I am made of regret, but not of sadness

Jason Locke

Jason Locke | March 11, 2024

I am made of regret, but not of sadness

I am made of regret, but not of sadness.

During my brief and somewhat misguided youth, I spent my money and spoke my mind. I moved countries and continents. I learned languages, had adventures, and spent my life coloring outside the lines.

I don’t recommend it unless you want to come back to where you started–in my case, Gastonia, North Carolina–with no money to speak of and very few friends left. You’ll come back feral. Unable to settle back into the world you left behind. I had become so lonely and so isolated for long parts of my life that I lost the sense that I had a home, that I belonged somewhere. It never returned.

The glamorous life I thought I would be living faded and seemed ridiculous when confronted by people who chose conventionality and became happy without having to put themselves into debt and danger.

I am made of regret. I regret the times that I could have been brave and was not, and I regret the times when I jumped headfirst without any thought. I regret every lie I’ve ever told, even as I understand why I did them. All of them. I understand the urge to feel special when I was actually small and my store of interesting true stories was growing smaller and more pathetic by the year.

I regret trying to prove to my family that I was worth loving. Not because I am not worth loving, but because I failed to see that they could not love themselves, and I was, regretfully, invisible to them. My successes and far-flung destinations were anecdotes to them. I was the one who lived in the cave in Italy, the one who went to war-ravaged Balkan countries, who drifted through the post-Soviet republics, and moved to Canada. None of these things made them love me more.

I regret all the times I looked in the mirror and had to make myself pretend I was lovable, when the truth is that, despite my flaws, I’m also generous, brilliant, funny, talented, and kind.

I regret that I have never been anybody’s The One That Got Away, although it would have been nice.

I regret that when James Michael Coleman broke my heart into a million tiny pieces during my shift at Joe Mugg’s Coffee, I didn’t take him aside and say, “You didn’t need to make me feel so disposable. This sucks. And you suck,” instead of playing it cool through the agony as all the feelings I had caught were incinerated inside my soul.

Kintsugi - SketchplanationsI am made of regrets, but I am knit back together by gratitude. It is the golden thread that has made kintsugi of my soul. These regrets are the scars that have made me human, and they have given me compassion. So, yes, I am grateful for these scars, and since he’ll never read these words and likely hasn’t thought of me ever again, even from you, Michael.

And as a writer, those regrets have given me endless fodder. Because my characters can do what I could not. They can take the steps I could not. They can be brave when I wasn’t, or lose their cool when I held the line like a Marine on sentry duty. They can have some of my regrets, and some of their own, and together, we can prove that we are stronger than the paths we didn’t take. We can charm the world, rewrite a few wrongs, make a few new ones, and hopefully, make the world a little bit brighter at the end.

We are all made of regrets.

Mourning them is optional.

Get Our Weekly Digest

First thing every Saturday morning, you’ll receive a short digest of the week’s blog posts from Litopia’s team of writers… entertaining, thought-provoking, witty, diverse and often mind-expanding.

Start your weekend in style…sign up below!

You can unsubscribe whenever you want… but you won’t want to!