Tag Archives: Regret

On Carrying Shame

I found this in my Drafts folder. I don’t remember who I wrote this about. But I do remember feeling this way. And today, it feels like a message from another one of my selves, telling me what I need to hear.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I did something I feel terrible about. I hurt somebody and I did so in a cold, incisive manner that would impress me with its finesse, if hurting someone wasn’t a horrible thing to do. I’m horrified by how well, how easily and how unplannedly I did it.

Years ago, a friend gave me the thought that sarcasm was the recourse of the weak and it’s an idea I’ve tried to keep in mind. I was an awfully sarcastic person before that and I’ve tried my damndest to keep away from that.

This comes from the same place. An insidious, highly intelligent attack strategy aimed at maiming a person’s emotional well-being. That is for someone who is a master of words. It does not give me pride to know that. Using words that I love so much for such damage is a terrible thing to do.

I think I’m most upset because I thought I had put away and then disconnected that side of me years ago. I lived through the time before that not realising this side of me and then acting as if it were a normal, natural way to be. It’s a terrible flaw to feel entitled to your flaws. With this last action, it’s like Ms.Hyde surfaced, leering.

“So you thought I was gone? That’s cute.”

I wish I could say I was drunk or one of those things to excuse myself but I wasn’t. I was wounded by someone and I have spent days teaching myself to take deep breaths, not give in to my flinch response and to stay true to my better self. Yesterday, I didn’t just lash out, I attacked. I do not like seeing this petty, petulant side of myself. In striving hard not to succumb to it, it has been easier to imagine I do not have such a side at all. It’s horrible uncovering self-hatred even to a long unseen side of yourself.

One of the things I read just now, amidst wallowing in this guilt was,

“You must be as kind to yourself as you would be to another in a similar situation.”

I guess I needed to let myself suffer a bit. There’s great drama in feeling like a fallen angel. Deep breath. In, out. Tomorrow is another day. Ms.Hyde will be waiting but I guess strength is not about wearing blinkers or editing yourself. It’s about carrying the worst parts of you along with the best.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Regrets & Regards

Let’s think about regret. Decisive people rarely seem to have regrets. As a decisive person myself, I weigh what a situation is worth & if dithering will help. Regret seems to not be worth it. Who has time to regret the past when a lesson can be gleaned for the future? FOMO life doesn’t allow for regrets.

Yet you may come upon a time when even your speediest, most decisive self isn’t able to escape regret. You call it age catching up. You name it fear or cynicism. You realise that you are no different from others trying to escape people and feelings they don’t like. Your nemesis is regret. Escapism always looks like running away, no matter what the cause.

I am sitting in a garden of regret now. I call it a garden because I’m realising this is a feeling, an emotion that grows in me, from me. I’m trying to keep from bolting. I’m looking around to examine what is growing around me. Blossoming & festering are two words for the same act.

I thought we regret the bad things in our lives. But I’m finding regret in the times I’ve trusted, the ones I’ve loved, the hopes I’ve nurtured. Honest self examination means allowing every possibility to exist. I must admit that regret grows even in the most decisive, courageous, responsibility-taking, careful self that I’ve created.

Regret means admitting there may have been better choices. It means acknowledging your decisions weren’t always best. It means accepting that you weren’t always your best self. And what of the selves that aren’t the best? They cannot be escaped or ignored. They are the bigger part of you. The ones enduring mistakes, making even more. The ones personifying the messiness of living. Of emotions, memories and navigating a way forward.

f I didn’t have these, my life would have been a straight trajectory from adolescence to death, choosing the most optimal roads, going to fixed destinations. The mistakes cost me time and effort and many rewards. In coping, I found other paths, other gifts I didn’t even consider, let alone work for.

Maybe regret is a reminder that living is never going to be a simple sequence of right decisions.

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REGRETS & REGARDS Let’s think about regret. Decisive people rarely seem to have regrets. As a decisive person myself, I weigh what a situation is worth & if dithering will help. Regret seems to not be worth it. Who has time to regret the past when a lesson can be gleaned for the future? FOMO life doesn't allow for regrets. Yet you may come upon a time when even your speediest, most decisive self isn’t able to escape regret. You call it age catching up. You name it fear or cynicism. You realise that you are no different from others trying to escape people and feelings they don’t like. Your nemesis is regret. Escapism always looks like running away, no matter what the cause. I am sitting in a garden of regret now. I call it a garden because I’m realising this is a feeling, an emotion that grows in me, from me. I’m trying to keep from bolting. I'm looking around to examine what is growing around me. Blossoming & festering are two words for the same act. I thought we regret the bad things in our lives. But I’m finding regret in the times I’ve trusted, the ones I’ve loved, the hopes I’ve nurtured. Honest self examination means allowing every possibility to exist. I must admit that regret grows even in the most decisive, courageous, responsibility-taking, careful self that I've created. Regret means admitting there may have been better choices. It means acknowledging your decisions weren't always best. It means accepting that you weren't always your best self. And what of the selves that aren't the best? They cannot be escaped or ignored. They are the bigger part of you. The ones enduring mistakes, making even more. The ones personifying the messiness of living. Of emotions, memories and navigating a way forward. If I didn't have these, my life would have been a straight trajectory from adolescence to death, choosing the most optimal roads, going to fixed destinations. The mistakes cost me time and effort and many rewards. In coping, I found other paths, other gifts I didn't even consider, let alone work for. Maybe regret is a reminder that living is never going to be a simple sequence of right decisions. 🎶: YESTERDAY – The Beatles #theideasmithy

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The Three Mistakes Of My Thirties

Today is the last day of The Thirty Diaries, a series I started a little over a decade ago. Tomorrow, I turn 40, a number that brings its share of weight in the form of platitudes and stereotypes, some of which I’ve already encountered and battled. I am not sure if there will be a Forty Diaries. For starters, I don’t know how long I will continue to blog and in this manner. I don’t know if anybody else will be interested in the ruminations of an over-40 single woman. I’m not sure that journaling my ageing is going to serve the same purpose it did when I was in my 20s or 30s. And most of all, I don’t see any reason to start a new decade with references of the past.

It has certainly been a hard decade. It only became clear to me in the last few weeks that the past ten years of my life have been marked and influenced by three major relationships – one romantic, one friendship, one professional. All three of them were toxic in exactly the same way. They all started with people who were seemingly enamoured with me suddenly and dramatically. People who did not have a pattern of such behaviour (or claimed they did not). The attention, affection, adulation was heady. It turned my head every time.

In the second phase of this pattern, I fell headlong into some kind of close involvement with the person. Every one of these people told me about what a strong person I was, how they admired/looked up to me. And in every one of those cases, I let that adulation lull me into letting them drive the other parts of my life. I let go of other people because they didn’t like them. I changed my appearance, my dating habits, my ideologies, even my health regime to please them. And some part of me still struggles to see these as bad – don’t we all do things like these for the people we love? Maybe I do it too much and for too long. I am aware of that and how that gets labelled toxic. The thing is nobody is able to tell me at exactly what point it stops being accommodating and starts becoming toxic.

The reason these three relationships stand out as a pattern to me is because of how they ended. Every single one of them involved a violent and sudden betrayal by the other person. Certifiable abuse, lying, exploitation and in one case, physical violence.

The first relationship started when I was probably in the best place in my life till that time. I was 30, financially independent, had quit a successful corporate career and had ventured out into something I felt a lot of passion for. I was also single and not joint at the hip to any friendship the way a lot of women are, being that the one person that might have happened with had got married and moved to another continent. This one I’ve analysed over and over again and I conclude that I fell prey to a carefully planned trap by somebody whose only intention was to exploit me – specifically my gender to keep away social pressures. The plan worked well – charm, isolate, gaslight, control, violate and finally exploit. I guess it wasn’t really that sudden after all if the intent was always to go down this path.

I guess I was primed for another exploitative person who definitely saw me as a trophy. This one was interesting because it made it clearer how a toxic woman operates differently from a toxic man. First the mirroring that made me think we had a lot more in common than we actually did – ideologies and interests. Then the subtle(r) transition into controlling my actions – people and activities. Suddenly there was no one who remembered me from before I met this person, because they had all been distanced. And everyone who I was in constant contact with, had been introduced into my life by this person. They had been chosen for how quickly they’d turn on me with complete control by this person – or perhaps they were also being similarly ‘managed’. I never had a whiff of how I was being manipulated. I can’t believe how completely I was fooled. For instance, this person made astrology a daily part of our conversations, referring to people in conversations as ‘You know, that Taurus thing’ or ‘Typical Scorpio behaviour’ or ‘Piscean? Has to be terrible’. This person’s own sign is known for manipulation and lies and still I went along, semi-indulgently and perhaps because it felt comfortable and easy to do so. I feel like an idiot and a lazy one at that. It really only struck me when during this person’s exit, one of their attacks was “Everything has to be astrology for you. Get over that and take responsibility for your own life.” Libra sure knows how to gift-wrap deceit and spray perfume atop callousness.

My third mistake even warned me that they were going to hurt me. Mental illness is the latest buzzword the way gay rights was about a decade ago. Make no mistake, I believe there is a need for each of these causes to exist. I’m aware (as I was ten years ago) that misinformation and co-opting larger causes for personal agenda are par for the course. And it is still true that there will be people who use their existence in the cause to justify their terrible behaviour. A decade ago, someone stalked and harassed me (including suggesting that I’d change my mind about being straight if I spent a night with them) and when I said no, they put it out that I was a homophobe and lost me some friendships and work. Most recently, I’ve been called insensitive to mentally ill people, systematically harassed out of a space that I introduced the above person to and had strangers sicced on to me claiming that I’m saying terrible things about them. The reason this relationship makes it to this list is that this one also followed the adulation-mirroring-identification-control-attack model.

I’ve spent the first half of this year allowing myself to sit in the wreckage left behind by these people. I have been afraid to speak to anyone or even write because each of those brought on a fresh assaulter in the past ten years. But seeing them in a pattern gives me courage. Patterns have always felt like a safe space to me. This is going to sound odd but recently I’ve been involved in a discussion about how mathematics is perceived and communicated. It made me reflect on what about the subject appealed to me. And it is part of what let me tap into something that I’ve always been good at, something that has given me a profession and an emotional bedrock through things that would have killed me – patterns.

I don’t necessarily know how to break a pattern once I’ve spotted it. But maybe plugging the gaps where a toxic person like this finds a way to get in, is a start. I don’t trust adulation anymore, which probably explains why I’m not as interested in going on stage these days. The trouble is it’s difficult to separate adulation from simple admiration or even affection. It took me long enough to break the terrible pattern of love = insults (no thank you, years of gaslighting Hollywood and rape culture Bollywood). So…I don’t know. But that’s okay because it just means I still have work to do. Maybe accepting that is part of owning being 40.

It occurs to me that there is a cheesy kind of symmetry in there being three major mistakes in the third decade of my life. I also wonder what my life would have looked like without these people. I did a lot of things in this decade but all of these things are inextricably linked to these people – because they participated in these, because they pushed me to these or because I took these on to escape/heal from these people. I suppose there is a lesson there about how they happened for a reason but I don’t want to glorify the existence of toxicity. I am done doing that and I deserve to be happy and successful without having to deal with abuse, manipulation or violence to be so. I guess I’ll never know. Can someone invent time travel already? Maybe by 2029.

Image via Pixabay

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Lunarspeak

Have you  missed my micropoetry-with-pictures? I certainly have missed creating them too.

I quit the YourQuote app (on which I’ve been doing the picture-poems) last month. Late 2017, I quit a job I’d had for over two years. Neither of these partings were respectful and it saddened me at the time that the people concerned did not accord these relationships the dignity that I thought they deserved.

But now I think things worked out for the better. One idea I explored last year was forsaking my ‘flinch reactions‘. It was an interesting experiment in self-discovery. I have come to realise that taking action when it needs to be taken, timely action, decisive action is something that works for me. Regret and fear cripple me far worse than the consequences of any bad decision I’ve ever taken has. In both the above cases, I was astounded at how relieved I felt when they ended. I don’t like that feeling. It feels weak, passive and quite unlike me. I’m usually good at moving when it is time to move forward.

But having closed those chapters, I found time and mindspace to dwell on ideas and parts of me that I really am. This has resulted in a lot of interesting work and writing. Because I’m doing these from love and passion and not fearful submission.

I found one of my old favorite apps a perfect choice to create these picture-stories, this time without the crutches of pre-defined templates or a big logo in a corner. So as and when I turn out something, it’ll come up here. Here’s one, a message from a moon-child.

 

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

The One-minute Guide to Navigating Regret

For every love that fails, remember there was a lover who thought you might succeed together. Even if that mistaken, misguided lover was you. Live that poor soul’s life for a full minute each time you fall down the memory hole.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

What Do You Miss?

When you miss someone, you think of all that happened
And wonder,

Should I have said something then?
Should I have laughed openly at that? And raised hell over this?

It might have caused a fight, you realize, and say

That’s why I didn’t.

But if I had,
I wouldn’t have been left with things that should have been said, but weren’t
Or intensity unexpressed, worse unacknowledged
And the ugly truth, unexposed

And yet, is the truth ever ugly?
Or an emotion not deserving of expression?

You miss someone most when you miss things that didn’t even happen.

A New Life

My phone buzzed with a message. It was from a classmate who had once been a friend and then done something that made me not want to be friends with him again. He said he was sorry, asked how I was doing and said he was missing true friends. I replied,

I know the feeling. It’s early mid-life crisis. We’re all going through it after the disillusionment of the 20s, so don’t worry.

When I replied, he sounded so happy that I felt bad I hadn’t done so earlier. I sat back and thought about what I was saying.

I started the 30 diaries a few months before I actually hit the big figure. A month before my 3oth, I quit the job I’d spent ten years studying and working hard, toward. And more than a year later, I still don’t know where things are going. But I’m happy, I think.

I spent a long time wanting a lot of things, very much. But I don’t really think I regret that anymore. I’ll never trade the sense of achievement I got from the highs of my career. I wouldn’t exchange the confidence I built brick by brick. And it would be unrealistic to want to hold onto these things but not the things that made them possible.

Yesterday, in a conversation that has nothing to do with this, it suddenly struck me. I had some bad stuff happen to me and it messed up my head for sometime. But those people are not connected to me by anything but the memories. Even the scars have fallen and I don’t have to punish myself by holding on to them anymore. It wasn’t my fault they were bad people (or bad actions). And that’s all that needs to be said.

I think the 20s are a maniac’s dream. Everything is available and possible. There is a slightly unrealistic shine on everything and it takes a few knocks before you realize that shiny reality is hard and uncomfortable as well. I look at my life and then all around me. There’s divorce and heart disease and death and suicide and career failure and drug abuse and eating disorders and financial crises and abortions and deadend jobs. There are also reunions and catching up with people who were close an eon ago. There are healthy diets and cutting back and exercise regimes. There is budgeting and tax planning. A decade ago, that would have sounded like boredom/settling down/old age to me but now it sounds like a new life.

Coming back, when I read this message today, I realised something. I’d become harsh and unforgiving on the world because I couldn’t cope with the insides of me feeling broken and jagged. So I turned judgemental on myself and the world. I don’t know if it is age or healing or both but I don’t feel quite so raw anymore. And it makes me think, people make mistakes. Sometimes they get lost. It happened to me and heaven  alone knows how many bad things I set in motion for other people, as a result.

It just hit me, the profoundity of the adage, “Shit Happens”. If you’re lucky, you have a chance to regret it. I say lucky, because if you realise what a mistake you’ve made, you just might be in a position to remedy someone else’s mistake. Or not; maybe you’ll just cope better the next time. There is nothing to be done about that. Except to inhale and hope that the next breath will be better.

We chatted a bit and he said he had wanted to be a blazing success but it felt so lonely at the end. I remembered that feeling too and told him I didn’t spend enough of time on the things that I now know as important. He asked what those were and I said,

Love. Friendship. Family. Good health. A body that works without medication. Food in my stomach even before I’m hungry. The safety to walk on the roads by myself.

He smiled, saying that was like a true MBA. So I replied with another smiley and said,

That’s just one more thing on my resume now, not my identity.

🙂 And what is my identity now? Who knows? I have a new life out there to discover and shape it now.

Not According To Plan

I wasn’t a cool kid. I wasn’t a hip teenager. I was perpetually confused, secretly angsty and with no Lakshya. I had no life. But I had a plan. A decade later I look back and wonder, How ever did things turn out so differently?!

Here’s how.

I dropped out of college for a year so ended up graduating a year late. Still, I thought I’d make up for it with extra effort in that last year. I almost made it. I missed getting into the b-school of my choice by 2 points.

I also managed to get my heart broken and shattered to smirtheens (some of the shards have still not been recovered) by the person unlikeliest to hurt me – my best friend. The worst bit was that I had resisted him for years, knowing all along that it would ‘only end in tears’. It did and knowing that beforehand didn’t make it any easier to deal with.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I still had a plan and at that time I couldn’t think fast enough to change. So I decided to give it one more shot and just revise my schedules by a year or two. Everyone advised me to not spend that year sitting at home and studying. So I got a job. My first job changed my life in unimaginable ways.

First and foremost when I fixated on MBA, I decided that with my innate interest in human behaviour (I used to cut physics classes to sit in on the psychology courses or reading popular theories on human interactions)…human resources would be the place for me. In the seven months that I worked for a marketing agency, I realised that my interest and my skills lay quite elsewhere and thus came the first change in my gameplan. I switched my preference from H.R. to Marketing. It’s a change I’ve always been grateful for. I think I’d have been miserable as an HR professional.

Secondly I was working (still driven insanely by a desire to prove myself and leave the failed year far behind) and preparing for the entrance exams together. In that very fine balance, I somehow tipped over into work and at the end of the year I was even further from that prized college admission than I was a year back.

So I squared my shoulders and decided a change was in order. I reasoned that it did not make sense to spend more than 2 years preparing for a course that lasted 2 years (no matter how prized the degree/diploma may be). It was the first ever big desicion of my life and I remember it clicking into place practically overnight. I brooked no arguments from family and friends (all eager to see me follow in the footsteps of my high-achiever cousins) and (quite surprising to me) no one asked me to consider changing my mind. I had never thought of myself as a desicive person and it was odd, how right that felt.

So I started my post-graduate program at 22 instead of 20. I was still keen to stick to the plan.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I never anticipated the dot-com crash, the twin towers falling and the economy dipping so bad that there were no jobs available when I finally finished b-school at 24. I also did not think (not in my wildest dreams) that I, of all people, would fall into an abusive, destructive relationship. These two things are inextrobly linked in my mind as the causes of the most tumultous phase in the last decade of my life. At 24, I was drained out of every drop of my hopeful, cheerful, inspired energy.

On one hand, it was a stomach-twisting experience to scrounge for jobs (when I’d got my first one with practically zero effort) after an MBA (and I thought it would actually enhance my prospects) and when I did get offers, it was for half of what I had earned as a fresh graduate. On the other hand there was the acrid, heart-burning sense of humiliation during the relationship and the residual low self-esteem and hopelessness after it ended. I felt like every single positive emotion of love, joy, happiness and hope had been wrung out of me and stomped to death. All that was left was an empty shell of a human being with nothing at all to look forward to.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I finally got a job six months after the b-school graduation. It was an triumph and an angry triumph. Not a happy celebration but an ‘up-yours’ answer to the placement cell I had walked out of (on a matter of principle, such pride I had in my beliefs in those days), the classmates who’d borrowed my notes for two years and then refused to acknowledge me at the farewell meet because I didn’t have a job and everyone else who’d written me off as a failure.

I also found a man, not the love of my life, not a steady relationship but the love that healed me. The difference is the same as that between a nourishing, hot meal and a life-saving drug. He salvaged what was left of me, the real me, the one that could feel..and for that I will forever be grateful to him. But I did not fall in love with him or find that elusive soulmate connection in our relationship.

That experience blurred my definitions of love and relationships. Timing stopped being a part of it after that.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

At the end of that year, I realised that it was a miserable job, one I hated and that drained me of whatever little joy I was managing to dredge up everyday. In the second no-two-ways-about-it desicion of my life, I quit my job and career, indefinitely. It was the biggest and best desicion of my life. My parents asked me when I was planning to go back to work and I replied,

Maybe never.

I’m sure that didn’t make them very happy but I was all out of the make-other-people happy ingredient. I’m proud to say that I continued to pay my own bills and didn’t even need to cut down on expenses in those paycheck-less months. I’m also happy at the memory of the next alumni meet I went to, where the same bunch of people who’d followed me through college, ignored me at farewell, sucked up to me again as soon as I got a good job, finally had no clue how to react. One of them said,

You’re on a break? Wow, lucky yaar. I wish I could do that.

I replied,

Why don’t you? Have you taken any loans? Are you married or supporting someone else? Haven’t you saved anything from the past two years?

Once again, that ‘up-yours’ feeling but laced with a little less bitterness. I don’t know if I was growing up but I think I was definitely starting to be a little less intense about other people’s reactions. Not forgiving of them, (oh not yet) but at least accepting that some people would be jerks and cowards and miserable louses.

I think I did put the 5 months to good use. I wrote a lot. I took long walks on the beach by myself. I fell in love once and let him go, with complete peace and not a leaf of anger or injury. I learnt to read the tarot and even wrote a blog about my spiritual experiments. I blogged and discovered that I had a captive audience.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Then I woke up one Thursday morning and said to my mother,

Today I’m going to get a job.

And it really was as simple as that. I drafted my resume and mailed it out. In less than 24 hours, I had a call lined up. I trekked across the city for a written test, stayed back for an interview and was offered a job before I even got home. By Tuesday next, I had accepted and was poised to start my new job in 10 days.

In those ten days, I finally actualised something I had dreamt of since I was 18. I got a tattoo (which went on to become my personal symbol and logo). On the same day, I watched the love of my life get engaged to someone else. That week, I severed the longest, most poignant (and poisonous) relationship of my life and walked away, vowing not to shed another tear for him.

I was 26.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

So much has happened in the 3-odd years from that time. The only thing that’s been constant (apart from change, as the Gita would remind us) has been the company I work for. I’ve been promoted twice, had 3 bosses, changed office locations twice and made an internal transfer. I still don’t know if I’m ‘someone important in the workforce’ as I’d hoped but I can reasonably entertain such illusions.

I still love kids and continue to hold out for the dream that I’ll be a mother some day. Maybe I’ll adopt, maybe I’ll get a donor. Or maybe my plan will just shift by oh, about a decade. 🙂

Athena

The thrill of her chase used to be about impossible dreams in the future
And wrestling them into submission

Now that nothing’s impossible anymore,
She finds herself thinking often of the past
Conjuring visions of how life would’ve been, if it hadn’t gone the other way

Nothing spells unachievable
Like what may have been…and wasn’t.

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