Regrets, I Have a Few …

Sometimes, not often, I lay awake at night, unable to sleep because I am remembering things I’ve said or done that I regret.

Photo by Nadi Lindsay on Unfortunately, what I’m writing about wasn’t all a dream.

Mostly, I think about words I’ve spoken that I should have held back. It’s bad enough when I know I was I spoke thoughtlessly, but there are many, many things I’ve said because I was so convinced I was right, or at least that I had the right to say them.

I won’t share any examples with you because, frankly, I know I was wrong, and I am ashamed of myself.

And yet, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize what they say is true … the past is prologue, what’s done is done, and you can’t go backward.

On the other hand, I believe it’s good for us to look back on some of our actions with regret, because by doing so, we realize we were wrong. And even if we can’t correct our mistakes, we can try not to repeat them.

Instead, we can move forward and make completely new ones. 🙂

I know I’ve made mistakes, and I’m willing to deal with the consequences, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve also become less willing to shoulder the burden of other people’s poor decisions.

I’ve always tried to look ahead, to consider how my decisions will affect myself and others. Obviously, it’s impossible to predict the future, but most of the time, we can make an educated guess about what might happen.

If you keep making the same mistakes, without learning from the consequences, you won’t move forward.

If you don’t sock away any money, you likely won’t have a leisurely retirement. And in this case, I’m talking about people who had the money and the opportunity to invest, but chose not to do so. I understand this isn’t possible for everyone.

If you jump in and out of relationships without giving them time to develop, it’s likely you will not find a long-term partner.

If you have a partner, and you cheat, you will likely be found out and lose that partner.

Sometimes I think there are people who expect life to always be easy, happy, and fun, as if that’s a God-given right.

It’s not. And let’s face it, life isn’t fair.

I know I was born into a life with advantages others don’t have, and because of that, I’ve always felt it my duty to do the best I could with what I’ve been given. And to try to share some of those blessings and help others when I can.

That’s all anyone can do. There’s no promise our lives will be wonderful or fulfilling. The only way that can happen is if we play the hand we’ve got, using the advantages we may have been given. And if we expect another person or a job or a way of life to make us happy, we’re doomed to fail.

I’m sorry my thoughts are meandering. I’m writing partly to sort them out.

You see, The Engineer and I are at a stage where — to use a cliche — we are living our best lives. It’s a life we’ve worked hard to be able to enjoy, and we’re old enough to understand there’s no guarantee we’ll have a lot of time to do so.

So, when I think of others close to me who have made other choices, choices that mean they are not in a similar situation, I feel I can choose to feel sorry about that, without feeling obligated to try to step in.

This makes me feel guilty because I know there are others who would step in and try to do something. And just to clarify, I’m not talking about someone who is starving or homeless or in a situation that is not the direct result of their own decisions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, so feel free to leave a comment.

6 thoughts on “Regrets, I Have a Few …

  1. The idea that humans have a right to be happy which is enshrined in your Constitution I believe to be a fallacy. People should not seek to be happy, they should seek to be good.
    I don’t think human life was designed for a state of constant happiness, since the comfort/ wealth/ gratification which so many associate with happiness all too quickly loses its bloom and ceases to satisfy, leading to a demand for more and yet more. I think we should search instead for meaning, to make a difference, to be kind.
    All that said, there is no obligation to save the selfish or stubbornly foolish from themselves. The job of every adult in life is to make the best of him/herself and perhaps a life partner. We can offer a hand of friendship, but not offer up our lives and bodies to be a crutch for others.
    Sorry, child of judgemental, guilt-tripping and over-controlling parents here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just for clarification, the “right” to be happy isn’t enshrined in our constitution, only the “pursuit of happiness.”

      And you definitely don’t need to apologize in any way. I asked for thoughts, and you’ve provided them.

      Also, I am/was that judgmental, guilt-tripping and over-controlling parent. In fact, that’s part of my regret — the over-controlling, judgmental part anyway. Personally, I think it’s fine to teach your children to feel guilty when they do something wrong — how else will they develop a conscience?

      I think for the most part I agree with you, but I’d take is a step further. It’s when we work toward a life of meaning and kindness that we are most content. I’d like to believe I’ve at least tried to live that way.

      However, having been the dutiful daughter, the good student, the one who did what was expected of her, I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life that I can choose to do more of what I enjoy — not that I was ever a saint or martyr at any time in my life — we’ve certainly established that.

      I visit my mom three times a week and call her most other days, but if we go somewhere and I’m incomminicado for a few days, I think that’s okay. She lived her life, moved to Florida shortly after Darling Daughter was born and certainly didn’t see her mom near as often as she sees me.

      Having said that, I understand I am being a little selfish. Some people repeatedly choose to put their lives on hold for others. I will not do that.

      And for those who have consistently chosen a difficult path for themself by making the same mistake again and again, I have tried to find ways to help that fit in with my life. But I will not bear the consequences of their actions and choices.

      I do appreciate your words, Kate. I am still trying to formulate my own thoughts on this to try to make them coherent. So, thank you.


      • It’s that ‘developing a conscience’ thing, isn’t it? The fine balance between guilt for actual wrong-doing vs guilt for not being the child one’s parents expected/wanted/’deserved’. I hope you will develop this theme more, as I’m finding it interesting to read your views and find commonality.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So true. Now Darling Daughter is a grown-up, I find myself looking back and wondering how much I expected of her was the former and how much the latter. Unfortunately, trying to be a good parent is such an all-encompassing job; I don’t believe I had time to consider these issues in the moment. I think in the end, as in many things, you do the best you can, trying to avoid the mistakes you feel your parents made, while, of course, making different ones.

        Still pondering the rest of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Usually, I’m the opposite. I lie awake at night thinking about what I should’ve said or what I will say, but usually never do say. I guess that because I’m usually pretty taciturn by nature, so I err on the side of not saying things when I should. Also, I hate the word, “should”

    Liked by 1 person

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