Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Posts tagged ‘regret’

Why doesn’t life have an edit function?

When I was a child I loved the Fighting Fantasy books by Ian Livingston. You may have read them yourself: it started like an ordinary book but soon you had to make a choice as to where the plot would go. If you made choice A you turned to one page and the story continued; if you made choice B you turned to a different page and the story would continue from there. And then you’d have to make another choice, and another. Every so often you’d make the wrong choice and have to backtrack, starting again from an earlier point in the story.

Computer games are much the same. You progress through a scenario, saving the game as you go in case you make a fatal error and have to return to an earlier point to try again. Writing is similar; you can draft, redraft, edit and then finally publish. Schoolwork, office work, emails, blogposts, Facebook statuses, tweets – they can all be edited, altered, changed until they are just right.

Life isn’t like that unfortunately. I often wish that I could go back to certain points and start again; say things differently, do things differently, make different choices and take a different path. I’d avoid certain experiences and add in others. But then I might not have my amazing, supportive, loving and wonderfully crazy husband. Or our clever, beautiful, funny and awesome children. My life might have been easier, I might have made more progress in the career that I loved – but I might not have these incredible people.

There are also times that I wish I could jump ahead instead of back. I want to know how my children will grow up, I want to know whether I’m doing the right things for them, whether I’m bringing them up the best way or whether I’m just setting them up for a lifetime of therapy. I want to know that the choices I’m making now are the right ones. I crave reassurance that our lives won’t always be this difficult, that one day DH and I will be able to live the life we want to and give our children the best opportunities they can have.

Of course neither of these options exist. As humans we live a linear existence – we start from the beginning of our lives, pass along a path and finish at the end. There is no going backwards or forwards except mentally, by memory or supposition. We cannot alter what has passed and nor can we, with any reliability, predict what will happen in the future.

It is all too easy to dwell on the past, to wonder the what ifs and maybes. It is also easy to sit back and wait to see what will happen. I don’t want to do this any more. If my life has no edit function then I need to make the most of it – this one life is all I have. I need to stop my relentlessly critical self-scrutiny and accept myself for who and what I am, both physically and mentally. There are some positive changes that might be possible but for the most part I am me, the sum of my experiences up to this point in time, and that’s pretty irrevocable.

I am young yet, only in my early thirties and there is hopefully a lot of life ahead of me. It’s time that I stopped procrastinating and seized life with both hands. As the saying goes, I’d rather regret things that I’ve done that regret the things I didn’t do. I need to start taking steps towards getting back out there and doing things.

Why I shouldn’t go on Facebook when I’m struggling

Facebook is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it enables me to talk to friends without having to see them face to face – as I’ve said before, I’m much better at writing things down than I am at being honest in person. On the other hand it means I get to see all the petty, inane drivel that people come out with sometimes (and yes, I include myself in that!).

Earlier this week I was really struggling to hold myself together (see this post if you want details). And I started looking at my friends on Facebook and thinking, are you really a friend? Are you someone I could call on in the small hours of the morning if I needed to? Are you someone I trust? The answer for most people was no, of course. Friends like that are rare and precious – but I wasn’t really thinking straight at the time.

So I went down the list clicking delete, delete, delete… Most were people I’ve been meaning to get rid of for a while – other mums who I only know because we have children the same age, people I was friends with at uni but have barely spoken to in years. It felt good to get rid of them, like decluttering or spring cleaning.

As my mood has settled, however, I have found that there are a few I regret deleting. I’m not sure what to do about this, especially as hardly any of them know about my mental health problems and even those who do don’t know the full story. Do I just chalk this up to experience and move on? Do I contact them, explain and apologise? To be honest I doubt any of them have even noticed – certainly no-one’s contacted me or tried to add me again. Which just compounds my feelings of confusion and “Well they’re obviously not proper friends anyway”.

To make things even worse I’ve had another, similar day today (someone who responded to the earlier post called it a mixed episode, this period of flitting rapidly between up and down). So I don’t know whether I’m thinking straight now either. I don’t trust my own thoughts, my feelings, my instincts. My mind is like a Gordian knot at the moment and this incident is only one strand of the rope.

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