I listened to a podcast last night where a guy spoke about regret and how it differs from shame and how all of the cultures he's studied seem to show that regret is universally human and no matter what language it is discussed in, the same words seem to be used to talk about it. It's as if we are encoded to look back and wonder, ponder, what our lives would have been like if we'd only done this instead of that, chosen something or someone different, took a different path, followed a different dream, made different choices.
Regret is not shame and supposedly everyone but small children and sociopaths experience shame. We all know it. Some of us know it too well and it prevents us from being honest, from admitting even to ourselves who we truly are. It can also motivate us to change, to be different.
As I get older I think a lot about regret. Shame too, but not quite as much. There are some things I am ashamed of, without a doubt, but it is the regrets that I dwell on the most. I cannot say that I regret any of the biggest things I've done in my life, even marrying my first husband because of course I got my first two children from that marriage and he was not a horrible man. I don't regret divorcing him although I would have given anything not to break up our family which was absolutely one of the most painful things I've ever gone through.
I don't regret going to nursing school for any number of reasons. I don't regret marrying Glen Moon in the least. I don't regret being mostly a stay-at-home mother.
But I regret many of the things I did as a mother, the way I mothered, which (and oh, how I hear the echo of my own mother's voice here) I did the best I could.
But did I? Don't we all say that? Is that not the (excuse me) mother of all rationalizations?
So anyway, I've thought about all of this so much today as I've gone about my tiny life doing my tiny things, wasting my tiny time. I spent at least an hour trying to get a damn plant out of a damn pot and finally I asked my husband for help and together we ended up breaking the pot which was honestly the only way we were going to get that thing out of there.
Which seemed like a metaphor for so many of the things I do which I only do because I think I should and which end up taking all of my time in which I could be doing something I want to do. Truly want to do.
Stupid, needless regret.
"Where have you been?" She asked me. "I never see you walking anymore."
My tears welled up- that's how on the verge of crying I've been all day, and I told her that I've been a lazy slob and that I've had things I needed to do which is sort of true but mostly not.
"Yes," I said.
"That's a big house!" she said. And I immediately felt guilty. Of course it is. It's way bigger than we need and I know it. But I do love this house and buying it is not a regret. Which does nothing to mitigate my guilt.
I asked her if she'd like a piece of the palm I was transplanting and she said she would and I gave her some.
"Now you start walking again!" she said. I told her I would and also said that if she was ever out walking and passing by and needed a bathroom or something to drink, to stop by, that I am almost always at home. She said she would but I doubt she will.
She does not live very far from me.
It is all so complex, isn't it?
I suppose it's really only complex if we make it so.