Regret is a terrible feeling.
You’ve done what you’ve done and you can’t change it for anything. But you desperately wish that you could.
You wonder why you even did it, why you were so stupid. With the light of hindsight shining on that moment, you know what you should have done, or rather what you shouldn’t have done, and it seems so obvious. Why couldn’t you see?
What would have happened if you’d done the right thing? Would life be so much simpler now? Would the tears rolling down your cheeks cease to exist?
In your mind you see a different present, a different future, altered by that key moment. One different decision; a very different outcome. That reality is so close, so similar but so unattainable because you can’t go back and do it again.
Regret can be crippling, and guilt often accompanies it. You might see yourself differently for the way you behaved, that thing you might have said or did but didn’t mean. Why did you do it? What did you think it would achieve? How can I take it back?
Regret is awful. And futile.
I regret the things I said to my ex-boyfriend after I broke up; I feel deep guilt about them (see my post about that here). Remembering those words I said make me question who I really am. I’ve always wanted to be known as that nice girl, the one who’s really kind and helpful and would never be mean to anyone, and now I’ve proved that I’m not the person I want to be and to some extent thought I was. I don’t know why I thought it was okay to say what I said, or what I thought it would achieve. I wish I hadn’t said it, because then I wouldn’t be constantly worried about how much he dislikes me, what he thinks of me.
But life would not be perfect even if I hadn’t had said them. We would still be broken up, and we still would need a break from each other. He may not dislike me as much as he does now, but he still wouldn’t love me or care for me in the way I wanted him to. I have apologised for what I said, but I cannot change it. I regret it, yes, but that destructive conversation was not the only thing which drove us apart.
You may think that that one thing you regret is the reason for your suffering, but the present is shaped by countless different things. Changing one single thing will not change the future.
It’s easier said than done, but whatever you did, learn from your regret, and do not repeat that mistake, but do not grieve what would most likely have not happened anyway. Do not grieve an idealised vision of reality, because reality is never ideal.
And most importantly, you are who you are. Those who can’t deal with that aren’t worth your time.