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Regret isn’t anything new these days. Everyone has them. Regret that you said something mean about a coworker; Regret that you ate that extra sugary donut this week; Or regret that you didn’t give that woman you passed that compliment. Big or little. Regret comes to many in different ways and sizes.
But it’s moving on and past the regret and being able to live your life that’s the hard part in my experience. But it gets easier once you do more often. I’ve had two major experiences with regret and moving forward in the last few years that have had a profound effect on me and those that I love.
College Sized Regret
I grew up knowing I was going to college and that my parents were not going to pay for any of it. How did I come to this conclusion so young?
I didn’t. I was told this. Over and over.
I knew from at least eight-years-old that I was going to go to college and I was going to have to pay for it myself. This was then compounded by teachers and school counselors that probably jumped for joy when I told them I wanted to go to college – They weren’t going to have to pull teeth to get me to do “better for myself”. I sort of wish they would have backed up with me and ask more questions to make sure I was prepared for it.
I’ll be honest – but probably never tell my parents this directly cause they’ll take it the wrong way. I found my love for culinary in a book. I loved the outlook of the main character and how she took such great care of her loved ones and her parents legacy, they were world famous chefs. She loved food but even more loved seeing someone eat her food with joy. I wanted to experience with that. My parents were not supportive of my choice and would further mock it and degrade it because I based it on a story. They had in mind that I needed to do something in the science or mathematics department and should be concerned right off the bat of making enough to support a family.
This idea was probably based on the fact of their own regrets and money issues and shouldn’t have been foisted on to us kids. I understand trying to guide us into making rational, thought out plans but this is my life I have to plan and live they had their chance let me make my choices.
And so as it turned out I jumped straight into the college world. I paid for it pretty much with loans and my measly paychecks to keep me afloat once I moved out on my own. I still haven’t completed even a certificate for all my work because the three years were so stressful and I suffered from burnout, that I dropped out. Mr. Nerd and I have talked about me finishing some part of it wither it be a certificate or an associates degree hasn’t been decided yet.
Now I will stress I still support people going to college even though it wasn’t for me. But I also see the need for trade workers. I see that college shouldn’t be so expensive as it has become over the generations that it takes 10 times the years to pay it off as it did to acquire it. That’s just ridiculous.
Online Dating can be great for some people. My best friend and pseudo-sister, Aunt Watson, met her husband online. Evidently, online dating was not meant to be for my husband or I. We met through our church but at the time were just friends – each dating someone that we had met online at the time. For me, it led me into situations that for a long time wished I could erase from my past. Dating, in general, was an embarrassing period in my life. I didn’t know how to flirt, and I still don’t understand conventional flirting. I just know when Mr. Nerd and I are flirting. Aunt Watson laughs at this. We first met as roommates and she practically had to teach me what flirting is and would just bust a lung laughing when I’d tell her of my encounters with guys in general.
I kept trying to date, online or in the traditional sense. Trying to fit in with the normal hustle and bustle of dating. But it never went anywhere. We’d talk and go on a date and talk some more. It would seem like we both enjoyed ourselves and would continue going out and then all of a sudden he’d drop off the face of the earth. No more responses to my messages. I figured that I just didn’t mean much to the guy if I hadn’t heard from them in two weeks, and move on. Sometimes it was more heartbreaking to move on and I’d have a binge night with Watson. Tv, joint dinner, and lots of ice cream, that didn’t make me feel guilty at all.
I met Batman by chance. I was a live-in nanny and the family was looking for help on moving day. I asked in my new church ward if anyone would help and he responded quickly and rallied some friends in to help. I wasn’t looking to date. Seriously had just experienced a traumatic situation and needed time to ground me before getting involved with a guy. He was friendly enough and at least I’d know someone at church on Sunday. Slowly I made friends with him and that was the start of our fairy tale story. We both got dumped and started hanging out together. I didn’t realize the first date was actually a date and he had wanted to kiss me goodnight like an old-fashioned romance, for about a week and it just happened to hit me like a freight train at work. Oh, I was the comedy show that day!
Aunt Watson and her husband met pretty soon after establishing an online friendship and eventually moved in and then last year they tied the knot! I was super ecstatic to be a bridesmaid/matron or whatever you can call me. Even though I was 30 weeks pregnant and constantly hungry, I made it through the whole wedding and most of the important parts of the reception before we caved and left for home. So, I know that online dating can work for some people but its a lot of trial and error and just a touch of luck!
I think for me that each example I’ve shared and others also, that the road to change and growth started with me recognizing that I made a mistake and that was okay. For college, it was accepting that maybe I wasn’t prepared for it enough or thought through everything that I should have. That’s not saying I wasn’t smart enough for college – it just wasn’t the right choice for me. I still benefited from it but not to the degree that it has cost me in the long run right now. With online dating, I was playing the compare game with me and with what I saw in social interactions and I didn’t match up. I see now that I wasn’t meant to. I’m not like most people and branching out into the open was more detrimental to me and even more of a bad mix – like water and oil – than the interactions I already was having. I just needed to take time for myself first then try to the dating scene again -at my own pace and style.
The harder step was dealing with the aftermath of my rape. It was hard. But I think the first major step was when I told Mr. Nerd about what happened. We were already talking about marriage and he admitted he had been waiting for sex until then. I told him everything. I needed him to know and understand why some things I still jumped at or didn’t want to deal with at the time. I also didn’t want to ‘trick’ him or anything into thinking I had saved myself for him – even though that was what I told every boy I dated “I’m waiting till marriage”.
He waited patiently until I was done. Holding me the whole time. Then let me cry. But most importantly, he didn’t blame me, get angry at me (someone else, yes but that should be expected) and told me he loved.
Eventually, I made my way through counseling sessions and all three stages of Trauma Recovery. By the time I had reached the end I had decided that I would find a way to tell my story and teach others especially the youth about sex and social interactions and all the things I felt I was not taught or prepared for. I would remember all the lessons about modesty and chastity and the seemingly “monthly chastity lessons” we mocked as young girls.
“We already know this” We’d complain. But in reality, we didn’t or if the others did it wasn’t from our Sunday School lessons. All I can recall, and I have a really good memory most of the time (my husband will say otherwise though), there was never any details on what crossed the line. But I was told that later on by my bishop when working through all these issues before our wedding. The line of “chastity” was very clearly drawn and stumbling over it by “accident” in the heat of the moment was still crossing it.
I’ve opened up and it has helped me find a purpose for my life changing regrets. They no longer weigh me down each day. Batman and I have already discussed many things that we were not taught as children and how it negatively impacted us as adults and how we want to do better by our children. For me I want them to speak to us about their issues and not be afraid of ridicule. Batman has had some issues integrating and interacting with the general population because of bad habits he was taught as a child. I find that in many Christian homes there’s this quiet hush around any mention of body image and sex, and several other topics and so either it’s a don’t ask policy or shamed for asking about it when it’s all around us in society. I plan to break that cycle in our home.
I’ll encourage them to speak young so they know I’ll listen when they are older. I’ll ask them thought-provoking questions to get to know them better. I’ll let them ask me as many questions as I can handle and answer each honestly and happily and appropriately as needed. I’ll ask their opinion on things big or small that might affect them. I’ll let them make their own future but encourage them to explore and grow well before sending them out into the world. I’ll teach them what I didn’t know and better prepare them, but still be there for them when they learn from experiences. I’ll teach them right and wrong and so much more. Most importantly I’ll teach them how to stand tall after a fall.
Overall, the most important factor in me moving past this regret was coming to terms with that a mistake was okay. That and time. I have other things that are taking precedence right now. At this chapter in my life, I don’t have time to worry about the mistakes I made in the last book, my early years. I’m in survival mode already with a baby and keeping my sanity while stuck at home all day! Now I just think things through a little bit more before I make a big change. And if someone suggests that I try something I evaluate it from all angles before I jump headfirst in like I have in the past. I make sure it really is something that I want for myself.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from my regret is you can only go up from down. So keep standing after a fall and keep going up.
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