We spend half our lives denying its existence, half our lives living in fear of it. Regret is the ugly, shameful emotion that waits beneath us in the darkness. Every night it emerges slowly from the shadows, and every night we close our eyes tightly and pray to never have to face it.
It’s in these moments that we whisper to ourselves that we’ll live without regret. It’s in these moments, alone and drowning in darkness, that we grasp for a chaotic, carefree existence. We retreat beneath the covers and promise ourselves we’ll live without the fear of consequence. We retreat beneath the covers and promise ourselves we won’t be afraid. But every night, the monsters come just the same, and every night we lie in bed, deeper in denial and more fearful than the night before.
To deny regret is to deny a basic human emotion.
To deny regret is to deny the deep and tumultuous ocean of emotions that is the human experience. To encourage each other to live without regret is to create a culture that demonizes any emotion that doesn’t make us feel good.
We spend so much time burying regret that we forget why we picked up the shovel in the first place. We bury regret because it makes us sad. It makes us uncomfortable. It shows us the face of every person we hurt. It makes us feel like the bad guy.
Regret is the monster that lurks in the shadows of our happiness because we fed it full of fear, and when it got too big and uncontrollable, we closed our eyes and told ourselves we didn’t believe in it.
Don’t tell me to live without regret.
Tell me it’s normal and it’s terrifying. Tell me it will paralyze me, but only temporarily. Tell me I’m human and I did things worthy of regret. Tell me you’re human and you did things worthy of regret, too. Tell me regret will find me when I’m alone in the dark and all my other emotions have been put to bed. Tell me regret is only one emotion, and there will be many more painful and beautiful ones to come.
Tell me this so that the next time my regret goes bump in the night, I won’t lie paralyzed in the darkness.