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  • Laura


Do you have regrets? If you’re human and not a raving narcissist, I can’t imagine you don’t. So, what does it mean to have regrets? Does it mean you’re a failure? Let me be the first to tell you, NO! No, it does not.

I worked hard in undergraduate school to get into a good graduate school and in grad school to get a good job. When I had to leave my job because I no longer could tell up from down, when my mental illness was spiraling out of control, I fell, and I fell hard. To me, my leaving my work was the ultimate failure.

I had worked SO hard, and for what?? I didn’t even make it a year in my job. I had never experienced a failure of this magnitude, and I couldn’t imagine experiencing anything worse. (Spoiler life alert: there are things far worse than leaving a job.)

With the gift of hindsight, I now realize that my leaving my job – and subsequently getting long-term inpatient mental health care – was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. But it took a long time for me to recognize that, and I felt a great amount of regret over it. To be painfully honest, I still feel regret over leaving my job, but it’s manageable and doesn’t have that gut-wrenching quality that it once did.

If I look at the regrets I have in life, I see my not returning my sister’s call to me a few days before she died as the biggest regret. Merely writing that hurts.

I never wanted to be like my parents, who divorced when I was a young child – I never in a million years thought I would follow in their footsteps. I did everything possible to avoid divorce, and I still regret both marriages ending.

I used to think my life was just one big regret – my leaving my job, my not returning my sister’s call, my two marriages imploding – I have come to realize that the biggest thing we have to learn about ourselves is that we need to – must, really – realize that the most important thing is to forgive ourselves. Having regrets is all about blaming ourselves; letting go of our regrets is all about self-forgiveness.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about fear, I am trying to get over my fear of riding my new horse. What I didn’t mention is that I am leasing her with an option to buy after the six-month lease term is up. I need to be sure I can canter small jumps before I decide whether or not to keep her.

So, why is this so important? Probably because I am currently terrified to do more than “jump” a pole lying on the ground at a trot. Why am I so panicked about cantering a small jump (or even a pole on the ground)? Well, the last time I cantered a small jump, my horse and I rather unceremoniously parted ways, and I have become phobic of cantering the smallest of jumps.

I need to find my courage so that I don’t have regrets, so that keeping my horse is MY decision, and a decision based on a LOT of canter jumps – but if I don’t, I need to remember that besieging myself with waves of regret is NOT the path to forgiving myself.

So, what is? Take a deep breath, count your blessings – you’ve got a lot more going for you than you think. You are strong enough to beat the Beast back into its cave. Don’t listen to the Beast’s siren song, and always remember that you are better than, smarter than, and braver than the Beast. You’ve got this.

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Jul 02, 2023

There’s a line in a song by Emmylou Harris “ you must have regrets to know you’re alive’. I tend to ruminate over the mistakes I’ve made in life, some with life changing consequences. I find it hard to move from shame to self forgiveness. To be perfectly honest I don’t know what self forgiveness even is but I sure know how to beat myself up over mistakes made decades ago and on a daily basis. I like what you wrote “ I need to find the courage so that I don’t have regrets”

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