Monday, February 23, 2004

Regrettably Yours

Whenever I read an interview wherein the subject claims to have "no regrets", I feel a mixture of anger and jealousy. How can a person live a decent and fully-examined life and come out with not a single regret? There's not a thing better left unsaid, an opportunity missed, a path not chosen? How full of yourself must you be to not have even a momentary regret about bad behavior or carelessness with the feelings of someone else? I find it difficult to believe that they believe what they are saying, because it seems that to have no regrets is to have no understanding of your own mistakes and transgressions against others. How pathetic and incredibly selfish.

On the other hand, I am jealous that they have the ability to be that way, to take a lifelong vacation from their consciences. I occasionally fantasize about how it would be if I could be that way. What if I could become much more than self-confident, past that, and go way over into the red-zone of selfish and conceited? "Are you happy with how you've lived your life, the people you stepped on to get where you are, the ones left behind because they didn't fit into your ambitious plans?" "I have no regrets, I'd do it all again exactly the same way," I'd tell the Rolling Stone reporter, while flipping my long blonde hair over my shoulder and picking an imaginary piece of lint off of the top of my thigh high stockings, just to make the reporter glance in that direction. Yes, that is who I want to be, Super Bitch, able to make huge rationalizations in a single bound!

Mere mortals waste their time with worry, for example, about how an old friend is coping with a problem, even after falling out with them years ago. Or they might loose a night's sleep wondering how to have an uncomfortable conversation with their brother, and regret having put it off for so long. A mere mortal might even ponder the last few months of their parent's life, and wonder if they did everything they possible could have to make their last days comfortable.

But not a Super Bitch. Super Bitches can say, "Screw you, Mom, why should I take care of you now that you are old and sick? I never asked to be born, or for you to raise me or sacrifice for me, so don't expect any kind of payback. I'm busy!" Oh, and they can say, "I know what I'm going to say is really going to hurt you, but I'm not even going to waste time in trying to figure out how to present this sensitively (snicker), and I'm sure as hell not going to stick around and help you deal with the fallout once I drop this bomb in your lap. Nope, nope, that might take time away from me and my important life, and Lord knows I can't do that." Oh hell, a Super Bitch would never have even thought it out that far. She would have said, "Your girlfriend is cheating on you! I told you so! Gotta go shopping now, 'bye!", and after the initial satisfaction of seeing the shock on the face of the recipient of the unpleasant news, would just whip that hair around and walk off to their car.

Super Bitches love things like "Bling-bling". They love to say it, they love to wear it. They don't care about the sweat and sacrifice that it might have cost someone to buy it, only that they can show it off to the other Super Bitches and brag about how so-and-so got it for them. The other Super Bitches will be jealous, but she doesn't care! Old so-and-so who bought it for her might be in debt up to his ass to keep her happy with the bling-bling. She doesn't care! Does she regret pretending to like him more than she does, until she receives enough gifts and it's time to move on to the next sucker? Of course not! Super Bitches deserve everything they can get, and who cares who has to be stepped on to get it.

Of course, the flip side of Super Bitch is Super Martyr, and you have to be careful not to swing the pendulum so far away to avoid being a Super Bitch that you become a Super Martyr by mistake. Super Martyr works overtime to make sure that they do everything for everyone, just so that they will have no regrets. Or perhaps more accurately, so that they won't have anyone be disappointed in them. While Super Bitch strives to make only herself happy, a Super Martyr tries to make everyone happy except herself. Super Martyr will say to you, "You are going away for a couple days? I'll water your plants and feed your cat. No, no problem at all. I didn't have anything important to do, I'd be glad to help you out." And although you didn't ask her to, she'll paint your living room, do your taxes, rake your leaves and wash your car, too. Even though she had to take a couple days off from work to get all of that done for you. And she doesn't get paid for those days. And you have a landscaper, accountant, etc. etc. who would've done all those things for you anyway. But then she wouldn't have the satisfaction of knowing that she bent over backwards for you.

The trap of Super Martyr is that they work so hard to leave no stone unturned, no favor undone, no matter how inconvenient, is that they have the biggest regrets of all. They have ignored their own needs for so many years, in order to cater to the needs of others, that eventually they don't even know what they want for themselves anymore. They bought the unused stock shares in Regret, Inc. that the Super Bitches were selling, so they have a much larger portfolio of regret than the average person.

Somewhere in between the two extremes lie the rest of us. Living, making mistakes, doing our best. Lessons learned from mistakes can be great learning experiences, and there is no way to avoid making mistakes, either. But I think that for the vast majority of people, the real answer to the question, "Do you have any regrets?", is yes.

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