Do you have regrets? Do you have secrets?

I used to answer this question with a very confident “no.” I knew that I’d made mistakes in life, but I also knew that I was a good person overall and that these mistakes weren’t defining who I was. I have 5 regrets- that’s it. I have countless things that I’m proud of in my life yet at the moment they aren’t measuring up. 

Now that I am a mother, my reflection on my life is a bit different. I am raising a daughter, and I never want her to have regrets like mine – regrets because I was too passive and too scared. Regrets as a woman because I was put into too many positions where I needed to say no and couldn’t find the words. Now that I’m a mother, I feel guilt instead of having the confidence to look past my mistakes. 

Before I met my husband were the big regrets of my life – the ones I don’t want to think about. And here’s the harsh reality; I was young and just not always good at making decisions (not an excuse, but the truth). Happens to all of us I’m sure, but we don’t tend to share these regrets with the world, so we are often felt feeling alone, guilty and regretful. 

So it’s truth time. 

We’ll start with the first regret I can ever remember. I was standing on the playground at recess (elementary school). I was talking to my best friend, when she suddenly pulled a bee out of her mouth. I was so terrified, that when she asked if I’d take her to the nurse, I said no. 

My next regret was in high school. I had broken up with my boyfriend the night before, and it was lunch time. We sat together every day at lunch. Today I just wanted to sit somewhere else, so I did. Well, little did I know, all of our friends came to sit with me, instead of him. He sat all by himself at lunch that day, and I felt so horrible. 

Still high school, I was driving home from a friend’s house at night. A car seemed to be following me, and had its headlights off. I was incredibly frightened and every horrible scenario was playing through my mind at the time. I was praying I’d just make it home (I drove an old truck that was prone to breaking down). As we drove through an intersection, another car was turning left and didn’t see the car behind me with its lights off. I heard a crash. Guess what I did? I kept driving. This is probably my worst regret of all. I have no idea if everyone was OK. I was a scared 16-year-old, and just went home. I didn’t know what to do. 

I had sex too early. Enough explained probably. It was the summer after I graduated high school. It was not planned and I wasn’t OK with it. But again, my fear took over and I didn’t say anything. 

My last regret is one of the hardest to say. It was my first year out of college and I was working the night shift. My supervisor was incredibly touchy feely and made me so uncomfortable. He insisted on picking me up one night to go have drinks with coworkers. I should have said no, but I didn’t. My passivity took over and I didn’t push him away until he’d already gone too far. A married man had his hands where they shouldn’t have been, and I waited too long to push him away and tell him no. 

These 5 regrets cause me to lose sleep at night now that I’m a mom. And as I reflect on them I see a common thread. I see a young girl that was taken advantage of. I see a young girl that was passive and afraid. I see a young girl that didn’t always make the best decisions. That part of me still exists slightly…even if to only be afraid to speak of these regrets. 

These 5 mistakes that happened to my 21-year-old self and younger, do not define me unless I let them. For the last 12 years my only regrets are getting a bit too upset with my husband and daughter, yet these 5 things are keeping me up. Why? Because I now have the responsibility to raise my daughter to be better and stronger than I was. I have the responsibility to teach her how to stand up for herself better than I did- and quite honestly, it’s terrifying.

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