“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.”

Thank you, Frank Sinatra for the inspiration.

Romance. My favorite and least favorite topic. The killer of all brain cells. The irrational zing we get when we watch a movie, see a couple walking down the street holding hands, or hear a love song on the radio.

We all have dating history. Each one of us. Whether it be a small fling or a heavy, long, devoted 5 year relationship there are always pieces of us left in other men or women after we date them. We give a part of ourselves that we can never get back. We love, we break up, we mourn. And we try not to harp on the past too much when we move on.  In the words of my wise and beautiful friend (and writer) Giana, “It’s like an addiction, the more you bring it up and talk about it the harder it is to let go.” Today, I want to address the tricky subject of those past relationships–the afterthoughts, shall I say.

Each time a man or woman is romantically involved with someone we learn something, grow, and we get more and more aware of what we need in a partner. It is usually said by most of my friends and family that “every person that steps into our lives at that moment is crucial to our growth as a human being.” And for the most part, I believe them. I look back at my life and my romantic and unromantic decisions thinking, wow, I learned so much from that experience. I have to believe that each dating experience or fling in high school and college lead me to where I am today– today I understand love a little better, know what I want and what I need, realize that love and independence go extremely well together, and I communicate far better than ever before. But sometimes, I also look back and think, “What in God’s name was I thinking?” or “How many unnecessary unpleasant moments did I waste?” “Where was my self respect?” and the biggest worry of all, “Could I have been spending more time with family or focusing on my dreams and career?”

It’s hard not to harp on the past. Living in the moment is preached on a daily basis to all of us. LIVE FOR NOW. Live for today. Enjoy every breath and every step. But I’d be lying to myself if I said that I never regretted my past and questioned it. Sure we can blame a lot of our mistakes on our youth, our immaturity, our environment, our unstable emotions, whatever the idea may be. But I get truly hard on myself from time to time when I think about my mistakes. We’re human, how can we always focus on the now? It’s impossible to not let your brain wander occasionally to your childhood, your memories, your old photos. So when I feel regret, I allow myself to feel it. It is normal, it is expected.

The thing is, when I give myself a moment to digest my actions, I realize none of it was a waste of time. Sure, it might not make sense now. But that’s because I now know what it is like to not lose myself in someone. I know that love is not harmful, it is not manipulative, it is not a challenge, it is not jealous, its not intense, its not a soap opera, it is not a competition, and it is not purely physical. Love is friendship, it is support, it is kind, it is funny, it is slow moving, it is trusting, it is patience, it is compromise, it is acceptance, and it is unconditional. 

And I would not know how this feels had I not gone through everything I did. So I think, after mulling all of this over in my head that I can triumphantly say that IT WASN’T a waste of time. It never is. I would not have met the right people when I did, I would not have known how to guard my heart, I would not know certain faults about myself, and I would not be the strong version of myself at this moment had I not gone through a few bumps in the road.

In fact, at this point in my life I welcome the rest of the bumps—because I know I can get through anything. What everyone says, is inevitably, beautifully true. Each friend or lover or mentor crosses our path to teach us. Whether the experience be ugly or beautiful, it becomes a piece of you. My soul says, “thank you,” to those people who made me, me. I am grateful for those moments—the good, the beautiful, and the bad; the lies, the confusion, the passion, the intensity; the comedy, the sorrow, the tribulations, the romance, and every little piece that adds up to the bigger picture. The journey that is life.

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