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Tiaras and Trucks

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rethinking Regret

I've written before about living without regret, and as I sat down to jot down ideas for today's post, I planned to continue with similar sentiments.  Then I found this quote, from L.M. Montgomery:


My cherished copies of three Anne of Green Gables books are currently on Abbey's bookshelf, waiting to be shared.  Their spines worn and pages yellowing with age, I've lived and relived Anne's adventures and mishaps, as a child and young adult and mother-to-be, softly reading aloud with the book balanced on my pregnant abdomen.

I've imagined Abbey curling into my side, listening to stories of Anne long before she's ready to read chapter books, talking with her about some of the mistakes Anne makes and the lessons she learns.

I stared at L.M. Montgomery's quote and considered my "I don't regret a single moment" philosophy. 

My thinking shifted.  Perhaps I had been putting too much power in the hands of regret.  I was letting the idea of it mean more than it does. 

Regret doesn't have to mean I would change a decision or a mistake; it simply means that I feel sadness and possibly some disappointment about those missteps, those bumps in the path I've taken to get to this place in my life.

I do have regrets. 

I have made decisions that have hurt others.

I have made decisions that have hurt me.

I have put myself in the position to be hurt by others.

I do, in fact, feel sadness and disappointment about those parts of my past, as I'm sure I will about decisions I have yet to make.

But I have learned from my regrets, even the lessons that had to be repeated, the pain that had to be replayed time and again, until my thinking shifted into place.

Those lessons mean I can face my regret, forgive myself, and leave those mistakes in the past.  I do not carry them into my future.

So one day, when I am settled into the couch with Anne of Green Gables, Abbey at my side and Dylan clamoring to catch a whiff of pages feeling the breath of excited children after far too long, I may pause for a moment to feel some sadness, some regret for mistakes I've made in the past. 

Their sweet smiles and ability to snuggle into nooks I wasn't aware my body had will be even more of a gift, because I can be certain they are the two things in my life I have never regretted.


this week's prompt:
"Something I do not regret..."

We hope you will read, comment, link up, and explore the stories of others who have linked.

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46 Comments:

  • At November 7, 2011 at 8:04 AM , Anonymous Alison@Mama Wants This said...

    I do like your perspective on regret. Although mine is different as I view regret different, I suppose. To me, to regret is to wish it'd been different. To want to wipe away that mistake. And I did think long and hard about all the mistakes I made and asked if I wished I'd done something else, took a different path, and the answer is no. 

    I love that just one word can challenge our world views and opinions so much :)

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 8:06 AM , Anonymous Kimberly said...

    I don't want the regrets of my past to taint my future. Letting go of them is the hardest part. But I'm going to work on it. 

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 9:25 AM , Anonymous Evonne said...

    What an interesting perspective.  I do have things in my life that I regret and wish never happened.  However, I wouldn't be where I am today without those things.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 9:35 AM , Anonymous TLanceB said...

    I have a interesting relationship with regret. I'm in the middle of a post about judgementalism, what a friend is, and how to deal with the "bad stuff" you've done.

    This was a really relatable post for me. I'll defintely link back to it when I finish mine.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 9:58 AM , Anonymous Wendy @ mama one to three said...

    I get this.  I also regret the things i've done that have hurt people.  we live life forward only; the only positive motion is to move on, I realize. 

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 10:47 AM , Anonymous Taming Insanity said...

    Yes! This!! This is the post I was hoping someone would write in response to this prompt as I couldn't get all the words together.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM , Anonymous Tania Elfersy said...

    Thank you for sharing your perspective and forcing me to wonder about how long regret can exist. I have regretted my own actions in the past. I have apologized where needed and learned all along the way. But I understand today that I can no longer own long-term regret. I forgive myself (hopefully the same day) and move on. And these days with my kids, I enjoy sharing stories of my mistakes and disappointments (obviously not all of them!) -- stories they can learn from...as I am sure your children will learn from your wise words :-)   

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 12:13 PM , Anonymous Kir said...

    oh my friend, this is gorgeous. This is TELLING, this is so wonderful, Iam crying at work for the girl you are , the girl you were, the girl you wish you could change. To own all that is such a gift...to own up to it, so brave.
    I don't know if this was hard to write, but I'm so glad you did, I'm so glad that you took us into your lap and let us see Anne of Green Gables (Love her!!!) and let us go on that journey with you.
    I know, deep inside you, that you have nothing to regret. xo

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM , Anonymous The Drama Mama said...

    This is good food for thought. Of course I have those spots in my life that I look back at and wonder how the course of my destiny would have changed if I had only gone a different route, but overall, I can't regret anything I've done as they have all brought me to this point in my life and molded me into who I am. It's hard to regret something, especially when you did learn from it.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 1:09 PM , Anonymous Amanda Austin said...

    Beautiful!!! You're asbolutely right...and regret is really a waste of energy sometimes, especially when it didn't change any kind of outcome. You're exactly where you need to be because of those choices.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 1:18 PM , Anonymous Liz said...

    Life would be so boring if there wasn't something that potentially *could be* regret-worthy. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Absolutely!  And trying to live without regretting anything might make some people (me) be overly cautious :)

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:31 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, leaving regret in the past is important.  Wasting energy on it when it's over would be silly.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:32 PM , Anonymous bridgetstraub.com said...

    I think I respectfully disagre. What good does feeling sad do. I understand learning from your mistakes but as the saying goes, "Turn tht page."

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:33 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I think it depends on how you look at regret.  Regret doesn't necessarily mean you would CHANGE the decisions you made or wish you hadn't made them; getting to the point I have in my life was a journey, and not all of it was positive.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:36 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I think it's ok to regret things.  I wouldn't necessarily change my decisions, but there are things in my past I do feel sadness about.  I love where I am now, and I know my past experiences got me here, but I do pause for a moment thinking about the hurts it took to get me here.  I wouldn't take them back, but I do feel sadness about them.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:38 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I think that's the key: knowing when to let it go.  Bringing those negative emotions with us as baggage is just doing more damage.  I like how you talked about apologizing and learning along the way.  I think that's a crucial part of the journey, taking responsibility for what we do :)

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:41 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks KLZ :)  It took a lot of thought to get here, and I'm STILL thinking about it.  I think regret is an emotion that can't be stopped while you're feeling it; it's how you go forward that makes a difference. 

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:42 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, holding onto that sorrow and hurt is negative, but that doesn't mean we don't have a right to those feelings in the moment they occur.  Letting them go and moving on, that's a positive step.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:43 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'll be over to read later tonight!  Dealing with the "bad stuff" is tough.  I think you have to be able to forgive yourself or the regret follows you around, and that's when it's harmful!

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:45 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks, I think :)

    Getting to a good place can be made up of some mistakes :)

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:47 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    So even in the moment, you don't feel sadness?  I have forgiven myself, and others, for the hurt in my past, and I have "turned the page," but that doesn't mean that I haven't felt regret in the past.  Moving past someting doesn't mean erasing it.  Those feelings were real.  I don't think carrying it into the future is healthy, of course, and I don't.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, the letting go is key :)  And sometimes the hardest part.  I am very easily forgiving of other people and have a very hard time forgiving myself.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    If I were looking at regret as wishing something away, then nope, no regrets.  Even the bad or questionable things led me here.  And I like here :)  It's interesting to me how viewing something differently can change your perspective.  Meaning the same thing but saying it a little differently. 

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 3:01 PM , Anonymous shellthings said...

    It's hard for me to have much regret when my mistakes have led me to have the life I do- with my beautiful boys. 

    Though, I'll admit, there are a few things that I hope they never find out about their mama.

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 3:25 PM , Anonymous Nicole Morgan said...

    LOVE this ...  and the perspective from Alison and the response from KLZ.  I have regrets, could I change things - no.  Would I like to if it meant that it caused someone else less pain - sure.  What if it changed the outcome of my life and what I have now ... probably not.  But it doesn't change that I have regrets or that I wish that I could change the past ... it just shows we have empathy and years later, we still feel for anything we may have caused ... I think that's compassion.
    You shouldn't want to change that.
    (and this is why I should never write in meme's because I would give you a headache!)

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 3:28 PM , Anonymous Nancy C said...

    I really like your take on this. So honest, and true. Of course there are things that make us sad. 

    Nobody's perfect. But I love how you tie this to the bigger picture of what it means to be a person who gives of herself...and that includes giving away the "perfect mask,' which, really, kind of smothers us. 

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 4:32 PM , Anonymous Juliecgardner said...

    Because I'm a gigantic dork, I looked up the definition of "regret" and found this:
    "A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done."

    So. Do I wish my life were different now? Absolutely not. Do I feel sad or disappointed or  wish to repent for things I've done to get where I am?

    Hell yeah.

    Which is not to say I was or am some wicked, evil soul who maliciously stepped on people to propel myself forward. At all. I care deeply about the feelings of others and want very much to be a good person.

    But if I'm being honest, I've had moments of selfishness or self-centeredness; I have I made choices I am not proud of.

    I learned and moved on. These mistakes shaped who I am. So while I don't want to take them back, I also think it's okay to acknowledge the weakness. I can "own my actions" without (either blithely or seriously) disregarding the negative impact my behavior may have had.

    Good for you, Angela. And I also applaud those writers who used this prompt to celebrate things they do not regret.

    In the end, we're all just moving forward trying to get through this life as best we can.
    Here's to making it a joyful ride...

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 4:34 PM , Anonymous Robin said...

    I'm like Alison in thinking about regret as wishing it away. I'm sure there are things I'd wipe out if given the chance, but in general not really. I did learn from those and now that I'm a mom those lessons are especially valuable. But I do really like your take on this. I think regardless of how we view regret, it's important not to carry it around with us. 

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 5:19 PM , Anonymous Hopes@Staying Afloat said...

    Oh I love this spin on regret!  I tend to be in the "everything happens for a reason" camp, even if I don't understand why while it is all  happening.  So even if it's pain, sadness, or regret.  It is what is meant to be happening at that moment.  And I try so very hard to find the lesson in it.  It's definitely not always easy, but I try!

     
  • At November 7, 2011 at 11:08 PM , Anonymous Galit Breen said...

    I love the way that you wove the and now in this. I also love the way you glimpsed what's important to you today and how separate that is from any regrets you might have, no matter how your define them. Love that, actually.

     
  • At November 8, 2011 at 6:34 AM , Anonymous Kate Fineske said...

    I love the part about not carrying our regrets forward. Regrets are a big part of learning who we are and who we want to be. The mistake made with regrets in not learning from them and not carrying them forward. Thanks for sharing that quote!

     
  • At November 8, 2011 at 8:49 PM , Anonymous dosweatthesmallstuff said...

    Yes, most of my regrets in life involved those where I (consciously or not) have hurt others.  But what you're saying, that regrets are not necessarily a bad thing--I agree.  It only proves that we're human and that hopefully we learn from it and become a better person because of it.

     
  • At November 8, 2011 at 11:03 PM , Anonymous KindredAdventures said...

    What a lovely piece.  I loved how you intertwined Anne of Green Gables with your story of no regrets.  I love how the quote gives us permission to have regret, to acknowledge it but then to just leave it there.   Whenever I visit here, your love for your children is so very present.  I hope I can sit down and read that book with my girls too.  I think I might just have to visit the library! 

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 6:04 AM , Anonymous Kelly said...

    Perfect for this prompt! I think we all have regrets...and our current path is paved in them. I think they help us move forward after learning from the steps we've taken.

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:10 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh my goodness, I already think about how much I will tell my kids about my past.

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:11 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It would never give me a headache to read you :) 

    It's so true that I wouldn't change anything, but I wish I wouldn't have hurt the people I did on this crazy journey.

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:11 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Nancy!

    My mask is so far from perfect :)  Kind of Halloween-ish, actually...

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I love that you looked it up :)  I looked it up, too, because I read that quote and thought, "Maybe I'm thinking of it in the wrong way."  So I read the definition to see if it said anything about changing decisions or wanting to take things back, and it doesn't. 

    And yes, I absolutely try so hard not to let my own choices cause other people hurt, but I know they have.  But I try not to do the sames things over and over anymore.

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:14 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, leaving it in the past can be difficult, but it's so important :)

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:15 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Well, thanks so much!  Yes, I try to leave them in the past and move forward and grow a little as a person from each of my mistakes.  (And I know I'll have to do that a million more times over the course of my life!)

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:16 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm glad you liked the quote.  I had never heard it before, and it really changed the way I think about the role of regret in my life.

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:17 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Isn't it interesting that we worry about the times in our lives that we've hurt others and sometimes forget about the times we hurt ourselves?  I am working on that one :)

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:17 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, thank you so much :)  And I love those books, all of them.  I better read them to her before she becomes too opinionated and doesn't want to listen to me!

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:18 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, our path is made up of all of it, good and bad.  Hopefully I've learned from the bad :)

     
  • At November 9, 2011 at 1:18 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you :)  It can be hard to find the lesson in the bad things, but I try, too.

     

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