In my lame attempt to figure out what I am, this is a continuation of discovery.

Everyone has regrets, and in one of the few human traits that I possess, I have a few. Most do not affect me at all. A few seem to define me because they strongly inform my actions and goals.

I think that regrets fall into two categories: things that could have been avoided and stuff that cannot. It is not always clear which is which, and there are regrets in both categories that have a strong impact on me.

I think the trick is to not let regret affect a person for too long and too much. I am pretty good at compartmentalizing things. Everything, good or bad, gets packed away into a place where it can not do harm or is just not all that important of a regret. Well, that is most of them, but some come out to haunt me every single day. If I am honest, that seems like a good thing that I can not pack certain regrets away, no matter how much I try. They serve as a good reminder of what not to do in the future, not all of these are relationship-based.

It seems more common that these regrets fall more into the type that are things I did not do. In my last post on this topic, I talked a bit about a regret that I have about my military experiences. It doesn’t bother me anymore and never really did all that much. It is more of a “what if” than a true regret.

If only there was a “what if” machine

One thing that got me thinking about this path I am trying to take is that my ex-wife wrote me a series of messages late last summer and early fall. She apologized for all - or at least most - of the awful things she did to me during our marriage. It seemed kind of odd that she did that. It was so long ago, and I really don’t think about it. I told her that no one ever needs to or should apologize to me. She just said, “whatever.”

She indeed had an impact on how I think of myself. She certainly wasn’t the only one to treat me like the nothing that I am. I still maintain that if I were worth caring about and loving, I wouldn’t have been treated this way by multiple women.

In the past year, I really have none. But with not much going on that is not a surprise. There are just a few that are always hanging over my head, some I will not ever write about.

I regret moving away from Arizona. It was the first time in my life that I had a real friend. So many bad things happened when I lived there that it almost destroyed me. Oddly enough, the things that hurt me don’t bother me in the slightest anymore. Long-distance friendships are tough, but I know if I really needed her, she would come through for me like she did so many times.

When we met, she was struggling with so many things. I was someone she could lean on and trust to not betray her. I was a complete dumpster fire because it was a few months after my wife left me. We met online through an online local bulletin board that I did not know had a message about me. My soon-to-be ex-wife put it up. It was the only message I got from that, but that was more than enough.

She even dragged me to her church once, it was a ruse to get me to talk to the priest or whatever he was. I would not doubt that he still has nightmares about me. He told me that I scared him badly, should I take that as a badge of honor? I asked if he thought I was going to be violent towards him or anyone - like that would happen - he said no. He said he had never encountered anyone so deeply depressed and lost. Gee thanks, I guess. That day is one of my happiest in Arizona, so I find it odd that I scared him. It was three hours spent with the one person that has never been cruel to me, even when I was stressing her out, she remained kind.

In all of my years in college, I only missed one day without being severely sick or having seizures. I actually blew off my classes to spend the day at her home. It was such a relaxing and happy day.

I doubt I was as useful to her as she was to me. In the two years that I had left in Arizona, it was a rare day where we didn’t talk for two or three hours. I saw her in person exactly nine times, yet I never felt nervous with her. Probably because I knew we would only be friends from day one. She even coaxed me out to dance clubs twice, with her girlfriends, mainly to be their shield. I am assuming that because that is what I ended up doing. I was also their designated driver since I do not drink. She and her friends are all very pretty and guys would get aggressive with them, and I had to fend them off. Driving off drunk idiots is hardly a challenge though.

I even went out on a few dates with one of her friends, but I can not even remember her name, so I guess that was not meant to be. Probably because I sat on her hair more than a few times. It wasn’t my fault though, her hair went down to her knees.

That was the first time I was used as a shield for women at dance clubs but not the last, funnily enough. More than a few women did that after I left Arizona, some I barely knew!

I have been meaning to write her a letter to thank her, it has been too long since we really talked. I don’t really regret it because it was to lessen her stress and I was the one to pull back from talking as much as we did. Even when I left Arizona, we stayed close for a few years, and in that time her life was getting much better and I didn’t want to stress her and make her life worse. I never told her I did that, but she didn’t seem to mind, so it was the right call.

I could write an entire book about her. Kindness like that is so rare. At the time, I didn’t fully understand that truth, now I do.

Another regret over something I did involves moving away from Georgia when I left the Army. If I had stayed in, I would have been due for a lot of additional training - I had airborne school guaranteed in my contract I ended up not signing, plus Ranger school that I spoke about earlier - and a transfer was due, so who knows what would have come of it, if anything. There was no reason I could not have stayed there when I got out. I met a cute little southern belle, with a strong Georgian accent, who lived near Savannah. She was the first person in my life to show any real interest in me. It ended because long-distance relationships tend to do that.

She is my only ex that I have no way of contacting.

Funny how my only true regrets involve relationships, but what is more important than that?

So, of course, the biggest regret is about a relationship. She is my first thought in the morning and last thought when I fall asleep, and overpowers my dreams. I believe it will be so until the end.

When she told me that she would not marry me and that I can’t change her mind, I froze. I never freeze up when there is something I want so badly, regardless if I am scared or not, but I did this time.

I have no good excuse. I was terrified that I would lose her forever. I never let fear stop me. I did just that this time. That is shameful.

That is my biggest regret, not fighting her on that and pushing her for a why - I don’t really know why - but I can probably guess correctly. In any other situation, I would not have given up on it. The thought of losing her was much worse than knowing that she couldn’t (didn’t want to?) marry me. So much worse. So, I accepted it. In a way, it feels like that is the point that where I truly lost her. It was like she was disappointed in me. I sure was disappointed in myself.

Perhaps deep down, I was not surprised that someone so beautiful, so smart, perfect, and wonderful would not want to marry me. Call Ripley’s, right?

I have a smaller, kind of silly regret: driving her to the airport and letting her go home. That is more of a fantasy that she is a princess and prisoner of the dragon. That would have worked out terribly for so many reasons, and she would have lived in fear of deportation. She would struggle to find work, and that among other reasons, would make her so unhappy. That is the one thing I never want for her, not unhappy, not ever. It is more of a fun ‘what if’ than a true regret. When she filled out her US Visa application, I suggested that she put down “prisoner of the dragon” as the purpose for wanting to visit. It makes me laugh.

For a while, I thought I had made the correct decision in not pressing her over marriage. It was rough for a while and felt a bit cold for a little bit, but slowly we started talking off and on. That was so wonderful. The shortest conversation about nothing is so much better than silence. As time passed, the amount and warmth of our conversations increased. However, never to the amount of time or intensity as it used to be. I didn’t expect that. I think it made her want to talk more because it wasn’t such a huge time sink anymore. She is a busy, successful girl. I have all the time in the world to spare, so it is very uneven, and since she has important duties, her needs come first.

Last summer, I asked her what I am to her, and the answer surprised me and made me smile. I don’t want to make it public, but it let me know that even though we had cooled down to friends, her feelings for me were solid. Possibly, in the right circumstances, it could be more. It helped me be more settled in our relationship, and more relaxed, which I think helped her a bit also. She had told me several times “I told you that I will always come back to you.”

Why she leaves without a word is a mystery, and it bothers me a lot. During the last year, she would disappear without a word for days, weeks, and about a month was the longest, until recently. It has been a very long time now without a word, and I hope she comes back - more than anything - but as time passes, that seems unlikely.

Why does she do this?

With all the craziness in the world, it makes me worry a lot. I know she was quite busy and stressed about some things around the time we last talked, but my mind goes to darker things. She keeps in good shape and is healthy. If my fears come true, I think she would be okay.

I know with no reservations that she is my soulmate. In the time since we have met, we have spent the majority of it not talking. If that had happened to anyone else, I would have moved on and never given it a second thought or had any regrets. I love her more today than when I last hugged her at the airport. I know I will love her until the day I die.

That I can think of her visit and smile tells me that whatever issue gripped my mind in the fall and early winter of 2019 is gone and replaced by happy memories. It has been 19 months, pretty much to the day, since I last hugged her, but it really just feels like a few weeks ago. It is strange but true.

There is even hope that after the craziness ends that we can see each other, there are many things here that she still would like to see. If she is amenable, I would love to see her part of the world, and maybe even visit more well-known places there together.

I just want her in my life in whatever way she wants. Of course, it is on her terms, and I have no real say in the matter. That has almost always been the case in my life. This was the first relationship I was in that we both seemed to want the same amount, and I believe that she did, possibly still does. I can’t say since I do not know why she does this. I never get answers in my personal life, so I would not expect it here, but I wish I could deserve that.

I just hope she does come back and we can talk again and catch up. Mostly, I just want to know that she is safe and happy.

Regrets have been somewhat replaced by warm and happy memories and the image in my mind of her gorgeous smile and voice. Regardless of my desires and feeling sad for what almost was: a lifelong friendship with the most perfect girl in the world is nothing to regret and something I hope for.

Since I am done looking for more than friendship, feelings of regret are less, that is a good thing. No one is going to measure up to her anyway. I am moving quickly towards abandoning finding a casual friend, and that idea brings more peace.

Could it be that pathetic hermit is my purpose?

I have had other girlfriends, but none are worth mentioning, regardless of how poorly I was treated by them. I guess I dated them out of loneliness, which is a bad idea. It only attracted women even more damaged than I am. None that I talked about above this sentence fit that description.

So, how does this aid in this likely misguided attempt to figure me out? Hopefully, this will be my last backward-looking article because it is time to assess where I am and where I want to go. More importantly, to map out where I am heading and how far off that is from my goals.

I can not leave my past behind me. It affects who I am, and there is a person that I hope to be part of my future in some manner, and will never leave her behind. Is it even possible to shed old experiences and scars and start anew? That seems unlikely and a waste of time.

It will take some time to figure out what to explore next. I just wish I knew what this and the last post added up to and what it means.

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”

Kurt Vonnegut

I am hoping that at some point, this series will start to make some sense. That way I can end these things with songs that make sense, but Butthole Surfers are always a wise choice for any occasion.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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