There are people who out there who will homilize about how one should have no regrets. Or perhaps they simply mean that one should repair and amend their mistakes in order not to have future complications? Whatever their well-intentioned messaging, I end up taking it as a finger-wagging, condescending lecture.
I have regrets. There is no doubt about that, at all. I have regrets. I have a few regrets. I may even be as so bold as to say several regrets.
Let’s look at the word Regret and the definition. The definition is to “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.”
So what “they” are telling me is not to feel sad or disappointed? I think perhaps what people really mean is not to be resentful. Harboring resentment can be dangerous indeed, for some folks.
The regrets in my life continue to teach me lessons. I do not look back with morbid reflection but with a bit of gratitude and hopefully humility. Sometimes, though, it also paralyzes me from making decisions today. What if I mess it up again? What if I make the wrong decision? So these days it takes a lot of thought and consideration before making any sort of major decision, as it should be. I also ask for help.
Gone are the days of shooting from the hip and trying to figure it out all on my own.
Will I continue to make bad decisions and acquire regret? Yes, of course, I will. But I can learn from them too, it is called LIFE I believe.
I will share with you some of the regrets I still reflect on from time to time.
Getting out of the Navy after only serving five years. There are times I wish I had stayed in until retirement. If I had, I would have been able to retire at the age of 38, a mere eleven years ago. Eleven years ago. Eleven. Years. Ago. Eleven years ago I could have retired and be collecting that pension check. But I didn’t. And in all honesty, upon further reflection, my life would obviously be different today, maybe not so good. I may not even be alive. Who knows. I made a decision and here I am today with a great life. It is all about perspective I suppose.
Not going to college. I was not ready for college when I graduated high school. I was not college material and not everyone is and that’s okay. Now, could I have gone to college later in life? Yes, and I did. I probably have something close to an Associates degree. Maybe. Bottom line, I do not have a college degree. And I regret it. People will tell me it’s never too late but I am almost 50-years old, what good will it do me now?
I regret not staying closer to my family. When I graduated high school, I immediately joined the Navy, left town and never went back. Oh sure, I went back for an occasional visit but in general, I was gone. I regret it now. I wish I had stayed closer to home or been more available. It weighs on my heart today. I miss my family more and more as each day goes by and I long to be up north with them all to be able to take care of them. My grown kids are here, in the south, with me though and they may very well be on their way to starting their own family sometime. Hopefully not for another few years but when they do, I want to be here with them. You know, grandkids and all!
One of my biggest regrets, not quitting my job to homeschool my son. Or doing more for him as a parent. Nope, I shipped him right off to military school. While that may have been the best for him at that time, I did the best with what information I had at the time, but now I wish I had made more of an effort, listened to my gut, insisted on having my way or believing in my heart of hearts, trusting myself and try to move mountains in order to do whatever it took to be able to do that for him, to be able to homeschool him with all my love and attention. But I have to live with those decisions and those results now. This is my comeuppance.
This should probably go with the whole college-theme-regret but I also do not have a trade. I wish I had taken the time to become an expert in something. Beauty school, seamstress, shoe cobbler, antique collector, home chef, play a musical instrument, play a sport, or maybe it is some sort of passion for something I am missing. Does blogging count as a passion? I think so. But still, no one benefits from it except for me. I wanted to share my expertise in something with others. But I fell flat with even that.
I regret not paying attention and not living sober early on in life. I was oblivious to all of it in my 20s. A late bloomer is what I liked to use to call myself. Pfffft. Right. I was just selfish and self-centered and intoxicated most of the time. Maybe not literally intoxicated but I sure as hell didn’t pay attention like most other people did at that age. I am always always ALWAYS amazed at how most people can remember their high school friends, their names, their college buddies and excursions and what their 5th-grade teacher’s name was and what year they vacationed at Disney World and what they wore to the David Bowie concert and what gift they gave their best friend for Christmas in 1982 and so on and so on. Blows my mind.
But, my life is good. My life is great. I really have no complaints. I have two healthy nearly grown children, a wonderful and patient husband, a loyal dog, and a funny cat. I have a job. A nice warm home. Vehicles to get me to and from work and the gym and other fun activities such as day trips and going to the movies or having dinner with friends or coffee with the girls.
I do not know how to turn off the comparison channel in my head sometimes. It still happens to me even today, in present time, I will see someone on television; an Olympian, a politician, an actor, the president of a successful company and I still think to myself, “Damn it, why didn’t you ever stick to something and work hard for it?” Regret.
This year I will turn fifty years old and I think I am finally settling. It feels alright. My world is small now, finally, and I am digging it. My world is small because I have learned from my decisions and regrets. I have accepted where I am because of my decision and you know what, it’s not that bad. It’s pretty damned good actually.
Yes, I have regrets but they are kind to me now. It is true, only time can heal.
Ciao mio Amore,