“Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.” ~Unknown
Regret can be such a paralyzing emotion, yet it is also universal. At some point in our lives, in one way or another, we each wrestle with regret.
Regret seems to rear its ugly head most when it comes to relationships. It happens when a relationship ends and we feel as if we could have done something more. This feeling intensifies when the other person decides that a second chance is not worth the fight. Most of all, we face with regret once it sets in that the past is just that—the past.
Almost one year ago to the day, I lost the man that I thought I would spend the rest of my life with.
At age twenty-eight, after two years of living together, I watched him slam the door on our apartment. My own anxiety and depression led me to keep things inside, secrets, and this slowly built a wall in between us, so thick that we could no longer see each other.
My own anxiety and need for reassurance or praise clouded my head so badly that I could not even notice that he saw right though me. And anytime he tried to get me to open up, I would convince myself that he was the enemy.
We were no longer a team working together; we had become opponents working against each other.
I had created my own nightmare, and now that it was over, all I was left with was regret.
No matter what, I thought that we would find a way through the darkness. But once he walked out that door, he never looked back.
In many ways, I still struggle with the regret following the end of my relationship.
At first, I would enter periods of self-loathing: I could have eaten more so he didn’t have to sleep next to a hollow body made of skin and bones, I could have spent that fourth of July with him instead of choosing to leave him behind for a rock concert, and I could have made him feel like my top priority.
But the truth is, I was so focused on my distorted self-image that I was blinded to the fact that I was pulling away, physically and emotionally.
Yet in the last year, I have also come to realize (through ebbs and flows) that the universe has a way of showing you what rock bottom really looks like in order to demonstrate that you are capable of picking yourself up again.
It is when you are truly alone and forced to face yourself that new opportunities will open up and you force yourself to let love in again.
In the face of regret, the best thing you can do for yourself is not look back, but to make a promise to yourself that you can learn from the experience and do the right thing going forward.
My promises to myself include ensuring that I never take anyone for granted again, and act only with love and compassion for myself and for others. The endings we experience in life are the world’s way of showing you that expansion is imminent.
And if you can’t see through the fog of regret today, know that one day you will. Start making that promise to yourself today that you will no longer sit in your regret, but move forward with integrity, dignity, and self-respect.
Photo by Conny G.