Saturday, May 26, 2007

More on Regrets

There are so many good comments on my Red and Blue make Purple post that I'm going to cut and copy them to here so you won't miss them.

bobbie said:
i LOVE the metaphor of the crayons and the color purple - this is really huge.

i don't know if it was me you heard, but i say that often. i really don't. am i still sad about some things i did or had done to me, yes, and i'm grieving them - but i know that who i am today is made up of all those 1000 little pieces - broken up and put back together.

i think that this is where redemption happens - when we can bring those things into the light and know that they weren't wasted because a) they have created who we are today and b) they can help others with their own broken pieces.

that is why the color metaphor speaks so deeply to me - because the spectrum that we have to "color with" now is so much brighter and more real because of it.

i don't believe the regrets are ever "erased" as you asked, i just think it's more like the scar that is still on your body showing where you were hurt, but not physically causing pain any more.

i think that the self loathing is based more in the shame we face/don't face but have instead of in the place where regrets lie. does that make sense??
poor mad peter said:
"It strikes me that forgiveness is inevitably a work-in-progress."
"All we have is today so it makes sense to embrace it. I cannot erase the past, it forms who I am but I, with God, am in control of how I allow that past to form me today. Will it control and dictate or will it inform and give me strength to rise again? Either way, all I have is today. To be truly present in the moment is a kind of self forgiving in itself. I actually believe that."
My not-so-anonymous friend(who needs a blog of her own because she has such good and many thoughts!) said:
"Do you really think it is possible to go through life without having any regrets? And is having regrets always a negative thing? I have plenty of things that I regret doing to other people and I'm trying hard not to regret things done to me. Is this a good thing? I don't know yet. Sometimes I wish certain things hadn't happened but then I definitely wouldn't be the same person, would I? Is that good or bad? Should I even use the terms good and bad in trying to express my thoughts? :)

Sometimes I wish a certain event had never happened to me but I'm not sure that is the same as regret. Maybe it is. (shrug)

In Judaism there is a thought/teaching that God showed us (in our soul form) our entire life before we were born and we could choose to accept or decline this life. I know this is a hard thing to get our brain around because it deals with the very core of freewill but if we didn't choose our life then do we not have grounds to be angry at God for doing this to us? If we did choose this life, what good did we see in it that made it worth choosing before it was erased from our memory and we were born into our human bodies?

I realize that this will sound rather cliche but I am so serious here. I have been trying to look for the good in my life on the premise that there is something here worth choosing. Maybe I just don't understand what is meant by regret??

When one looks in the dictionary for regret it describes a word that I think is impossible to live without experiencing. Can one really keep forging ahead in our lives without experiencing regret? Regret is defined as:

v. tr.

1. To feel sorry, disappointed, or distressed about.
2. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.

v. intr.
To feel regret.

1. A sense of loss and longing for someone or something gone.
2. A feeling of disappointment or distress about something that one wishes could be different.
3. regrets A courteous expression of regret, especially at having to decline an invitation.

Why do we tend to view regret in a negative way? Without having or feeling regret would we still be able to feel things like compassion, empathy, sympathy or even forgiveness? Maybe it's just our way of perceiving or looking at regret that screws us up and not the actual experience of regret."
jim said:
"Hope: A lot of good things said here already (I really like Bobbie spoke unto you and am glad the two of appear to have a bond present to discuss the issue). I can only speak out of my own experience, of course, and say to you that, in looking back, I often remark how glad I am to have lived. That does not mean at all, however, that I do not regret greatly many things along the way. In Christ, you learn to live in the present and give the past to Him. I think if it were any different, we would take Grace for granted, swell up in our ego, and just begin all over again. In truth, the brain is but a God-built computer and it retains all in spite of what our spirit decides to alter along the way. That doesn't mean I have to let the brain take me into gloom and despair. I don't have to live in the thoughts that pass through, nor in mistakes and stumbles yet made. Grace is more than a word; forgiveness is more than something I do for myself. Find His well, ma'am, and fall into it. We can't live there, either, but it does give us strength for the journey...... "

daisymarie said:
"I have read this twice.
I am thinking about this.
I will let you know what I think as I wade through it.
Thanks for the ponder fodder."
Another friend who I'd love to see have a blog said:
"Such good food for thought, in the post and in the comments, at a time when I seem to be dining on much less savoury fare. Regrets and self-loathing... I think I get what Bobbie is saying but I have to give that some thought. I do like the colour idea, Hope.

In the meantime, I look again to that well."
beth said:
"In my life, properly processed regret led to acceptance. My willingness to let go of my expectations of myself (and others) to be perfect, stain-free, sin-free was the key.

There are many, many things I have done that hurt others. I am saddened by the pain I caused by my choices. I do REGRET the pain I caused; but I ACCEPT that I did those things, and I understand that it was the best I could do at the time. I have wallowed in self-loathing, but began to see that as the ulimate form of selfishness. I can offer no healing when I am absorbed in the negativity of the past.

You mention having no regrets possibly taking away from those who lived on the other side; that is something which you cannot control. You will forever live with the consequence of sin, but you cannot live in bondage to someone else because you have hurt them. Neither the offended party nor yourself honor God in that.

Hope, I reread some of your posts to become more familiar with your journey. They offer me so much encouragement. Maybe you could re-visit yourself through some of your writing, and be reminded of the process. Your baby steps add up to something huge, a life that honors God because you are consistently moving towards Him. It may feel like one step up, two steps back, but it's progress."

I'm still trying to wrap my head around these incredible comments. I think my major issue with one day saying I have no regrets is that I worry that it makes light of the incredible damage I did to my kids. That's what I need to reconcile. I can forgive myself, I can accept God's forgiveness. I can also embrace their forgiveness. But to say I have no regrets makes me feel like I am dismissing with a wave of the hand, what happened. And I'm not talking about the every day human mothering mistakes. I'm talking bruises on toddlers, verbal abuse and all out rages where my kids were terrified by my behaviour. That's what I stumble over when thinking on "I do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." We are all adults now and as a family we talk about the past. I have no problem admitting my mistakes. Maybe I'm stumbling over a word (regret) instead of seeing the whole picture when it comes to that part in the Big Book about the promises?


bobbie said...

i have to re-read these comments - but the thought i had since we talked was that "regret the past" might be the whole phrase that is important here - not "i have no regrets" - the promise seems to state to me that we will not keep avoiding our pasts, trying to escape from the shame that has driven us into our addictions.

i'm not sure it ever alludes to the fact that your friend at the meeting, and my own words of "i have no regrets" - since our talk i have realized that it might be a bit sugar coated to say that and then think of some of the things i've done to hurt others - i do regret doing those things, but i am not avoiding them and allowing them to spin me into my addiction, i don't want to shut the door on them anymore.

i don't know if that makes sense, but it's where i've been sitting these past couple of days.

love digging through this with you!

daisymarie said...

I'm so torn on this one. One the one hand, saying that I have regrets can imply that I'm sorry for the way things are and that I wish they were some other way. Is that so wrong? If I don't do anything about it, then perhaps. But all the pieces of who I am come together to impact this moment, the current decisions I make. If I truly believe that God wastes nothing, then why would I regret the way the pieces are coming together? It's all so confusing.

Anonymous said...

Hope, don't let experiencing the regret (which in my mind is healthy and necessary to move forward) mire you in guilt. Guilt is a different issue.

How does it affect your kids when after all the talking through, apologizing and forgiveness they witness that you still can't move forward? Is it holding them back too?

It is a sad reality that we can't physically change our past. But in a way we can, we can make every effort to help our kids when they need it so that this doesn't happen to their kids, right? Maybe that's the key to fixing the past and changing the direction of the future.

Love you.
Not so anonymous friend.
(Who does have a blog out there somewhere in blog land, just can't remember how to get into it.) LOL

Anonymous said...

We are all somebody's child, right? Now, I know that I have some baggage/residue that I've inherited from my folks. Perhaps they have regrets with regard to that; perhaps they don't think in those tems as it was pretty uncommon stuff in their upbringing/generation.

However, when I think of my parents as individuals with their own stuff hanging over their heads, I realize that they parented as best they could under their circumstances. I may regret and grieve some but, essentially, I want to get healthy and stop dragging all that stuff around with me. Likewise, I don't want to continue to hang it around their necks. I want to surrender the past. I have the same wish for them.

Now, as a parent myself, I understand how hard it is to let go of the regrets we have in terms of our kids. Easier said then done. However, I choose to believe, despite my conflicting emotions, that the Holy Spirit can lead us through the process. The image I have is one of keeping my "eyes" on the one who calms the sea and, perhaps, hanging on for dear life.

Hope, thank you for making this discussion possible.

Anonymous said...

"...saying I have no regrets is that I worry that it makes light of ... "

I came back here today to reread all these thoughts about regrets. After the day I had yesterday, I feel like I've baked myself a fresh batch of them. The partial quote from your post really popped out at me even more today. I think some of that it quite valid because it's the part where someone else has felt pain (emotional or physical) that we regret. It is recognizing/acknowledging the sadness attached to the suffering of others that I think is the key. It is the common thread of sorrow that runs through all regrets, even those that have nothing to do with me personally, that make me end up by saying "stupid fallen world".

Where the twist happens is what I think Bobbie mentioned in this, if I read it correctly (and believe me, I think I sprained my brain trying wrap my head around it):

"i think that the self loathing is based more in the shame we face/don't face but have instead of in the place where regrets lie. does that make sense??"