Friday, June 26, 2009

Overcoming Old Regrets

My mind these past few days has been on regrets. When I sit down and think about it, I have a few of them--like I wish I had applied myself more in college so I would have finished before getting married and having kids. But for the most part, I have accepted life as it came, adjusted and moved happily on.

Except for one thing. I made a choice a few years back that was the wrong one. I knew it at the time, but even with that knowledge I made it. I felt whatever pain it would cause me later would be worth it in the end, and so with complete knowledge, I moved forward. What I hadn't considered was the pain my choice would cause others. And in reality, I had no idea how much pain it would cause me. It really ended up shaking my world to the very core, and now several years later, just when I think things will get back to normal and life will move on, it rears its ugly head, pierces my heart, and everything around me comes crashing down.

My biggest problem, I believe is that I haven't been ready to leave it behind me and those I hurt the most can't get over it either. We all desperately cling to our individual pain, while our hearts harden and life gets bitter.

I have wished for years to go back in time and choose another path. I have yearned for that, cried for it, ached for it. But then yesterday a thought came to me that was a little liberating.

The thought was that my life is what it is, and there is nothing I can do to change the past. I made a bad choice. However, just because I can't change that, does not mean I can't change the impact the choice will have on me. I will never have things the way I would like them, there are certain people I love dearly who I will never be able to be close with again. That is not a reality for me now. But I can choose to be angry, and unhappy, or I can choose to be kind, loving and supportive. I had a friend once say to me, "You don't have to be miserable unless you like being that way." I think that is true. But sometimes it is hard to climb out of the deep pit of misery and enjoy the sunshine again.

So, my thought is this. Life is what it is. You can't change the past, but you can influence the future. If you have been unkind in the past, be nice. If you have been untrustworthy, change. Our future is what we make it.