Harsh ReaLity, a blog run by OM suggested the idea of writing about the things we regret or mistakes we would go back and change if we could. There are so many things that with the benefit of hindsight you would go back and change, some small others large but for me there is one which I will regret for the rest of my life.
In 1999 I was newly divorced and trying to work, study and take care of my son. It was the first time in my life that I truly felt out of my depth. Never had failed to succeed in anything that I had tried. I was extremely lucky, I came from a wealthy family, went to Private School and excelled academically and athletically. It also helped that I was quite attractive and had never really needed to work hard to make friends. Sounds good – well in the end it wasn’t.
Because I had never faced real failure or even real uncertainty I was completely and utterly unprepared for the changes in my life that came with the divorce. For the first time money was an issue and I was having trouble maintaining my work load at university while at the same time most of my pay went to rent and childcare. I needed the childcare so I could work to keep us fed and housed and the irony is that a large part of my salary went to pay for the childcare.
I didn’t know how to ask for help even from my family. So things built up and up until I felt as if everything around me was spinning out of control. What broke me was something so very simple – a bill. I came home from work after picking up my son and cleared the mailbox. There was my mobile bill and it was nearly $700 hundred dollars. I remember putting it down and going to fix dinner. The evening passed as if I was on autopilot. I played with my son and tucked him into bed and then I just sat there.
My whole world was imploding and I didn’t have a clue what to do. I was so angry at myself, so sure that if I was smarter or better or just something more than myself then none of this would be happening. With no experience to gauge things by I felt useless and worthless. I mean I couldn’t even afford to pay the phone bill, something I’d never even thought of before.
Some time in the early hours of the morning I came to what I thought was some kind of understanding and clarity of the situation. So useless was I that it would be better not be here anymore, not to burden others with me and not to have my failure pointed out over and over again as I imagined would happen if I told anyone what was happening.
I waited until morning and rang my ex-husband, told him I was sick and would he mind having our boy for a few days as I wouldn’t be up to looking after him. I packed his little bag and waited for his father to come and kissed him goodbye and told him that I loved him. Then I spent the better part of the day going from doctor to doctor and chemist to chemist to get and fill a variety of sleeping prescriptions.
Went home, tidied the house, washed the car, organised my paperwork with an apology to my parents for having to pay a couple of bills after I was gone and then I went to bed fully intending to never get up. It is only by the most unlikely of chances that I survived. A good friend who had been over the previous weekend dropped by to pick up something she’d left behind. She knew where I kept the spare key and she let herself in. Needless to say the rest wasn’t pretty but I lived.
I will regret not asking for help for being so mired in my own misery that I completely ignored what it would do to the people around me and more importantly than anything I will regret what it cost me. Even after I realised that taking my own life was not the right thing to do I was still utterly and completely ashamed and my actions added to it. I withdrew from life slowly over the next few years and I lost those years with my son.
Never will have those years back, never have that connection with him that should have been forged in those years where I hid from life. Too afraid to try again lest I fail, too afraid of ridicule and censure to reach out to those close to me. I am so lucky that he and I are bridging that gap, but regardless of our relationship now it will always be between us and the only person to blame is me.
For making decisions based on pride I lost that which is most precious and even though I have come to understand that I’m not useless or a failure simply because I was floundering I will nevertheless always, always regret the hurt done to my boy. My life is so full now but it is a measured joy because now and always is that knowledge that I hurt those I most loved.
So – that is my regret, my truest and deepest regret and the price for it is to live with it always.