Monday, April 8, 2013

Your Biggest Regrets...Part Two

For new readers, please click here to follow this journey from the beginning.

I’ll wager a guess that at some point in our life, most of us have dealt with regret. The shifty thing about regret is that it’s usually not a once-and-done thing. It’s not like we say: “Oh, what a nasty regret that was. Thankfully, I’ve moved on.” Rather, even the whiff of regret has the power to significantly alter the trajectory of your life. It’s slippery as an eel, this one. However therein lies the beauty of it. With regret, we’ll always have a choice on how we deal with it.

The mistake is ours to own, as is the decision on how to handle the mess.

We can let regret sit on the surface and rot like manure. This stench gives us a very foul kidding, who wants to sit in shit all day? It taints everything and everyone we come into contact with. Nothing seems right. The bluebird of happiness himself would not be able to penetrate your armour of dung.

Conversely, we can use that same manure to act as fertilizer. Let it seep to our roots, become part of who we are, learn from it, grow from it and bloom because of it. Guess what? Same shit, different pile. But friends, what a difference it makes where you choose to toss your pile.

Again, it’s a choice. Even better, it's your choice. Just make it a better one the second time around.

Here forthwith, is part two of your biggest regrets. (Bet you regret not reading Part One.)

It changes from year to year based on how badly I fuck up. On paper my life would lead you to believe I should have a gazillion regrets, but I don't, oddly enough. When my marriage ended I thought for a moment I married the wrong guy, but one look at my beautiful child and I know that is not true. I am not proud of how I handled some things during our separation, but we have since forgiven and forgotten and have a good relationship in co-raising our child. So I don't regret the divorce, even though I don't like being divorced, if that makes sense. I guess one thing I regret is not making a living at something I am really passionate about. I like my job and my employer is great, but I know I have more in me and untapped talents. I haven't fully explored it, so my answer to the second question is no, I haven't done anything about it...yet anyway. There is still time!

Losing my scholarship due to lack of effort. I no longer do things half-ass and take pride in everything I am a part of.

A time when my actions hurt those that I loved the most. Have I done something about it? Yes, I did.

Not being a good friend when a good friend needed me. Yes, I told her it was my only real regret up to that point in my life, and asked for her to forgive me.

Not travelling before I started working. Although looking at where I am now, I wouldn't trade it back, but would encourage my children to not get responsible so quickly.

Living a life of nonchalance, and not caring as deeply for some in my life as I should have and taking for granted that all friends and acquaintances would always be there. I am in the process of trying to rebuild past relations, and make new ones. These feelings have just set in over the past five years.

Not learning to drive sooner. It’s on my to-do list.

Giving up, for a time, my creativity.

I don't have any big regrets. Maybe not buying up a bunch of real estate before housing prices sky-rocketed…but I’m not clairvoyant. I regret that I’m not clairvoyant.

Waiting for something to happen to me. I have started to do something about it, but I am not good at it.

Having someone sever a relationship with me, for reasons I didn't understand. I did everything that I could think of to restore that relationship, but it didn’t happen. I have to it go – I can't make other people's choices for them.

I really wish I would have liked myself as much as I do now…fine lines, zits and all.

My biggest regret is going with the flow in high school. So many opportunities passed where I should have stood up for the weakest link. What I have done about it is to try to instill this value deep within my children.

My biggest regret is that I have lied. Not about anything in particular, but lied to cover up mistakes rather than being honest, lied to hide my fears and insecurities, lied to make my life seem 'cooler, happier, more adventurous.' I've done nothing. I've sat with these lies, scared shitless of the outcome. Scared that I will lose the trust of my friends, family, coworkers, and people that I admire and have great respect for. I try to tell myself that they were small lies and that I did them in order to cover up stuff that could lead to potential problems - however I really think they've sat and bubbled away, soon about to explode into something deeper.

I don't know that I regret anything entirely because I wouldn't be who I am today without those moments. I do wish that I had been braver and more confident in myself when I was younger…we're talking teens and twenties. Eventually, those instincts kicked in though, and now I find myself really trying to encourage that bravery and confidence in our children as we parent them.

My biggest regret is now staying in University. I haven’t done anything about it. Yet.

It used to be that I didn’t tell my parents or the rest of my family how important they were. I changed that a couple years ago and can say I love them to their faces. But you shouldn't wait 45 years to make that a habit.

That I didn't take more time playing music with my Dad. He’s gone now so I can’t do anything about it.

That I wasn't a better father and husband.

Not making exercise a part of my life until after kids. But it is never too late. I now lift weights 2 -3 times per week.

Getting married. No, I've done nothing about it. She’s still alive.

 To be continued.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Your Biggest Regrets....Part One

For new readers, please click here to follow this journey from the beginning.

People of the world tell me this - what is your biggest regret? And have you done something about it? I love this song by Florence and The Machine. I'm singing it right now. I sound rather delightful, however sadly I find myself without a camcorder.

Her opening lyrics sum up regrets rather perfectly:

Regrets collect, like old friends,
here to relive your darkest moments,
i can see no way, i can see no way,
and all of the ghouls come out to play,
every demon wants his pound of flesh,
but I like to keep some things to myself,
i like to keep my issues strong,
it's always darkest before the dawn.

Thank you, Florence. You're a fucking rockstar. (Clearly.)

The official definition of regret, as outlined in Webster’s dictionary, is as follows: “The emotion arising from a wish that some matter or situation would be different from what it is. The emotion may be accompanied by sadness, remorse, disappointment and dissatisfaction and may arise from something done or said or from some failure to do or say something.”

My definition? It’s a little shorter. It’s those moments I wish I could take back.

There are times when I wish I would have been a different me…the me who knows more now, not the me blinded by my insecurities, or the blitheness of youth. The me who would have done things differently and made better choices. We all struggle with the meaning of having choices, and the potential pitfalls of this incredible gift called freewill. For this reason, we need to be intelligent in our choices, be intelligent with our words and intelligent through our actions. Before we say or do anything, we always need to picture the next scene. Who will it impact? What will it bring? What are the potential consequences of our actions? And most importantly, are we prepared to live with them?

One of my favourite statements is from Joan Didion, and it goes as follows:

"I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. on a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."
I love me the Joan.

Regrets? I've come to realize that every once and a while, they'll call upon you like an old friend.  "Hey, you. Remember me? I'm still here." And time will fold in on itself and you'll be standing there, encased in that feeling, that remembrance you've tried so hard to erase. "I've moved on..." you'll say..."Can't you do the same?" But they can't, you see, because they're wrapped up in you. The betrayals, the screams, the heartaches, the demons...they'll scratch at the walls of your existence if only to make a mark that they were there. You gave them life. Only you can bring them peace.
Here forthwith, are your biggest regrets. Part One.

Not taking care of my body.

I should have learned how to say no sooner.

My biggest regret is stomping all over the heart of my greatest love, and totally giving up on love. I felt like I HAD to give up because I made huge mistakes. I am not sure what took over, it could have been my ego, peer-pressure, ideologies, immaturity, or worst of all the lack of the ability to love and care for someone. I actually refused to do anything constructive about it at the time. What I did do was try to run away from my mistakes and quickly move on with my life. It did not work. I pretended to not have regret for a long time. I ran and hid, but now the Regret constantly (weekly, daily) catches up with me. I was so cruel and emotionless towards him for so long and I hurt him so deeply, that the reciprocal pain within me is seemingly everlasting. If I could pass on a lesson to anyone it would be to never hurt someone you love! It will change your life forever if you do, and it will be a horrible feeling like a bad stomach ache or a lump in your throat that never goes away.

Not taking the time for a proper honeymoon. You only get one shot at this so take it, don’t put it off. You don’t get that excitement back.

Wasting valuable time in University in a relationship, when I should have been enjoying being young and learning more about myself.

Not spending more time with my Grandparents.

Deleting emails my Dad sent to me when we were on our honeymoon…he died right at the end of that. So I never got any more emails from him. I’ve tried to stay grounded to his tone in my day-to-day goings on, but I also find myself latching onto other father figures who share his tenor.

In 1994, I was in Switzerland and I wanted to buy a Swatch watch (it was the 90’s…what can I say?). But by this point in my travels, I was on a super tight budget and figured I couldn’t afford it. So I walked out of the shop without my watch and I have always regretted it. Always. It was such a little thing that would’ve been paid off 100 times since then. Once I got home, I was kicking myself and I realized that opportunities are presented so I can take advantage of them (in one way, shape or form). Now, when I’m travelling and see something I can tie a memory to, I’ll buy it, doesn’t matter the cost (this is why God created LOCs). I’ll always be able to make money to pay it off. I haven’t been back to Switzerland since, but I will go back and get my watch.

Not going to journalism school. I regret it but wouldn’t change any of the decisions I’ve made along the way. I’ve found ways to explore that creative side and develop my writing skills. And I know that I will have time to do more when I’m ready.

Not spending more time with my second son, who was troubled and I didn't understand. Yes, I have found common interests with him and I learned to understand his difficulties.

Coming home at the end of a work day and having my beautiful children to see the worst of me – the tired, stressed out Mom. I rearranged my life and priorities with much help – my illness was definitely a catalyst for change but not everything. I’ve since apologized to my kids for those times.

Being consumed by jealousy and low self-confidence. I have overcome these emotions but I feel like I wasted the best times of my life, back in my twenties.

Not believing in myself. I have finally come to realize my own self-worth after many years, but wish it could have come much earlier in life.

Not being more patient with the hormonal teen I parent.

I can’t think of anything, so I must say I haven’t been dwelling on it. I do wish I didn’t worry so much. I suspect worrying is a waste of time for most things.

Playing church music at my sister’s funeral instead of the music she loved; the songs from our childhood – songs of meaning in her life. No redo on that one, unfortunately.

Not sure.

My biggest regret is not asking him out back when I was younger. Yes, I’ve done something about it – but it probably wasn’t the right thing to do.

Not standing up for myself. I somehow always believed that if I didn’t pick a fight, those around me would simply “realize” they were hurting me. They never did. It’s a work in progress, but I try to be brave enough to say it out loud when I feel wronged. It doesn’t seem to change others’ behaviour, but at least they can no longer pretend they don’t see what they’re doing.

Not pursuing a profession in the medical field. I have not done anything about that.

Not drinking until I was twenty-one…seriously, I didn’t realize how fun it can be. Have I done something about it? Yup, started drinking.

Not telling the bitch of a softball coach in Grade 5 that I did have the right to play softball. If I ever run into her, I will tell her now!

Worrying to much about getting ahead and keeping my house clean, instead of spending more time with our daughters when they were still at home. I’m now trying to spend as much time with them as possible – probably driving them crazy!

Not going on more hot winter vacations when we were younger.

Not continuing with my writing career. Every once in a while I make a half-assed foray back, but find I can’t summon the determination to keep it up as a living.

Not talking to my Dad the day before he passed away.

To be continued.
Incidentally, this is a photo of me, washed in regret...
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