feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).
I have a confession to make, I’m fast approaching 50, in 38 days to be exact. A half a century I have existed on this worldly plane, wow is that possible? The thought of 50 looming in it of itself does not frighten me, but rather I find myself more contemplative, more reflective, and letting go of things that I can’t control, instead of clinging to them vehemently, as if doing so was going to undo the righteous indignation I felt. My divine right to the blues. That’s a hefty price to pay, and I no longer want to carry that around. So that’s a good thing, yes, but it got me thinking to the eternal question I dared not ask myself for so long, or dared not allowed myself to answer more accurately, do I have regrets? My high school quote in my Senior Yearbook is as follows: “Never regret the things that you have done…only regret the things you haven’t tried.” I am not the author of those words, but even at 18, I had the weight of regrets lingering in my soul. How could an 18- year old have very many regrets you ask? It seems in 18 years I had begun to bare the scars of shame and regret, which I would wear as armor into battle with myself, for the next 30+ years, in spite of having been in psychotherapy for many of those years, to which I cannot express my gratitude enough, for having the courage to get real for and work on myself. It has been a blessing in my life that has made me able to be here before you and bare the truth to you so that I can walk out from beyond the shadows of guilt, shame, and pain, and in doing so, maybe help someone who reads this and is struggling with the regrets of events that could not be controlled. I know baring myself to everyone in this way, especially to the friends who have sat with me many times and didn’t know these things, is scary and makes me raw and vulnerable, but you know what, I am ok with the woman I am today, actually, better than ok! I am pretty fucking amazing, and I am raising three brilliantly, amazing human beings, who have benefited from my struggles, my pain, and my self loathing, because I made damn fucking sure they NEVER had any of that in their heads, I showed them my pure, undying, unwavering, unconditional love I have for them, and you know what? They are full of self-love and reverence for the process, this workwe must do, to protect, nurture, and love, ourselves no matter what! Amen to that!
So to answer the question do I have regrets? For many years I would have said fuck yeah I do. Regrets that I didnt pursue a career in medicine, regrets for times I said hurtful things, regrets that I let fear and anxiety control my life, perhaps for a long time. Today, I am before you saying I no longer live with regret, because I made peace with what I cannot change. But this process to self, was a long road paved with pain, resentment, anger, and shame. Shame made me feel less than, it made me feel broken, it made me feel small. Self confidence? Surely you jest. I hid this from the outside world with my wit, my intelligence and my crooked smile. Not because I was the master of deception, but because that was my only means for survival. You cannot experience any kind of trauma without going into some sort of survival mode. Hence, PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and not only soldiers in battle experience this, victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and those living in a volatile home environments can experience this too. Now I will not sit here and liken my early childhood trauma to war, I am the daughter of a Navy Veteran, but what I am saying, is that the fallout affected me in profound ways that made me a different person and changed the way I would interact in my relationships with men, why I was fearful to go to college until the age of 30, why I was always raging a battle with alcohol, with food, and mostly with myself. I am not a victim, I am not here for sympathy, I don’t need sympathy, I don’t even give a fuck if you like me quite honestly, but I am here to speak to anyone who is feeling like I did. It’s that simple.
When I was six I was molested by a neighbor. He was several years older than I, I had no idea what was happening, as I was just six and never experienced anyone touching me in that way or trying to commit a sexual act in that way. I was scared, confused, but I couldn’t process what was happening because he wasn’t a stranger, he wasn’t a child molester in the sense that most people would equate him to, so this would be the start of the shame that I carried with me. Sadly, I was not the only victim that day, my sister had been there, she too was molested, but not by him, his brother. My sister being just 5 years old. For a long time my sister wouldn’t process this, and she use to recall the event in nightmares, then I would have to break the news to her that it was not a nightmare she conjured up, it was a nightmare that happened. I believe that this event contributed to her drug use, which started in her early teens, and the trauma of this led her to her lifelong battle with drugs, and eventually her death from a heroin overdose at the age of 39. Also, when news of this came out in our neighborhood we were ostracized and vilified. We had not done a fucking thing wrong, but we were the ones who became the bad girls, the liars. Not everyone felt that way, I grew up and I am friends with many of the people in my hood and I love them all, not them, though, not them, but for a time it was a rough go, and had even been the cause of my cousin, coming to our defense and beating the crap out of them.
The second event, and maybe more traumatic for very different reasons, came when I was 15. When I was 15, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, whom I have never met, have never held, and only saw for three seconds of her life, but has had my heart for the last 34 years. My daughter was given up for adoption, so she was whisked away after I delivered her, and I have been on a quest to find her since she was 18. Sadly to date, I have not had any success in doing so. I had never intended to have a child, I had gotten pregnant the first time I had sex. We were young, full of Boons Farm, and raging hormones, it happened. I never regretted the sex, I regreted the fact that we didn’t use a condom, but not the sex, even with my Catholic upbringing. That pregnancy however, changed the dynamic of my family though, as it begun, the process of feeling shameful, as I had properly hid my pregnancy for 7 months, as I walked the halls of Carteret High School, belly protruding, hidden under mounds of clothes. I even had a fight, one of the worst fist fights of my life, 5 months pregnant. On the day that my father confronted me I was home for Easter break, he came in and sat on my bed and said, “Susan your mother and I need to know, we notice your gaining a lot of weight, are you pregnant?” I went numb, “Fuck, they know!” Of course for 10 minutes I tried to deny it, but then my father stated the obvious, I wasn’t getting my period, damn, I forgot about that, I did everything to keep it a secret and I wasn’t smart enough to make it appear I was menstruating. My mother knew, but wouldn’t allow herself to ask. When I finally broke down and revealed that I was to my father, I could see the look of disappointment in his eyes. I could see it, he couldn’t hide it, his little girl was now about to be a mother and he couldn’t handle that I had allowed myself to have sex and now was pregnant. In that moment, my relationship with my father had been changed forever, and it remained a strained love, for many years, but before his death, I know we both made peace with all of that, as I lovingly cared for him in his final days and I know he was truly proud of the woman, wife, and mother, I had become.
So maybe I had regretted that I went for a walk with my sister that day in my neighborhood. Maybe I regretted that I had sex at 15 instead of waiting until I was a bit older, maybe I regret that I carried the shame around with me for much longer than I needed to. But that was then, and this is now, and I see that the events, however, traumatic, and life changing as they were, and they fucking were all of those things, but I came out stronger, wiser, kinder, more compassionate. I am a mother who is open about sex with her children, who loves and protects them like no other, my children know I have a daughter, they have a sibling, and they are supporting and helping me to find her, my children see the compassion I have for others, they see my blog and support my endeavors and are my biggest fans. I am a wife who is fun, sexy, an amazing life partner, who appreciates a man who allows me to be all the things I need to be. I am an aunt who is the fun aunt, that laughs with her nieces and nephews, makes inappropriate jokes, dances in the kitchen and raps, very poorly I might add, and makes amazing food for them, and I am the friend who you can call at 3:00 am, who will let you ramble, let you cry, let you scream, tell you fuck you when you are deceiving yourself, and can’t see the bullshit, keeps it real, and will tell you are beautiful, even when you don’t feel it, will make you smile when you want to cry, makes you laugh, and will hold your hand when you’re scared and never stop believing in who you are!
So I do believe that it is possible to live a life without regrets, yes, if you chase down your demons and face them head on, if you accept that the road less traveled is not always the one you need to avoid, and that the fork in the road you took, was the detour your soul had always intended, and that is perfectly ok. We are here for such a short time, let go of the things you cannot change and be gentle with yourself. In this moment you are doing the very best you can, and as the beautiful Maya Angelou said…”When you knew better, you did better. Amen!
**Today “T” and I are both happily married to two amazing people with wonderful families, as well as my daughter’s father, and I remain friends with both of them, and wish nothing but love, happiness, and all good things for them, and for each of you.