Thursday, August 14, 2014

These Unavoidable Regrets

I started this blog in 2006, though more seriously devoted time to it in 2007 and 8, concurrent with an ensuing existential crisis and then an actual life crisis that has been going seven years strong.

There's a reason why I called it "Avoiding Regret" and not something more definitive, like "No Regrets" or "Eliminating Regret," or not something more positive, like "Pursuing Beauty" or "Carpe Diem": because regret is always coming at you, from all directions, and all you can do is try to make the right decisions to dodge it. It looms, like an incoming tsunami. And, at some point, you can no longer run from it.

I suppose some people in their decision-making process consider, "Is this the right thing to do?" But I have never been guided much by morality, preferring pragmatism and a self-centered focus on my own feelings. I ask, "Will I regret this?" or, more likely, "Will I regret not doing this?"

I consider everything I say carefully. I act strategically. I edit and reedit my writing. I try to regret nothing.

But I have a whole life that I lived before 2006 that I must take responsibility for, in my younger days of foolish and reckless abandon, released out into the world after a sheltered childhood, unprepared for what I might encounter.

I didn't know how not to drink too much.

I didn't know how to respect myself.

I didn't know how to demand respect from others.

I didn't know how to find love, or be loved.

In those early days of adulthood, I made a lot of mistakes. I certainly seized the day, but probably too much. I seized everything within my grasp, everything offered to me – including too many drinks, a potent serving of crystal meth, and people who didn't belong to me.

My first boyfriend Seth was dating another girl when he first took me out. I knew this, but I accepted the date anyway, as well as the goodnight kiss. On our second date, he declared that he'd broken up with his girlfriend, and wanted to make me his girlfriend – an offer I accepted, not knowing that this was a lie and he was actually now dating us both.

I also didn't know that this would establish an inescapable trend in my dating life: I would never be the one; I would always be the other one.

Even before that, in high school, I would get these lines from guys that went something like "If I weren't dating __________, I would be dating you." But then when that guy would stop dating whats-her-name, he wouldn't run into my arms. He'd start dating some other girl, and there I was, still on the sidelines.

Seth taught me a terrible lesson: that guys could be lured away from their girlfriends, even just momentarily, even by a chubby, nerdy, inexperienced girl like myself. I gained much of my sexual experience with other girls' boyfriends, and, later, husbands. I started innocently enough, asking pointedly, "Do you love your girlfriend enough not to cheat on her with me?" and engaging in a subsequent makeout session that the guy would ultimately regret and sometimes the girlfriend would even discover. It got worse as time went on, as guys got older and more willing, and as The Taken Ones pursued me more enthusiastically than any single guys ever had, and possibly ever would.

At the time, I didn't care. In each case, I blamed the guy. After all, he was the cheater. I was lonely and unloved – and available! – looking for affection wherever I could find it. I had no integrity, because I was desperate to fill the void, even with something that didn't belong to me.

Even when I thought that I was finally a girlfriend again, it turned out I was Freddy's other woman, unbeknownst to me until his actual girlfriend introduced herself to me. I did the right thing and broke up with him then, but only because I felt cheated on. If he'd been upfront with me about the girlfriend but wanted to be with me too, I probably would have permitted it, because I would've been willing to accept a shared love, any love.

After all, as the other woman, at least I always knew I wasn't the only one. It was a choice I could make.

But those girlfriends out there didn't have that advantage.

I always saw the girlfriends and wives of the men I attracted as the enemy, perhaps because they had what I wanted, or they had gotten there first, or they were keeping all the good ones to themselves, and out of circulation for the rest of us.

Now, I realize: I was the enemy.

I've done some very bad things in my life, to a lot of people I didn't even know. Most of it was meaningless and brief, but on occasion, it was repeated and extensive. The only three men from my past that I've ever loved were committed to some other woman at some point in our relationship, while they were also with me.

Since moving to LA, I've tried to spurn the inevitable advances of the taken ones, but when your loneliness is killing you, it's not easy to choose to be alone. I've relapsed a couple of times, but not at all for the last two years. I'm not proud, but it's progress.

Earlier this year, there was a wedding I could've tried to stop, but I didn't. I'm going to give that girl her chance to be happy with a great guy. He doesn't really want to be with me anyway. At least, not now.

The thing is, out of all of those people I've hurt in the past by trying to find some love for myself, the person I've hurt most of all is me. I now have no faith in humanity. I can't trust anyone. Even as I start to date someone who's wonderful, who says he wants to be with me, who says he has no intention of doing anything with anyone else, I cannot help but think of all of the other women who are out there who are just like me, waiting in the wings for their chance. And how I wish they would just give me my chance to be happy with a great guy, finally, after waiting my whole life, all this time for someone who thinks they could love me.

This is my comeuppance.

I have done this to myself.

I have turned men who were not cheaters into cheaters, and now I think they all are.

And somehow, I think that I deserve to be cheated on, in exchange for what I've done.

These regrets cannot be avoided.

Related Posts:
My Regretful Past
Upon the Disappointing Lack of a Mayan Apocalypse
Disappointments, I've Had a Few...
Black Swan, and The View from Behind First Place
Not My Kind of Friend
My Public Shame
Mine, All Mine