Regret: a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.; a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc. (Dictionary.com).
At some point in your lifetime you will find yourself regretting things you may have done or not have done. If you are divorced, you may wish you had never been married in the first place. You may think about what would have happened if you never met your spouse. What if you had never let your friends convince you to go to the event where you met your spouse? What if you had gone to college somewhere else? What if? What if?
On the flip side some of you may regret initiating or giving in to the divorce process and desire to start all over again. In some cases you can, so don’t rule out reconciliation, however in some situations the former spouse has already moved on and even remarried. Regret can happen at any time, but most often when there is some type of nostalgia involved.
When holidays come around and I can’t be with my children because they have plans with their father, I regret being divorced. These feelings typically occur in relation to my children. Would they be different if we had not divorced? Would they have a better chance at having their own successful relationships if we had stayed together? As soon as the events are over my thoughts fortunately return to normal and I am okay with the decisions I have made.
We Cannot Change the Past
The past is over and we cannot go back and undo any of our actions. We may have to forgive ourselves for bad decisions and accept responsibility for our behavior. If we have harmed others in the process, it may be a good idea to seek their forgiveness. Harmful words were exchanged that cannot be taken back. Money was spent and taken that cannot be replaced. You may have lost items of personal value that were passed down through many generations in your family. Don’t worry about trying to undo anything, instead accept the fact that we cannot change our past but we can influence our future. Focus on the future and what it will take to start a new baseline and keep moving forward.
Learn Your Lesson
If you do feel like you made mistakes, don’t wallow in the muck and the mire, learn from your mistakes. Maybe you said some things you shouldn’t have said and did some things that were unbecoming of you and totally out of your character. Don’t dwell on your mistakes; instead focus on what you have learned in the process. For example, I was frustrated when I realized a friend I had confided in was the person spreading rumors about me. I regretted talking with the person, but couldn’t undo the conversation. I learned my lesson and thought twice before opening my mouth to the wrong person.
By stopping to take a look at the past, I learned many qualities about myself. I learned what my pressure points are and my vulnerabilities. I understand the words or behaviors that provoke me to anger and avoid those situations. I learned who my friends were and who I could trust. There are so many lessons to be learned.
If you find yourself playing old tapes in your head about mistakes you have made, write them down and then write down the corresponding lesson you have learned. Write down what you would do differently if confronted with the same situation again. Prepare yourself to not repeat the same blunders again.
It Won’t Happen Again
At times I regretted being so trusting and eventually made some definitive statements such as “that will never happen to me again.” On a few occasions I felt attacked and was hurt emotionally. After I cried my eyes out and washed my face, I made the decision that I wouldn’t let anyone get to me in that way. In the words of Mary Mary, I told myself, “I cried my last tear yesterday.” I could hear Mary J Blige singing in my ears, “ I’m not going to cry, I’m not gon’ cry, I’m not gon’ shed no tears.” Once I made up my mind that I would not experience the same hurt again, I grew stronger day by day.
Spending time regretting the past is useless. Again, you can’t change the past so quit focusing on it. You can’t drive forward staring out of the rear view mirror, but every now and then a quick glance will keep you from making the same mistakes and keep you on the right track. Your mantra should be Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach