I did it my way, for better or worse

“I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” Katherine Hepburn

I think it’s clear that Kate had regrets in her glorious lifetime. So do I, and my gut tells me that anyone who says that they don’t have any is not being entirely honest with themselves. What is regret, anyway? Psychologist Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., calls it feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been, or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made. I would more simply say that regret is a feeling of deep sadness over things that we think are BIG mistakes we made during our life, at one time or another.

I think if you don’t acknowledge regret, you deny yourself the opportunity to grow and change in a positive, meaningful direction. Course corrections in life, if you will. If only I had hung on to that great guy, Bill, that I was dating when I was nineteen. If only I hadn’t slept with that married guy (in my own defense, I didn’t know he was married…at first.) If only I had invested more time into nurturing my relationship with my teenage best friend Sue, we might still be great friends. The biggest one for me, however, is that my curious nine-year old self had to find out why my brother disappeared into my parents bedroom instead of watching TV with my other brother and me, one morning in 1966. I walked in, but I didn’t walk out. Curiosity almost killed the cat. Do I regret what happened to me that day? Of course I do, not only for the losses I suffered, but for everyone else whose life was changed because of my injury.

So, am I trapped into a miserable, incapacitating existence? Hardly. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve learned from my mistakes, changed what I was capable of changing for the better, and adapted to what could not be changed. The most important thing, though, was developing the ability to let go. Let go of blame, of self-recrimination, of “what if’s.” Regrets are okay to have, as long as you don’t live in them – otherwise, they suck the life right out of you.

Unfortunately, the process of letting go is a lifelong one, because you will constantly be reminded of missed opportunities, abilities you’ve lost, or things that, generally, you just messed up. Then, there are always new ways in which you might succeed – or fail. If you need help, get it. Talk to a trusted friend, or seek professional guidance. Personally, when I’ve been stuck inside my own head, in a place I don’t want to be, I’ve done both.

I hope you all find a path to conquering any regrets that may be floating around in your mind. I wish you all good health and happiness, support when you need it, and support when you don’t. Please be aware though, that anybody can wish you all the happiness in the world, but finding it is ultimately up to you. Just one more thing – I still want to be a ballerina.

Peace on your head,
Sharon

In the beginning…

I have been toying with the idea of writing a book for a few years. A story of tragedy and triumph, then more tragedy, more triumph…get the picture? I get a few pages written, I kinda like them, then I kinda don’t. There will be a small handful of people reading this who already know who I am (big fish, small pond) but for the most part, I have lived in anonymity. This brings me back to the book thing. I keep thinking that I may have something to offer to those folks who are still ambitious enough to pick up a book. Confused? I’m not surprised, so am I. Let’s start with a story.

Once upon a time, I was a happy, healthy young girl, nine years of age, who liked to play Barbie’s, ride bikes, climb trees, watch television, play on my school playground with my friends, and go to my ballet and tap dance lessons. Then, in the wink of an eye, everything changed. I mistakenly stepped in front of a kid messing around with a gun. He fired it, not quite understanding how it worked, and I was unable to jump out of the way of a bullet speeding my way at a million miles an hour. I collapsed to the floor, paralyzed from the waist down. The bullet struck my spinal cord. I never lost consciousness. I naively told that boy to look around for the bullet, thinking that if he found it, I would be okay. I began to try to get up, but I could only drag myself along the floor. Suddenly, there were policemen and ambulance personnel, and my mom surrounding me. A warp speed ride took me to the local hospital, where I was tended to by a trauma team, and whisked into neurosurgery. Four hours later, my parents were told that I would never walk again. Tragedy. A little girl died that day, only to be replaced by a different one, with the same face, same personality, but vastly different abilities.

If you’re still hanging in there with me, congratulations, because that’s a bloody sad story. Fear not, though, boys and girls, because the stories of triumph are yet to come.

Peace on your head,

Sharon