Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day Eighteen: Something You Regret

I finally have a free day!! My hubby has started school again this week, and we decided to make the day a time for work (my "work" right now is blogging haha). He's studying so hard, and I plan on doing some organizing and reading later for some clients I'm seeing at work. One thing I love about being a therapist: you never stop studying :) 

On that note, I got news that I have been accepted into the next phase of my Ph.D application process. Apparently they've liked what I've submitted so far, and they invited me to come to Virginia next month for interviews on campus. It's a very quick turnaround to plan a flight + hotel stay for a weekend, but it looks like that's the plan for right now. I'm pretty nervous! At first, I wasn't going to tell anyone but family about this... just in the instance that I don't make it through the interviews - I don't want to have to announce that kind of news. However, I just sucked it up and realized that I get more support and encouragement by opening up and sharing my life - even the vulnerable scary parts! So please keep me in your prayers and thoughts over the next few weeks as I prepare and go to Virginia for a pretty important day! :)


So today's post is about something I regret. If I actually believed in regret, this would be a lot easier to write... There are many times in my life where I have made some pretty serious mistakes. A few years ago, I'm sure that you would catch me saying that I totally regretted a few decisions I had made, but that's not the case anymore. Regret is such a funny thing... I think it's like a cousin of unforgiveness, and it can cause such bitterness and sorrow. Instead of looking at past mistakes and feeling regret, I now look back and see what I've learned and how I can change the way I feel/think about what happened. 

A lot of people would say, "You can't change the past." You can't? I mean, really think about that. Maybe you can't change the literal things that happened, but imagine how much your beliefs, feelings, and rumination about it all affect and possibly alter your memories. Now I'm not saying to be delusional and totally re-write every bad memory you have with a "happily ever after" ending! What I am saying is to just THINK about your feelings and beliefs about a regret/bad memory you have... and see if you can identify some exaggerations/extremes/minimizing in yourself or other people. 

I would go as far as to say that You cannot NOT change your past. I'll explain and then give my example of my "regret."  The more a person thinks or ruminates about something in his past, the more powerful that memory becomes. Maybe something "bad" in his past grows into something "horrible" and then later "unbearable" because of him constantly feeding energy to these thoughts (I would say sometimes without even knowing it - important thoughts about that later). The more powerful it becomes, the more areas of life it starts to affect. 

Perhaps a woman emotionally hurt this man: what started as a regret for ever dating this woman turns into a regret for ever opening up and becoming vulnerable to anyone... to possibly a narrative playing in his head that he's not lovable... that it was his fault...  that he will never be good enough for anyone. Imagine the consequences of thinking like this on a daily basis. 


The scary part is this: the less you think and process why you believe the things you do, the less you are able to identify unhealthy narratives/scripts that play in your head. It's SO very important to think about WHY you think the way you do. Identify WHY something hurt you so much, WHY you reacted that way, WHY you believe the things you believe. You become aware of all sorts of unhealthy patterns that you maintain and then have the responsibility of addressing them. It's hard, dirty, draining, work... but it's also beautiful, rewarding, and fulfilling. 

If we want to be a 'holy people,' I believe it starts right here. Don't you think that painful memories and regrets have some major power over our beliefs and views of the world around us? Wouldn't you feel more informed, more humble, more virtuous... if you had the confidence of knowing that you've evaluated your own views and how they were shaped and how they compare to the truth of Scripture? More than likely, you will be asking God to forgive you and/or you will be granting forgiveness to someone else (some of the hardest work to do, in my opinion). 

So my "regret"= Not making time to invest in friendships. Ever since I can remember, I've been fully focused on school and 'making straight A's.' Friends were a luxury but not a necessity... A's were like gold to me but never enough. Even a 104% in a college course never seemed like I was succeeding enough. I rarely had joy or a feeling of accomplishment in 4.0 GPA's or full-ride scholarships... it was never enough. Imagine how friendships would play into a life like that... they were less important, less valuable, and easily ignored.

((Until the weekends))

 The summer before my senior year of high school, my best friend, Jessica, moved across the country, and I felt so alone. I banked on her friendship because I felt like I just needed her! She was my investment for friendship for years, and then she was gone. My weekends as a high school senior were mainly spent crying in my room because of the intense loneliness I felt... something my straight A's could never console. I was desperate for friends... I wanted to feel included - everyone else had a group of friends, and I felt like a monopoly piece used in other board games but never on my own. 

After making some dumb choices to finish out my senior year, I entered college and decided that I wanted to finish as well and as fast as possible. I made zero investments in any potential friendships or clubs in my undergraduate years. I have no "college friends" or activities/groups... But I did finish my Bachelor's in 3 and 1/2 years graduating summa cum laude and first in my class.

What a trade off

My narrative about the kind of person I was became very strong at this point. It wasn't until one of my very best friends died in a tragic car accident that I truly realized the impact of how I was living my life. I was so busy investing in myself, my grades, my accomplishments... that I was missing the beauty and blessings of being part of a community. Losing my friend taught me that I could have been seeing her more and making memories together instead of studying all the time. I could have been doing so many other things rather than focusing my time and energy ultimately on myself. 

Her death shook me up. It changed the way I was thinking. I had to go to counseling and figure some things out. I had to invest time into processing my own narratives and beliefs about the world, people, and myself. It was hard. It was worth it. And still is. 

It started a journey for me. I'm constantly trying to think about how I think (easiest way to say that), why I feel a certain way, and the things I choose to believe. The biggest area was about friends. What I used to tell myself regarding friendships: "You're just not a good friend." "People just don't like you because you're not good enough." "If they loved you, they'd call you. Don't call them first." "See, they canceled again. They must really not want to be your friend." "Oh, another weekend feeling lonely. You really are alone." ETC ETC ETC...  It took a gradual change: "You've been hurt a long time, Carrie Anne... try and think about this a different way." "You should call them. They may have forgotten, and you can't feel bad if you didn't put any effort in." "Maybe I'm alone because I feel like I'm meant to be alone." 

It's a work in progress... but I really do believe I'm a good friend now. I love my friends DEEPLY, and I choose them very wisely. I rarely have any superficial friendships because friendships mean so much to me. The "regret" of not investing in friendships back then has now become a great lesson and an area that I intentionally focus on. One of the reasons I chose the specific online Ph.D program I applied for was because of its structure. If chosen, I'll be with the same small group of people for years - developing great relationships and connections. I count it as great joy to go from shying away and feeling "less than" in friendships to actively searching out ways I can develop more of a community in my life. 

Even though friendships have been a challenge for me and had the potential of becoming a major area of regret in my life, God's sweet grace has taught (and is still teaching) me the value, importance, and beauty of being in community with His people. 

im thankful.
carrie anne

P.S. This post totally made me think of Adele's song, "Someone Like You"
 Specifically the line - "Regrets and mistakes, they are memories made.
Careful what you do with your regrets and mistakes... they'll shape your memories and possibly...   you


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