Photo: Boston Winter, January 2014.
Still going to therapy once a week. Still living in Boston. It was a New Year—2014. I was about to celebrate another birthday.
My therapist was talking to me about regrets. I had a fear of future regrets, and I carried shame with past regrets: leaving my career prematurely and carelessly. Not starting my career early enough. Graduating college a few years late. Not having a masters degree when a life storm came rolling in, and then never feeling the timing was right to go back. What was I thinking? What could I have done differently if I had seen things with wiser eyes? Including my marriage.
Now here I was: Soon to be 34-years-old. My life. Complete with a Xanax prescription.
My therapist and I talked about changing the relationship I had with my regrets to ease the anxiety. Why not try to embrace them, rather than push my regrets away? Rather than fear and shame them, why not acknowledge their existence and understand how my regrets have formed me? Have compassion for them. Have compassion for my story, complete with regrets. This made sense to me.
I wrote this on January 16th, 2014.
“Tomorrow I’m 34. It feels very different than 20, or even 28. Instead of a full set of dreams before me, I have to start wondering if there is time left for some of them. I have to realize what my 20-year-old self didn’t fully understand: Years fly. It’s going quickly. Even if I want to keep treating life like one of those “choose your own adventure” novels I loved as a kid, I no longer get to keep my fingers stuffed in the pages of other options; just in case, the way I like it.
Tonight, I realize I’m still young—young enough still for some big dreams, but old enough to know I might have missed a chance or two. At 34, I’ve learned about regrets. That’s me tonight—thinking about my regrets. As Earl Partridge said in the movie Magnolia: “Don’t ever let anyone ever say to you, ‘You shouldn’t regret anything.’ Don’t do that, don’t! You regret what you want! And use that, use that, use that regret for anything, any way you want. You can use it, okay?”
In my 34th year, I’m gonna use my regrets. I’m holding them close, trusting what they’ve taught me, and listening to their lessons. To use another Magnolia quote, one that seems fitting for the 34-year-old that I am: “In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve — it’s what you take.” I believe that. Here’s to “taking” it all—every bit—including my regret. Here’s to another 34 years complete with even more regrets, dreams with an added time crunch, and being grateful I know more than I did when I was 20.”
After contemplating on my regrets, I took what a few of them had taught me, and with encouragement from Ruthanne, I edited and uploaded a fresh resume video of my past television reporting. I put it on Facebook.
The next day, on my birthday, I celebrated with these amazing women. … Here’s to regrets. It was a good start to my 34th year.
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