Monday, April 2, 2012

mistakes (!)

Ah. Mistakes. We all make them. We all see others make them. We try to avoid them.. stop them.. regret them.. live our lives without them. We all feel the repercussions of them. We all live in the wake of them.

But it's how we handle them and, respectively, what we learn from them, that really matters. You can't undo what you've already done, but you can learn from your experiences. "Treat people better overall." -- "Don't mix too many types of alcohol; it makes you say mean things." -- "Apologize when you should." Wah wah wah.

There are days when you will revel in your mistakes, claim that you "regret nothing!" But let's be honest: you do. You're only human. So you spill your guts to a good friend, pour over the "what-ifs" and "how-could-this-happens" and try to find a way to right the wrongs you've made. Sometimes, this works. Sometimes this gives you enough closure to admit your mistake, accept your mistake, and move forward.

Other times, you're fucked.

You spend days, weeks, months, maybe even years, dwelling on something you'd said. Or that "unforgivable" thing you did. You let it consume you. It eats away at you. Every lull in your thought brings you careening back into the abyss that is "The Mistake." How do you break this? How do you finally come to the point where you just let it go?

A few months ago, I made a mistake of this magnitude. I was making a clean, sensible beeline for "forevermore," and I blew it. I jumped ship the second it got a little scary and I've let that eat away at me for some time. Since then, I've been grappling with the idea that I might be noncommittal.

In high school, I had a long term boyfriend who, when mentioning the Future, would reference marriage and kids. I shrugged, accepting his vision for "our" life and carried forward. When we broke up, I transferred that vision to my next big relationship as "my own." After some time alone, thinking, and soul-searching, I started to realize that these things might not be for me. Despite the urging and coercing from my family and friends, I started to accept that I might just be a little odd.. too inflexible to share my life with someone, and too selfish for a family of my own. It wasn't until I met my last "Big One" that it hit me: I have no idea who I am, and I'm terrified of finding out.

That's more the problem than anything else. This time last year, I started dating a great guy. He was smart, and though physically the antithesis of My Type, I fell absolutely in love with him. We dated for about seven months, but when it came time for him to move out of Baltimore, I panicked.. realizing I could never follow him where he was headed. I couldn't even commit to the idea of maybe following him after some time. It was all I needed to check 'OK' and catalyze a break up.

Looking back on my last relationship, I may not know my lesson yet.  I've changed in the past few years.. but I think I've made one really huge mistake that's stuck heavily with me through it all: I've let myself be defined by my previous mistakes.

Perhaps that's the real mistake here.. not learning my lessons well enough.  Letting myself be weighed down by the baggage of a former Love.  I suppose I never really let myself "live and learn" enough, and so I let the struggles of my past relationships affect my most recent one.

This is hardly okay.  But this time around, I'm taking my time, carefully trying to feel out my lesson.  So maybe I just need to keep making mistakes.. maybe I just need to keep trying to learn. Because, maybe, sometimes, in order to accept your last mistake.. all you have to do is make another. And make it count. Maybe.

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