Sunday, August 13, 2017

Regrets .. I've had (more than) a few ...

Everybody has regrets.

"Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption."


See? Even Frank Sinatra. But he only had a few, and didn't feel like they were worth bringing up, even in a 4-1/2 minute song.

I have regrets. More than a few. And at times, the thought of them nearly paralyzes me. It usually starts like this: I think of something I wish I hadn't done ... and I ponder and obsess on that awhile, then that usually begets another regret ... and another ... and by the time I'm done I've regretted myself into a hole of shame and deprecation.

I've thought about this blog and writing everything I'm feeling, and how any comments made would probably be something like, "The past doesn't have an eraser." "Learn from your mistakes and move on." "The mistakes you made yesterday helped shape the person you are today." "Learn to forgive yourself." "Regrets are nothing more than wasted thoughts." "Regrets are life lessons."

Yeah, I know all this. But here's the deal. We all have regrets - you can't say you don't. They exist, to quote Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, "deep down in places you don't talk about at parties." You can frost them with inspirational sayings and positive thinking and claims that you did what you thought you should do at the time (which of course is very true at times, but doesn't qualify to push it out of the "regret" category), but they're still just icing that cake you hate because you had it at the worst birthday party of your childhood.

Many people can overcome regrets to a point by finding a place for them to occupy so deep down inside of them that there's so much other shit on top they'll never see the light of day. For me, they hang out pretty close to the surface. I don't know if I'm supposed to get over them, or they're supposed to go away at some point, or if they are simply my punishment for making bad decisions and fucking up. Maybe they're God's way of keeping us humble - letting us know that we can sit here and think we are awesome people and good Christians and wow aren't we just the all that and a bag of chips but really we are ignorant humans who (for some) think we are the end-all-be-all.

Yeah, you're gonna regret that.

I'd love to be one of those who lies on my deathbed saying I have no regrets. If you can do that on yours, more power to you. Maybe I'll figure out how to get there one day. But right now, I kind of see that as saying your shit doesn't stink. "Everything I did worked out the way it was supposed to be, regardless of any bad decision I made on my part." Plus I don't want to lie on a deathbed. I want to go quick. Real quick.

That leads me to my biggest regret. In the grand scheme of things, I have some that are of greater consequence; in fact, most of them I'd say were more impactful on how I lived my life or the effect it had on others. Regardless, the fact that I left my mother's side a half an hour before she passed away is something for which I will never, ever forgive myself. I can sit here and say that I wanted to make sure my dad got home because there was a snowstorm. I can say that I had to pick up my kid from his friend's house because I didn't want him spending the night out again. I can say I was tired and had been there by her side most of the day. It is of absolutely no comfort. I relive that night over and over and over and over in my brain. She had all the signs of being very close to dying. I hesitated before I left. My dad almost turned around in the snowstorm to go back to her after I sent him on his way. We left at 10:30 pm. She died at 11:08. And not only do I have to live with the fact that I wasn't there,  my dad has to live with it as well, and I have to live with the fact that he has to live with it. If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed. I would have stayed.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have been nicer to my little brother when I was little. I blame myself for some of the problems he had growing up, and probably for the distant relationship we have now. You can tell me not to blame myself, but I know I am to blame. So why would I not? If I had it to do all over again, I would have been less of a bitch to my parents when they moved to Peoria when I was 13 and hating my life. Sure, I was immature and selfish and unhappy. Why is that an excuse to be such a shit to your parents who are in the same boat as you?

If I had to do it all over again, I would have waited to go to college, or stuck it out at my first one, or gone somewhere different. I hate having to explain that I went to four colleges and feel dishonest when someone asks where I went to school and I only mention the one I graduated from because I'm embarrassed at my immaturity, indecisiveness and stupidity during my college years.

I certainly would have broken up with the completely self-absorbed high school boyfriend who I made the catalyst of my inane decisions my freshman year of college. And to that end, if I had it to do all over again, I would have much more faith in myself so that I would never, ever allow my life to be ruled by a man. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't settle no matter how high I was told my expectations were. I wouldn't think that a man's hopes and dreams were bigger or more important than mine. I would have listened to my intuition and not turned a blind eye to my feelings of insignificance, tendencies to watch everything I said or did or my uneasy suspicions of emotional infidelity.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have done the marriage thing differently. I don't think I'm the type of person who should be married, but an overall regret of mine is that I have always done what I "should" do because I could never really come to terms with the fact that I'm the kind of person who lives life a little less mainstream than others. And I always thought that what I wanted to do was selfish if it meant infringing on someone else's plan (like my parents' plan for me and college) or dream (like my ex-husband's flying career).

I can't say I regret getting married simply because I have two amazing sons who I am completely convinced God wanted me to have - these two specifically - even though I doubt my prowess as a mother. But I regret how I did the marriage thing, despite the specific advice from my mother on how to have a successful one. I regret how my marriage ended because of words not said, actions not done and emotions not taken into account because at some point I just wanted it all to go away so I could start over. How many times have I begged for a re-do in life?

I regret a lot of my relationships, or poor excuses for them. Again, I did what I thought I should be doing, but in the end could never emotionally commit for one reason or another, so I bolted - sometimes without notice or explanation. Because it's hard to explain something you don't understand yourself. Not an excuse; much so a regret. Then there was the relationship that went on much too long because I had become a shadow of myself. I regret letting that go on way past its expiration date, for dragging my kids to another city, for not accepting and doing something about the fact that he was still emotionally invested in someone else, and for allowing myself to be deprioritized by him and by myself. I look back on that and wonder how I could have had so little self worth to allow myself to put up with all that shit - and to put my children through it as well.

I regret the decision I made to move into the school district I did. This is one of those things where I thought I was making the right choice, but I still think if I would have had a little more time to think it through and do my research versus being under the gun, I would have made a better decision that could have more positively affected the lives of my kids as well as my own mental health. I regret not staying in an area where my kids already had friends, and I had friends, and we all knew each other. I haven't had that since I moved back here, and I think it would have made the difference in a lot of respects.

So unlike Mr. Sinatra, I have a lot of regrets. Regrets of things I have done, and regrets of things I didn't do. I have regrets about things that probably haven't even happened yet. And yes, I'm sure many of you have them as well; some of them much bigger and life-altering than the ones I've listed here. Some of you are able to find a place to put them so you can go on living your daily lives without these compunctions filling your mind like a stopped-up toilet.

I wish I could, but I can't. I just can't. A part of me wishes I could go back in time and change how I reacted to things; the other part of me would like to take some sort of pill that would make me forget they ever happened so I can have some peace. I just want peace with myself. Forgiving myself I'm sure is the "answer", but to me, forgiving myself doesn't do much for the others involved. I'm sure my mom doesn't want me to obsess over not being there when she died; my kids may or may not wish they were at a different school or living in a different part of town; past (short) relationships have probably all but forgotten my name and the longer ones are probably pretty relieved, as is my ex-husband - for dodging that bullet he could have been married to for the rest of his life.

What can I do? Again, probably not forgive myself. Probably not forget. All I CAN do is try to slow down and THINK and make better decisions so I don't add on to my laundry list of things I hate myself for - or regret, I should say.

Oh, and fun facts about the Sinatra song mentioned earlier: Paul Anka changed the words to this originally French song to be about a man looking back fondly on a life he lived on his own terms. Sinatra hated the song because he thought it was "self-serving and indulgent".

Trump danced to this song with Melania the night of his inauguration.

Bet Sinatra has more regrets than we first thought.

2 comments:

  1. Regrets fill your heart with foolish renderings. We can not possibly know what the outcome of anything would have been if we had done or said things differently, and to think so is insanity.
    You're statement "I wish I could but I just can't. I just can't" says it all. Until there is that whisper of willingness to surrender to the possibility that there may be another way of looking at this, these compunctions will forever fill the space in mind where love still dwells waiting for release.

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  2. While I appreciate you weighing in on this post, I'm not completely down with your opining approach. "To think so is insanity" is a little self-righteous. I was merely expressing my feelings despite what I obviously "know" is a healthier way to deal with my regrets. Sometimes despite what are somewhat obvious attitudes to have, our humanness and vulnerability makes that difficult. You are of course more than welcome to comment, but something a little less judgmental would be better accepted versus your ostentatious rhetoric that could be construed as belittling to the author.

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