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  • Writer's pictureeschaden


Yes, this is another word I made up...

Definition (according to me - I am going to start my own dictionary...) a memory of a time past that is tainted with regret.

I guess to some degree all memories are tainted with regret.  I fail to come up with a memory from my past that I do not feel like could have been better in some small or large way.  The present sense impression will always color the past.

However, regretory is the kind of memory that is regret heavy and try as you might, you just can’t come up with much positivity about the entire memory.

Luckily, I don’t have too many of these regretories.  Most of my look backs or memories are a mixed bag...meaning I can see that I could have done some of it better and always it could have gone so much worse.  

But there are a few where the memory brings me immediate heart palpitations.   My stomach churns, I begin to perspire.  It is hard to look back, so being a good alcoholic, I do my best to avoid thinking of this particular regretory.

Life is funny.  So much happens on the daily, so many interactions, engagements and intertwinements.  So many occasions for each of us to bring our best selves and at the very same time, so many fucking occasions to fail to do so.  Leaving us all with a very large landscape upon which to lay down a great deal of regretories.

What to do about the regretories taking up space in your life...

For me, I have to become willing to allow the pain to land.  To conjure up some compassion for my past self that did not bring her A game, because likely I didn’t even have an A game in that moment.  I likely was still operating with my F game which ruled my life for a great number of years.

So I have to begin with a willingness to allow the regretory time and space in my mind, to not immediately and with violence shove it away, push it down and away from my consciousness.  Then I have to find even more willingness to allow it to just be there, all raw, painful and uncomfortable.  I think of this like healing from a burn.  It is incredibly painful and there is so little to be done to ease the pain, the healing takes time and needs air and sunlight to heal.  So too with regretories, I am afraid.

Then once I can no longer wince when I think of the particular regretory that used to make me want to vomit each time it threatened to come into my full consciousness, I know that the most painful part of the healing process might well be done and the next phase can come into fruition.

The next phase is seeing what other options I might have today.  What other behaviors, ideas, feelings, actions could I take today that were not available to me back then, or perhaps they were, but in my previously unhealed state, I could not access them at the time.  Perhaps my survival skills were operating still and those will always override my living skills.  Whatever the reason, looking back today with today’s level of healing, recovery and skills and seeing what I could do differently today helps me see options where I didn’t have any previously.  And that provides me hope...hope that if a situation like the regretory happens again I could make a different choice.

And then I just have to make peace with the past version of myself who only had the ability to create the situation to which I have a great deal of regret about.  And to normalize to the degree that this is what living does...provide ample and continual opportunities to live your life in a way that you will come to regret later on.  I am pretty sure this is the entire point of the second half of your life - recovering from the first half.

Finally, the last thing I know to do about a regretory is to do what you can to clean it up.  If the regretory involves money, pay it back.  If it requires an apology, apologize.  If it requires a change in your behavior, make the change.  Perhaps no one else need be involved, and the healing is strictly your own.  Regardless, the improvement to the past can be simply a refusal to allow the conditions of the past regretory to become conditions that might happen in the present.

Given the above process (which I totally did NOT come up with on my own) most of my regretories have healed to a point that I do not feel the need to push them down and away.  I am still not completely in charge of when they rear their ugly heads, but I know what to do when they take center stage and refuse to ceed the stage to anything else.

Life is going to cause regretories.  And so the above process is key for me to being able to live comfortably in my own skin, where all regretories live.  And I am learning that there is space for healing and regretories and living to all persist inside my body, mind and just takes time and patience and a great deal of compassion.

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