, well, good. People think I’m just trying to think positive when I say I like being single right now. Of course who doesn’t want to come home and bang a special someone till we’re blue in the face, or someone to watch movies and walk in the park and run in the rain with? But if having all these means breaking my bank or always being paranoid or having less time for my kid, then I’ll pass in the mean time. I’m good.

Almost seven years after the fact, when friends and coworkers ask me how I’m doing, they’re almost always astonished to find me okay. It’s like their expecting me to still hold a candle for him, to despise him for leaving me and running off with his best friend’s girl. They ask me how I managed to be a single mom all these years. I’m no superwoman; I certainly had a lot of help. I actually don’t like about repeating all the gory details again and again. Yes, he was a cheater. Yes, it hurt. And yes I did slap his smug cheating face in public even though what I wanted to do was knee him in the groin. And that was just for starters. That was what I felt. Was. Felt. But when you ask me about “it,” I answer honestly and with as much candor as I can. And you laugh and say, “Ay ang bitter mo, teh.”

Maybe I am.

And so freaking what, maybe I’ll just bask and rant in all my charantiya glory. It’s actually good therapy. At least I’m not hurting anybody. And you can call it anything you want. All I’m saying is if I really am the vengeful, bitter hag you say I am heads should’ve rolled a long time ago.