Tag Archives: regret

If I Could

“If I could turn back time…”  So goes the song.  So sings my heart.  So cries my soul.

If I could…oh, if only I could. 
If I could turn back time, I would not keep secrets.  I would tell someone.  And I would tell someone else.  And I would tell another person and another and another until someone listened.  Until someone believed me and realized I existed within a tortured reality while attempting to act as if everything was normal and safe.  I would shout if I had to and tell the truth until someone heard, reacted and removed me from my parent’s home.  I would tell them about the sexual abuse.  The physical abuse.  The neglect.  The rejection and constant deriding.  The emotional abuse.  I would speak up and keep speaking until someone understood.  Until they took me seriously.  Until someone reached into the darkness where I was trapped and helped me escape.
If I could turn back time, I would do whatever it took to get help a lot earlier.  I would allow myself to believe I was worth the time and the money.  I didn’t believe it then.  I started so late.  So late, it was too late.  The brokenness had calcified.  Cemented into place; impossible to dislodge.  Instead of trying to figure it out on my own, I would find someone who could help me untangle the knots, put the broken pieces back together and mend me.  A gifted professional who could wade with me into the depths of pain flowing from the wounds created by my destructive childhood.  I would let them show me a different reality and how to wade out of that vicious current to the other side.  I wouldn’t put it off, thinking there was time…later.  I would pursue healing relentlessly, with extreme urgency, doing whatever I had to do to make it happen.  Because being healed would have completely changed the course of my life.  In a wonderful way.  It would have taken me into a new and healthy dimension where robust, genuine life was possible.  I would have sacrificed whatever I had to sacrifice early in life to pursue wholeness and not given up until I found it.
 If I could turn back time, I would never have gotten married when I was 17.  I was so young.  I felt old.  I felt like I had already lived a lifetime, battling to survive.  Going back, I would whisper in my own ear, “You have time…let yourself be young!”  I wouldn’t have given my heart to an 18-year-old boy who would ask me for a divorce a mere two weeks after our wedding. 
And I wouldn’t have married again at 25.  At least not the person I married back then.  I let him convince me he loved me and wanted to be with me.  I wanted so badly to be loved!  I took the bait, longing to be filled.  So, if I did again foolishly believe and marry him, when he told me a few months after we wed that he didn’t love me, I would have filed for divorce right away.  I wouldn’t have wasted a lifetime hoping he would someday, somehow come to love and want me.  I wouldn’t have hung on, believing he was the best life had to offer.  I wouldn’t have given him 22 years of my time.  I wouldn’t have allowed him to move into my soul, breaking my heart in the process.
If I could turn back time, I would have gone to college.  When I was young and just out of high school.  Lived on campus.  Had the whole experience.  Taken interesting classes and hung out with friends until I could discern a path that excited me.  I would have worked hard too.  I was always good at making the grades.  But I also would have torn down my walls, raised my expectations, explored, learned, laughed, figured out who I was and moved forward into the light of a promising future.
I would also relocate to one of the places I dreamed of living.  I would move there when I was young.  When it was easier.  When I wasn’t so encumbered with the burdensome responsibilities and debts of life.   I would have made my way closer to the ocean.  And started building my life there.  Not wasting time living where things seemed to fall into place, taking the path of least resistance.  I would move to a desirable location and find ways to stay as I created the existence I yearned for and dreamed about. Even if it was hard initially.  I would carve out a home in that space and finally find a sliver of joy.  I would spend time on the beach, listening to the soothing and calming voice of the waves.  Basking beneath glorious sunrises and sunsets.  Rejoicing in the warmth.  Greeting the day with gratefulness instead of reluctantly waking while bound by heavy disappointment and despair.
I wouldn’t have worked jobs that demeaned and demoralized me.  Not if I could turn back time.  I wouldn’t slave for bosses who didn’t appreciate me.  Who used me all the more because I was too unsure of my value to protest.  I would have pursued fulfilling work instead.  Pursued my dreams. While I still had dreams.  And hope.  And a future ahead of me. 
If I could turn back time, I would save more money and spend more on the things that create memories with those I love. 
If I could turn back time,  I would surround myself with those people…the ones who live in my heart and bring joy into my life by simply being.  I would work harder at staying real – even vulnerable – so I could truly connect with others in a deep and significant way.  I would take the risk instead of hiding and pretending and trying to fit in with the crowd.  I wouldn’t close myself away in darkness or shroud myself with shame that I wore like skin.  A skin I grew into while still very young.  Because of the abuse.  I would seek help.  I would tell myself over and over again that it wasn’t my fault.  I would tell myself until I believed it.  Until I knew without doubt that what was done to me didn’t mean I should be ashamed.  Didn’t mean I was disgusting and tainted.  My past wouldn’t be something to hide.  It’s my reality.  My history.  So, I would stop denying where I came from and what it had done to me.  I would acknowledge that past, embrace the possibilities of the future and begin to connect deeply with special people when I encountered them.  Meaningfully.  I would be transparent, unmasked, open and do what it took to build deep relationships.  Those connections would be my priority.  If I had another chance.  Another chance to do it over.
If I could turn back time, I would listen more to my heart and less to my brain.
I would try more things, even if I was afraid of failing, looking stupid and making mistakes.  I would kayak and kick-box and learn a martial art.    I would dance often.   I would visit the ocean frequently and let it sooth my wounds.  I would live where there was lots of sunshine.  I would ride in a hot air balloon, even if I had to save up for a long time to afford the pleasure.  I would take classes on subjects that were of interest to me.  I would sing more.  Write that book.  Publish those poems.  I would risk and not let fear rule my choices.
If I could turn back time, I would hold on to each moment.  Live it.  Fully experience each day.  The pain and the joy.  The fun and the difficulties.  I would be present in the present and tattoo each experience on my brain for later enjoyment.  For later contemplation.  I would fill my memory bag with experiences so when I looked back, the years would not have disappeared in an unending chain of monotony.  There would be more happy memories and less regrets.  More to recall.  More worth remembering.
I’m sure I would still make mistakes.  But I think I would make smaller ones, less costly ones, having learned some hard lessons the hard way.  I wouldn’t make so many of the huge, monumental errors that erode quality of life until there is no life left.  I wouldn’t let life…or the people in my life…tell me I didn’t matter.  I wouldn’t accept being a worthless object to be used and cast aside when inconvenient or if not operating up to user expectations.  No, having worked hard early on to find a place of wholeness, I would believe in myself and in my own worth.   I wouldn’t be beaten down, settling for simply being tolerated.  I would move on.  Cut my losses.  Find a healthier path.
If I could turn back time, I would understand the value of the minutes that were sifting silently through my hand and I would cling to each one.  I wouldn’t live for a blurry tomorrow.  I would live for today.  Milking each moment for every drop of happiness and meaning I could find.  I would dance in the rain and soak up the sunshine.  I would follow my dreams.  I would refuse to be numbed by the blows.  I would feel each emotion: deep, small, hurtful, joyful.  I would face the damage, tear it apart and rebuild when I was young, strong, more pliable.  And continue to rebuild throughout my existence, repairing, refinishing, refurbishing, restoring.  I would not settle.  I would not sleepwalk through the days.
I would give my heart only to those who also gave their heart to me.  Never casting my pearls before swine.  Understanding that even my broken heart was a pearl.  That life is a treasure.  And I need to spend this treasure carefully.  I would savor each one of those seconds while I was standing within them.
If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t now be sitting in a dark room alone but for my dogs, surrounded by regrets and loss and pain.  I would be a different person in a different place living a very different life.  Silence wouldn’t accompany me throughout my days.  Numbness would not cripple me.  There would be laughter and tears and conversation.  My world would not be empty.  It would be messy and full of all that results from a life well lived.   I believe I would understand so much more clearly what was at stake and would act accordingly.  I would discover the person I was meant to be…before the wounding, abuse, rejection and destruction.  I would be fully alive.  Finally. 
If only I could turn back time.  If only there was such a thing as a second chance.
 
 

The 2nd Floor

I never had children.  There was a time I wanted one; maybe two.  Girls.  Once upon a time, I even picked out their names.  But the desire passed before I graduated from high school, attributable to reading a book or two that supposedly documented a cycle of abuse.  Asserted that those who are abused as children will, in turn, abuse their own children.  Though I didn’t believe I would ever be capable of hurting an innocent child, especially my own, I decided I couldn’t take the chance.  I didn’t want anyone to suffer the way I had suffered, particularly at the hand of a parent who was supposed to protect them.  My hand.  So, I set that daydream aside, swallowed the pain and disappointment and decided I would never give birth or parent a little one.  

The years flew by.  And then one fall, I received the results of my annual exam.  My PAP was abnormal.  Further testing indicated my cervix was covered with severe dysplasia.  Abnormal cells.  Pre-cancerous.   My doctor recommended an immediate hysterectomy.  I was concerned about the time I would have to miss from work…a job I had just gotten not quite a year before.  My boss was not sympathetic to my situation.  He seemed to delight in pressuring me to “earn my keep.” To contribute more than the men who reported to him. I, a mere woman, was expected to work longer and harder to prove my worth.  That meant forgoing necessary medical treatment if I wanted to keep my job.  But the doctor insisted.  They said my only option was to have the hysterectomy immediately because the cells were quickly progressing and nearing a cancerous state.  

Even then, immediately didn’t quite work for me. Feeling the need to do my duty, I put it off for a few months, mainly trying to get through the holidays.  I wanted to find a time that would be more convenient for my staff and for friends who would be helping me out afterwards.  I made it until February.  My doctor pestered me, strongly insisting that I was putting myself in danger.  Telling me I couldn’t wait any longer, no matter what.  

And so, it was arranged.  Two weeks later, a friend took me to the hospital early in the morning and I was prepped for surgery.   She graciously opted to stay with me, waiting in my room to watch over me as I slept and woke repetitively from my morphine-induced haze that first day.   

I was touched.  It turned out to be a more emotional experience than I had anticipated. 

You see, my room was on the 2nd floor.  They asked me if I would mind if they put me in a room on that particular floor before the surgery and I had agreed to their request.  I didn’t think it would matter.  Didn’t think it would be a big deal.  But as it turned out, it was harder than I thought. 

The 2nd floor was the maternity floor.  I had never been in the maternity ward before.  My first stay in this particular area of the hospital was not to give birth, but to have all that baby-making equipment removed.  And surprisingly, it hurt.  Even though I had set aside that dream many years before.

I was old enough by the time I made it to the 2nd floor, no one should have supposed I was there to have a baby.  But the young man who wheeled me down to my friend’s car upon my release from the hospital said, “Just you?  You’re not leaving with anyone?”  And he sounded rather sad.  I wanted to laugh…I mean, I WAS far too old.  But for some reason, I also wanted to cry.   

I told him, “Yes.  Just me.”  Not leaving with anyone.  No new little life.  Never did that.  Never had that experience.  Never will.  

Didn’t even have a husband to pull the car around and help me into the passenger seat.

As I said, it was mostly by choice…never having a baby.  I was so afraid of damaging a child.  I read too many books, research papers and articles about abused people abusing.  I would prefer not to risk it…it was too big of a chance to take.  So, even though I felt strongly and would rather die than abuse an innocent little one, I chose the safest path.  I was concerned the brokenness of my soul and all the things that were missing in me would create lasting problems for a tiny little being left in my care.  It was better avoid the risk.  So, I remained childless. And now it was far, far too late to change my mind. 

Sometimes it still hurts a lot.  Sometimes I feel good about the decision I made.  More often than not, I believe I did the right thing in sacrificing my own selfish desire.  Most of the time, I only experience a dull ache and the regret is bearable.  

My stay on the 2nd floor was short.  I was only in the hospital for a total of 32 hours.  The room they gave me was toward the end of the floor and there weren’t any others in my “pod.”  I think they did this on purpose, so I wouldn’t be near the nursery or the new mothers.  Near those who had just given birth.  I didn’t see a single other patient during the mandatory walks I made after my hysterectomy.  But I didn’t venture too far down the hall either.  I walked in a circle around my lonely little pod.  I didn’t want to see.  I didn’t want to encounter a tiny new life, a beaming new mom, a proud new father. Hearing the muted cries from the other end of the floor was surprisingly heartbreaking.   

Sometimes, when I think back on that experience, I am suddenly flooded with regret and sadness.  There is a wistfulness that comes over me.  A horrible emptiness.  As much as I was willing to sacrifice to ensure I never hurt a child, I can’t help but wonder.  Might I have been a reasonably decent parent if I had really tried? Reached out for help?  Did I give up my dream too easily?  Was it wisdom or overkill? 

Now that I am approaching old age, now that I am totally alone, I realize it would be comforting to know a little piece of me would live on in a child.  That through them, a particle of my soul might go forward into some distant future.  That perhaps I could have even given them the love I never received myself.  And given them the ability to trust, to believe, to feel, to hope, to dream.   

It would be comforting to think someone would be there to see me off when I arrived at my last day of life.  But these are selfish thoughts.  And I have always fought to avoid selfishness. 

There is no rewind button.  No going back.  No do-overs.  The choices made are written in stone.  The story of our life, once lived, can’t be rewritten or revised.   What is done is done.  

And so, my one and only stay on the maternity floor of the hospital was to recover from a hysterectomy.  Highlighting everything I had lost.  And the losses were massive and deeply painful.  I lost the chance to live for someone else.  To be needed in that special way a child needs a parent.  To heal.  To know joy and connection.  I lost so much more than my ovaries, uterus and cervix.  So very much more. 

I can never go back and take a different path.  I will have no opportunity to repair all that was broken inside of me.  All that is sick or was eaten away.  No chance to repair all that was taken from me.  I can never start fresh.  That time has come and gone.  I left important pieces of myself behind on the 2nd floor.  They rolled me out in the wheelchair, gutted and alone.  In more ways than one.  

Carving

When we are born, with our first cry and gasping breath of air, we begin a lifelong quest to find our place in the world.  A place where we have what we need.  Where pain can’t reach.  Where we can “be” without having to fight for every crumb.

We enter this life confused and often leave just as befuddled as we were on our first day.  But we are usually much more tired and considerably more jaded by the end, having lost hope of ever building something meaningful or of leaving our mark behind.  Weary of the battle in our futile attempt to find a small place where we can plant our feet, that we can call our own and where we can be safe from the hardships of life, we slip and slide through the days, trying to navigate around traps and trickery, attacks and trials.  We learn fairly quickly that no matter how much or little we gamble, no matter what chances we take or how safe we play it, the house always wins.  We are born and we will die.  We arrive empty-handed and will be forced to leave the same way.

In between, we are frantically carving.  Carving out some semblance of an existence.

In fact, we spend a good portion of our days seeking to create a small space in life in which we can exist without too much disruption or pain.  We spend a considerable amount of time carving a life out of emptiness and despair.  We tell ourselves that what we do matters.  That we matter. Our contribution matters.  That we are creating a legacy of which we can be proud.  But in our quiet and lonely moments, we know better.  The truth becomes all too real.  We have nothing worthwhile to offer and will have even less to leave behind us when our time runs out.  We are one of millions who exist only to die, having accomplished nothing much, if anything, of lasting value.  The world goes on.  It leaves us behind as if we never existed.

Very few of us are remembered beyond a handful of years after our death.

All the time we spend carving out a tiny bubble that offers us minimal protection and that allows us to breath and live, life is carving away on us.  Carving away pieces of our heart.  Carving lines on our face.  Whittling away at our hope.  Our dreams.  Until there is nothing left.

We go on vacations to “relax” because the stress of trying to keep what little we have makes us sick and keeps us up at night. We take up hobbies and spend way too much money on entertainment.  We sit, playing game after game of solitaire to pass time, never realizing until it’s too late that the short time we were allotted has been whittled away until nothing is left but dust.

We think we are making something of ourselves.  We think we are creating a worthwhile life.  We carve and carve…careers, clothes, houses, cars, power, building up bank accounts  and stacking up possessions as if we could take it all with us.  We work long hours at jobs we dislike to “provide” for ourselves and those who are important to us for reasons me may never fully understand.  We constantly seek a better address, a more important job, authority and recognition.  We attempt to carve something beautiful out of our busy lives.  But in the quiet of the night when the emptiness is magnified to the point it can no longer be ignored, even we don’t believe in the beauty of our creation.

For all the whittling we do as we try to make the best of our circumstances and opportunities, for all the maneuvering and positioning, no matter what our intent or what level our integrity, we all end up at the same place.  Death takes the final slice of us, cutting off our breath.  It turns out the lights as it carries us away into the darkness.

We think we are creating a masterpiece.  That is what we tell ourselves as we pat ourselves on the back and soak up each “success.”  Yet our masterpiece is but a tiny, insignificant dot in the fabric of time.  We can deceive ourselves into believing we are something magnificent and important, but reality always has the last laugh.  Our fantasies are no match for reality’s chisel.

dust-760x380We think we are the carvers.  We tell ourselves this because we carve a life out of nothing. But it comes to nothing, and so it is nothing.  And at the end, we learn that we were not the master craftsmen we believed ourselves to be.  Life has whittled us into a shape and form we never intended.  With our final breath, we discover we have created only sawdust in spite of all our hard work and backbreaking effort.  We’re left holding only scraps and slivers and splinters.   This is when we finally see that we are indeed nothing but dust..and to dust we all eventually, inevitably return.

 

 

Could Have

1010925_302635853207272_2040033364_nI know it’s pointless.  But I do it anyway.  I sit here, pondering what was and is.  Where my course changed.  Where I lost my way.   Where I lost all hope of becoming who I could have been.

Maybe it’s the gloomy, rainy, dreary, stormy weather that has me in this somewhat depressed and reflective state of mind.  This dark state.  This unproductive Boolean loop.  I am being sucked under.  Circling the drain.  Contemplating what could have been had certain things not happened.  Had others not happened in the way they did.  Had others come to pass.

It’s hard not to think about what could have been.  Who I could have been, if only…

What could have been if someone had taken an interest in me when I was a child?  A child who was being abused by my parents.  If only someone had seen me; invisible though I was, broken, terrified, shamed little girl who was terrified of everyone.  Because I knew more than most of how ugly people in power could be to those who have none.  If only they had taken a moment to consider what might have been happening in my life to cause me to shy away from everyone, to walk with my head down, navigating as a ghost ship through the corridors of life.  If they had wondered about my somber expression.   The pain in my eyes.  The way I flinched on contact and shut down when they wielded their authority.  If only their curiosity had been piqued, they might have realized something wasn’t right.  They might have started to ask questions.  They might have seen the truth.

What could have been had they noticed, listened and subsequently rescued me?

What might have happened if I had been able to go to college after I finally escaped from the nightmare of my parent’s home?  I left when I was 17, having accomplished my goal, two weeks after my hard earned graduation from high school. I wonder what might I have achieved if I hadn’t had to work long hours in factories for pennies, trying to make enough money to afford tiny roach-infested apartments, ancient cars, retread tires and used up 4th-hand clothing.  If I hadn’t had to worry about anything but making good grades and hadn’t had to struggle to pay utility bills or make auto insurance payments and somehow stretch the $5 I had left over to feed me the rest of the week.  What if I didn’t have to worry about making myself into a “presentable” image wearing my used up 4th hand clothes as I sought a job that would give me a little more financial freedom?  Freedom to pay for an education.  What could have happened if I had obtained my degree and gotten my foot in the door at some reputable company and, as a result, started down a path that would lead me to a better future?  To a place where I could  accomplish something worthwhile and realize my dreams…and potential.

What might have been if I hadn’t had to spend my life trying to prove my value again and again and again because I didn’t have that piece of paper?  If I didn’t always have to achieve twice as much to prove my worth?

What could have happened if only there had been someone in my life who loved me?  Oh, yes, I’ve been a mess for a very long time.  And maybe, as a result, I don’t deserve any love.  Maybe I am utterly unlovable.  But what if?  What if someone could have accepted me in spite of my brokenness? Seen something good and of value in me. What if, instead of tearing me down even further and casting me aside, they had helped me to pick up the pieces of my soul?  Because they accepted and believed in me?  Wanted me?  Thought I was worth the effort?

There are so many things that could have drastically changed the direction of my life.  So many little things that could have led me to a different outcome.  An entirely different future.  To becoming a completely different person.

The rain drums on the windows of my tiny home.  I am permeated by overwhelming sadness.  Drenched by the rain of despair that falls relentlessly.

I am still scraping to get by.  Trying to find a way to put myself back together.  Trying to pay utility bills, buy tires, make myself presentable while wearing used clothing I buy from eBay.  Praying the little I have will last long enough to cover basic expenses. I’m still trying to earn acceptance and prove I have something worthwhile to contribute.  And after all this time, I fear I am still standing on the starting line, though I know I am nearing the finish.  I’m still working twice as hard, trying to justify my existence; trying to be worthy of the air that I breathe.

What could I have done differently to change my course?  To change the outcome?  There are so many things that could have been that would have changed my life.

But they never were…and so here I am, staring out the window, seeking sunshine but finding none.

I search the dark gray sky for answers.  But all I discover are more questions.  More desperate questions that will probably never be answered.

 

Turn Back Time

“If I could turn back time…”  So goes the song.  So sings my heart.  So cries my soul.
 
If I could turn back time, I would tell someone.  And I would tell someone else.  And I would tell another person and another and another until someone listened and removed me from my parent’s home.  I would tell them about the sexual abuse.  The physical abuse.  The neglect.  The rejection and constant deriding.  The emotional abuse.  I would speak up and keep speaking until someone heard me.  Until they took me seriously.  Until someone helped me.
 
If I could turn back time, I would get help a lot earlier.  I started so late.  So late, it was too late.  The brokenness had become total and it calcified.  Cemented into place; impossible to dislodge.  Instead, I would find someone who could help me untangle the knots and mend the brokenness.  Who could go with me into the depths of what happened to me and bring me out the other side.  I wouldn’t put it off, thinking there was time…later.  I would pursue healing relentlessly, with extreme urgency, doing whatever I had to do to make it happen.  Because being healed would have changed the course of my life.  In a good way.  It would have taken me into a new and healthy dimension where real life was possible.  So I would have sacrificed whatever I had to sacrifice early in life to pursue wholeness and not given up until I found it.
 
If I could turn back time, I would never have gotten married at age 17.  And I wouldn’t have married again at 25.  At least not to the person I married.  And if I did somehow marry him, when he told me he didn’t love me, I would have filed for divorce right away.  I wouldn’t have wasted a lifetime hoping he would someday, somehow come to love and want me.
 
If I could turn back time, I would have gone to college.  When I was young and just out of high school.  Lived on campus.  The whole experience.
 
I would move to a place I really wanted to live when I was young and started making my life there.  Not wasting time living where it worked.  I would go to the place I wanted to be and find ways to make it work, even if it was hard initially.
 
I wouldn’t have worked jobs that demeaned and demoralized me.  I would have pursued fulfilling work instead.  Pursuing my dreams. While I still had dreams.  And hope.  And a future ahead of me. 
 
If I could turn back time, I would save more money and spend more on the things that create memories with those I love. 
 
If I could turn back time,  I would surround myself with those people…the ones who live in my heart and bring joy into my life by simply being.  I would work harder at being real and vulnerable and truly connecting with others instead of hiding and pretending and trying to fit in with the crowd.  I wouldn’t close myself away in darkness or shroud myself with shame that I wore like skin.  A skin I grew into while still very young.  Because of the abuse.  I would tell myself over and over again that it wasn’t my fault.  Until I believed it.  Until I knew without doubt that what was done to me doesn’t mean I should be ashamed.  My past wouldn’t be something to hide.  It’s my reality.  My history.  So I would stop hiding and begin to connect with those special people in a real and genuine way.  Being transparent, vulnerable, open and building deep connections would be my priority.  If I had another chance to do it over.
 
If I could turn back time, I would listen more to my heart and less to my brain.
 
I would try more things that I really wanted to try, even if I was afraid of failing, looking stupid and making mistakes.  I would kayak and  kick-box and learn a martial art.    I would dance often.   I would visit the ocean frequently.  I would live where there was lots of sunshine.  I would ride in a hot air balloon, even if I had to save up for a long time to afford the pleasure.  I would take more classes on subjects that were of interest to me.  I would sing more.  Write that book.  Publish those poems.  I would risk and not let fear rule my choices.
 
If I could turn back time, I would hold on to each moment.  Live it.  Fully experience each day.  The pain and the joy.  The fun and the difficulties.  I would be present in the present and tattoo each experience on my brain for later enjoyment.  For later contemplation.  I would fill my memory bag with experiences so when I looked back, the years would not have disappeared in an unending monotony.  There would be more happy memories and less regrets.  More to recall.  More to remember.
 
I’m sure I would still make mistakes.  But I think I would make smaller ones, having learned some hard lessons the costly way.  I wouldn’t make so many of the huge monumental errors that erode the quality of life in such a significant way.  I wouldn’t let life…or the people in my life…walk all over me and tell me I didn’t matter.  I wouldn’t accept being a worthless object to be used and cast aside when inconvenient or not operating up to user expectations.  No, having worked hard early on to find a place of wholeness, I would believe in myself and in my own worth, so I would stand up for myself.  And take action when needed. Action that indicated my value.  Action that demanded respect.  I wouldn’t be beaten down and settle for being tolerated.  If needed, I would move on.  Cut my losses.  Find a healthier path.
 
If I could turn back time, I would understand the value of the minutes that were sifting silently through my hand and I would cling to each one.  I wouldn’t live for tomorrow.  I would live for today.  Milking each moment for every drop of happiness I could find.  I would dance in the rain and soak up the sunshine.  I would follow my dreams.  I would refuse to be numbed by the blows.  I would feel each emotion, deep, small, hurtful, joyful.  I would face the damage and rebuild when I was young and strong and more pliable. And continue to rebuild throughout my existence, repairing, refinishing, refurbishing, restoring.  I would not settle for second best.
 
I would give my heart only to those who gave their heart also to me.  Not casting my pearls before swine.  Understanding that my heart was a pearl.  That life was a treasure.  And that I needed to spend it carefully.
 
If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t be sitting in a dark room alone but for my dogs, surrounded by regrets and loss and pain.  I would be a different person in a different place living a very different life.  Silence wouldn’t accompany me throughout my days.  There would be laughter and tears and conversation.  My world would not be empty.  It would be full of all that a life well lived offers.  I’m sure of it!  I would understand so much more clearly what was at stake and therefore, would act accordingly.  I would be the person I was meant to be, before the wounding, abuse, rejection and destruction.  I would be fully alive.  Finally. 
 
If only I could turn back time.  If only there was such a thing as a second chance.
 
 

Regrets

I’ve written about regrets before…it’s something I have a lot of and that I struggle with mightily.  I suppose I’m not alone.  I read an article the other day about the top five regrets of the dying.  It included things like, “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”  Or, “I wish I had worked less.”  “I wish I had let myself be happier.”  And as I was reading, I realized my biggest regret (and I have many) is that I wish I had let myself be me.  I wish I had been true to who I am, followed my heart, not hidden myself away, strangled all that I was (because it’s unacceptable) and not tried to pretend that I was someone I’m not.
 
All of my life, I have been trying to be someone else.  Someone much better.  Someone who is normal and unbroken, prettier, who doesn’t have an ugly past, who isn’t terrified of life and afraid of what horrible thing is going to happen next.  I’ve been trying to be someone who isn’t so serious, isn’t so introspective, so introverted, so afraid to connect for fear of being rejected and cast aside like worthless junk.  I’ve been trying to wear a mask and appear to be a person, like everyone else.  A person who can take showers without remembering being raped by her father.  A person who is actually happy.  I’ve smiled and laughed and never, ever, ever talked about what was really going on inside of me because I knew everything that I was, everything that I thought and everything I believed was flawed, deplorable, unworthy, defiled and damaged.
 
If I could go back, I wouldn’t hide or pretend.  I might not have many friends, but guess what?  I don’t have many friends now.  And the ones I have, I rarely see.  Rarely interact with them.  I might scare a lot of people away.  But because I’ve hidden myself away, I have never connected with anyone in a real and genuine way. And I scare people away now because I can’t pull the act off long enough to convince anyone I’m totally “fine.”  They know I’m different.  They can sense it.  No matter how well I hide or how hard I try to be normal.  The mask I wear only offers a minor disguise.
 
I did try, when I was married, to be me, at least initially.  As you know if you have read much of my blog, that didn’t work so well.  Before the first year had passed, he told me he didn’t want to hear it.  “It” being my heart.  My thoughts.  My emotions.  Didn’t want to hear what was inside of me.  Didn’t want to know me.  Didn’t want the garbage…because that is what I was…garbage.  Didn’t want to be even slightly touched by my pain.  Pain was a downer.  He also made it very clear that what I was, the little bit of real I allowed to show, wasn’t worth anything.  That I needed to work very hard and perform very well to justify my continued life on the planet in his presence.  This rejection set the pattern in concrete.  After that, I fully comprehended and believed wholeheartedly that I was lucky to even be tolerated…by him or anyone else.  And I could only be tolerated if I kept my crap to myself.  If I wore the mask and remained hidden.
 
If I could have just been me…sad, wounded, funny, slightly crazy, depressed, imperfect, intelligent, sensitive, scared, destroyed, caring, deep, thoughtful, creative, tender, scarred, hurt, terrified, insecure, unsure, lost…if I could have just been that real person, and been loved in spite of my “issues,” I might have been able to heal.  To change.  To get past the past.  To overcome, at least in some areas.  I think I would have been a very different person today had that happened.  But it didn’t.  As a result, I have come to believe the secrets have eaten my bones away, poisoning and rotting my soul.  I have held them close and they have injected me with a toxin that keeps me ill and unable to truly live. 
 
Wearing the mask kept me isolated.  Hiding has kept me locked in shame.  Trying to appear that I was who I was not, and that I was not who I was, left me alone and unwanted.  And trying to keep the mask in place drained my energy and left me weary and depleted.
 
Being myself, all the good and horrible things that make me who I am, might have also brought me to a point in life of being completely alone.  But it might have allowed me to connect with a few brave souls…really connect, on a deep and satisfying level.  And that is what my heart has hungered for.  I am, in fact, ravenously hungry for this type of meaningful connection with another human being.  And the pain of not having that rips my heart to pieces.  I can barely stand the anguish.
 
I wish I could have come to a point of being accepted without having to perform to a satisfactory level.  Where I didn’t have to work so hard to compensate for my inadequacy.  Where being loved wasn’t about how well I cleaned the house or how much money I made or how I looked and smiled and how good I made everyone else feel.  Where it wasn’t about acting normal.  Where hiding wasn’t necessary because what I was was good enough.  Imperfect.  But still wanted and cared for.
 
Maybe, just maybe, I could have found a person or two who would have still wanted to be around me.  The real me.  The ugly me.  The broken me.  And maybe their acceptance would have helped me to be able to accept myself.  And if I could have accepted myself, maybe I could have become more the person I was meant to be before I was damaged.  And maybe, had that happened, I wouldn’t have been so ugly or broken or unacceptable. 
 
Unfortunately, it’s too late to find out.  I’ll never know who I might have become.  And that, I deeply, painfully regret.
 
 

 

Looking Forward; Looking Back

When I was 25 and getting married to the man I adored, the man I gave my heart to, who gave me reason to be optimistic, I was so excited about the future.  I was continually looking forward.  To the life we would build.  The places we would go.  Memories we would make.  Adventures we would share.  To becoming closer.  To growing stronger.  I felt sure I could heal from my abusive past and leave it behind me with him by my side.  It would just take a little time.  Time to figure out who I was.  What was damaged.  What was left of me after being nearly destroyed by my parents.  What I needed to fix and what would be required to fix it.  I figured I would probably need some professional counseling…which we couldn’t afford.  But down the road.  There was time.  I was young and I had plenty of life ahead of me.
 
Looking forward was exciting.  Even though there were many obstacles to overcome, there was so much hope.  So much anticipation.  I believed.  I truly believed the future would lead me to the fulfillment of all my dreams.  I believed if I worked hard and did the right things, the right things would happen.  I believed I would be set free.  That I would be loved.  And that love would heal the broken places.
 
I turned around twice and suddenly, time was gone.  I was old.  The marriage lasted 22 years, but only a few months of it were happy.  That first year, he started telling me he didn’t love me.   He didn’t want to know about any of the brokenness.  He didn’t want to hear anything negative.  He didn’t want any confusion or pain or worry.  Nothing that would ripple the serene surface of his existence.  Twenty-two years of believing in miracles.  Believing he would come to love me.  That we would someday have the beautiful marriage I had dreamed about at the beginning. Twenty-two years of holding on and keeping on and surviving day after day of his rejection and disappointment.  Of never being good enough.  Never being enough.  Never being valued.  Having to keep everything buried deep inside of me.  Having to perform to justify my existence.
 
It has been over 9 years now since he left me and I’m still alone.  Life is empty. I have grown old.  Time has run out. 
 
Now, instead of looking forward, I find I am looking back.  Looking back with regret.  And it is intensely painful.  Intensely.  Painful.  I feel as if I am being ripped to shreds.  I feel so stupid.  I feel like such a failure.  A failure with no future.
 
Here I stand, yet again on the cusp of a new year.  I have been at this point so many times now.  I have watched many years come and go.  I used to think to myself, “Maybe this will be the year!”  Year after year.  Until I lost hope.  Until I realized there were no miracles for me.  Until I realized I couldn’t put the pieces back together again, no matter how hard I tried.
 
And I have tried.  I’ve been in counseling for so many years now, I’m ashamed to admit how long it has been.  I’ve written in my journal, prayed, sought God, sought insight, evaluated and re-evaluated.  I’ve gone through 12-step programs and groups and classes.  I’ve read books.  I’ve pondered.  Cogitated.  Tried to change.  Tried to see things differently.  Yet for all of my effort, I’ve made little headway. 
 
I’ve lost so much over the years.
 
So as I stand here, facing another year, getting closer to the end of my days, I am broken.  I am hurting.  Deep pain.  Regret.  Sadness.  Hopelessness.  I have forgotten how to dream.  I haven’t any excitement left.  I am empty.  My world is empty and small.  I am afraid.  Afraid of growing older, older, older alone.  Afraid of losing what little I have.  Afraid of not being able to take care of myself.  Of not being able to go on.  I am crippled by depression and none of the current medication gives me any relief.  No easy or magic cure is available. I don’t have very many friends and the ones I have are not close friends.  I do not see them often.  I am weary.  Except for my dogs, there is no love in my life at all.  No touch.  Only silence and loneliness.  Isolation.  Hurt.  Pain.
 
I want to believe that this year will be different.  That there will be a breakthrough.  That something good will happen.  That I won’t be so alone.
 
But…
 
But behind me are decades filled with experience that tells me I am a fool to believe.
 
Now, as the years slip ever more quickly through my fingers, I want to scream, “Please, wait, slow down!”  I want to cry out in anguish and beg for more time.  For a second chance.  But in life, there are no second chances.  I have spent my minutes foolishly, believing that tomorrow would hold answers and wholeness. Believing I had plenty of them.  That soon, any moment now, I would find solutions and healing and love.  But my minutes are almost gone.  And I am yet broken.  The answers have not come.  I have not found any significant healing.  And love has eluded me completely.
 
Regret weighs me down with chain after chain after chain of despair.  This is how I enter the new year.  And this is probably how I will exit it.  Only I will have even fewer minutes.  And so it will go until my time has totally run out.
 
Terror knocks the air from my lungs.  Time continues it’s relentless march.  Regret leaves my mouth filled with dust.  I cannot change the past.  It is finished.  I cannot affect the future.  I have no power.  And today slips through my grasping fingers even as I try one last time to change my destiny.