regret - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
In the moment, that flash of anger protected me from the pain. Were I to relive it, I would try to summon more strength. I failed myself, and you too. I never understood before why love must be free; I do now. It must be free or the need will warp your own nature and change the love into something it should never be. Love isn't possession, but the wind beneath the wings of the one you love. So I have something new to work on, to watch for that flash of darkness and strive to be better. The problem was never you, but me. To be better, my love, I must be able to walk alone. Then I can be who I need to be, who you need me to be. Just know that I love you, that my anger was just that, a flash of fire to cover my own weakness.
There are times my brain fries up. It's no excuse I know; I own my behaviour. I try to help, try to be good, and then a trigger is flicked. My emotions turn - cold, fearful, anxious... I back away, flee or strike out at someone who loves me. In these moments I am least proud of who I am, for I fail to be the warrior I was born to be, the strong woman with the softness of a mother. Instead I show the frightened child within, damaged and afraid, the one still hiding in the dark under the train table, awaiting the next beating. I know these are things for me to work on, not for others to mitigate, I am an adult after all. Yet I ask for consideration, that my fear triggers are left alone until my body stops living in a state of flight or fight, until I find a way back to being calm and steady. I have been stable many years, caring for others, pouring out love without measure, yet never knowing how to ask for it. It is the only medicine that can heal this fractured soul. So like a stupid child I hold out for love, wide eyes and shaking limbs, still looking for that dark place all over again, but praying for the light.
In my heart I retract all the bad things I ever said, they were never a reflection on you, only on my inner demons. You worked hard and I only saw what you could not do. In that permanent fatigue how could you be a the husband Elle magazine said I should have. In my misplaced entitlement I gave you only passive aggressive rage, I withdrew to punish you and became self-absorbed. Now you're gone, fled to another who gives you hugs instead of cold stares, acceptance and not demands, respect and never condemnation. I can never hope to win you back and I don't deserve you, but every day I pray that she treats you well, that you know all the happiness I never gave, that you make back those wasted years we shared. I wish you were still by my side, that I could make amends, that it was me you snuggled after dark. I've grown, I've learnt about what really matters, but not soon enough for us.
It seemed unfair that no matter how much he strived to be the man his conscience wanted him to be, it would keep taunting him with his failures. Each time the regrets reemerged he would diligently analyze them again, hoping that this time his mind would be satisfied with his self professed remorse, but it never was. Like an unforgiving spectre it would be back tomorrow to haunt him all over again.
The regret would come to him in quiet moments, such as when he was going to sleep or stopped to take a lunch break. It would seep to the foreground of his mind and demand to be reexamined again. But he was tired of thinking about it, no amount of analysis was going to turn back the clock. He had to get on with the here and now, make better choices next time around.
Regret washed over her like the long slow waves on a shallow beach. Each wave was icy cold and sent shivers down her spine. How she longed to go back and take a different path, but now that was impossible. There was no way back. There was no way to make it right. The remorse would eat at her everyday of her life. She envied the pebbles, hard and lifeless, unable to feel the torments of life.
His mother said regrets were 'moral residue.' Like something hard to remove got stuck on you when you did something against your better judgement. I didn't understand it until I did something wrong myself, now the residue seems impossible to remove, like an indelible stain on my cerebral cortex.
I pant for air, leaning on the main building door for balance, while at the same time checking if he was in his room. It took the last ounce of dignity I had and opened the door. Moments ago in the elevator, with that soft tinny music playing through cheap speakers, I had begged for him to forgive me. The elevator dinging had brought me swiftly back to reality. With puffy eyes I had scanned the hallway for his room, for this room where I now stand. "Michael, I know you hate me and don't want to see me, but I'm really sorry," I gasp as I burst in. He stares at me in silence, his eyes still filled with sadness and pain.
"I dunno," he finally says, sounding betrayed and heartbroken as he slumps in his bed.
"Think about it, it all could of been a misunderstanding." I say frantically, grasping for straws in my brain as I stare in to his eyes, "It could of been all an accident."
"Accident? The way you kissed him didn't look like an accident," he says flatly, his eyes on the carpet.
I've seen a bigger goldfish eating at a smaller one. It pecks at the scales until it's kind of naked and vulnerable to infections. That's how the regret is getting me, it's taking a little bit of my defences at a time. It comes in waves, what I should have done or said differently, what I shouldn't have done at all. I can't undo it, but can I make it right. I just don't know. All I can do is try.
I tried to forget. Leave the past behind. But I couldn't do it when I saw her from the distance, melting with the crowd, seven years after we last saw each other. I almost didn't recognize her, with a new hair colour and a happy smile she never wore with me on the last times we were together. But when our gazes intertwined like they used to, the waves of regret hit me like a rock eroded by the sea.
It was a different town, a different me, a different her, a different man that really made her happy standing by her side. A man who really made her smile. But her eyes were the same perfect brown, looking at me with sorrow. And I knew it was not because she was sad, but because I am no longer a man; I'm just a shadow made of memories and regrets. And we both knew why.
I've seen people consumed by regret, like maggots are in their guts. They analyze every action and word from every angle and writhe in the agony of paths untaken. They fret about what others think of them. I don't get it. What's done is done. If focus on the next thing, what's getting me to where I want to go. Don't get me wrong here, I'm nice to people and I'm helpful. If they don't like that it's not my problem, I'm not loosing sleep over it. Until a time machine gets invented I'm not going to waste my time on regret, those suckers can keep it.
As a child retirement was synonymous with death. It was that thing you did when you were too useless to work at a "real job." Now that I'm there I see it's all backwards. Retirement is when you get your life, for the first time ever, should you make it that far. I wish I'd been a hippie and made my life my own all along instead of following the corporate path like some damn nodding donkey. I wish I'd had the courage to walk my own path, make a difference. When I look back, now that I have time to think instead of working twelve hour days and being distracted with television and the internet, I see my path like a bulldozer, nothing but wreckage behind me.
I was an idealist as a child, a nature boy. Sure I played shoot'em ups and made guns, who didn't? But I never wanted to be one that harmed the Earth. I could have been a tiger, bravely weaving through life's jungle, leaving not a mark. It would have been hard, it would have meant sacrifice, but then maybe now I'd be like that Indian guy who single handedly replanted a forest instead of having a home full of the latest gadgets. Maybe I'd have been home more when my kids were little, maybe we'd know each other better.
Like everyone else I bought the McMansion as soon as I could and kept it so warm that even in winter a sweater wasn't necessary. I bought red meat and drove not the most efficient car, but the most prestigious one to impress the guys at work. I went on foreign vacations, flying all over the world. Every thing I ever enjoyed or bought caused pollution. Now in retirement I feel that inner child stretch and yawn, look around, rummage my head for memories and ask me what the hell I did. It's a great question, what the hell did I do? What did I sell out my principles for? Money? I can't take that with me. My kids and grandkids will make their own way just fine, wouldn't it have been better to leave them with a planet that wasn't dying?
I am a bad parent, I never meant to be. I wonder if it's just what happens when you take a love that strong and mix it up with ambition and fear. Like every decision ever made, they are based on a combination of the facts at hand and the personality involved - core motivation I guess. Ambition and love came together to make pushiness, to drive my kids forwards, and at the same time addressing the fear, reassuring me that they would be happy in the world when I can no longer walk a pace behind them, ready to catch them if they fall. My love was never conditional or time limited, it has no expiry date, but in my failure to adequately transmit that I failed in the worst possible way. All my kids ever needed to know was that I'd love them no matter what they chose to do with their lives, that they were free to make their own choices...
That was how I felt at that very moment. I wished for a Time Turner so I could go back, rectify the mistake - the worst of all I had done.
However, I could not. Impossible. I had to live with it. Remorse etched at my heart. Guilt gnawed like a worm at the core of an apple. A tear trickled down my cheek, memories flooded my mind...