They say things get better with time.
Well yes, because time helps you to forget. With time, comes blurred memories and fuzzy feelings. With time, comes wisdom and relief and hindsight. With time, comes clarity.
There are, however, some things that time can’t cover. Things that stay with you; embarrassment that won’t fade, shame that won’t subside, regret that continues to haunt you. We all have them. Those memories that tend to come back at night, when you’re instantly transported back to that moment, with the exact feelings you had then, now.
The brain is a wonderful, evil thing. Yeah, it can create important things like medicines and pizza, but it also has this magical power to make you have – and never let you forget – regrets. Sometimes the regret can be so overbearing it can make everything seem futile. It can make you want to curl under a rock, and never come out again. Sometimes it’s never ending.
I always found that the things that carried the most regret for me, were things that happened when I was younger. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older and wiser now that I can handle things better. If someone wrongs me or a situation falls through, I can handle it a lot better than I could ten years ago.
But there’s not always a need for regret, and it’s okay to not have bad feelings about something that used to bother you when you were younger. Though I’m not a true believer in the “everything happens for a reason” mantra, I do believe that everything is inter-connected.
Your life is one big series string of dominoes. Every action and event, even if they happened seven years ago, has a knock-on event to your life today. I firmly believe that we are shaped by everything that happens to us. Even if an event may seem tiny or irrelevant in comparison to other things, that event caused you to take action which caused another event to happen, and so on and so forth until you get to the present.
There are some things that I have no regrets about. Some cases I worked on it, and other times it’s been a natural occurrence. As time goes on and you get older and experience more, it’s like the fog is lifted and you can’t believe you ever used to lament that situation, or that person. Other times, you know that the situation or the person doesn’t deserve your feelings of regret. And so, you actively spend time working through what happened, to alleviate the feelings you have.
One of the most important things I have no regrets about, is having regrets. Having regrets about lost friendships, missed chances and all that could have been.
I think everyone regrets lost friendships and broken relationships. Much like a first love, no one forgets their first best friend, even if they now only exist on their Facebook timeline, to whom you give a wave or a “like”.
When I was burned young, I carry the scars forever (and maybe I do deliberately).
My first best friend was someone who helped shape my childhood and early adolescent years. We did everything together, we had the same sense of humour and we constantly saw each other. I’m not sure why we stopped being friends altogether; whether we drifted, the age difference got too much, or simply, as childish as it sounds, she found another best friend.
For years, I regretted this loss of friendship. I still do. I still believe that I have never had another best friend like her, even though I have great people in my life. But I also realise that even if we were to get back in touch to try again, it wouldn’t work. Not only have we spent too much time apart, we will have become too different.
Or maybe things would be exactly the same. There’s no real way to know. All I know is that I, knowingly and deliberately, hold onto those memories with all I can.
Because why would I want to let go of something that was so major in my childhood? I would rather taint the memories with my regrets, than forget it ever happened.
I don’t know if that is the healthiest way to deal with it. But I don’t think it’s wrong to feel sad about something that was once important to you, or to mourn what you had.
(Also please don’t think I don’t have friends or I don’t value them, because I do. Obvs. But them rose-tinted glasses, they can be powerful).
I think having regrets can also show how much you cared about something. Of course, holding onto them can be useless. But sometimes there’s nothing else you can do, except regret.
And then, if you’re lucky, you wake up one day and you don’t regret anymore. You see all that happened, all that didn’t and accept that that’s the way things are.
Let me know what that’s like.