The Inevitability of Regretting

There is no way to make it through life without regrets. Some are huge: the opportunity you let get away, the dream you let go, the child you did not have, the spouse you divorced. Some are minor: you turned right when you could have gone left, you should have bought stock in Microsoft, perhaps you should have gone into teaching, maybe you should have gone to the prom after all. There are those that torment you and wake you up in the night:

The marriage that dissolved because what you thought was a lack of love turned out to be immaturity or anger at the wrong person. The anger that had once seemed so important, but now cannot be remembered. The rage at a loved one that was so crucial in the moment, and now the destruction and remorse is still felt years later.

The sorrow a parent feels forever at having thrown cruel words at a beloved child for reasons long forgotten, yet the shame is long remembered.

I don’t think we can fully live and not make mistakes. I don’t think we can be feeling, deep-thinking people without the bittersweet insight that comes with that.

How do I help? My job is not to simply make someone feel better or absolve their guilt. It is to help my client take a realistic look at things. Sometimes we are being way too hard on ourselves. We need to understand the human condition: how fragile we are, how easy it is to make mistakes, how it can be that what seems so real, and true, can change. We don’t get a manual that covers everything in life, and even if we did, we would not abide by it.

Sometimes we have to simply feel the sadness and sorrow that comes with knowing we have made a tragic mistake that cannot be rectified. I cannot create a new reality; sometimes I just can sit with you and understand your sadness. Sometimes I can help you understand why things happened as they did. There are things that cannot be changed, but can be understood.