Regrets – I’ve Got A Few

Regret. Guilt. Shame. That was my pattern for ever so long. It still grabs me and binds me now and again. “We will not regret the past nor shut the door on it.” I do regret my past. And as long as I breathe, I suspect the past will open the door anytime it damn well pleases.

I’m grateful that I regret my past. What sitting with regret, rather than sitting in regret, does for me is that I begin to see patterns more clearly. Before I got sober, I lacked tools to regret a past I could not change. I avoided feelings of regret. I rationalized feelings of regret by blaming others. Feelings of regret became ever deepening guilt that became self-imposed shame contributing to my sense of worthlessness and ultimately hopelessness. And I drank. Drank alcohol to oblivion. The only way that I could ‘shut the door’.

Regret for me takes several forms: all of the lost opportunities and possibilities, personally and professionally; hurtful unkind words spoken to others; a handful of lovers that I abandoned or held on to solely for fear of being alone; unresolved resentment of a father that never apologized. Meditation, especially metta (see link below) and self-compassion, have become practices for me to see regret and to be with it. I noticed looking back over several poems prompted by uneasy feelings of regret, written over several years, that most find their own resolution and help me make peace with a past that cannot be changed, but need not consume my present.

I

Once upon a time

I sat beneath a tree

A sugar maple it was

Dreaming such very big dreams

Most of my dreams

Well they never

Came to be

But today I’m ever so glad

That once upon a time

I sat beneath a tree

Dreaming such very big dreams

II

Why I muse

Do I remember

Unkind words

Said long ago

To another

In another time

I don’t remember

The time nor place

But I do remember

The bite and sting

Saying what I wish

I had not

Why I wonder

Is it so very hard

To forgive myself

Regardless of

The passing of time

And healing amends

Why do I remember

These things

I cannot forget

III

Oh how I sometimes lament

The hostages I’ve taken

Along the way

Lovers and those that loved

Bound in chains of promised

Futures that never became a past

My own want pretending to be need

IV

I returned to the river of the times of my life

I thought of my father and I cried

I cried for I could not remember the color of his eyes

I tried and I tried to conjure his memory fading to the past

Dissolved in the river of time

So I sat by my river and I cried

Meditation On Lovingkindness


About the Author

Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

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John S

I never thought of using regret constructively, but it makes sense to me now. Maybe it’s just if I let the feelings overwhelm me and I judge myself in the present time based on my past regrets. I love your poetry. Thank you for your contribution to AA Beyond Belief. The poetry section has become my favorite!

Nancy W
Nancy W

Your words really resonated with me today. Both the poems and your intro. Thank you.