Life is a journey and certainly not without mishaps and mistakes along the way. I tell my girls that the only real mistake is not learning the first time and doing it again. In my years practicing medicine I have had the unique opportunity to see people at some very fearful an unexpected moments in their lives and many times shortly before death. I am thankful for these experiences and try to learn from each interaction and bring it forward into my life. One of the things I work very hard to do is not live with regret. Don’t get this confused with not making a mistake, that is unavoidable but I am talking about those times, experiences, or words that haunt you at night and while you desperately try to forget them, they reoccur as a whispering reminder time and again.
Most people will push them in the back corner of their mind, pride and fear will win the fight. But if you are reading this, you are not one of those people.
You are seeking clarity, purpose, and renewed integrity. It is frightening to admit the things we have said or done but as you know, they will not fade and they will not be forgotten. My guess is, those are your lessons, right there in front of you. Waiting until you have the strength, stability, and the tenacity to face them head on. Do you really want go through your life with the weight of regret? How would it feel to let that go? I know you have the strength and I can guarantee you, the reality of tackling this burden is never as you think and the feeling of releasing this weight will be worth the work.
I have been personally working on this concept for many years now, pretending if I were told I had 24 hrs to live, what would I wish I had reconciled…. I have called old boyfriends to tell them I think I didn’t treat them as I they deserved and I am sorry (granted I was only 13 at the time but nonetheless, I don’t think I was acting the best version of my current self!) and most recently I wrote a letter, reconciling a final regret. Eight years ago, 2 weeks after giving birth (I still like to find an excuse, maybe my hormones were acting up!) I made a passing comment to a dear friend’s mother that in hindsight was not thoughtful and did not account for her history. Upon realizing what I had said I was utterly MORTIFIED! I felt shame, fear, and embarrassment and certainly hoped I would forget the whole thing and just move on… apparently not! I had a lesson to learn and it took eight years to come to terms with it. I pride myself on being thoughtful and emotionally intelligent and man did I drop the ball.
Very recently I called myself to the mat, “Shandy, what do you need to do to make this right? Now do it…NOW!” I wrote her a letter. Tears filled my eyes as I poured my soul out; I apologized and asked for forgiveness over and over. I can also tell you, in those eight years, I have been more thoughtful with my words than I can ever imagine (lessoned learned and put into action). Today I received a handwritten written response; with trepidation I opened the letter not knowing what the words might be… she not only accepted my apology but also asked me to please release the burden of eight years. Additionally, she had no recollection of such conversation or comment! Of course I am not surprised that she is so gracious and happy that she does not remember my comment thus I didn’t torment her as I envisioned, nonetheless I carried this regret around for EIGHT years! That is a long time to hold a hole in your heart. I am grateful for my strength, for her gentleness and acceptance, and for the opportunity to learn that regret is not worth the effort.
Face your fears, believe in your resilience and strength and find it within you to face your failures while at the same time admit you are human and ask for forgiveness.