Friday, May 1, 2009

Welcome to JLK's Pity Party - Seating for One?

***Disclaimer - I've been watching the HBO show In Treatment religiously lately, which is totally fucking with my head. I love it, but damn, it is not The Office.***

So I realized the other night that I pretty much hate myself. I hate myself for nearly all of the choices I've made, the things I've done, and the things I haven't done. Not exactly the most healthy state of mind. 

I hate myself most for what I did to my husband last year, right around this time. I hate that I didn't try, that I was so angry that I didn't give a fuck about anything or anyone but myself. I hate the person I was just a year ago. 

And now this has flooded into everything else. I can't really make a decision about grad school or anything, really, while I feel this way. 

The thing is, I am paralyzed by regrets. I can't think of any decision I have ever made that I haven't regretted, even if only for a short time. Let's look at the examples (starting at age 18 only):

- I regret dropping out of college instead of appealing my loss of financial aid. I just gave up, because I never thought I'd win the appeal. 

- I regret the decision not to fight a professor at university #1 who falsely accused me of plagiarizing a paper I wrote, despite my history of A papers in her course. I didn't know that there was a board of students and professors who review cases like that. Instead, I withdrew from the course on the last possible day and pretended it never happened. I hate that bitch to this day. 

- I regret the reaction I had to my mother's second marriage that caused me to freak out about my own impending matrimony, leading my husband to think I was cheating on him. 

- I regret deciding to go to MRU for undergrad for only one reason - it was the cheapest option. Had I gone to Little Ivies #1, 2, or 3 I might be in a much better position today, with much better relationships with mentors. 

- I regret everything about my decision to leave my husband last year. All the events surrounding it, the things I said, the things I did. I was a total fucking monster selfish bitch. And now and forever I get to live with the knowledge of the two girls that my husband was "with" while we were apart. FUCK it pisses me off. But it was my own fault. 

- I regret my unwillingness to re-take the GRE last year before applying to grad school. I convinced myself that my verbal score was good enough to make up for the disappointing math score. I really believed I had a shot at these SFRSHS schools. 

- I regret changing the focus of my applications to psych and law programs largely due to the influence of someone I was spending way too much time with then. I fucked myself over. Seriously. 

- I regret turning down a Fulbright scholar nomination at my MRU because my stupid ass was too overwhelmed by the Oxford admissions process and couldn't find the time to figure out how to justify doing my research abroad. I was lazy and convinced I wouldn't get it, so I didn't even try. 

I have reached the point where I am afraid to make any decisions, lest I regret them later on. I yearn to give up the responsibility to someone else, anyone else. When I was debating the timing of having kids, I flirted with the idea of just stopping the pill to "see what would happen." 

But more than anything else, I regret what I did to my husband. It colors my view of everything now. I'm not a martyr - I won't let him punish me, but I will sure as fuck punish myself every chance I get. So in his absence I drink too much, smoke too much, get on the treadmill until it hurts, sit around watching tv and tell myself that I deserve to be this miserable and depressed. I do deserve it. Actually, I deserve much worse. I deserved him telling me "Fuck you, I hate you" when I told him I missed him and that I wanted him back. If I were him, that's exactly what I would've said. But he's a much better person than I will ever be. 

Yeah, I'm fucked up. My mother's affair, my parents' divorce - all of that fucked me up. But it's no excuse for the things I've done. I never learn from my mistakes. Now I wonder how much of this whole R2 thing is about preserving my relationship at the cost of sacrificing my career goals because of how I neglected my husband for the sake of getting straight A's. Maybe if I had gotten into Yale, where we wouldn't have to move and he could be with his friends and family, I would've felt it was worth it. But all of that rejection was the biggest "Fuck you" that could ever have been thrown in my face. "No, JLK, nothing you did was worth it. Because you could've cared about something other than school and still been where you are today."



Professor in Training said...

Whether they were the right or wrong decisions, you can't change the choices you've made so there's no point in dwelling on them. Learn from your mistakes and move on. We've all made decisions we later regretted and most of us have gone through some very dark times (some VERY dark times indeed). You're not alone and you don't have to let the past chew you up. You're too good for that.

leigh said...

alright. disclaimer: i'm coming off forcing myself through ~6 dreaded and put-off hours of work on my dissertation. that was not something i particularly wanted to do, but i just forced myself to do it. (and i'm in the zone, and i'll probably go back to it shortly.) so i'm really in that quitcher-bitchin-and-get-shit done mode.

look. it's the past! it's over! it's time to realize that. do i regret things i've done, things that have been done to me? YES. i was a fucking idiot for too long. sometimes i think i'm still a fucking idiot, actually. but the point is these things need to STAY in your past and not affect your FUTURE. this is a form of self-sabotage. move on and stop blocking your path forward.

yesterday is done, let that shit go. learn from it, grow, change. that's the point. anything beyond that is wasted energy.

...from someone who wasted plenty of her own time dealing with her own past troubles.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Regrets are like assholes. We've all got 'em. Don't beat yourself up about it. In relation to your husband, the best way to make amends is to do what will make *you* happy, and that will enable a happy marriage.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

I wish this post had shown up in my Reader sooner.

You're definitely not alone.

What PiT and leigh said. 100%

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm a postdoc.

Look, grad school is not going to determine shit about your life. Look forward from this point on. Make decisions that you feel are right. You will adapt and learn from all of it. Don't beat yourself over the past.

Also, as a postdoc, I hate my life. It does get better, but you will definitely have ups and downs along the way. It is all part of the learning experience. Best wishes.

Toaster Sunshine said...

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Replace "fear" with "regret" and it's good advice.

Anonymous said...

Drop regret like it's hot. I think the people who are the most successful in life are very introspective. It's really hard for introspective people to not be hard on themselves. I also fess up to being a fucking idiot on most days. I've learned to just shake my head, hope no one else was paying attention and that I won't be as stupid tomorrow.
Take care of you!

DrL said...

If this was someone who you love who did all those things that you list, would you forgive them? Try to forgive yourself, and love yourself, it is only you who can do that...

Anonymous said...

On regret:

Regret is a silly thing and it makes us do silly things.

When I broke up with my first boyfriend (after 4 years and cancelling a wedding) I regretted in the same way as you do now. Yet I was not as lucky as you are - he did not want to come back to me.

Out of this regret I promised myself that I will never ever break up with anyone, as I would not be able to go through that again.

This caused me to stay for 5 years in a toxic relationship, just because I have promised myself to never break up with anyone...

Decisions made out of regret may be mistaken ones! This is because they are about the past situation and not about the present.

Another example. Last year I had a chance to go for a postdoc abroad or to stay in the country, and I have decided to go abroad - one of the reasons was that I was afraid to regret missing this opportunity later. Fear of regret was my motivation. It turned out that I am not happy in the situation I am now (abroad) and I regret not staying in the country!

This is so twisted, I would have never predicted that I could possibly regret not staying!

What I learned is that whenever there are two options, there is a possibility you will regret the option not taken later. So maybe possibility of regret should not be taken into consideration when making decisions at all, because it is the same for all options.

DuWayne Brayton said...

You know, I keep trying to figure out how to put what I want to say to you and keep realizing that one, it will take a while to write and two, I really need to do it with an email.

So until I get the chance to actually write you, know I'm thinking about you and expect an email from me this evening/in the morning...

PhizzleDizzle said...

Oh honey...I'm with PiT and leigh...but I am sure I will have more to say to you when I see you Wed!!

But yes, the past is PAST. I have lots of regrets but the point at which we decide it's "too late" to fix them or give up trying to free ourselves from the past choices have made for us is the day we might as well just sit down and stop living.

Change of direction and a better life is ALWAYS possible. You've told me personally that your relationship with your hubby is better now than it was before and that you appreciate each other more - that's an EXCELLENT side that you can be happy for, and that might not have happened if you hadn't left last year! Side the Anon above said, you never know what the side effects of decisions may be, good or bad.

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