Sunday, May 15, 2011


How do you handle regrets?  I know you have them; everyone does.  Obviously, we all try to go through life making sure we don't have any, and many of us believe that we don't have any regrets.  I understand why.  They take up too much time and too much energy if we really start to think about and focus on our If-only-I-had's, shoulda's and I-wish-I-could-go-back-and's but really how do you handle your regrets?

If pressed to reveal my biggest regrets, I could easily name two.  No, three.  The first regret is waiting as long as I did to reconnect with my biological father.  It was only a few weeks after my family and I had told him that I'll be visiting him and his parents for a little bit in our upcoming trip to Europe that summer that my grandfather passed away.  It rocked me to my core, and I felt that had I tried to reconcile with my father a year earlier, I might have had some time to see my grandfather one last time.  I was only 15 at the time, and as I get older I recognize that it was not in any way my responsibility to try to rebuild a relationship with my father and that my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins could have tried to keep in touch with me rather than hiding behind my father's shame.  I have no relationship with my father, again, which pleases me greatly as he is a poison in my life.  But I still wish I had been given a chance to see my grandfather again.

My second big regret is not seeing my friend while she was in palliative care.  She was diagnosed with cancer in the fall and died shortly before the following summer.  I had a lot of joyous memories of her as a child and I hated the idea of seeing her with but a few breaths left in her.  I was a coward.  There's simply no other way to put it.  Yeah, I was still just a kid - not quite 20 years old - but she was my butterfly, and I couldn't stand the last memory of her being one without her wings.  As you can tell, I'm still having a hard time coming to grips with this one.  I think it might be the irony that's getting to me.  I didn't want my last memory of her to be one of her sitting on her death bed, and instead my last memory of her is my cowardice.  I could have sat by her side, held her hand, laughed with her, cried with her and told her how much I loved her.  I traded that in for wishing I could do all of that. 

My third, and perhaps deepest regret is hurting someone who was nothing but good to me.  He gave me his heart, and I did not treat that gift with the respect it deserved.  I was too in love with the romance that was offered to see that he wasn't the man - through no fault of his own - I was supposed to be with.  I'm with that man now; we have a beautiful family and every day I get to wake up next to him is like a gift from the stars, but I regret that in the process of discovering this love that I have now I wound up hurting someone who didn't want anything but to be that man for me. 

Getting back to my original question of "How do you handle your regrets?", there's nothing I can do about the first two regrets of my life except maybe talk about it when given the opportunity so that people who may see themselves faced with a similar situation don't make the sames mistakes I made.  As to the last regret, I've recently emailed the person in question and apologized to him.  Whether or not he chooses to forgive me, is entirely up to him.  Frankly, I didn't email him to ask for it.  His potential decision to ignore me, berate me, or absolve me of my sins doesn't hold much interest to me.  Perhaps that sounds cold, but I felt the most I can do on my part (and really, the only thing I should) was to offer up my sincerest apologies, without any explanations or rationalizations or hope for any sort of response in kind.  I'll let the fates decide what things may come.

If you have regrets, don't let them fester.  Really take the time to see if there's some way you can address these regrets head on.  Don't think of it as focusing on the past, but of getting rid of the gorilla on your shoulder, as my chiropractor would say.  Don't let it weigh you down.  Maybe you won't be able to get right of the gorilla, but you might at least be able to make it one of them little wind up clapping monkeys.

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