Week of 12/15/2014: Regrets

The year is drawing to a close. The holidays are close at hand. Soon thoughts will turn to fresh starts and new beginnings. But before we look to the future, we’ve chosen to first look to the past. So all this week we’ve been busy talking to people about regrets- those feelings of disappointment, sorrow and remorse over things that have already happened or been done. And because regret can be so emotional and so personal, we offered total anonymity to everyone that we spoke to. Some took us up on the offer, some did not. As a result, some of our posts and photos may look just a little bit different than what you may have seen here before.

As always, we invite you to join the conversation… do you believe in regret or is everything in life just a lesson learned? And if you’re feeling brave, you may even want to share your own story about regret. That’s what the comment section is there for! What do you think of today’s anonymous confessions of regret?

12/15/2014
Anonymous Confessions of Regret & Remorse

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WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“As with many people, I have had a few, obviously some are bigger than others. I’d say my biggest was trying crack cocaine. I was already going down a bad road, doing coke, and was hanging with someone that would get the coke for me. Getting powder was getting to be difficult to do, so she had bought crack rather than powder. I remember being hesitant but intrigued. She put it into the pipe, had me sit in a chair, then lit it up for me as I inhaled it. I’d still say today, even after having done it too many times after then, that that was the best high I had ever felt with it. I chased that feeling for a long, long time.
That led to me at first spending money on it as I had it, then spending money on it that I didn’t have to spend, then taking out cash advances on a credit card, then taking a loan from my 401K to not only pay back the credit card debt, but also to have money to blow on more. It had gotten out of control then.
The crossroads of having to deal with it came from when I was taking money out of the joint account I had with my partner, sitting in a hotel, having the dealer bring more after each call, all the while my partner watching the money disappear from the account not knowing where I was. It was an ugly night.
I sought help after that, worked to deal with “why” I was doing that to myself. As for anything else I’d share on this, I found myself doing things I never imagined doing. I would be in dangerous places with dangerous people, spent money in ways I never imagined spending, and did things to make more money or to just get more drugs that I never thought I’d do. It is a powerful thing being addicted and can’t be taken lightly. But I did learn that you can change yourself over and over again in life. That is worth learning about yourself.”

SO DO YOU THINK SOMETHING POSITIVE CAME FROM IT?
“I do. I think a few things actually. I feel like I have a much better understanding of overcoming addiction (I still can, in my head, try to justify doing it over 5 years later) for one, but most importantly, I feel that it led me to dealing with some deep rooted issues I had that I was trying to mask for years. Digging in and dealing with the pain, the shame, the mixture of feelings and understanding what I was running from, that has led to a much better me I feel.”

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE IT, BUT RISK CHANGING THE WHOLE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR, WOULD YOU?
“That is a tough one. Money comes and goes, so I can’t stress over that anymore, but I do wish I hadn’t done all of that deception and hurt to my partner, family, and friends. On the other hand, the perspective that going down that rabbit hole has given me on life has, in my opinion, changed me for the better. I feel like I can really see people, no matter where they are in their life, for who they are and who they can be. Many of the people I met while I was doing that are not people I’d hang with or normally want to know. But as you get to know them, get to know their story, you learn that you can’t make assumptions about anyone.”

12/16/2014
Anonymous Confessions of Regret & Remorse

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DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
“Definitely. I mean, I have tiny regrets like not taking a certain job offer or not taking a chance on something, but those are meaningless really. I mean compared to my biggest regret.”

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“I cheated on my husband.”

DID YOU REGRET IT IMMEDIATELY?
“Actually no. I mean, I felt bad about it immediately- horrible actually. But I don’t think regret came into it for a while. I mean, it wasn’t like some random thing. I thought that I really cared about the other person and vice versa. I still think about him.”

AND THAT TURNED OUT NOT TO BE TRUE?
“No. It definitely wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It wound up being nothing more than an affair. Something that I never in a million years thought I would even do.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE HAPPENING?
“I guess I thought that we were going to be together. I should have known that relationships that start out that way never work. You can’t build a relationship on a foundation of deceit. I mean, you can’t try to build something with someone when you’re still entrenched in something else.”

DID YOU EVER TELL HIM (YOUR HUSBAND)?
“Oh no way! Not a chance. I would never. I don’t think he would ever forgive me. Not that I deserve forgiveness. But, people make mistakes. I made a mistake and I definitely regret it big time. I regret that I did it, but I really regret that it has put a wedge there that can never be removed. Everything is changed forever now. There’s no going back. That is what I regret most. I changed everything and I am left to live with it on my own.”

SO IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE IT, DO IT OVER, BUT YOU RISK IT CHANGING EVERYTHING ELSE SINCE THEN AS WELL, WOULD YOU DO IT?
“I would! I don’t think there is anything that could be set in motion that would be worse than having to live the entire rest of your life with that kind of guilt and shame. I really can’t imagine. So, yeah, if I could go back and change it I would. I never would have done what I did- not in a million years. I’d take it back a thousand times.”

12/17/2014
Anonymous Confessional

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ANONYMOUS CONFESSIONS
*DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS IN YOUR LIFE?
“Basically I just would have applied myself more in school and went on to college- really, culinary school. Food always was my passion and love. Still to this day [it] is. Maybe one day I will get back in the Food/Hospitality Industry. My second regret is personal, my fault, just married the wrong person. But I’m glad to have my children from it. Don’t know what else to say.”

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE THINGS, EVEN IF IT MEANT THE WHOLE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE MIGHT CHANGE, WOULD YOU?
“Yes I think I would. I have done well, but think I would.”

*DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS IN YOUR LIFE?
“I don’t have any major regrets, but there are things I wish I would have done differently. I think my biggest regret is not going away to college. I didn’t want to leave my parents and my (then) boyfriend. I went to a local community college instead. I got a job right after. I could have gone away to a 4 year school, had the whole “college experience” and gotten a much better job. Who knows where I’d be today.”

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE THINGS, EVEN IF IT MEANT THE WHOLE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE MIGHT CHANGE, WOULD YOU?
“Like I said, who knows where I’d be. My life is good. I am healthy and happy. I’ve been at my job for almost 20 years. But, if I would have done things differently things probably would have been a lot better- more money, more travel, more adventure, who knows?! So, I think I’d take the chance, yeah.”

*DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS IN YOUR LIFE?
“Oh yeah.”

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“I cheated on my wife. We were married 10 years. Don’t really know why. I’d like to make up some great reason, but really I was drunk and stupid. Of course she found out and left me. No second chance. No marriage counseling. Nothing. Left and never looked back.”

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TALKED TO HER?
“Like Tuesday (laughing). I mean, we have a 14 year old son, so we still are in touch. But only about him. Other than that she wants nothing to do with me. It’s been 5 years.”

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE THINGS, EVEN IF IT MEANT THE WHOLE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE MIGHT CHANGE, WOULD YOU?
“Absolutely. It could only change for the better.”

12/18/2014
Confessions of Regret & Remorse

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DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
“I have a few. I know it’s not very P.C. to say that you have regrets. You’re supposed to say that you don’t have regrets and that it makes you the person you are today and blah blah blah, but I do. I don’t know that I could have done anything under the circumstances, but I do wish that I had done something different.
My biggest regret is, the week before my brother died, I was sitting on the couch watching the Sopranos and I knew that he was high and I didn’t say anything. And so I’ve always wondered if I had said something, if I maybe got him into rehab a week earlier, would things have been different.”

THAT’S A BIG WEIGHT TO HAVE ON YOUR SHOULDERS.
“It has been. But since he’s been gone that’s been a weight that I’ve carried. He didn’t die of an overdose, he died of a heart condition related to the drugs, so a week….? His heart was already damaged. Intellectually I know that a week probably would not have mattered.”

“The other regret I have is not leaving my husband sooner. In that situation, I don’t know that I could have. I didn’t really have any other options. I don’t know that it’s a regret so much as I just kind of wish things had been different. I wish I would’ve left years and years and years ago, but years and years and years ago, I was a stay at home mom so it wasn’t really an option.”

HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT IF YOU HAD LEFT SOONER?
“I think the kids wouldn’t have suffered as much. They’ve seen and heard a lot that they shouldn’t have and I fault him 100% for that, absolutely, completely. I wish that they didn’t and there’s nothing I can do about that. But I think that it would have made it a little easier on them to not hear or see those things. Plus I’d be that much further along in my life. But again, it’s one of those things I don’t really know that I had any other alternative. I chose the path that I had to.”

THERE’S FEW CHOICES WHEN YOU HAVE SMALL KIDS AT HOME WITH DAYCARE COSTS TAKING MOST OF A PAYCHECK.
“Right. And my mom was gone by that point.”

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE EITHER ONE OF THOSE THINGS, BUT IT CHANGED EVERYTHING ELSE TOO, WOULD YOU?
“I don’t know that I would with my brother ’cause I don’t know that it would’ve changed much. I don’t know that it would’ve prolonged his life by any significant amount. I think though, that if I could go back in time, I would’ve left my husband much sooner. Before it actually got really ugly. If I knew then, what I know now, absolutely I would go back and I would change it. I would’ve left him and it would’ve been hard, I would’ve struggled and the kids would’ve been young but I would’ve done it.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU LEARNED SOMETHING FROM EITHER OF THOSE SITUATIONS?
“With my marriage, I’m still learning. When my brother died, I lost myself for a bit and I think you and Mary Kay (Cosmetics) helped me to find myself again and then with the marriage, it happened all over again. He beat me down emotionally, so much, for so long that I am still recovering from that. I’m trying to learn my self worth and that I really shouldn’t have tolerated that behavior from anyone. I absolutely won’t now. I’m kind of getting to the point, and it hasn’t been that long, but I really am kind of okay with being alone for the rest of my life if that’s what it means. Because there’s certain things that I’m absolutely, positively not gonna put up with. There’s definitely things that are triggers. I curse like a sailor and I know that, but if a guy curses on a date with me, that’s a red flag. If it’s in anger, if I sense even the tiniest bit of anger, then I’m out. And I think I would’ve accepted that before like, “oh, that’s just how it is”, and that’s (now) not anything that I wanna be a part of.”

YOU CAN TELL YOU’RE MORE COMFORTABLE IN YOUR OWN SKIN NOW.
“I definitely am, and I wasn’t for a really long time and I was always on edge with everything. Everything made me uncomfortable and unhappy and I just didn’t enjoy it. I think I’m less willing to apologize for myself at this point. So I guess there’s good to come from it.”

12/19/2014
Confessions of Regret & Remorse

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DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
“When I thought about that initially, I really didn’t think I had any regrets. However, when I started to think about it, a couple came to my mind. I regret when I was a teenager and into my 20’s that I didn’t do more to help my mom. I gave her money, as far as the amount she wanted me to give her from my pay. But I spent a lot of time and that money doing things for myself; going out on dates, going out drinking, going down the shore and never really did much to help with the house as far as fixing it up, as abandoned as the house was. The house was remodeled by HUD cause it was a pigsty in the beginning since it was dilapidated, and we had no money to fix it. I could’ve probably done more there, so that’s one of my major regrets, with my mother.”
“The second is she (my mother) wasn’t there to see Joe (youngest son) born and she wasn’t there when I graduated college. I don’t even remember if she knew that I got into college. Being one of five kids, three never graduating high school, me and my one brother did graduate high school. I finally got to college for the grace of hard work and the opportunity I had at Cigna (employer). She never saw that.
My belief is she’s really here. She sees it. She knows what’s going on. Physically not being able to be there….that’s a larger regret. It’s a closed door. She had time with John ( older son). But not to have the opportunity to see my youngest? That’s a permanent loss.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK HE MISSED OUT ON THAT YOUR OLDER SON DIDN’T?
“It’s a shame, but John doesn’t even remember my mother as he’s gotten older. Mom played with him, carried him. If she was physically able to, was always willing to babysit. Just to have that grandparent there. They both had grandparents on Donna’s (his wife) side, but our side is non existent. It’s sort of like a rehash of MY life in the beginning. My grandmother died when I was under three years old. She was hit by a drunk driver and killed. I have one memory of her being in the house and I can see her in black in the same seat and talking. I think John’s in the same boat. I don’t know if he has any, but he may have one or two memory bites of her and that’s it. But (for Joe), he never had that experience of having a grandmother.”

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“Another regret I have is, as I’ve gotten older, especially after I left a job in Bethlehem, I regret wasting so much of my life being angry. Not really knowing where the anger was coming from. Anger towards so many people and so many reasons I was always angry and nasty and belligerent. I was like I am now, a little goofy all the time, but always had that anger itch. Easy to come to rage. I read a book, and I don’t remember the authors name, he was a Buddhist and the book was about anger. And when I was reading the book, it would try to get you to figure out why you were angry. One of the reasons you continue to be angry is that it becomes a constant emotion in your soul. You envelope it, so when you start to try NOT to be angry, you miss that feeling, even though it’s a negative feeling. It’s like a shawl, you’ve had it on your shoulders for so long, it feels comfortable. And then when it’s gone you miss it. The anger comes back to not having a father, my father walking out, never making any contact. The rage from that is really all built up into that. But as I’ve gotten older, I realized my life was better because he left. Now that I know what he was like, my life would’ve probably been worse. But the anger and the rage is so deep set in the soul, it’s hard to let it go.”
“I wouldn’t have treated other people so shitty. I was bullied a lot as a kid from a lot of different kids in school. And then I realized later on, that there was a few people I bullied in school. I never realized I bullied them cause growing up in the neighborhood, we teased people. But the incessant teasing falls into today’s terms of bullying. Maybe if I wasn’t so angry all the time, to throw the anger at someone else and belittle and tease them, I probably wouldn’t have done that. I recently reconnected with an elementary school friend who still remembers how I got bullied and how he stuck up or me. I’m 60 and HE remembers that. And I know how I felt then, and since I’ve gotten older, my rage and anger has gone away so much. I wonder about the people that I bullied. What have they felt because of what I did? If I was a happier kid or if I moved…”
“Everything falls in place for a reason. If my father was here or stayed and became a part of my life, my life might have gone in a different direction. I might not have met Donna, had my kids….
A stone thrown in the water leaves a ripple. Every event in your life leaves ripples. Some are good, some are bad. All my life I thought that ripple of my father leaving caused all the bad. It wasn’t until my 40’s, and more so recently, when I left the Bethlehem job, that I started getting less angry and I noticed all the positive ripples.”

DO YOU THINK THAT THE CHANGE IN YOU MADE MORE POSITIVE RIPPLES OR THAT YOU JUST STARTED NOTICING THEM MORE?
“I started to recognize them. The positive ripple was, I grew up with a mother and not my father! I have a higher degree of empathy than some of the other guys I know. I think that’s a reason why people talk to me. I have a long list of friends over the years that are willing to tell me things that they wouldn’t tell other people. Because I have an empathetic nature. They can confide in me and I won’t tell the story down the line.”

WHY DO YOU THINK LEAVING A JOB MADE YOU LET GO OF ALL THAT ANGER?
Probably being physically removed from it, not being in the presence of turmoil (not even mine). Seeing how a person was taunting another so badly and seeing how their life was disrupted.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEBODY TO MOVE PAST THEIR ANGER ISSUES?
“Reading self help books is helpful to a degree cause it’ll spark something. But it comes back to that little self analysis inside of you. Recognize the things that are pissing you off. If they changed, how would your life change? How would the people around you change? And a lot of times, when you figure out that thing that’s setting off your anger, it’s not that bad. You’re causing your own anger. I learned that at a stress management class through Cigna that we all had to take. The medical director at the time, picked me out of the group, and asked me what pisses me off. I said the phone pissed me off. He asked why. I said “it rings, someone’s complaining. It’s more work”. When I finally got done, he asked if I was finished. I said yes and he said, “the phone doesn’t piss you off, you LET the phone piss you off. The phones an inanimate object”. That was an awakening for me. He was right. We allow things to piss us off.”
“You need to find what gives you peace. It took me a long time to find what that was. Sometimes, being with the family gives you peace. But then when you have kids in the house and they drive you up the wall, you lose it too. I found music did it for me. Prayer helps a lot of people. But if I can sit and listen to music, and sometimes I’ll get a massage, but none of the massages I’ve ever had didn’t have music in the background. The old saying is really true, ‘Music soothes the savage beast’.”

12/20/2014
Anonymous Confessions of Regret & Remorse

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ANONYMOUS CONFESSIONAL
*WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“How I spent my free time when I became of age, as an adult, by going to certain places and spending big amounts of money.”

WHAT DID YOU SPEND IT ON/WHAT PLACES DID YOU GO?
“Strip clubs.”

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOUD DONE INSTEAD?
“Just stayed away from the clubs and just focused on making more friends. Hanging out at “normal” bars or going to their houses and saving money and spending it on necessary things.”

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE IT ALL, BUT IT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING ELSE TOO, WOULD YOU?
“Yup.”

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM THOSE DECISIONS?
“Yes, I learned to spend lesser amounts.”

*WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“I had a really great opportunity to take an amazing job. I was only 23 (now 45). It was 1,800 miles away though. It probably would have been the most incredible experience of my life.”

WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE THE JOB?
“Because of a guy. Yeah, stupid I know.”

I WOULDN’T SAY “STUPID”, BUT I HAVE TO ASK, WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE GUY?
“We split about 6 months later. He slept with one of my best friends. It was too late to take the job. That ship had sailed.”

OUCH. SO IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE IT, BUT IT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING ELSE TOO, WOULD YOU?
“Actually, no. I regret not doing it then. But, I’m happy now. I guess it worked out in the end. So far.”

AND THE GUY? ANY IDEA WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM?
“They actually wound up getting married, him and my friend. Had 4 kids. Last I heard they had gotten a divorce. That was couple years ago. Maybe she cheated on him with one of his friends (laughing).”

ONE CAN ONLY HOPE.

12/21/2014
Anonymous Confessions of Regret & Remorse

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Sometimes the answers take us in a direction we don’t count on:

‘DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
“No. Regret is a wasted emotion. You can’t change it. You did it. Why sweat it?”

“No. What’s the point?”

“Somebody once said that you should never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted. That’s pretty much how I feel about it.”

“Never regret anything that once made you smile!”

“I don’t have any regrets. No risk, no reward!

And sometimes, the answers can be a little surprising too:

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“I cheated on my husband.”

“I had an abortion. Actually I had two. But I don’t tell anyone about the other one.”

“I sometimes think about running away and abandoning my family. Though I don’t think I would ever really do it. I think I regret getting married and having kids. But you’re never supposed to say that.”

We’re wrapping up our week of talking to people about life’s regrets, but before we do we thought we’d share ‘the best of rest’… all of the random anonymous answers and outtakes that weren’t featured yet! Enjoy!

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And sometimes, a theme becomes clear:
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?
“I let go of love.”… “I never told the person I love how much they meant to me.”… “I never got to tell someone I loved them before it was too late.”… “I didn’t fight hard enough for love.”…

It’s too late to go back and change what is done. But we can learn from what we regret and try to never make the same mistake twice.

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