“I’ve got a bad case of the 3:00 am guilts – you know, when you lie in bed awake and replay all those things you didn’t do right? Because, as we all know, nothing solves insomnia like a nice warm glass of regret, depression and self-loathing.”
― D.D. Barant, Dying Bites
I am thankful that computers don’t fill a room anymore. And those punch cards that the young people of today have never seen, who misses those? These are my thoughts today as I am crocheting at 5 a.m.. Gotta love my canine alarm clocks and their small bladders. My mind wanders when I crochet, and often my destination is regret, the land of could have, should have and wish I would have. When I discover that I made a crocheting mistake 10 rows back, I wish I would have been paying attention! I grumble, but the fix is easy. I unravel all my hard work, fix the stitch and begin crocheting again. No one will know. But me. Usually the whole world knows I screwed up or behaved badly, or maybe I just feel that way.
I am 64 years old, and my regrets could circle the globe. I can’t erase my past choices and behaviors, and playing “If only…” is a losing fantasy. So what do I do with my bag of rotting regrets? If I can right a wrong or make amends for my poor behavior, then I can change a regret into a learning experience. Damn those learning experiences! What about the “road not taken”? I had many forks in the road and I decided which way to go. That is my reality, and what could have been is not real. Now I try to live in reality as much as I can. Imagination is wasted if I try to create a new past; better to use my imagination in the present tense. I try not to create new regrets by staying in the now, and paying attention. I am getting short on time for do-overs.
A spider weaves a beautiful and ornate web,and without a thought,we destroy it. I am sure that the spider does not regret its choice of corner, or the design of the web. I had a life with Roger and we built a web of relationship, love, memories, dreams, anger, tears, laughter, and more love. Dementia destroyed our web, and unlike the spider, I had so many regrets that I was afraid of being buried alive. I should have loved him better. I should have realized that he was irreplaceable. I shouldn’t have yelled at him when he started to behave differently. I should have known that this was the last walk, the last bike ride, the last smile. Sit and listen to a group of caregivers and you will hear litanies of regrets and guilt. I sat and listened to my fellow caregivers, and shared my pain. I stayed long enough for the miracle of self-forgiveness.