The night I had last night was quite different and started out with a mistake on good old, toxic social media, to remind me of a series of mistakes made long ago. That being the kind that happens when two newly single people, both intoxicated do not stop themselves from doing a stupid thing that both will come grimace at the thought of. Since it happened, being able to remember, in a tipsy grumble, not saying no to the plied cider and the rest, has haunted me like a street not walked down. What if I had turned left and through my drunkenness regained that self-control to say no to what was happening and do the intelligent thing and sleep on the couch? Regret can do strange things for people. In my experience, it made looking in the mirror that more difficult for a while and gave me the skills to spot a train crash before it happens – sometimes. Yet, for others, the thought has become so sour, they must abstain from all accountability.
It’s the sobering effect after when it hits you. That feeling of regret in your gut the mixes with the guilt of being able to remember what happened in the first place. For hours I was there, staring into the darkness, unravelling the motives of the night. What was all the cider about? Was that a weird rebound for both of us? Could either have us actually stopped once the damn train had left the station?
We all deal with regret in different ways, some better than others. Whether we like it or not, regrets, the mistakes we made and how we deal with the consequences of them define us far better than the successes. The sad fact of life is that dwelling on the bad times is more educational than the good. It’s a big learning process that creates the foundations of what we define to be the good and the bad. To deny and deflect our regrets on to others teaches us nothing other than to avoid responsibility for ourselves and our own actions. It’s the reason I don’t believe it when people say ‘I have no regrets’. The roads not travelled define our lives more than the ones we take; does this make those regret-less creatures a blank space, or just another unruly student not willing to learn from the best teacher there is: life?