Browsing Tag

regret

courage, Guest Posts, Regret

Finding a Voice

December 15, 2016
fight

By Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh

I was 19 years old the first time I cried in school.

Okay, actually, that was the third time.

The first time was because I spilled grape juice on my white corduroys. Nobody was home to bring me new pants, so I had to go back to class and the other kids laughed.

The second time was when I lost the Arbor Day poster contest to my classmate, Tracy. I was jealous. I thought my poem about a tree was better than her picture of a tree. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. When I did not win, I told my friends at recess to play 3-square instead of 4-square, so Tracy could not play. Which was a total dick move. (Tracy, I’m so sorry. Seriously. I don’t know where you are right now, but if you are ever up for a legit game of 4-square, please give me a call.) Tracy told the teacher, who pulled me aside, told me I was being a dick, and sent me back to the classroom to put my head down. I cried until the bell rang to go home. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, loss, Pregnancy

Choices

December 4, 2016
survive

TW: This piece discusses medically necessary termination of pregnancy

By Leslie Wibberly

A while ago, a friend and colleague received some devastating news. She and her husband were expecting their second daughter, and at over three months into the pregnancy they had assumed everything was fine. A routine ultrasound unexpectedly revealed multiple birth defects and a tumor, called a terratoma, attached to the base of the baby’s spine.

They were told they could choose to terminate this pregnancy, as the effects of those birth defects were not clear. Or, they could try to carry the baby to term and hope that surgery might be able to correct the problems.

As she shared her news with me, her despair carefully but not completely masked, I was brought back to the moment many years earlier, when I had received similar news. A tiny tsunami of nausea intermingled with terror and regret, flooded my body.

My first pregnancy was planned, but happened sooner than expected. Exhausted from full time work and a year of studying for a post-grad certification, my body was not in peak condition. My husband and I had fully intended to start trying for a baby once my exams were over, but the universe was impatient and so conception was precipitous.

We were overjoyed none-the-less, and I did what assume every mother-to-be did. I bought parenting books, baby-name books, maternal vitamins, I started to worry about never sleeping again, and I prepared to say goodbye to my thirty-something pre-baby body. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, memories, Young Voices

I Miss The Bad Times

October 12, 2016
memories

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.

By Alyssa Limperis

I said goodbye to one of my best friends from college today. He’s leaving NYC and moving west to go to Law School and be closer to his family. I feel sad. Maybe because I knew him when my dad was alive. Maybe because he’s one of the first people I go see when I have something to say. Maybe just because I want more late night, ice-cream-filled hangs. I’m sad to see him go. I’m sad that time keeps moving forward. After losing my dad, I want to hold tightly to everyone I love. I don’t want anyone to leave. Bryan represents my prior life. A life where I was scattered and free and waitressing and not quite sure where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. He represents a time when I was depressed and lost. More than half of our hangs have been me crying to him. I spent so much time with Bryan worried about the future. Upset about the present. Hanging on to something from the past. I spent a lot of time on my phone. A lot of time in my head. I found out he was leaving a week ago and time slowed down. I instantly wanted to spend every minute with him. Digest all of his advice. Appreciate the profound comfort of sharing each other’s company. When time suddenly became limited, I wanted to freeze it and not let it escape. I wanted to go back and relive all of our times together. I suddenly yearned for feeling lost and uncomfortable and unsure. I wanted to be back to the time when I was deeply depressed. I wanted to go back to working doubles at a restaurant and slumping on his stoop in exhaustion on my way home. Continue Reading…

death, Family, Forgiveness, Grief, Guest Posts, healing, Regret

And I’m Sorry

November 5, 2015

By Stacy Jo Poffenbarger

Six years. Six long years. I waited and hoped and prayed and managed the instability while you looked for a way to find yourself. To forgive yourself. To reconcile your own past and face your own demons.

Everytime the phone rang or the text message sound went off. Every month that went by without a word.

Every time you said it was over, you were done. You loved me but not enough. You needed to be free.

And yet, I waited. Six long years. I looked after your mom while you were away. Behind your back. Taking her grocery shopping on Sundays and out to dinner on Wednesday’s, just so she wasn’t so lonely. I don’t even think she liked me very much, but she missed you and there was our common ground.

When she died, you called for me, and I was there to help pick up your pieces, drunk and broken.

I never dated anyone else. Never once strayed. I waited patiently, through the lies, the promises and the times you found comfort in someone else’s bed.

Some said I was a fool. Or a girl in love.

***

Then one day you came around. You were done running. You loved me enough and proved it with a ring. We started to build a life. Together. The three of us. You took my son with you to teach him to build a house. To learn to work with his hands. And then to the bar to bond like a man. I was so mad. You told me you and he were friends, buddies, pals. And he told me he thought you were funny and smart and cool. He was happy we were together. That I finally had the love I waited for. He told me he was relieved because he didn’t want me to end up all alone. And I was happy. Finally truly happy. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Letting Go, self-loathing

My Biggest Love, My Biggest Regret

October 21, 2015

By Lisbeth Welsh

I’d never been hit before.  But then I’d never fallen in love with someone else’s husband before either.  I sat there and took it.  The screaming, the swearing, the cold hard sting as her hand connected with the left side of my face.   After all I deserved to have to sit and take it.  I had no leg to stand on.  I had done it.  Been in this affair.  I was the other woman that was blowing her life and marriage apart.  I deserved it.

Did I deserve for him to look the other way and allow her to hit me?  For him to not try to stop her?  For him to look away?  To stare down at his feet?

But what did I expect, he’d continually allowed her to hit him in arguments throughout their marriage.  Apparently.  He could ‘take a punch’.  Apparently.  If he had spent 33 years letting her hit him, why would he stop her hitting me?

Three years later I still feel that sting.  I still live on anti depressants and anti anxiety medications.  I still don’t sleep properly.  I still walk under the cloud.  I still haven’t forgiven myself.

He was my boss.  And so was she.  Her name was the one that sold the brand.  She was probably the one that had to sign my pay check every week.  And every week she signed that check for me to hang out with her husband and for us to fall deeper and deeper in love.

I suspect she knew long before she confronted it.  In fact no, I believe she willed us into being.  I walked into working with a couple who were falling apart.  Whose family was falling apart.  Whose grown children were a mess and plagued with self destructive diseases and addictions.

“I hate him.” She would throw those words around every day.  She would constantly stop, roll her eyes and mutter how hard it was to deal with him.  “I’ve told him, he either gets medication or divorce papers.”  The comments were endless.  He never said one bad thing about her to me.  He didn’t need to.  She would say it all to me for him.  Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, motherhood

Rebound Tenderness

May 12, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Laurie Easter

I nearly let my child die.

There it is—the stark truth, according to my mother’s-guilt brain. It’s been many years since it happened, but this fact has bored into my psyche the way carpenter bees bore into wood, settling there like an egg in a perfect hole inches below the surface. I don’t talk about it with anyone, not even my husband.

This is how it would go if I could reverse time:

My twelve-year-old daughter comes home from the pizza parlor and says “My stomach hurts.” I quiz her like a professional, asking “Where does it hurt?” And even though she says “all over,” I ask more questions and run through a series of tests for appendicitis—despite the fact I have no medical training and only know now, in retrospect, what signs to look for.

I palpate the lower right quadrant of her abdomen, applying hand pressure slowly and gently with a quick release to check for sudden pain in that area. Rebound Tenderness.

OR

“How does this feel?” I ask as I palpate the lower left side of her abdomen, pressing down slowly and gently then releasing quickly to check for sudden pain in the lower right quadrant. The Rovsing’s sign.

OR

I have her lie supine and apply resistance to her knee as she flexes her right hip by raising her leg against the pressure of my hand. If she feels pain, I have her turn and lie on her left side and extend her right leg behind her to check again for increased pain with this movement. The Psoas sign.

Once I finish with any number of these procedures, intuiting the signs of acute appendicitis, I whisk her to the emergency room, where the doctors confirm my suspicion and prep her for surgery to remove the as of yet un-perforated appendix. They catch the appendicitis in the preliminary stages, and using Laparoscopy, they slice into her with a one-inch cut that heals into a barely noticeable sliver of white near her bikini line. She spends at most two nights in the hospital and is back at the gym, working out with her gymnastics team, in a couple of weeks.

Yes, that’s how it would go. Neat and clean and orderly.

This is how it went:

My daughter came home from the pizza parlor two days after recovering from the flu and said “my stomach hurts” to which I asked “where does it hurt?” She said “all over.” I worried I had let her go out too soon after being sick and thought maybe she was having a relapse. I tucked her in and said good night.

She slept until noon and complained about her stomach when she awoke; then she began vomiting. Her temperature was 101 degrees. She had no desire for food, but I made miso broth and herbal tea and encouraged her to drink as much as she could as often as possible so she wouldn’t become dehydrated. She spent two days in bed, getting up occasionally to go to the bathroom or lie on the couch in the living room. On that second day, she said she was feeling better and had relief from the previous stomach pain. But she was weak from the fever and vomiting and continued to rest in bed.

That’s when it happened.

Later that afternoon, I walked into my daughter’s room to check on her while she was sleeping. Her face, normally alabaster in complexion, had a sallow pallor. I knew this look. I had seen it once before. It was the look of death. Five years earlier, my friend, Teri, who had cancer, had this same sallow skin tone when she refused to go to the hospital to be treated for a common infection. We called the ambulance anyway. The doctors at the emergency room said that if we hadn’t brought Teri in, the infection, not the cancer, would have killed her. As I looked at my daughter’s face, this memory flitted across my consciousness like a butterfly alighting on a flower, only to rise into the air and flutter away.

That was the moment. The omen I did not heed. Continue Reading…

And So It Is, Inspiration, Letting Go

Can of Worms.

September 16, 2013

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

By Jen Pastiloff.

I’d been wanting to write a piece on regret, it’d been sitting in the back of my mind somewhere between the piece on our baselines of happiness and the piece on my second stepfather going to prison for murder (self defense!) so when my sometimes therapist said we are going for a life of no regrets here, Jen, remember? it seemed like just the right set of words to distract me into a Yea, yea right no regrets. Which reminds me.

Which reminds me. I’d like to write that piece right now so we no longer have to talk about having kids and if it’s the right time and how I should just start trying so that I live my regret free life with as relatively few regrets as possible. Because what if I wait until January like I want to, so I can still lead my Italy retreat, and I have a hard time conceiving? Will I be mad at myself that I didn’t start trying sooner? Will I regret it? I am done with such conversations for now so I will write a piece on the internalization of regret instead, the I’m sorries, the I wish I did it betters, the If I could do it over agains. Anything but this decision. I’ve just gone completely off my meds and quite frankly, I liked myself better on them. I’ve heard people say of their alcoholic spouses or parents, that as crappy as life was with them, they sometimes liked them better when they were drinking. (I’ve heard that. Not often. But I have. Maybe just in a movie.) I liked myself better on cymbalta. That 30 mg kept me affable enough, it stopped the train wreck inside my brain, the flatness of mornings, the circle walkings, the scribblings. I’d like to have any conversation but this one about babies since right now I am not on great terms with myself and I’d like to not have one more thing to regret so I think I shall write that piece now.

I know it’s not the thing to say in the yoga world, which is where I reside in many people’s minds, but I would be lying if I said I had no regrets. Telling my dad “I hate you” and then having him die a few hours later. I kind of regret that.

Have I made peace? Yes.

But still.

I also regret not writing things down. China? I was there? Really? Prove it. Pull out documents. Words. Poems. Fragments of words. Anything.

I visited silk factories? Those men selling crystal rock candy in all sorts of shapes and sizes on big sticks as they froze on their rusty bicycles, I smiled at them as I took their photos?

I have a box of pictures I look through every couple of months to remind myself of the places I have been, the people I have known.

If it weren’t for this box of photos, honestly, I am not so sure.

I watched the old men in Beijing practice tai-chi, their breath circling the air as if it was in tune with their chi. Wait, that was me? Breath that hovered or flowed, breath that faltered and fell to the ground. (I have photos of this, otherwise I might be making these memories up for the sake of this essay.)

Despite the photos, I still wonder if I am making things up. Perhaps I am. Perhaps we always are.

I sat on a bus while some other NYU kid boycotted going to wherever we were going that winter day because, as he said, we were “exploiting the people.”

I ate rice, nothing but white rice for weeks, because I was terrified of gaining any weight. I had no idea what was in any of the food and it didn’t seem to be worth the risk at the time. Trying something new? No way, I’d rather starve. So hungry, all I thought of was food and getting warm so I paid little attention to the Chinese monks we visited, the bridges I stood on, the shows I saw, the house boats of Suzhou. Thank God for pictures. Real life film photos too! (Film. Remember film?)

I regret not writing things down.

I had brunch with a friend last week who told me that her boyfriend has a tattoo that says “Write it Down.”  I thought how if I got a tattoo, it would say that. That or my dad’s name. Maybe both. Write it Down Melvin. (Wreck It Ralph. Has that kind of ring to it.)

My other friend, the one who hooked me on this sometimes therapist, suggested that maybe I didn’t need to remember.

Maybe that too.

Or maybe I remember and don’t remember at the same time. We all do that to some degree, don’t we?

And then there’s this to consider: maybe I do remember all of it. Every single thing. Every word, every hurt, every pancake. Maybe it’s all up there, somewhere. In boxes or files, hiding under the shitload of unnecessary information I ingest daily via Facebook and the internet. Quivering in a corner, waiting to be resuscitated.

I’ve convinced myself that if I had written down more of my life then I could prove it. This happened. I was here. I existed.

Writing it down would make it factual, a thing in the world, measurable and unchangeable. There would be no revisionist history if I wrote more down.

Here, let me go check my records. Wait, let me research that in my stacks. Nope, didn’t happen. Wasn’t there. Didn’t exist. Not in the notes.

Back to the regrets: not finishing NYU? F*ck yes. (When I told my dean at the time, a man I worked for and who was more like a father to me (at least in my mind) than anything, that I was “taking a semester off”, he told me NOT to go to L.A. He was adamant that I would lose a brain cell for every year I was there. Been here 15 years now. Too many brain cells to count.)

Those few regrets are mine. I own them or they own me or something in the middle. When my brain is trying to rewire itself, when it’s scrambling to reconfigure itself after five years on selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, those regrets are hanging on my wall next to a photo of me standing at the Great Wall of China.

Those are the regrets I am willing to share right now. The deep dark ones stay with me until I am ready to send them out into the world.

For brevity’s sake let’s leave it at those, since they tie in to the others, since they tie into, perhaps, all regret. Maybe all regret is intertwined. Maybe when you unlock one piece of the regret puzzle, the rest slip away like they never existed. Or, they start to make sense. Here, this piece fits nicely in here and voila! the puzzle is finished finally. Let’s take a picture of it, all our hard work, all the years leaning over the dining room table putting together misshapen pieces. They finally fit. We finally understand.

Anyway, regret is complicated. It’s a puzzle in its own right.

All roads lead to China, right?

I still live a rich full life and am happy a good 87% of the time (give or take.)

I lied. I am probably happy more like 78% of the time (give or take.)

I don’t know. Who cares the percentage?

I am as happy as I can be most of the time. How’s that?

Which reminds me. I want to write piece on the baseline of our happiness. We can vary slightly from this line but mostly don’t we stay about as happy as our own baseline? The idea is frightening, if you ask me. To someone who deals with depression, it’s a terrifying idea to ponder.

It’s like the body. The body always knows what it wants. Where it wants to be. You can work out until you are blue in the face and count your calories, but eventually, your body comes back to its “happy place.”

**

Do I wish some things had been different? Sometimes.

(Don’t you?)

A couple of those things I can. I can go back to school (and I may! I applied for a writing fellowship based on the advice my friend, the author Emily Rapp.) That’s a start.

I suppose I have no regrets if I think “just look at where I am now though. If I hadn’t done x, or y or said z, none of this would have happened.”

Do I always think that way? No.

I understand that philosophy and I agree with it. Mostly. But who knows?

Maybe I would have said I love you to my father before he died and the guilt I carried around with me like an extra limb would have found someone else to latch onto? Maybe I would’ve stayed at NYU and went on to get an MFA in Iowa or somewhere and maybe all the things I had written down would be books out in the world. Who knows?

Mostly I like to think of the things that have happened as having had happened so that I can be where I am now but I don’t know if that is the truth or rather something we invented so that we didn’t kill ourselves with the “what ifs.” Because the what-ifs can kill you.

You take what has happened and you make a life.

Still. Maybe it’s the neurotic Jew in me, maybe it’s the part of me that likes suffering.

The idea of regret is tricky, it holds you hostage in the past, it fills you up with more questions than can ever be answered in seven lifetimes. Regret is different than shame too. Regret is that thing in the back of your heart that feels like a lump, swollen and imaginary at the same time. Impossible to locate. Always there. Cancerous.

I wonder if I will fall a couple of notches down the rungs of the spiritual ladder by even having this conversation.

Truthfully, I don’t care. (How liberating it is to say that! Try it.)

I’d rather be human and filled with faults then a shit talking saint who pretends that bad things never happen and regret doesn’t exist.

Why make people feel they need to lie about them? Oh, no, I have no regrets, not a one. I am enlightened and then hiding under the bed, sniveling in shame at being so unlike everyone else and their regret-free lives.

To be clear: I don’t want to dwell in my regrets. That would be like taking a bath in my own shit every day. I do want to know, on a human, guttural level, if such a thing exists: a regret free life.

I want to know of other’s regrets. I want to know that it’s okay to have a couple or more than a couple, as long as you are moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, living life in the best way you know how.

I suppose I am thinking of all this around Yom Kippur, a day when Jews atone, although that means little to me, having abandoned my Jewishness after my father passed. Most likely I am questioning these things as I think about bringing children into this world.

I am equal parts – wait, I should stop myself here – I am about 30% (give or take) spiritual teacher and 70% (give or take) neurotic writer. I do my best to have a foot in both worlds, but sometimes the writer, the one who digs and questions and overthinks, overtakes the other one.

Someone posted on my Facebook page, when I opened this dialogue, that if you have no regrets you haven’t lived long enough.

I found myself up late reading all the comments people posted about regret.

I regret getting lost on my way to Malibu beach with my younger brother who wanted to see it. He died in an accident years later. It’s a weird regret, but it’s really the only one I have.

Frequently I imagine going back in time and getting to my kid’s magic show on time, before he actually did the magic trick rather than just after. The kid no longer cares, but I re-do that day in my mind quite often.

Regret…after beating breast cancer (at the age of 43 with 3 kids at that time, one in elementary, one middle and one high school) I have such regrets not documenting my journey better, not taking more pictures with my bald head (I think I have one), not writing down what I went through, the ups, the downs, the nausea, the deep to the bone pain, the confusion, the sweet nurses, the doctors who scared me (with their superior attitudes), the doctors who didn’t, what my kids were going through, what my husband felt, the highs and the lows. I continued working, kept being the homeroom mom, the wife, the daughter who didn’t want her heartbroken and in denial parents to see how sick and tired I actually felt, and tried to keep things as normal as possible for everyone I Loved. Now 3 years later I look back, and think, WOW, it’s like it never happened (besides the fact that I never completed my reconstruction, and don’t have nipples!) I went through this extraordinary journey, (the worse thing to happen, and the best thing happen to me) I was superwoman who overcame the Kryptonite, I want to shout to the world, I SURVIVED! But short of lifting up my shirt and showing my deformed breasts, everyone, (but me) seems to have moved on and forgotten….Sorry, didn’t want mean to write a manifesto, not that I ever want to go through breast cancer again….but I guess I don’t want to ever forget either…..how weird is that?

I regret each time I screwed up, and then failed to learn from it. So many people harmed needlessly. I regret taking so long to embrace myself. I have never regretted loving anyone, even when it was one-sided.

Wow, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. Never thought of the importance of writing down or speaking about our regrets. And after reading some of the ones shared here by many people I can relate to many of them.

Oh, Jennifer. What a can of worms. I can’t.

What a can of worms is right.

I saw this poster today on Facebook as I was writing this which said that the secret to happiness is having a bad memory. Maybe that’s why I never wrote things down? If I don’t write them down then they won’t have existed and I will have nothing to regret and I will be happy. Maybe I was trying to trick myself into happiness.

I know regret exists. Whether it got written down or not. The level of living inside of the regret however, varies, depending on your own can of worms. I don’t want to live with the worms. I just want to understand my regrets enough to write of them. To look someone else in the face and say I understand you, I understand your regretting not making it to Malibu that time with your brother, before he died in the accident.

Let’s go now. To Malibu. We can go together and throw roses into the ocean like we did when that stepfather of mine, (the one who went to prison) died. We can throw rose petals into the water and watch the waves take them away. We can say goodbye, having finally acknowledged their existence. We can get on surfboards and float out on our bellies. We can float out as far as we like.

We can scatter all the ashes of our regrets.

To say that regrets don’t exist is a lie. To say we aren’t able to let them go is another lie.

To say that somewhere in the middle is where most of us reside is the closest thing I have come to truth.

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Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.