Mistakes and Misgivings

While waking one morning from a forgotten dream, I found myself thinking about the mistakes I’ve made in my life. Why was I dwelling on my failures so early in the day? I had no idea. It probably had something to do with the dream I’d been having. I lay there for a while, torturing myself with negative thoughts. Every foolish decision or act, long submerged in my subconscious, came bobbing to the surface like debris surrounding a capsized boat.

I got out of bed, but I was still down on myself, and I couldn’t shake it. I thought about that word, “mistake.” What did it really mean? A mis-TAKE? Something wrongly taken? I thought about one of my old mistakes, at Company X, when I’d screwed up on the job. It was my first decent job, and I’d taken something — that something being initiative. Yes, I’d taken initiative, and my boss hadn’t liked where I’d taken it, so I got called on the carpet. Never wanting that to happen again, I started taking less initiative. Later, someone there said I wasn’t taking enough initiative. At Company X, it was hard not to make mistakes.

But don’t stop now, I told myself. Let’s get this over with. What other mistakes can you torture yourself with? So I amped up my pity party, reliving one old mistake after the other, starting in childhood. Why hadn’t I stood up to that bully? Why had I stood up to that other, bigger bully, the one who then knocked the wind out of me in front of the whole class? Why had I believed those scary stories in religion class – the ones that traumatized me for an entire year?

Why had I been so worried about being popular? Why had I believed that I was ugly? Why didn’t I keep trying out for school plays after I didn’t make the cut in seventh grade? Why did I give up the violin? (Answer: to be popular.)

Why had I been such a lousy judge of character? Taken so many chances? Taken on too many projects? Dropped out of college with only one paper left to write? Allowed mean, manipulative people into my life?

Why had I spoken without considering the impact of my words? Why had I said no when I meant yes, and yes when I meant no?

Why had I let down my loved ones?

Looking back on my mistakes, and on my life as a whole, I don’t even recognize my past self. It’s like some other person inhabited my body back then and made those poor decisions. (And maybe that’s accurate. Probably all of my old cells have been replaced by now.) So why not forgive my (former) self?

I’m not that person anymore, I think. But is that true? Have I really changed, or am I still making those same mistakes? Am I too close to see them? Will I look back in five years and have misgivings about the mistakes I’m currently making?

And what, exactly, is a misGIVING? If a mistake is something wrongly TAKEN, then I guess a misgiving is something wrongly GIVEN, like giving one’s trust to a sociopath who takes advantage of you (yep, that happened).

My mistakes and misgivings have caused several misUNDERSTANDINGS. Now there’s another mis-word. Does it imply that to understand something, you have to dive deep, get under it, at root level? Ask questions? I think I’ll try that. I’m hoping that someday, while swimming beside this capsized boat I call my life, I can look back upon my mistakes, misgivings, and misunderstandings, and see them for what they really are: tiny specks in an ocean of understanding and forgiveness.

Badge 2017

5 thoughts on “Mistakes and Misgivings

  1. This is so beautifully written! I get what you are saying and..boy, though I think I live my life without many regrets, it’s a brave and hard thing to do, to look at our mistakes, acknowledge them and learn to forgive them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. About a year ago, I was driving to work ‘fat, dumb and happy’ when, suddenly, *BAM* I was transported back to fourth grade and reliving something really stupid I had done. Coming to, I was safely (thankfully) parked in the employee parking lot. That weird flashback colored my whole day. After that, the weird occurrence kept happening. I’d be making copies and “BAM* it’d be a terrible decision in 1975 for a few minutes. I talked to someone who was really into strange stuff. She told me just to acknowledge it, pop the imaginary bubble the memory was encased in, and wish it farewell. I’m still having them, but they are happening less often. If only we could remember the good decisions as clearly as the bad ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe are minds are trying to make connections that aren’t there, they feel like they need to join the dots up to make some meaningful connection to all of our ‘failures’, when really they were decisions that had to be made in difficult circumstances. Now that we have the luxury of being able to look back wistfully on our actions with the twin benefits of hindsight and unlimited time, we can then make judgement on ourselves and second guess the decisions that were made. I think as I have got older, it is has become easier to forgive ‘mistakes’ because if I had to make a decision at the time that didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to then I either have to look for a new opportunity or move on because dwelling negatively in the past isn’t productive or good for your health. TY for a blog post that has given me pause for thought, along with reasons to reflect and reminisce.


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