What DON'T you regret?
I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary recently, and while it was totally beautiful and low key (which is my all-time fave combo) I still couldn’t help being gobsmacked that ten whole years had gone by.
Every decade of life brings seismic shifts, but this past decade seemed bigger: I got married, had two children, bought a house, and sold a book. I also lost my mother, my stepbrother, and my dear friend Kenny; and along with you endured a global pandemic that has changed us in ways we still don’t know.
Taking inventory of the last decade, I have such precious memories AND some real regrets. Standing where I am now, I can see so clearly the places I turned left when I should have gone right. Along with the people, places, and things I spent way too much valuable (and irretrievable) energy and emotion on.
Yet, I don't stay swimming in the waters of regret for too long because I learned an important lesson from my mama.
Last year after my mother passed, I erupted with a volcano of emotions, the most surprising being regret. I wished I had visited more. I wished I had brought her to live with me, though I know she had her own full life and probably wouldn’t have come. I wished I had paid off her house so she could have retired sooner. I wished I hadn’t said some thoughtless things. I wished I had been kinder at times. I wished I had been more appreciative of how hard life was for a widow left with four kids and two jobs.
But what I really wished is that she didn’t die.
I was so consumed by the feeling of regret I scoured bereavement websites hoping for some solace—and I found it. After explaining that feelings of regret are a natural part of the grieving process, a random internet article on a no-name site offered this sage advice:
Instead of ruminating on the things you regret, focus on the things you don’t.
It was such a simple reframe that helped untwist my heart.
What were the things about my mom I didn’t regret?
Well, let's see:
— I didn’t regret I left my own family for a whole month to travel to Texas to take care of her when she was sick.
— I didn’t regret traveling with her to Oaxaca, and Havana and Graceland, where we got naked in a Temezcal, admired the Malecón from the backseat of a vintage car, and sang some serious Elvis karaoke.
— I didn’t regret that I gave her two beautiful granddaughters and a handsome son-in-law who was so very good to her daughter.
— I didn’t regret taking the time to talk to her nearly everyday, even when I was busy as shit.
— I didn’t regret I always apologized when I was rude.
—I didn’t regret visiting her in Texas for Christmas during the pandemic even though I got Covid and brought it back to my husband. Because despite all that drama, it was the very last Christmas we ever spent together.
— And I definitely didn’t regret that as part of my healing journey I bravely asked her every hard question I had ever wanted to, and shared every hard feeling I ever had so that when she died we truly had nothing left unfinished between us.
When all was said and done, my list of non-regrets were so big and true, and left me bursting with love, it overshadowed everything else.
So my friends, I'll ask you:
What DON’T you regret about your life today?
Trust me when I say that you don’t have to wait for another decade to pass for you to stand knee deep in your life and be so fucking grateful for all that you have, all that you are, and all that you have lived through, regrets or not.