Archive for October, 2011

Regrets

Maybe because my mom drove me nuts with all of her regrets growing up, or maybe partly because I did my best to live my life in such a way as to prevent the massive overload of regrets I might have, or maybe it’s a combination of both.

Either way, I’ve carried around very few regrets into my thirties. In fact, when asked, I’ve had a hard time coming up with even a handful of nameable regrets. Regrets are nothing more than justifications for negative beliefs you hold onto about yourself. They are worthless, I thought. They gain no better ground because they are street tires in a mud hole. Spinning and spinning. Flinging here and there and people close to you getting muddy. Slowly digging deeper into negativity.

At least, that’s how I’ve seen it for the first 30 years of my life, how I viewed my mom’s regrets, which were without exception categorically smaller than what registers on most people’s regret-o-meters.

Things change, though. People change. Perspective changes.

I wasn’t really regret-free, though, and in my self-righteous judgement of regretters, I thought if I kept telling myself I had no regrets that I really wouldn’t. Because I had worked too damn hard to be regret-free in my younger years to EVER concede to having any. All those years of living in a cocoon of safety. Bubble-wrapped. Fed from a spoon all the clich├Ęs that kept me in a judgmental tizzy for the first 20 years of my life.

I think I might see the fading light of a picture in my head now and then that startles me by the intense clarity that was shaded from my view in years past. In the years to come, I think, there will be more and more of those pictures and sometimes it just simply makes me afraid. Now I know that the path I chose, in order to prevent regrets, was safe only in my naive eyes. In reality, I am not in control of enough circumstances to ever really have been safe from regrets. I will still choose to try to let them go, as many, as quickly, as damage-free as I possibly can.

So I will start here:

Things I do NOT regret:

*Getting on a plane, on the last day of the year 2000, with a one-way ticket in my hand, $40 in my pocket, and a single suitcase full of clothes to my name.

*Driving across the country with the best friend a girl could ever have, barely stopping to eat, full-on crying jags, swimming in the Platte, driving through Idaho at 3 am listening to SheDaisy, saying goodbye at the right time in order to say hello at the right time.

*Going to college.

*Skinny dipping in the Columbia on Oct. 31, in the golf course lakes in November, the secret spot off of the American River, in Lake Michigan in October, Torch in July at midnight. When 8 months pregnant.

*Getting my belly button pierced at 21.

*Getting buzzed for the very first time in my own home, with no one around but my best friend, no where to go, and no trouble to get into.

*Tequila shots the weekend after I lost a baby.

*My children. Any of them.

*Staying home with my children.

*Loving completely, without reservation, cynicism, or a length of time anywhere in my heart

*NOT smoking.

*Blushing when kids in school talked about sex. As much as I hated it then, I’m grateful for my lingering innocence, for being a late bloomer, for not knowing for much longer than most.

*Falling to my knees in the woods, fingers down my throat, tears from my eyes, first time of many, many times. Yes. This IS in the non-regret pile for me. Maybe there will be a time it shifts over to the other side, but I’m not there yet.

*Singing. Loud. Freely. At the county fair. In the back of a truck way out in the woods for my dashboard drummer. For a hobbit, standing on a path, acapella, “He said he grew up near Wichita, in a Mayberry kinda town..” watching his face as I sang.

*Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee in a little diner on a rainy Sunday wearing wranglers and boots and teeth chatteringly soaked to the bone kinda cold.

*Colporteuring. Talking to hundreds of random strangers in a span of 8 weeks does make one get over the shyness a bit. All the sunshine, exercise, competition, breaking the rules, pushing harder. It wasn’t the skinniest I’d ever been, but it was the best my body ever felt.

*Brasil. Spiders, sweat, piranhas, the whole bit.

*A snowy evening shopping trip in Tahoe with a boy who was not meant to be my husband. The falling flakes on our faces, the tiny, shy, little small talk that made me know, and be at peace with, the knowledge that despite the long, long history, it was not meant to be anything more than…this. It was the gentlest way possible that God could have told me to let go and move on.

*Waiting. Has it been perfect on this road? No. But I have no regrets here. Still.

*Not going with Ruben to a party in Sac. Seriously. Could have changed so much for us. He was fun, could have gotten us into the party, but could he have kept us from being rufied? I doubt it. And we had NO idea what that even meant, let alone watch out for it. At. All.

*Breastfeeding. Every day, every moment, every snuggly baby making happy sounds, every struggle to latch, every bout of mastitis (cough), every self-conscious moment in public, every milk-drunk look, every eye-to-eye contact with another mom in a fleeting moment of knowing. Every chub. Every wrinkle. Every whiff of sour neck and scent of baby hair. Every middle of the night just me and you memory.

*Homebirthing. Must. Become. Midwife.
Regrets are so hard for me. I think that by admitting them I am saying that I am ungrateful for what I have, because somehow, in some tiny way, each one of these decisions if made differently could completely alter my life’s outcome. Or at least, that’s how it feels when I think about it.

Things I DO regret:

*Not inviting Carl to Dad’s house that last day we saw him. I’ll never ever forget his face.

*Turning down an offer for a wine spritzer while singing in the back of a truck way out in the woods. It was a corner that we turned that day. I didn’t know it. He never looked back.

*Tubes tied. Induction. Hospital birth. Pretty much everything surrounding EC’s birth.

*Not getting a degree. Career was never my focus, but to have finished something worthy would have given me a sense of accomplishment that I truly did (do) deserve.

*Fear. Gripping, pervasive, consuming the first 20 years of my life, fear of disappointing my mother.

*Fear. Carried over and allowed into the rest of my life – fear of disappointing/receiving the condemnation of my mother in law.

*Not finding my sense of humor for FAR too long.

*Not playing pirates with my boy before yesterday. Not playing trucks with him every chance I had, not figuring out how to find the switch on my own imagination and PLAY with him.

*ELA. I *can’t* dwell or put words to this yet. Someday it will rip my heart up into little shreds, the volume of regrets. Mistakes. Hurts. Someday I will blame every ounce of it on myself, regardless of how independent she’s been since about day 1.

*ELA. I regret every day I tried to “pull myself up from my bootstraps” instead of getting help when after her birth all I could think about was how to off myself in the least messy way possible because “they would all be better off without me.” That was stupid. I needed help. I should have said so long before I did.
I WILL come back and finish this and write more. But for now must go enjoy this last fall day… TBC…