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Tiaras and Trucks

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moving Past Regret

As I read the prompt, my stomach constricts.  Memories race through my mind; pain, shame, embarrassment, fear all twist my stomach into knots.
Write about my worst memory?
I have some I don’t even like to think about.
Doubts about participating in this week’s prompt bubble to the surface immediately.
Other members of the Write On Edge community talk me back into the land of the rational, gently reminding me that writing can be about the process as well as the end result.
I breathe again.
I write, using a frightening memory, one that taunted me with the realization of mortality for a long, long time.  But it’s not my worst memory.  Perhaps not even one of the top five.
Rattled loose, those memories bounce around my brain, poking at old scars, testing for weakness.  They’re joined by other memories, moments I’d brushed aside, tucked into Pandora’s box to suffocate and wither away from the light in which I attempt to bathe my life.
Provoked, my imagination roars to life in the silence of our bedroom, Ryan’s breathing rhythmic in the darkness, steady and safe, warm.
What if?
What if I would have made better choices?  Like that one, at sixteen?  Or that one, at nineteen? Or that one? Or that?
How would my life be different if I would have been braver? Smarter? More confident? Less stubborn?
My eyes are wide, staring at the ceiling, enough light shining in the darkness to outline the fan whooshing and whirling above the bed.
What if those memories, my memories, the ones I shuttered in my heart instead of releasing them onto the page, could be undone?
Most of my terrible memories were my own doing – my actions and my decisions and my lack of consideration.
I close my eyes, expecting regret to wash over me, to blanket me in past hurts, finding new places to prick through my skin.
Instead, I feel humbled.  Blessed.
Each of those bad decisions, those hurts guided me along the path that is my history.
Without those hurts, I wouldn’t have been in the position to make other choices.
Good choices.
Choices and decisions made out of love and hope and belief in something beautiful.
Choices and decisions that led to this life, my life, that I love.
Choices and decisions that led to this family, my family, that I adore.
Finally, my stomach untwists, my eyes close.
I fall asleep.
Do you feel regret about past decisions?  How do you think that regret affects the choices you make now?
I've been hurt.
I've hurt others.
But regret?
I just can't regret the path that led me to this.

This post is part of the Just Be Enough Monday link-up, where everyone is welcome to share their stories, both seemingly small and impossibly monumental, about feeling "enough". 

The link-up is part of a cancer-fighting collaboration between Just Be Enough, Bellflower Books, and Crickett's Answer for Cancer.  For every 20 links, Bellflower Books will provide a $75 gift certificate for a gorgeous, personalized memory book for a family chosen through Crickett's Answer.  Our goal is to be able to provide ten women the opportunity to receive a special book created by family and friends that will be treasured not only by the brave women fighting breast cancer, but by their families as well, so please, please share your stories today and come back next Monday and the one after that to share again!

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  • At August 29, 2011 at 7:40 AM , Anonymous frelle said...

    So brave and revealing.  I love listening to your internal dialogue and thought process as you worked through this prompt and telling us what happened as a result of writing it.. untimately coming to recognize that your journey has made you who you are.  

    Its a hard realization to come to, to be at all thankful for the hard, dark, scary things that  have made us who we are.  But you're right. You wouldnt be in the position to make good choices without it.  

    This is a beautiful self acceptance post. <3

  • At August 29, 2011 at 8:54 AM , Anonymous Galit Breen said...

    I love the way you approached this. 

    Much love to you and your path.


  • At August 29, 2011 at 9:11 AM , Anonymous Mama Wants This said...

    We are made up of all of it - good, bad, scary, breathtaking, frightening, eye-opening. All of it. So glad you made it to a good place. 

  • At August 29, 2011 at 10:24 AM , Anonymous shellthings said...

    I have a few I'd like to change... but not many b/c I think my life would be so different that I wouldn't have met my husband and had our babies if I could change too much. Those mistakes led me down a path where I could meet him and have our kids, so I try to just move on

  • At August 29, 2011 at 12:10 PM , Anonymous dosweatthesmallstuff said...

    Yes, the what if's...  You are so right in seeing that even the worst mistakes have led you to this life, now, that you're living.  And most importantly, that you are now living a life that's happy, fulfilled, and meaningful. 

    I could certainly relate to the endless what if's that bombarded my mind at nights... during those times when the body is tired, and yet the mind is still rebelling...

  • At August 29, 2011 at 12:20 PM , Anonymous Kir said...

    You always say that you and I are alike, and we are....we are practically twins and when I think of you, when I read your gorgeous words, I feel less alone, I feel like I might have made bad choices, but so does everyone, and that those choices got me to where I am today...that I wouldn't be who I am , possibly even have your friendship in my life if I made different ones. I can regret lots of things, I have hurt and been hurt, I have felt worthless and made others feel that way too....but in my heart, I know that I loved and lived through it.

    I worry at night too, those times just before my eyes close when i wonder .....but I also know that I have people (Like you...) to bring me back to today, to the place I have arrived and I will ALWAYS do that for you too my friend.

    what a beautiful post xo

  • At August 29, 2011 at 12:48 PM , Anonymous NotJustAnotherJenn said...

    I so, so, so understand what you mean. Really well written!

  • At August 29, 2011 at 1:40 PM , Anonymous Mrs. Jen B said...

    As much as we don't like to admit it, both our good and bad decisions have led us to where we are.  I've made a million bad choices, choices resulting from laziness or short-sightedness or fear.  I hate looking back on them.  But as much as they make me cringe and sometimes hurt, they happened for a reason.

  • At August 29, 2011 at 4:59 PM , Anonymous Minky {stephanie} said...

    I messed up so much in my life, but now looking at my two beautiful babies I can't say I regret the mess ups. I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world.

  • At August 29, 2011 at 7:17 PM , Anonymous Hopes@Staying Afloat! said...

    I have a few major regrets in my life.  But I know without those experiences and regrets, I would not be where I am today.  So in a strange way, I'm thankful for them!

  • At August 30, 2011 at 12:14 AM , Anonymous Robin @ Farewell, Stranger said...

    I know exactly what you mean. What if? And all that. But we are who we are because of where we've come from. 

  • At August 30, 2011 at 2:22 AM , Anonymous Kimberly said...

    We are who we are because of our pasts and where we have come from. I know what you mean. I too have had the what if's and regrets. But then I realize that if I didn't do THAT I wouldn't be me.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 8:52 AM , Anonymous jessica said...

    Love, love, love this post. Beautifully written and told. We truly are who we are because of our pasts and it takes work to make peace with that.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:45 AM , Anonymous Aleta said...

    There will always be something in our past that we can regret, if we want to live in the past.  But I look at my life now and feel that --- if I didn't make the past mistakes, I wouldn't be where I am today and where I am today is happily married.  So how can I allow myself to regret past errors?  Don't make them again and focus on the positive future!

  • At August 30, 2011 at 5:37 PM , Anonymous jentos23 said...

    This was beautiful, Angela!! I try not to live with regret...or guilt, because the guilt can crush you, especially the mommy guilt.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:19 PM , Anonymous Elena Sonnino said...

    So incredibly true!! People do not understand how I don't regret certain things about my life- my failed first engagement, my cancer, my divorce.....and my only answer is always---without those things I would not be me. I would not have made the same choices, I would not have principessa..... I would not be me.  xoxo

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:52 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes!  Without the bad things, I don't know where I would be, but it wouldn't be HERE, and I love here so much.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:53 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Regret & guilt only paralyze me and make me unable to do anything else.  Owning my mistakes, well, that helps me to move forward :)

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:54 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes!  Exactly.  Saying "what if" can't change things, and would we want them changed anyway?

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Most of the time I am ok with the things I've done.  I worry about when the kids get older, what I will share to try to help them versus what I will shelter them from to try to spare them from my own issues! 

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:57 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I try to let go and not regret.  Some of my mistakes were unfortunate, but they led me here, and that is a good thing :)

  • At August 30, 2011 at 9:58 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes.  I used to think "I would change THAT if it could mean still getting to where I am somehow" but that's not how it works.  I am happy where I ended up, so I guess I can't regret any of the stones I walked over to get to this place.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:03 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It's strange how some of the things that brought me the most pain are probably truly integral to the person I am today.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, me too.  And I feel exactly like you do.  My world without my kids is unimaginable, no matter what it took to get me here.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Exactly!  Those cringe-worthy ones?  Ugh.  I can't wish those choices away, but I really hope I have learned from them :)

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I guess we all feel this way to some extent, huh?

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:07 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    xoxo My lovely friend.  If we could only re-live our younger days with our current minds, how different things would be...but without those ridiculous mistakes, we wouldn't be in our current state of mind, so I guess we should thank our younger selves for being such crazy girls.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:08 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, that's it, when it's dark and doubts creep up to the surface.

    But my life, in all of its craziness and faults, absolutely rocks.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:10 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, there are a few that I would like to just erase or at least scrub away the memory.  But I would have to do it in a way that I still ended up with Ryan & our kids, and I don't think it would have happened without my mistakes. 

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:11 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    You are right.  I love this comment, because it means I am not alone but in the company of so many women I admire.

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:11 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    You might not have been so appreciative of my approach had you witnessed by freak-out when I read the prompt ;)

  • At August 30, 2011 at 10:12 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you :)

    My journey has definitely made me, well, me, and that's what I need to appreciate.

    I'm not THAT brave, though.  I haven't listed the bad choices ;)


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