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Maybe I should have regrets – but I don’t. I have learning experiences.

Posted Jan 19 2010 12:00am

I don’t believe in regrets. At worst, regretting something you did – or didn’t do – can eat you up on the inside. Not to mention that it’s an excuse to remain stagnant. At best, regretting something you did – or didn’t do – will change you for the better in the future.

I don’t think I could live with regrets, at least not relating to my mom. Yes, I can focus on the last time she called me when I lost my temper because it was the umpteenth time she called me that day. I didn’t know, of course, that she’d wake up the next morning, unable to talk.

But that wouldn’t do me any good. Crying because of that phone call won’t help me in the future. You think I don’t get annoyed when my grandfather calls me for the fourth time in as many  hours when I’m at work? I get annoyed. You think I cherish every phone call with my grandmother? I don’t. You think I memorize what everyone wore at every dinner so I’ll have that last great memory? No way.

Because that would be anticipating an end, waiting for disaster. Being polite on the phone because this could be the last conversation, or memorizing what everyone wore to dinner because it could be the last one we have together – that isn’t living. That’s waiting for the end. Instead of looking ahead, it’s being glued to the present, just in case it becomes the last piece of the past.

As many of you know, exactly a month to the day after my mom died, I fell in love. On the one hand, here was this incredible thing that happened to me. On the other hand, wasn’t I supposed to be mourning the loss of my mother? These two events, in such close proximity to each other, are probably the two single biggest events of my life so far. And they literally symbolize the exact opposites of each other.

So I was walking all around smiley and happy and couldn’t feel better, and then I would beat myself up inside, because this is not how somebody in mourning should feel. I thought I should probably stop seeing The Boy because of it, and it was a comfortable excuse considering the sudden lack of personal space I was experiencing. And then I’d beat myself up again because the 2 years leading up to that point weren’t exactly what people should go through either.

I hate when people say things like “It’s what she would have wanted.” That doesn’t change anything. Of course my mom would want me to be happy, and I’m positive she wouldn’t want me crying all day. But it feels like it’s a justification for actions that are out of the ordinary. I’m pretty sure tweeting how happy I was and how much I loved the month after my mom’s death was not, by all accounts, normal. On the other hand, who cares? It’s not like anything in the past 2 years had been normal.

So I was faced with two choices:

1) Feel bad

2) Feel good.

I chose to feel good. And I don’t regret that at all. Yes, it probably took me a bit longer to deal with things because I was distracted. On the other hand, I have no idea how I would have coped with those first few months. Luckily, I won’t ever know.

I have a few so-called regrets in my life. But I honestly see no reason for them.

I regret quitting dancing for 13 years. But while I couldn’t change the 13 years that I didn’t dance, I changed the time after that. I started dancing ballet again. It’s been just over two years since I started dancing again, and it’s been great, even if I don’t go as often as I’d like to.

I regret not listening more in history classes in high school. I can’t change the past (no pun intended), but I can change the future, and the knowledge is at my fingertips, if I just allow it in.

I regret the years I spent in the wrong major. But if I didn’t have the wrong one, I wouldn’t have accidentally found the right one.

I regret yelling at my mom because of that phone call. But there’s nothing I can do to change that. I just tell my self – justifiably – that I was under enormous amounts of stress and pressure at the time.

I wouldn’t change any of my “regrets.” I’m sure I wouldn’t “not” quit dancing – because maybe I wouldn’t know how much I loved it. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been more patient with my mom on the phone – because it was impossible at the time.

So I’m pretty sure those regrets aren’t regrets. They’re learning experiences.


Posted in Family cancer support
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