Leaving the past behind.
Sometimes in life we tend to look back on past times, relationships and situations and feel regret. Perhaps we could have made more educated and informed decisions. Maybe we could have acted with more thought than anger. Maybe. And maybe not.
Everyone has regrets. It could be that chance that you didn’t take, the road you failed to go down, the graduate degree you did not pursue. The list is endless.
Any time a relationship ends, it gives one pause for thought. After the tears, the move, the splitting of household goods, it is human nature to reflect on what went wrong. Reflect and learn…good. Reflect and regret…bad.
Have you ever met up with an ex years after the fact and had one of those times when everything goes so well, it is like old times and makes you feel as if the end never occurred? Maybe you get together for dinner and it is just like yesterday. The easy conversation, the laughs; and you wonder to yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to have this back? Isn’t this the way that we were supposed to end up? Together forever?
Then reality sets in, and you realize those things seldom happen. Your ex has moved on and is in a long term relationship. You are in a relationship. But…what if? It may take you a few weeks to get over this meeting, but you do. You understand it was for the best and you revisit the reasons why it didn’t work in the first place. But you also think about the new person and perhaps for a brief moment you envy them for living the life that you were supposed to live.
Years later, you run into your exes significant other on the street. You were not aware that they still lived in the same area, but there this person is and you meet and talk on the street. The news is broken that there was a recent break-up, that after almost the exact time of your relationship, this person has also left. Sharing a lengthy conversation you learn that this person left for the same reasons you did, and more. Rather than progressing, moving on to grow into a successful long-term relationship, this one ended more badly than yours had. So much for positive thinking.
Regret is a funny thing. It can be good. It can be bad. Mostly it is bad. The best feeling in the world is leaving someone or something with the knowledge that you did all you could. You’ve moved on, you’ve grown, you’re now successful in love and life. This is the best any of us can hope to obtain. When regret is positive we learn from it and move on. Go back to school, pursue the career that you have always longed for, take that trip to far destinations. You make new contacts, gain new friends, grow and move on. Even the most cynical among us would wish this for any ex in our lives. Move on and move up. What good is a life lesson when the lesson goes unlearned?
When we learn that the ex has had another unsuccessful relationship, it is easy to gloat. Gloating may feel great for the moment, but it seldom gets you anyplace. It is small, immature and mean. Best not to go there. Take the good from the news, let go of any regret and see that the grass is never greener on the flip side. Realize that you were lucky to get out when you did, and close that door for the final time. Wish your ex the best and say sayonara once and for all.
Be supportive of the second ex. Sometimes from commiseration comes great knowledge. Help this person realize that you went through the same things. They can in turn help you, especially if you were holding on to regrets. Now there are two of you and you can once and for all put to rest the idea that you caused the end of the relationship. You can both move on with the knowledge that the ex is the one with the issues, it was not you.
No matter how sincere we are at wishing an ex well, it is their responsibility to learn and grow. When they fail to do so, we can only look back and be happy that we learned the lesson and moved on. No matter how we wish things turn out differently, when they do not, facts must be faced. Sometimes people can’t change. They may have issues that don’t go away easily, or the issues may become worse over the years. Sometimes you cannot change the spots on a leopard no matter how hard you scrub.
As Frank Sinatra sang…”regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention.” When you get to the end of your life, may you be able to say the same with a smile. Regrets are weighty things to carry around. So are grudges, but that is a topic for another day. Learn, love, laugh, but most of all…do it your way. There is no clearer path than the one through the arch, on to the larger garden, to new experiences, to a new day.