“Do you regret it?” An ex-girlfriend asked me while we lounged shoulder to shoulder on her couch. A Dungeons and Dragons podcast playing in the background.
We were eating junk food and for a split second, I thought she was asking if I was regretting the moment we were in. Was I regretting the idea that I was having whatever junk food I was shoving into my mouth instead of actual food?
Was I regretting the decision of allowing the cockroach currently sitting on my socked foot to stay there? There were a hundred things that might have skated through the definition of regret. Maybe sat on the outskirts – so she was going to have to be more specific.
I watched her big hazel-grey-green eyes flicker and cast down as if she thinking “nevermind.” Did she think her question was going to break me emotionally? she shook her head and I encourage her to explain what she meant. I promise her that whatever she is thinking she can ask. She knows this. I try to remind her of healthy communication and she says she knows. Is she worried about triggering me? Offending me? Us breaking up? (we did but this wasn’t the reason.)
“Us?” I ask without warning and surprised both of us. “I don’t regret you. You are you and I can’t” I nudged her shoulder with mine and my smile was met with one of hers. And it was the truth.
“Noooo I Know, that’s not what I mean?” I ignored that her inflection sounded like a question and encourage her to tell me what she meant then.
“You got married to the first guy you really fell for…”
“Ah,” I am not sure what prompted her to ask at that moment. Was it a story I told? A memory?
Sometimes, I tell stories of my teenage years and lament typical childhood things I never got to do. Stupid things most teenagers experience: like parties in friends’ basements and things that never mattered in the long run. Some of those choices were mine to make. Others were not. While sometimes I wish I rebelled more a lot of people make assumptions.
Often when I make comments about missed out childhood memories it is in disdain of my sheltered upbringing and alcoholic and abusive father. And not of my decision to fall in love and settle down.
Although quite often they were misinterpreted as ‘wish I sowed my wild oats before settling down,’ when that wasn’t the case.
“Don’t be,” She’s right, I did the thing mom told me not to do in any sense of every real and hypothetical. I dated one guy before I got married instead of my mother’s request for me to date and explore. I didn’t travel and happily “put my life on hold for a guy” (as my mother would put it) For my marriage.
I know he was nothing my parents would have picked for me. He was of a different race, different religion and culture from us. I hate that this mattered to my father and as I found out later GREATLY angered and disappointed his family.
Our moms parented completely different.
My Mom was afraid that his disabilities would have “held me back.” Although I never understood what that meant, wasn’t it part of our vows? In sickness and in health?
I sat on my girlfriend’s couch and thought about her question, I thought about David.
Explosive arguments and 7-11 slushies.
Working different schedules and not seeing each other for long stretches because of it.
I thought about our best moments and worst.
I thought about girls he could have asked out and opportunities he said no to.
Arguments with his parents about bringing home a white, Catholic, quite liberal, “Girl.”
I wonder if he had any regrets.
I thought about hours in hospitals and how often he said he felt unworthy.
I thought about the time I drunkenly kissed someone else and wished it was David instead.
I thought about days when we fell asleep angry and still reached for each other.
When all my mental health issues ended up on his shoulders. When he had his own and I had no idea how to help.
Our jokes. Our banter. How opposite we were.
How things could have changed for the better if we made other decisions.
I thought about my soul connected with someone at 14 and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with them.
I sat back on the couch and nodded –
“no regrets. Not one.”
Your beautiful honesty, reflection, love, grief, and grit speak to my broken heart even as our stories are different yet the same. Thank you