The Lessons of Regret

Doing The Shadow Work

Healing from our past doesn’t just involve looking at the wrongs others have done to us, but the wrongs we have done to others as well. I knew I needed to write this, and even decided I would not share another until I did. That led to an absence of me sharing. But it’s a necessity to do the shadow work, it’s even in the AA 12-Step Program as a way to heal. It is something we all need, not just those in AA.

If we can’t go back and undo it, we must share what we’ve learned from it so others can see it from the inside. That means stepping into the uncomfort of our mistakes and regrets. People speak of regret because we cannot change what’s already happened. 20/20 vision of hindsight brings clarity to the why’s. We wish we had seen the insight before.

What if we could change the past? Would it truly make things better? The movie The Butterfly Effect challenges that concept (it’s graphic to watch). Those that have been through traumas and used them in their purpose, will tell you why it became a Blessing of their bigger picture. Sometimes we fail to see how our regrets could have possibly been a Blessing. This is the story of that one for me.

My Regret

I have one, a regret of my own words, that has stayed in my soul, from preteen years probably until the day I draw my last breath. It has haunted me since my view of 20/20 clarity kicked in. The day I let a good friend down, by my narrow perception and focus on myself.

It goes back to junior high school. I had a classmate in homeroom who worked with me to care for the small animals we had in the back room.. We talked often and I considered him a good friend. My ego killed our friendship and I hurt him. Let me offer, not an excuse, but simply the true explanation.

He came in one day and summoned up the courage to talk to me about his accusations against one of our male teachers. I had already heard and was both hurt and angry, shamefully, not for him, but rather for myself. You see, it was the very same teacher, I had a deep crush on. He even attended our church alone and I spent the Sunday service eagerly awaiting my chance to say hello to him on the way out. My friend’s accusation killed that for me.

I lashed out at that beautiful soul trying to tell me something so difficult, and making himself so vulnerable to me; and yet my reaction was all about me. I truly regret that. I wish I had listened as the friend he needed. I failed him as a support system when he trusted me enough to have the belief I was one. For that I am truly sorry, and have been for quite some time. Looking back from the lens I have now, what courage he had!! He spoke his truth with no guarantees of what he could be faced with, even from his peers.

I pray God has helped him with a quality life full of wondrous moments that take your breath away. If it has been the opposite, I pray for his strength to give him a 20/20 clarity of how he can become an inspiration to others.

Taking the lesson

We all read stories, reflecting back on our own. Where in your story, did your ego cause regrets? Can we ask ourselves, before we respond to the next situation, “How can I truly be there for them?” Don’t make it about you, and you may avoid regret later because of it.

For those who have been hurt by others in a moment of vulnerability, remind your soul, that their actions are from a lens of their own wounds. You may never know the impact it has when they finally see beyond it and look back. Don’t allow the hurt to create a limited lens for yourself.

Moving Forward

Any conversation with connection requires two things, alternately: vulnerability and compassion. If someone speaks to us with the courage to share their vulnerabilities with us, we need to have intentional compassion for where they are in their share. They have entrusted us with their soul. The have entrusted us with no guarantees that we will even hear them. But until we do, we cannot truly see them. We are all in this together, and we show each other just how much we understand that by how we treat each other.

Hopefully, sharing my story, my regret, will prevent someone else from being hurt, the way I hurt him. It is the only possible way it could be called a Blessing. For me, it is my truest regret.

Written by Melody Belliveau


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