Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
**Whew, this one’s extra difficult. I try very hard to live without true regret and to learn from everything – good and bad.
Also – and this is absolutely true – I was a goody-goody. I had zero alcohol or drugs or sex in high school. I never cut classes. I never broke curfew. I still have never done drugs other than a few tokes of pot in my 20s and early 30s. I’ve had one speeding ticket in 28 years of driving. I never shoplifted. I never cheated on a test. I’ve never cheated on a spouse or significant other. I’ve never padded a resume or lied on my taxes. Yeah, I’m kinda boring.(Well, except for the kinky shit.)
With that said, there are some choices I made that were perhaps not the best, and/or not made in the best frame of mind. It’s not pleasant to dig these up and expose them to the light of day and the entire Internet, but I’ve promised myself to be faithful to the challenge. **
1. I want to say, “married my first husband”. But if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have my daughter, and she’s a pretty awesome kid. There were warning signs long before the marriage – big ones. I sought the advice of my mother who failed to be honest with me and urged me to ignore all those signs. Lessons learned….sort of….
2. So you’d think I’d do better the second time around….and I want to say that marrying my second husband belongs on this list, but….the truth is he was very good to my daughter and I for quite a few years. Yet, there were warning signs with him as well – quite different ones, however, and he put up a good front for a while. He was a good step-dad and a reliable husband until suddenly, he wasn’t. I do think I met and married him at quite possibly the lowest point of my self-esteem ever – coming off my first marriage and saddled with a ton of debt, etc… Not the best frame of mind to be making life decisions.
**Disclaimer – I fully realize there are always two people in a marriage and therefore two people responsible for its demise at some level. I won’t shoulder the majority of the blame for these, however, and made heroic efforts to fix things gone wrong until they both decided I wasn’t worth the effort. The ultimate errors were mine in forging ahead into marriage with men quite unsuited for me, ultimately.**
3. Signed up to be a part of a three-year grant project that consumed my time, my energy, my patience, and I swear, part of my soul. Yes, I learned a lot in the process, yes I have some great things on my resume now, but I’m not entirely sure the price was worth it. I’m still dealing with ripples of this one, a year after the grant ended.
4. Listened to the pediatric neurologist when my daughter was 11. Her face and arms suddenly were both numb and painful – like your foot when it goes to sleep. Except it didn’t go away. Even the slightest breeze on her face or arms hurt. Chewing food hurt her face. It was awful. After initial tests (and there were many) showed nothing catastrophic was wrong, I wanted to try some alternative routes, including a chiropractor, suspecting a pinched nerve. The only pediatric neurologist in my fairly large city (~ 284,000 people) wouldn’t write a referral and continued to pump nasty medications into her that had devastating effects on her cognitive functioning for a while. Ultimately, she was hospitalized for three days for a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) for which the numbing drugs had no effect –she felt the entire procedure. She was 11. It was horrible.
I took her to a chiropractor the next week (the neurologist finally threw up his hands in defeat when the lumbar puncture showed nothing wrong). He took one look at her and asked where she got the bump on her forehead. She and I then remembered the shovel that the dog stepped on, swinging it up to hit her smack in the head….18 months before this. She’d had a goose egg but no concussion and was fine at the time. He deduced that blow had wrenched her head and neck, pinching a nerve slightly, which over time, resulted in her then-current symptoms – and a bone bruise/bump she has to this day. After one session, she had improvement and she was 100% better within three weeks.
Had I trusted my gut in the beginning, she wouldn’t have had to suffer so much or so long, and that is something I truly regret. I’ve learned my lesson, now and am a fierce advocate for the right care for her current issues.
4. Not pursued grad school right out of college. I desperately wanted to go right on to a Masters degree after I got my BA. But I was only 20 and had no clue about how to finance such a thing. My parents cut off my support the moment I got the diploma (they didn’t attend my graduation – in fact, I didn’t either – I was required to attend my little brother’s high school graduation which was the same day). They made zero effort to help me navigate the financial aid minefield – I didn’t even know it was an option. They still wanted to claim me on their taxes, so I had no return to file on my own and I had no idea what my options were, other than go to work because I “clearly couldn’t afford a Masters Degree” according to them. That completely derailed my plans and ambitions and I started a not-very-healthy path of taking whatever I could get job wise which has ultimately led to me pursuing yet another career change and degree at 44.
5. Snuck out to meet that cute boy in Paris. I was 15 and on a school trip to France and Switzerland. While hanging out in a super cool shopping mall (hey it was 1985), my friend and I bumped into this really cute 16 year old boy who spoke about as much English as we did French (i.e. not a helluva lot). He gave me his address and told me which Metro line to take from my hotel and convinced me to meet up with him later. I skipped the tour of Mont St Michel (I have no idea why they weren’t keeping track of 15 year olds in Paris, but c’est la vie!) and rode le Metro solo to the “flat” he shared with his older brother. We made out for a couple of hours (my first French kiss was from a real French boy!) and then I snuck back to my hotel. He promised to write me and never ever did. I think it’s because I refused to have sex with him. I embarrassed my 15 year old self by sending smarmy post cards and airmail letters for a while. I still want to see Mont St. Michel. Sigh.
6. Trusted a casual friend to walk me back to my dorm when I’d gotten pretty drunk at my first and only frat party in college. I was 18. He lived in the dorm next to mine, in the same “quad”. He’d never given any sign of being interested in me whatsoever and I’d barely spoken to him at the party. We ended up in his dorm room as he said he was too drunk to take me on to mine and he let me collapse in his bed fully clothed. He was quite the (drunken) gentleman and went to sleep on the couch across the room.
I woke up a few hours later to my jeans around my ankles and him on top of me, trying to drunkenly rape me – quite unsucessfully.
I threw him off me, screaming, “what are you DOING?!” He landed on his ass and said something along the lines of, “well you did come back to my room and slept in my bed”. I yelled more things at him while I yanked up my pants and stumbled back to my own dorm room. I never saw nor spoke to him again.
I never reported it – it was only attempted rape after all, we were both drunk, and I WAS in his room/bed – was how I rationalized it. But it still sucked.
That was when I learned to pace myself at parties and not allow myself to ever again get so drunk my judgment was that impaired that I’d go home with someone I barely knew.