Apostate: Someone who can think for him/herself.
When you take a slur and make something positive out of it by being a group of desirable, hard working, thinking, honorable, etc you've in a way changed that slur into something good.
On point, Matt!
I have become proud of the label in some ways for those reasons. I now think, love others, live my life, based not on what an Watchtower tells me to do, but on what my heart, my personal investigations and education in a particular area, tell me to do.
On the point of bitterness; I was, I am not now. I consider that some very good things came from the time I spent as a witness. I did lose the best years of my life in their religious quagmire of theology. I have lost many friends.
But it is tantamount to learning you have millions of dollars in a bank account you didn't know about. You could have enjoyed it in youth - but you can still enjoy it now. Why be bitter? Be happy to be free. But that attitude does take some time. Some never get over it. I still am glad for them and myself that we got out alive.