Hi. I’m Mike and I’m an Alcoholic.
When I was in high school, the use of dictionaries as a tool for learning was really pounded into us. “How can you understand what you are studying when you don’t understand the words being used to convey thoughts, ideas, and concepts?” I’ve been a big fan of dictionaries ever since. I have really come to love the online dictionaries of the 21st century!! I use them often, especially when I really want to grasp an idea or topic of study.
My sobriety is important to me. It’s going to assure my future – either life or death – according to how I invest myself in it. When I study the Big Book, I want to be sure I understand all the tools, all aspects of the tools, and how to put them to use in saving my life. That begins with looking up and knowing the meanings of words – especially those I may thing I already understand. Many words have many different meanings.
One word that has been coming up a lot recently is regret.
–verb (used with object)
1. to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.): He no sooner spoke than he regretted it.
2. to think of with a sense of loss: to regret one’s vanished youth.
— vb , -grets , -gretting , -gretted
1. ( may take a clause as object or an infinitive ) to feel sorry, repentant, or upset about
2. to bemoan or grieve the death or loss of
Word Origin & History
“to remember with distress or longing,” c.1300, from O.Fr. regreter “long after, bewail, lament someone’s death,” from re-, intensive prefix + -greter, possibly from Frankish (cf. O.E. grætan “to weep;” O.N. grata “to weep, groan”), from P.Gmc. *gretan “weep.” Replaced O.E. ofþyncan, from of- “off, away,” here denoting opposition + þyncan “seem, seem fit” (as in methinks ). The noun is first recorded 1533.
I think I do have a lot of regrets about the past – feelings of shame or guilt or sorrow about things I’ve done, things I haven’t done, people and opportunities I’ve let slip away.
I also regret the past in that I often feel I’ve let my life slip away. I’ve wasted so much time wallowing in my disease that I haven’t had time for anything else. I’m 46 years old (and a half!) and I have no house, no partner, don’t own my car, have no savings, no preparations for the future, no security, no retirement plan… That’s a whole different aspect of regret.
Part of me feels like I can’t help but regret these things. It’s my past. It’s what has made me into the man I am today. Lots of times I think I might like to have been able, or to be able, to change something that happened that was contrary to my best interests. But who knows what ramifications something like that might have?
I think about the Promises, as read at every AA meeting I attend. I think about how great it will be when all of those things manifest in my life. I also think about how they might come to pass.
The Promise about not regretting the past – does that mean that I will no longer think about the past? No longer remember the past? Will I have come to terms with it and not let it bother me? Will I have finally realized that no amount of obsessing about what has gone before will change any of it? Will I be able to just ‘Let Go, Let God’ as far as the past is concerned?
“Nor Wish to Shut the Door on It.” That infers that I can’t just get rid of it. My past is my past and will always be there – an innate part of me. My past isn’t all bad. Getting rid of the bad would impact some of the good events too. Changing it isn’t an option, anyway.
I think about some of the people from my past – people I was really fond of, maybe even loved, who came into my life, touched me, then moved on. I think how great it would be to have some of them come back. Well, some of them are dead, and those that aren’t have undoubtedly gone on with their own lives and may not even be the same persons they were all those years ago.
Let it go, Mike. Accept the past for what it was – an instructional, learning, building, growth period which gave me the opportunities to have experiences and make decisions about how to live my life going forward. Building blocks that allowed me to create the man I have become – the good and the bad – and the ability to evaluate that construct and improve on, maybe even multiply, the good and correct or remove the bad. A roadmap for tracking down more of the good and avoiding the pitfalls that lead to more opportunities for feelings of regret in the future.
Having regrets about the past is not a condemnation to continue creating situations that generate more regrets. Regrets can be good in that they still sting a little, but they can help me to get myself pointed in the right direction. Regrets from the past can help prevent more regrets in the future. And when I get far enough away from those regrets from the past, they will no longer have control over my present nor influence on my future.
For now, I will embrace those regrets and not try to hide from them, and use them as tools to shape and build my life as my creator has designed. I’m not in this alone. I can’t do this alone…
Thanks for my sobriety.