I’m having a moment y’all.
I have something that I’m itching to write.
PRAISE BE!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I could figure out how to insert emoji prayer hands in this post, I would.
But instead, I’ll just use an excessive amount of exclamation points and hope that you choose to keep reading and forgive me.
It’s been over a month since I wrote anything that just “came to me.” Sometimes, I sit in front of these WordPress blank posts and stare and stare…. and then stare for another hour and switch between tabs. Then, I come back to it.
Feed my dog a biscuit.
Pour more coffee.
Eat an apple.
And give up.
But, tonight, I’m having feelings and all I want is to type them out.
It’s NEDA week 2019. This morning, I had a podcast interview with the lovely “The Wellness Hustle“. One of the questions she asked was “What do you hustle for?”
And naturally, my response was strained and probably something inherently lame. But, I said something about how I hustle for connection. Hustle for memories. Hustle for presence. And hustle to feel alive.
Later, while reflecting, I think what I really wanted to say was:
“I hustle for a life where I don’t create more regret.”
Which brings me to these thoughts.
I think it’s bullshit – the phrase “No Regrets.” The philosophy of CHARGE FORWARD, MOVE AHEAD. FORGET YOUR PAST CHOICES.
Like, piss off. What a simple sentiment that absolutely encompasses no thought of how difficult – and potentially harmful – that can be.
Okay mate, I wanna say, you try living with the last memory I have of my best friend before he passed.
10pm on a college campus lawn. “Please don’t go,” he begged – hands on my shoulder. “Linds don’t go.” That big grin. “Don’t go work out.”
Sweat pouring down his brow in the August Arkansas heat.
“I’m only in town one night,” he said – passing through Arkansas to start his college life in Mississippi. We were with mutual friends that went to Arkansas with me. I thought he’d be in good hands.
I thought I’d have more time.
“I’ll come back,” I’d smiled – bigger – to compensate. Make him feel seen. “I’ll come back babe. Just gotta get my run in.”
I didn’t go back, man. I was too tired. I was hungry. I binge ate Special K in my dorm room.
I was scared of the “college life.” And scared of being liked. And scared of not being pretty. And scared of who I was.
Bradley, I’m sorry I never went back.
I should’ve stayed. I should’ve spent those moments with you, your big laugh inhaling the air around it. I should’ve – should’ve – should’ve.
And I didn’t that night. Nor that summer before.
And now, I live knowing that you will never stand in front of me – shaking my shoulders. And I’ll never tell you “my god how I loved you – and will love you for always.”
Don’t tell me “No Regrets” on some marketing slogan.
Don’t tell me to forget it. “Let it go.”
How about I live with it? And in turn, I live better because I did it.
Here’s my thought tonight – as I sit here at a table by myself, inhaling brussels sprouts and falafel (SIDE NOTE: WHY IS IT SO IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE BRUSSELS SPROUTS THE WAY RESTAURANTS DO THEM WHYYYY OH WHYYYY. WHAT MAGIC FURNACE DOES THOU USETH!!!)
Point is: I think you can live with regret without forgetting it – you just gotta be careful not to use that festering pity to allow yourself to stay stuck in – or return to – an eating disorder.
You know what I’m talking about: that whole cycle of “Well, eff it. I’ve already messed up so much. This is who I am. Destined to be stuck in this forever. Destined to be in the lifestyle for as long as I live.”
That shit is dangerous. And I think it’s why people use the most basic of basic phrases like “FORGET YOUR REGRET GUUUURL.”
As though it’s that easy, first of all, and secondly: I don’t know that I want to.
Because the truth is I don’t want to forget the twist in my stomach when I think about the last time I saw my best friend alive.
I don’t want to forget what it felt like to be arrested on an empty stomach in 2011 for a DWI.
I don’t want to forget the feeling that I missed the only year in my 20s that was ever truly unencumbered by responsibility and “adulthood.” I lived in Spain that year, and spent most of it running on a stupid treadmill at a grimy, dusty ass gym. Too afraid to travel and leave the safety of this 500sf gym. Wrapped up in learning how to calorie count biscuit cookies.
Instead, I want to remember that feeling of being trapped when I hike today, and I know I don’t need a bloody calorie count ticker to feel like I’m alive.
Mostly, I don’t want to forget about the relationships I didn’t even destroy – but let drift out of sight. I was too preoccupied by the gym. Too anxious about food to catch up at a dinner. I’ve had to heal a lot of friendships – but there are some that are gone. They moved on from me.
How could they not.
I don’t wanna lose any more friendships. Connection. Intimacy. Because what else, really, is the point?
This post is a quick one (for me anyway – hell I kept it under 1000 characters) but I want to kick off this big week of “awareness” with the thought that maybe we aren’t supposed to forge ahead like William Wallace in Braveheart.
Maybe we’re not meant to eat up our regret (literally) and pretend it didn’t define some part of our life.
Regret does eat at me. Sometimes, when I’m cold and shivering in my bed – feeling alone when my partner isn’t there (probably in the next room watching some documentary).
Sometimes, I feel it when I speak to one of you and witness the pain you go through in the cycle.
Sometimes, I feel it when I’m home – at my parents house – and I walk into my childhood closet and see those pictures of myself as a teen, and wish I could taste that moment again – if only for a minute.
How much I’d like to whisper: “live your life, lil one. It’s all you got. And this will all end.”
Some of those people will stay. Some will go.
You will love. And it will hurt. And you will love. And it will feel right.
And love, apparently, is feeling both anyway.
As I wrap this post up tonight, paying the bill.
I get a text from my college ex: “Washington county jail really did you dirty with those ears.”
I hate you, you.
Love you too.
Call my partner. “I’ll meet ya in a second.”
“Did you happen to get avocados today?”
“Ah shit I forgot.”
“I thought so. So I got one for tomorrow in case.”
How well people can know you – when you let them.
And on I keep going in my life, staying present if I can.
Remembering to regret the life I lost – to remember to praise the life I have now.
And, as always, trying to love people while I have them. However long that is.