So…if I’m to believe my TimeLife “Teach Yourself How to De-construct Any Word To Make Yourself Sound Smarter” Home Correspondence course, then if you regret something. You first gretted that something. And now you RE-gret it. All over again.
Regret is fucked up, if you ask me.
And people do. Invariably the topic of regret comes up all the time in our lives. Oddly enough, though, it only seems to surface after something ends.
No one ever says ‘ Boy, I regret ordering that pizza.’ No…they usually only regret ordering it after eating the whole damn thing in one sitting. I mean, I suppose. Not that I would do that. Or anything.
The other place I really get it is when people find out I’m divorced (for the second time…because apparently the first divorce left so many unanswered questions).
It’s always…‘Oh. Divorced, huh?’ Followed by one of the following in their eyes: hint of sadness and silent judging if they’re happily married….hint of jealousy if they’re unhappily married…no clue what to say next if they’ve never been married…and slight nod of understanding if they’re happily divorced…flash of contempt if they’re unhappily divorced and if I’m very lucky (and I am), a hug…because they know that although it wasn’t easy, it was what I needed.
All of that happens in a split second…and sometimes the conversation mercifully goes somewhere else. But more often than not it’s followed up by Oh..what happened? Well..I don’t know…to put it simply…I realized that I didn’t want to travel on the same road as the person I said I’d spend the rest of my life with. I checked with her, and she pretty much said the same thing. Seemed silly to stay in the same car at that point.
And that’s where I usually cut the conversation off if it’s still heading down this path. Because to be completely honest, I don’t trust anyone who says they don’t have any regrets. I want to call bullshit on them (but I usually don’t). And if I do say that I don’t have any regrets, it’s only to shut you up.
Thing is…if you have hindsight and self-awareness, you will invariably come across something in your life that you can’t take back. You can’t do over. Something that grabs you by the short hairs and reminds you in the darkest hours of the night that you…fucked…up. This isn’t like eating the whole pizza fucked up. This is like realizing decades later that you should have done whatever you needed to do to stay in her life.
Yeah. I have regrets. No…I can’t take them back.
I regret not fighting harder as my first marriage was ending to make my daughter’s mother see that I was only trying to become a better man.
I regret reading an email that caused a 15 year rift in a 25 year friendship.
I regret ever starting a business with my best friend years ago because it changed our friendship.
I regret never writing a song for my wife to sing.
I regret not spending more time with my daughter as she was growing up.
So…yeah…I have a few regrets. But here’s the thing…I can’t fucking change them. There are no do-overs. I didn’t regret these things at the time. Hell…I didn’t have a clue. It’s only when I looked back did I realize that damn….I really screwed the pooch on those.
And I’m sitting here…as I often do when I’m writing these things and thinking holy fuck. i just figured it out.
I can wallow in the regrets (and it’s really quite alarming how many people do…) or I can do the only thing that will allow me to move on….forgive.
I own these things I regret. The pain I feel from my actions or, in some cases, inactions is mine. I’m not saying the other party didn’t feel pain. I’m sure they did. That’s what lends intensity to the regret. The knowledge that we have hurt another person.
The only thing that has allowed me to move on from these is to forgive myself. Regret comes with hindsight. And going down the ‘what-if’ road leads to all kinds of shit. I swear playing the ‘what if’ game is as likely to give you a positive emotional outcome as WebMD is likely to give you an accurate diagnosis.
In other words…not friggin’ likely.
You know who doesn’t have regrets?
They live in the now. They eat too much candy. Their stomach hurts. They don’t regret eating the candy. The moment they were eating the candy was awesome. The moment they had the tummy ache was not so awesome. But as children they know that that’s what it is–separate moments.
I think my problem is I spend so much time looking for cause and effect in my life…If I hadn’t said this…or done that…or if I was funnier….then I’d have x, y, or Z, or be one of the cool kids.
I focus too much on actions or inaction instead of interactions.
I suppose I need to take a step back here and mention that sometimes I write something on here that takes on a life of its own and helps me to see that maybe there’s more here than a little quick hit on ye olde bloggy blog and that maybe I need to dive deeper.
This would appear to be one of those things. I’m not trying to right my wrongs or any of that other bullshit. I know the kind of person I am. I have lied. I have cheated. I have stolen. I have screamed. I have cried.
But I have also faced my own death at least 3 times in my life. And I have laughed. I have given more than I held back. I have held on to friendships with a ferocious tenacity.
And I have loved.
Love is the key.
Love is the reason we regret.
And love is the reason we forgive.
I don’t regret all of those relationships ending or being altered. That’s not the part that causes the regret. The regret comes because the love that I gave…that I felt…that lived was somehow altered or affected. That affectation of the love is what leads to the regret.
By the same token…because I have known love. I know that love is the most basic force in the universe. That’s what allows me to forgive myself.
Again…this is definitely a much deeper subject than I anticipated when I started typing this last night.
I have been asked by many of my friends and family if I ever think I’ll get married again.
And I answer the same way…
Probably not. For the longest time I felt like I had to be married to someone to truly let them know how much I love them. And I’m just not quite sure I believe that.
Will I ever get married again? Don’t know. Who can say?
Will I ever fall in love again? You bet your ass.