Are You Still Dating An Old Memory?
By Tina DeMarco
Lately, I’ve been thinking of my high school boyfriend. My first real love….His name was Angelo, but everyone called him Butch. I called him Butchie. It was a common name in those days.
I was a sophomore and he was a junior. We went to different schools, and he didn’t have his driver’s license yet. So, we talked on the phone a lot and double dated on a Saturday nights, usually to the drive-in movie in town. During our time together, we spent time at each other’s houses. We went to the beach and drive-in movies. My younger sisters were in love with him.
He had an older sister and she and her fiancé would include us sometimes. We went to the beach in the summer and made out where we could. It was definitely a young and innocent love, but it was still love. Until it wasn’t. I ended the romance and didn’t see him again until a few years later.
We were together for about a year or so, and then I broke up with him. I didn’t want to be tied down. I wanted to experience life in ways that were beyond his thinking. Beyond our lives at that point in time.
What might have happened down the road if I hadn’t ended our relationship?
Surprisingly, we bumped into each other in Las Vegas, a few thousand miles from where we lived. By that time I was newly married. Happy in parts. I remember being extra careful talking with him. My new husband was a heavy drinker, very jealous and would not take too kindly to someone I ‘went steady’ with, no matter how many years ago.
I’d get the third degree questions and then if I wasn’t lucky, a bruise or two. So, I kept the old boyfriend at arm’s length. We chatted a bit, and I never saw him again.
Years later, after children and divorce, I’d heard he had leukemia and didn’t make it to his next birthday. His passing felt like a big hole that couldn’t be filled, a part of my life I could never go back to without sadness and possible regret.
I couldn’t tell him I’d been afraid to talk with him in Vegas. I also couldn’t tell him I had been glad to see him. I especially couldn’t tell him that in the future, I’d think about him and wonder how his life turned out. And, I couldn’t tell him that I’d mourn his passing.
I couldn’t tell him I’d also smile when I thought of him. I’d remember my favorite summer outfit. It was a pale blue sear-sucker pinstriped outfit, shorts and a sleeveless button down top. I felt beautiful when I wore it. When I was with him. I was fifteen; slim, pretty and getting the curves that women had. I was beginning to learn the ways of my world.
That was then. Youthful actions and long ago memories. And, with old thoughts and memories coming forward, I began to feel all sorts of regret.
Only to spiral down the deep hole of “What if…”
I spent too much time in the land of regret with its triplets, would’a, could’a and should’a.
Yet, spending too much time in the land of past memories is where most people live.
If a set of problems to solve required an exploration into a different world — a world that no longer included soft lies, irreverent truths or maybe even a few true facts scattered about, then maybe letting go of the constantly nagging regret triplets would be a good idea.
One of the best ways I’ve found to release regret is to write about it.
Talk to it on paper. Talk it through until it can’t stand listening to your excuses. Then you can begin the dance of letting regret go.
What if the world we wanted to visit was a higher one, filled with joy and love for what was and what was ready to leave behind? An initiation into new ways of thought and purpose.
Then ‘way-out-there’ would be much more interesting than what’s lodged ‘in here’. I’ve found over the years the past has its own sense of reward, and it can seemingly mete out its punishments through the acts of regret.
Can regret serve as a barometer to live life with more of the simplicity of what’s right and what’s wrong? As a reminder that honesty, empathy and even a dash of sympathy for good measure are integral to a person’s wholeness?
What if you could choose to eliminate long ago painful experiences — would you?
Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t regret past actions — as a youth or even as an adult. Would it be lighter and a bit freer? You’d use the choices you had. Steps on a ladder called maturity?
It would be filled with the sights and sounds of feeling complete and whole. Trust could enter into your life and find its forever home, leaving abandonment behind.
Or would you still try to hold onto what was known versus what might be risky and unknown? Would you remind yourself that you should’ve done this or even that with your life? The past with its hold through memory is flighty, but the future remains to be the fuel for growth in the moment. As it unfolds — freely, with a sense of completeness.
I’ve come to learn things about regret. For one thing, regret can create momentum. It can force one to create different perspectives, offering to live the life we chose and not what we’d been given.
Perhaps breaking up with my high school love was the best that could happen to me at the time. We were getting very close, too close in fact. The next steps for us would’ve been deeper intimacy, perhaps without full knowledge of what our future together would be. Perhaps we were too young to handle the next levels of intimacy.
Letting go of regret, opens new channels of vibration and alignment. Opportunity for adventure into the unknown comes to the forefront. Chance disappears. Reality opens new doors.
Regret helps us creates new ways to live as we let go of what no longer serves our needs.
Isn’t it time to let it all go?
We can let troubles that haven’t come to be, remain as unformed, unknown and especially, unworthy of our attention.
With new choices — we can answer the questions we ask of ourselves with action instead of fantasy dreams. We can choose to know the difference between a solvable problem and one that isn’t.
We can choose to live in the present moment. And not go back to the past where it is safe and comforting in its knowledge of what was. The past stays behind and allows the future to unfold for us in ways we can’t yet see.
It happens smoothly and easily.
Above all, we can live. And let live. We can love who we were and who we are today. We can know we are a necessary part of what we call life. And those early loves are still part of what makes us who we are today.
And we can remember the past and our former sweethearts as sweet memories of naïve innocence and days gone by.
Ones that were fueled with the dreams of what tomorrow could bring and the innocence of loving without constraints.