I don't often spend much time reflecting on my past. The past, after all, is the past. I can't change what has happened but only can I learn from the experiences and apply those lessons to my present. In this way, I live without regret.
This hasn't changed though I am currently wondering if I missed something along the way. I don't need to feel regret, but I wonder if I have not fully learned the lessons of the past or if I have not let them go to the extent necessary or with the respect desired.
Women Who Run with Wolves talks about small deaths - noting the past events in our lives with respect and letting them go. This is not about regret or mourning our mistakes or playing the "what if" or "I should have" game. More, it is about acknowledging the choices made and not made. Recognizing the paths not taken and the potential loss of an idea or a dream due to that choice. It is acknowledging that by making the choice, a part of us died - just a small part; petits morts.
When I first read this, it didn't have that great of an impact. I don't have regrets; don't think of my choices as mistakes. And then I started thinking about it as the parts of me that were lost by choosing the path that I did. There were dreams that changed; desires that were put on hold - or that, in a sense, died.
Have I not taken the time to acknowledge those parts of myself with the respect that they need? Am I not able to move completely past them because they have not been put to rest as completely as I thought?
It is not that I have made the wrong choices, just that there is loss involved with every choice; equal loss for the gain acquired.
When I graduated from college, I chose to move to
More significantly, I have made choices that have resulted in the loss of my professional aspirations. I made choices that took me out of my love of travel and placed me firmly in the world of domesticated woman. I selected a path of motherhood over career woman; a path of single parenting over marriage.
It is possible that some dreams, some paths are continual in that I can travel them at any time. I can work to fulfill that dream today or in ten years. There are other dreams; other ideas that do not have that characteristic. I can have a marriage and a family or a committed relationship with a man, but I will never know these experiences without being a parent and on my own for years first. The experience is different; the dream of doing it all from man to child ended when I had a child first.
The one thing I have always done and done well is writing - clinical, creative it didn't matter. I did it well. I could edit as well. I no longer do either of these things. I am not sure why.
Did I, at any point, sell myself short?
Right now, I am wondering about that. I wonder if, at some point, I chose a path and gave up on myself, my dreams, and my freedom. I wonder if I clipped my wings and decided that a cage was more desirable than flying free. And am I in a cage - where are my dreams? What are my dreams? Where is my focus?