Like most people, I make a valiant effort to live a life of no regrets. I tell myself that mistakes are lessons learned and that regrets are a waste of time. But if I’m being honest, remorse is often what keeps me from drifting into a slumber when I go to bed each night. It might impossible to truly have no regrets, but that won’t stop me from trying.
My source of regret predominately centers around the same thing; the words I don’t say.
For being a pretty openly emotional person, there’s a lot that I don’t say. There’s a lot that we all don’t say. We are hurt by others, confused, upset, saddened, mad, and disappointed. Yet we don’t say a word.
We have feelings for someone, we care about our loved ones, we appreciate our friendships, and we admire from afar. But we don’t say it.
After Emily died when I was 15, I experienced an excessive amount of paranoia. I refused to get off the phone with anyone without telling them no less than 5 times how much I loved them or appreciated them. I stopped playing games with boys and decided that if I liked someone, I would just tell them. No more instant messaging into the wee hours of the night playing twenty questions…I just laid it out there. And if I thought someone was cool and I admired something about them, I made sure they knew. At the time, I thought I was being crazy. But maybe I had it right.
It was scary at first…this new thing where I said exactly how I felt. But it was also freeing.
Somehow in the last five years, I’ve reverted back to the person pre-paranoia. I’ve stopped saying how I feel. I’ve begun to make excuses for those who hurt me continuously. And I’ve allowed people to move on from my life without ever telling them how I truly felt. And it haunts me. It keeps me awake at night. It makes me wonder how different my life would be if I would just be willing to accept my feelings and make them known. It makes me wonder how different all our lives would be.
It’s terrifying for someone to see who you truly are, yes. But it’s even more terrifying to imagine being around someone who doesn’t.
So this is my plea, for myself and for you…just say it. What you need to say may not always come out right, but at least you’re letting it out.
“Nothing haunts us like the words we don’t say.”