I wrote this in January 2000, just found it again and I still believe this.
I believe this was an important part of my attitude at the time ( I was still having intensive therapy at the time ) and helped me to seperate my past from my present, and, importantly, to attach levels of importance to each of them.
It's still my attitude, I refuse to be dragged down by what others did to me.
I survived the best way I could and have made myself a better person than I was.
How could I regret that ?
I hope it makes sense to you.
If I knew Then, What I Know Now.
There are a boatload of common phrases and clichés that every smart-arse uses to tell us that they wouldn’t have done something in the same manner that we did.
“If I was you I’d have done …….” “what you should have done was ……..”
Fill in your own choice of words and add all the other clichés to the list, they’re all pretty much the same.
And almost without fail they are talking with the benefit of hindsight, telling us how we should have done things differently, learnt from our mistakes and become older and wiser.
They’re talking rubbish because they weren’t there. And from my point of view as a survivor of sexual abuse it’s completely useless. It happened and nothing can alter that fact.
Luckily I didn’t have any smart-arses telling me this mis-information, I had someone advising me who I thought knew what they were on about, it was me. I told myself.
A strange sense of logic told me that all I had to do was make myself believe that I could have done things differently way back then and the effects of what happened would be easier now.
It didn’t work, it happened just like I remember it and trying to convince myself otherwise was fruitless. Changing the story in my memory just doesn’t work. But I tried.
I know now that accepting what happened, all of it as it happened, has to be done. Any other avenue is thinking with regret.
Other than reminiscing about the good times looking back is only of real use if we are trying to learn about the future and avoid the mistakes of the past.
I told myself I could make it right, saying things like “ you shouldn’t have done it like that” but it did nothing except revive the memories of past mistakes and create a pattern of thought that dwells on the “what ifs” of some unhappy past episode.
It’s such a small leap to tell myself “Next time I will do things differently because I have learnt from my past mistakes.”
I might not know what the problem is until it arises, but if the only thing I carry forward is the knowledge of what hasn’t worked in the past then the options of what might work in the future are greatly reduced.
The “what ifs” and “if only’s” are nothing more than excess baggage.
So thinking about my recovery from a history of childhood sexual abuse, and looking back solely from my new found position of survivor I have no real deep-rooted regrets.
I have anger at what went on and a sense of disappointment at what I missed yes. But in the words of Frank Sinatra “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention”
Anger is ok as I can direct that and vent it off.
I have no regrets because I know that I couldn’t have done anything any differently, whether it was the abuse or it’s results, I couldn’t have done anything any other way.
Regrets are pointless and time consuming, they just slow down the real recovery and just lead to dwelling, bitterly, on the past and I can’t change what happened – nothing can. It’s there, in my past, a fact.
I have no regrets because I had no control of events at the time.
But those who did have control and the power to make it stop deserve to be consumed by regret for the rest of their days.
Over the years as I slid into increasingly more compulsive behaviour I bitterly regretted every episode until the next one came along to distract me, so I do know what regret feels like.
It feels bad, a soul destroying mix of disappointment and remorse. Regret was beating myself up – mentally.
But, like my compulsive behaviour, I got over that. My recovery has shown me how little control I had over my actions.
And if I had no control then - I find it hard to have any regrets now.
The day I told my wife what had happened to me and what I wanted to do was the right day to do it
It must have been the right day.
I’d wanted to do it before but something told me it wasn’t the right day so I waited some more. What made that day right even after 31 years of silence I’ll never know, it just was.
So I don’t regret all the waiting for the right moment, any other time wasn’t right it was that simple.
I don’t regret the past because I can’t change it, what I can change however, is the future by not regretting the past.
Look in a Thesaurus and ‘regret’ is joined by, bitterness- lamentation- penitence and self reproach.
And I don’t feel the slightest bit inclined to partake in any of those things, they’re feelings for the guilty- not me.
Opposite regret is ‘relief’, which is what I do feel now. Relief is linked to, easement- solace- alleviation- comfort and deliverance.
Now we’re talking, I feel all of those and more.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau