Monday, May 27, 2013

Your Biggest Regrets...Part Three

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

On those days when you summon the courage to take a quick glance in the rear-view mirror, what is it that you see? I’ll admit that when I enter the state of reflection, I tend to skip over all the good stuff. Yaaaaaawn… zzzzzzzzzzz. Regrets provide so much more brain sizzle and drama, drawing attention much like Barbie make-up to a little girl.

Trust me when I say this: Barbie make-up is a gateway drug.
 The fact that you need purple gas to remove it just adds to the high.

Whilst dwelling in the house of regret, counting blessings is a very destructive and counter-productive activity, particularly when attempting to wallow in pity. This is a rather enjoyable pastime, particularly for us guilt-ridden Catholics. It’s a good thing we’re not dogs, or we’d be rubbing our collective noses in piles of shit until the second coming …wait…what’s that smell?

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s remarkably easy to let masochistic tendencies reign terror. Tailspins are inevitable. With the intensity of a feral pasture hawk, we gorily spear our regrets with our sharpened talons and rip them apart, over and over and over again. It’s like we can’t get enough of the slaughter. Hell, if regrets had a pulse, I’d be resuscitating mine daily to have another go at them. Regrettably, it seems as though many of us have embraced the (admittedly archaic) Christian custom of flagellation, although rather than beating ourselves with chains and whips, we prefer the disciplinary and devotional practice of verbal mutilation. The only difference is the scars aren’t visible...even better, they're mentally entrenched.

Here’s the hard, shiny, shitty truth about forgiving yourself for past mistakes: we’re almost always hardest on ourselves. Perdition trumps penance, every time. While I find it easy to forgive others and let stuff go, I have a hell of a time forgiving myself. While I find it deplorable when people aren’t kind to each other, I can be extraordinarily callous and mean to myself.

If given the chance, are there things I’d do differently? Sure. Sadly though, that’s not in the cards. At some point, you have to make peace with who you are, including your past. Reflecting presents an opportunity to look back and see that we could have done better. Regretting locks us into what was done. Taking action to know more, be better, do better, is the weapon we wield against the disenchantment of past mistakes.

If that’s the case, then what gets in the way of our redemption?

Fear, I suspect. And pride. Fear that we’ll repeat the same mistakes, fear that once the courage is summoned to make the change, we’ll end up making the wrong choice. Fear of being wrong. Fear of losing our pride. Fear that people will laugh at us, and talk behind our backs.

Here’s an idea - instead of worrying about shit that’s none of our business, and ruthlessly auditing our choices - both the ones we’ve made and those we're about to - how about we just get out there and make the most of what we have left? Novel concept, I’m aware, and one that requires an incredible depth of faith...perhaps though, an intense lust for life coupled with the belief that you already have everything you need to make things right, is one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever give yourself.

Here forthwith, are the remaining responses for your biggest regrets.

Growing up not loving myself and doing everything to please others. Slowly (very slowly) I am learning to accept my imperfections, and love myself little by little. I still have a desire to please everyone first, but in some ways it brings me joy to see others happy, I think maybe even more joy than doing things to please myself.


Foolishly spending all of my savings. I am now out of debt, but not without having paid the price.

Not having taken more time to determine what type of profession I should have explored. Have I done something about it? No, I just keep paying into my current pension.

My biggest regret is not having a better relationship with my mom. She passed away. I am 100% certain our relationship would have gotten so much better as I grew up. As I mourn the loss of my mom, I have a lot of should of, would of, could of. Who knew that after years of losing your mother, it can hurt just as much as the day she died? But I am grateful for those moments. I often say “I’m sorry” to my mom and wish that I could have had a better relationship. I ache for it. And it’s hard because I can’t get that back. But I’m working through the regret and dealing with it has helped a lot. The regret is not as large as it once was.

Not taking more chances in life. I feel I play it too safe. I am doing something about it – slowly, but I am pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone more and more.

Not being more independent. Slowly, I am starting to make choices that lead to my independence, but I still have major crutches that need to go.

Betraying someone close to me. Have I done something about it? Trying hard.

To help survive this crazy existence we call our lives, I’ve always tried to live with having no regrets, and embracing them as experiences that mold me into the person I have become.

Not apologizing when I’m in the wrong. Have I done something about it? As often as possible.

I don’t give regret a lot of thought anymore as that is not mentally healthy and means nothing as it is what it is, move on. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again I would put more effort into educating myself at an earlier age.

My biggest regret is not being able to put a stop to family feuds...both sides of the family...when elderly parents only see things one way. A few years ago I got in touch with an elderly aunt who was a step-sister in her family and no one would talk to her when she inherited the farm and the other children got nothing. I don't blame them but it was not my battle.

Not punching someone in the face when I heard them talk shit about someone I love. I've gotten angry with myself every time I think of that moment, but I think it is what keeps me from backing down when similar situations happen. What I’ve done about it: not let it happen again.

I don’t have many all revolve around not slowing down/taking time to be present w those I love most who are now gone. I take time to say I love you even to those in my family who have hurt/disappointed me- be uncomfortable and say something kind

Not going to see great Grandma in the hospital.

My wife says I don’t think long enough to regret anything I have done.

So far no regrets. Sometimes I think I should have moved away (who goes to school in a hick town and then moves back to work and then be the administrator of that school ???) and made some big difference somewhere far enough away so that my parents can brag bullshit about my big accomplishments. However, I have decided that this hick town is a great place to raise kids. I am also loving the sound of the song ‘bloom where you’re planted’ these days (not really but you know what I mean). Why not try to make a difference here?

Not spending more quality time with my mom before she passed suddenly (see above) when I was a teenager. Although, in my defense, I was a teenager :) I've learned to cherish the people I do have in my life and take the time to tell them I love them.

I can honestly say that really I don't have regrets. I've done a LOT of incredibly stupid things but that's part of growing up, being human and helps to shape who a person is. I have things where if I had to do it all over again I would do them differently, but nothing I really regret. (IE - I would go to med school without a doubt!) If I had to say I regretted something it would be in the mornings I used to yell at my kids to get moving, we were going to be late, blah, blah, blah. I hated myself every day. I would destroy the entire day for all of us from the start. They would head to school or the sitter's crying and quite often I drove to work in the same state. What a terrible way to start the day, almost every day. So, I did something about it. No more yelling (I should clarify that there really is still yelling but more often in the evening!), as long as they get to school on time, all is good. Yes, that means I am usually later to work than I would like but I just make up the time (at midnight, thus why you are getting this now.) It makes things better and I didn't want them to remember their childhood with 'mom always yelled.'

I regret that I didn’t travel more when I was young. I will travel more with my kids.

 It’s an impossible regret – not going back to painting until after my dad passed away, but I have to appreciate that the loss was the catalyst to drive me back into it. It’s what I have been missing and life is too short to deprive yourself of healthy things you love.

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