Regret is a wondrous tool in the crooked hands of any situation. If there were a devil, I would imagine it has a long rod with a sharp point on which the words “wish” and “had” are written in blood. Satan pokes people with it, laughing, “Wish you hadn’t done that, eh?”
I’m actually starting to grasp the existence of evil in the world, and possibly in the supernatural sense. I have always believed in God, ghosts and the beyond, but maintained that their presence was only positive and could not harm. As for where horrible people go after they die, I figured they must be in class, working off their regrets one by one before they can get into heaven. But recently, at what are possibly my healthiest moments in life emotionally and physically, I have felt a burning temptation of evil. This fiery image is always surrounded with sighs upon sighs of regret.
It seems normal to feel regret after wrongdoing. Sociopaths that feel no element of remorse must have a larger-than-life sickness, because I’d like to think that each of us has at least of ounce of regret built into our emotional structure. What frightens me currently is the presence of regret after doing-right. I regret not making a bad decision. Even after thinking, praying and considering, I still look back at good choices with sadness. Sometimes, I feel the regret is as bad, if not worse than when I actually do the wrong thing. It makes me wonder, “What is the reward in the positive if it only creates a negative?”
Of course, some decisions are hard enough, complicated enough, that we are bound to feel immense regret, regardless of the choice. I think of the television shows I watch on A&E and MTV as I’m falling asleep. A father regretting turning his murderous son over to the cops. A teenage mother regretting giving up her baby for adoption. An addict regretting ever entering rehab. My regret, however, seems much more lame than these life-changing decisions. Right now, I’m regretting that I had food and drink at my fingertips two nights in a row and resisted both nights. I don’t feel good about it at all. I just think of the sandwiches, chips, vodka-tonics, hot toddies, cheeseburgers, cake and nachos, and I feel that what was and still is the “right” decision is also a bad decision.
Though I consider myself generally in a “better place” now than ever before, these painful breakdowns have the ability to take me to evil hostility. Last Friday, I resisted snacks in the teacher’s lounge all day, only to regret that decision so much that I binged the same evening. I have heard that referred to as “falling off the wagon.” I say, what fun is a wagon when I’m on it all by myself? Screw you wagon, I’m not going to fall off, I’m going to jump off willingly!
Here comes the dichotomy, the revelation, the only thing that is keeping me going this very minute: There is a difference between giving-up and giving-in. When all my will is tied up in “will power,” all my positive is wrapped around “positive thoughts,” all my resist is directed at “resist temptation,” and all my strength is woven through “be strong,” my only emotion left is the emotion of giving-in. Giving-up would be letting go of the will, positive, resist and strength; but giving-in involves surrendering my all to the pain. Lame as it may be in the “you think YOU’VE got problems” world we live in, I have to admit that this totally sucks before I can continue to move forward. I have to regret not making bad choices because it reminds me how powerful and meaningful those choices are.
As I sit in the dark, feeling hungry, though I just ate, I am letting myself be not okay for a little bit. I feel Satan’s regret-wand getting closer and closer and try to fight it with prayer and medication. And as it reaches the small of my back, I know it will just pass through my body and eventually go away. So, I give-in.