They said regretting anything is non-productive and that looking back gets in the way of looking forward. These same people (let’s call them Dick and Jane) also avoid apologies.
It appears to me (and I could be wrong) that when Dick and Jane avoid regrets, they’re telling me that there is nothing they do that demands regret. If that’s so, they’re refusing to admit their behavior can bruise others, which means they’re avoiding the responsibility of their actions.
Doesn’t “regret” and “remorse” sort of go together? How do you feel about people who have no remorse about anything they do? You know the type – whatever happens, it’s somebody else’s fault.
I’m glad the majority of everyone has at least some modicum of compassion. Still, how many people admit aloud, “I was wrong. I’m sorry if I hurt you.” How many people say it and mean it? How many people say it, mean it, and never do that hurtful thing again?
Actually I think there are lots of decent people trying to do the right thing. But I also think doing the right thing doesn’t get talked about much, or written about. Bad stuff is news. Good stuff is nice, and boring.
There’s a website that’s all about doing the WRONG thing, realizing it, and wanting to do the RIGHT thing. On www.secretregrets.com, regular people anonymously submit a personal regret, admit they made mistakes or misjudgments and publicly state they wish they could turn it all around.
To me these public confessions are uplifting and heart-wrenching. Sometimes they sound like prayers, sometimes apologies, sometimes it’s a spew of anger, sometimes it’s a plea for help, and sometimes there’s a search for agreements.
It’s heavy stuff and I’m surprised the comments don’t add up past one hundred and that this Let’s Confess blog isn’t rated in the top fifty. But I shouldn’t be surprised. Didn’t I say doing the right thing gets little attention?
So I’m giving it more attention right here, and I have permission to do that. I cut and pasted three confessions of regret into this post. Each is profound in its own way. Here’s the first.
April 10, 2013
I regret not going to see you when you were in the hospital. I’d visited you a few days before your stroke but I never thought it would be for the last time. I regret not spending more time with you and not telling you I loved you. I regret my resentment towards you. I regret listening to my brother when he said not to come see you, that you wouldn’t even know I was there. I should have gone. You would have known.
Now that I am older I realize that you loved me the best you could, but you didn’t know how to allow me to get close. I forgive you, but it’s difficult to forgive myself. I feel like I abandoned you. I am sorry. I’d give anything to see you again. f/65
This declaration begs the question, to whom is this written? A husband? A lover of the same sex, married or not? Another family member or dear friend? It doesn’t matter.
The message is universal.
Never let a day go by assuming there will be a tomorrow.
April 9, 2013
I regret that when I had surgery and got addicted to the pain meds after years of sobriety, I lied to you about it for 14 months. I convinced you and you thought you were crazy. Now we are apart and this betrayal erased years of honesty, support, fun and love. I hurts so badly to wake up every day in this house and find once again that you are not by my side. I don’t have drugs to numb me out anymore. The pain feels like theres a vacuum where once there was warmth and security.
Who wrote this? A man or a woman? And to whom, a man or a woman? Again, it doesn’t matter.
The message is universal:
I lied and broke the trust, which broke our love. And now we’ll never get it back. (You can’t have love without trust.)
April 8, 21013
i regret that i fell in love with you at my uncles funeral and that you are my cousin. i regret that we couldn’t have met in another life and that you’ve become an addict and have lost your way. i regret that i can’t talk to you but i won’t regret the time that was spent with you even though i know its completely wrong and you had to leave and it would never have worked out. Still, i think about you daily and wonder how much more different this could’ve been in other circumstances. Yes, there are people that you fall deeply in love with and you can’t help it be it right or worng.
Once again, we don’t know the gender of this author or to whom it was written.
But the message is universal:
We cannot choose with whom we fall in love, but we can choose how we express it.
You just read three separate regrets from three people who admitted they lost their loved ones and those connections that made their days bright.
Loving and being loved is so precious.
Why do we risk it?
Why do we betray it?
Why do we lie about it?
Why do we take it for granted?
Why do we waste it?
I can’t answer that. But I do know one thing. The people who wrote the three admissions above will not make the same mistakes again. With loss they have grown and they are telling us that. They are also warning us not to tread the same paths.
Sharing lessons is an honorable aim, but I’m old enough to know that most people do not learn from the mistakes of others. The wheel has been constantly reinvented from Year One and it will continue to be rediscovered over and over again forever. Although our “Wise Ones” instruct us to seek knowledge from the past, we don’t look back.
Just like my friends who run from regrets, as a species we drive past the introspection that leads to maturity. Sure. There are souls who understand that taking from others diminishes ourselves. But those few brave ones, the ones who gaze beyond the all-important ME, are rarely followed when they start to lead.
Still our “Wise Ones” keep warning us about our darker selves, just as the Wise Ones of April 8th, 9th and 10th endeavored to share their lessons in their posts.
Are you listing to them? Do you want to?
I hope you do and I recommend going to the website I recently discovered and checking it out yourselves.
In full disclosure, I haven’t read these books yet but I intend to. Kevin is doing inspiring work and I think we should all support him.
And maybe…just maybe…you too will let Mr. Hansen publish your regrets, and get past them in the telling.
Originally published on Curiosityquills.com.