Regret

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I left the gym this morning and got in my car just in time to hear some author speaking on public radio.  I can't remember who it was or what the name of his new book is but he was talking about regret.  "I always hear young people say that they want to live their lives with no regrets, " he said (something like this).  "If you can't look back at your life with some regret, some ability to know how you could have done something differently, how will you ever grow?"

True.

I want to grow.  I am working on growing.

I've been thinking about that all morning.  To say that I have a few regrets would be a gigantic understatement.  Obviously, my biggest regret in life is dropping Max off at daycare on the morning of July 19, 2011.  If I hadn't, who knows what would be different today.  Maybe he still wouldn't be here - but I'll never know - and so I regret it.....with everything that I am I regret it.  The question then is - how can I grow from that regret?  Should I never leave my child with anyone ever again?  I tried that for the first year of Mo's life and at a certain point, it just doesn't work anymore.  And, of course, I've noticed that nobody else seems to be worried about leaving their babies with other people.  Hell, nobody seems to be worried about their babies really at all  - except for the stuff I find myself completely not worried about - "screen time", milestones, sleep habits, breastfeeding.  So, I leave Mo with people.  I do.  And, I am not sure how to feel about it.  I try not to do it very often because it still scares me.  It feels completely reckless - every. single. time.

This isn't what the author was talking about though.  He was talking about how we treat other people - how we behave in business and in our marriages and to our family and friends.  I regret being unable to see clearly in my early grief.  I regret depending on other people to help me get through the searing pain.  I regret not being able to help my husband because I was (and often AM) too consumed with my own grief to see and support his.  I regret spending time with people who didn't care.  I regret getting angry at people who couldn't empathize.  I regret having any expectations at all.  I regret not being the bigger person.  I regret telling people I shouldn't have told.  I regret explaining and explaining and explaining why I felt devastated.  I regret snapping at people who "meant well". I regret responding to "anonymous".

There is a lot that I regret.  And, I also can't help wondering if there are people who regret the way that they have treated us.  Maybe they are dealing with pride on top of regret and that is keeping them from saying anything.  That has generally been what has kept me from apologizing to people that I should have.  While regretting, recognizing and moving forward creates growth - carrying around the anger and pride keeps you stuck.  I should know.

Regret can feel like an emotion that you are holding hostage at times.  The best way to learn from your regret is to apologize to the one who you behaved regretfully towards.  But there are people that I know won't give me the trade I am looking for (which is an apology in return) and so I've held off.

This isn't the case with everyone.  I apologized to a lot of people recently who treated me pretty poorly, who didn't apologize for their part.  I don't regret those apologies - because they made me feel lighter.  Staying regretful and angry only hurts me.

But there are a few regrets that I am still holding onto.  They are apologies that I worry if I made, wouldn't bring me much peace.  The very worst behavior that I've come across in these past two and half years.  Memories of my interactions with these people cause me uncontrollable anxiety at times.  It is one of the most difficult things I am facing these days. One of the things that I worry I might carry around with me for the rest of my life.

I hope I will get there someday....to the place where I can forgive those who have mistreated us the worst and make apologies that I am not certain are deserved.  I am starting at the bottom and working my way up.  Perhaps the evolution comes when I finally forgive/apologize to the worst offender.  It will be a while I think but when it happens - I will let you know.

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