Mistakes Have Been Made

I used to be a bit of a hellion. When I was in my early twenties, I spent a lot of time bumbling through life. I didn’t date anyone seriously. I didn’t take much of anything seriously. I took the classes I liked, did the assignments when I felt like it. I stayed out late when I had somewhere to be the next morning, so that I wouldn’t miss a moment of the fun. And I did have a good time.

Somehow, the older I get, the more cautious I get. The truth is, lately I’ve been feeling a little low. I’ve gotten in this rut where I look at my life and wonder if it’s possible that I’ve screwed everything up too much to fix it. My job is fine, but not anything like what I wanted for myself. I wasted so many years with my ex and got so banged up emotionally that I worry it would be impossible for anyone to take what’s left of me and love me. I’m finally taking my writing seriously and getting some publications, but I’m afraid I’m too old to make anything serious of it. I put off having children and now, even though my doctor says I have nothing to worry about, I’m afraid I stalled so long that I’ll never make it happen in time. The mental loop is hard to break out of and I just don’t even know where to start to make anything better. Or if maybe I’m just too old to fix it all and need to accept that life works out for some people like that. They screw everything up by making all the wrong decisions and then they’re stuck with nothing.

And I’m afraid that’s where I am. Stuck. Added to the rut, I had the pleasure of running into the ex whose superpower is an amazing skill for making me feel worse about myself. Nothing makes a rut deeper than having someone explain to you that now, with someone not you, he really understands what love is. I smiled. I said I was happy he was happy. And I wouldn’t even want to go back. But, it jumped into that ugly brain loop that says, “You’ve made too many mistakes for anyone to love you.” And it’s scary to think about being alone forever.

The thing is, compared to most people, I objectively don’t think I’ve made tragic mistakes. But I worry that while everyone else was figuring it all out and getting all the answers, that I was just wasting it all having fun. And when I’m in the worst of it, I think it’s too late for me to get anything right. Or that maybe I don’t even deserve good things to happen to me. Maybe I’m not a nice person. Maybe I’ll never learn how to get it right. How not to screw up.

Even worse, I feel bad for feeling sorry for myself. There are other people with real problems and here I am, not starving, with a roof over my head, and a job and crying over poor pitiful me. And convincing myself that if I had been more perfect, made better decisions, tried harder to get it just right, that it would be.

It’s a Monday. I’m going to give myself a break and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow has got to be better. Because today I don’t feel so hot.



Filed under Soul Searching

13 responses to “Mistakes Have Been Made

  1. Minus your long-term relationship and fancy education, we might be the same person. That whole “maybe the consequences of my early decisions are that I will not get the life I want and it’s my fault” loop is my latest too. First-world problems, I tell myself, but they surely feel real.

  2. I’ve meant to comment/write you for a while now. I think you’re amazing.
    I mean, I don’t really know you, only through the blog/twitter, but from what I know about you from those tiny little outlets, I think you’re incredible.
    You’ve been through so much, you’ve accomplished so much. You’ve done it with grace and self-awareness and truth.
    A maybe I’m wrong, but to me you come across as incredibly comfortable with yourself in a “this is who I am, take it or leave it” kind of way that I find downright inspiring and enviable.
    I wish I could feel like that, most of the time I’m all mixed up about who I am and who I want to be and how those people can exist along side this other person I’ve happily hitched my cart to.
    I admire your ability to commit to your writing, and I do little happy dances when I see you’ve got something published (or even rejected, since that means someone cared enough to send some sort of response).
    I admire that you took steps toward having a baby, regardless of your love life; something I think most people would be too afraid to do.
    I think you’ll find the person who will love you the way you deserve.
    Go after what you want, you deserve everything you desire. Don’t let anyone, especially your inner demons, tell you different.

  3. Oregon Sunshine

    Sit down! Can I get you anything? Coffee? Wine? Bourbon? Something stronger? Bad Pants makes a smooth Mudslide on the rocks with quite a kick. Maybe that’ll do the trick.

    Let me let you in on a little secret of the Universe. You find exactly what you’re looking for when you quit looking for it. For instance, have you ever lost something only to find it after you’ve quit looking for it and quit worrying about it? But yet, before you got to that point, you tore apart the house looking everywhere? Remember doing that? And you remember how it felt to not worry about it for a while, to put it out of your mind and then have it happen anyways? Pretty good, huh? I’ve found my keys that way before. And I found my husband that way too.

    My point is that everything will fall into place at exactly the right time, in exactly the way it’s meant to happen. I have faith for you, even when you don’t. So, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. All will be well. Trust the Doc. He’s the one with the medical degree. Ok, trust him in this instance. We’ll discuss others as they come up.

    Someone once told me that a rut is an open-ended grave. If you feel stuck, shake things up a bit! Find an adventure, even if it’s as simple as visiting a new store or cafe or restaurant. All will be well. Trust me.



    Your red-headed, flat-reared, Alaskan- Atlanta Cousin


  4. A friend of mine, who is around our age, has a dad who JUST passed the bar. Dude’s gotta be like what, 55? So you’re not too old to do whatever you want with your career, unless your goal is to be an Olympic gymnast for the Chinese or something.

    Your ex is a loser! Nothing he says carries any weight!
    You go right on ahead and feel sorry for yourself if you want to. Sure, as my mother used to tell me, there was once a man who was sad he had no shoes until he met a man who had no feet. But you know what? It fucking sucks to have no shoes too!
    Tuesday will be better.

  5. Mel

    Coming from someone who made a shit-ton of mistakes (some of them tragic) and lived her 20s much like that of a rockstar (with all the booze and only a little of the popularity and none of the money), know that it’s never too late to change your life. I know this very well sounds cliche, but I’ve certainly had my fair share of ruts, and I’ve found my way into happier situations. Sometimes it’s mere timing, and others, it was result of a little hard work (and sometimes, digging a deeper rut).

    Turning 30 (I’m now a few years into this age group) was possibly the best thing to happen — much like when you move and feel like you can start over, with new job, new location, friends/lovers, places… I’m sure you get what I’m saying. Everything that I feel that I “messed up” in my earlier life has been replaced by WONDERFUL things: a man who loves me regardless of my past (and who knows ALL of it and doesn’t judge), a freelance writing career that I started last year after slaving (and wasting) away in real estate for eight years. And so on.

    This is not meant to brag about my current situation, but to lend a little empathy, in that I’ve been in your shoes, thinking the same negative thoughts about life, love, children (though I eventually decided I didn’t want them) — and worse, having OTHERS think horrible, horrible things about me as a human being. And it will get better.

  6. Oh, this is such a frustrating way to feel. And I imagine the fact that your relationship with the ex ended the way it did makes it feel like the whole thing was so much more futile. But I think we all do that… bumble around doing things that later we would never choose to do… that might not contribute to some grand plan or obvious forward trajectory… but all those things really do move us forward, teach us things, help us figure out where to go next. And where you are really is pretty great. Seriously! Even if you can’t always see it.

  7. Hakuna Matata, put your past behind you. It worked for Simba; so, hell, why can’t it work for you? Just because you feel you made mistakes before doesn’t mean that the future has to be tainted with them! That’s what the past is for: learning! The present and the future exist so that you can evolve and progress and make changes. Leave the pity party and do something make a change!

  8. jeanniekay

    Hmmmm. It doesn’t sound like you’ve made the same mistakes over and over. And over and over. Now that’s a rut! It’s funny how our culture assumes that our lives begin when we’re in our 20s, but as we get older, we realize that we’re still practicing until we’re at least 30!

    I’m a firm believer that these kinds of melancholy moments come into our lives to spur us to action. What are you going to do about it??
    Love your writing, Eleanor. Love it!

  9. I was married at 28 and divorced by 29. Ran away to New York City and made mistakes so shameful I could never write about them publicly in any 30 Days of Truth. I was unlovable; left a path of total destruction in my wake.

    I returned to my home state a few months shy of 32, with a guard so high that no one could get near me. I met a man while standing in line one day. We fell in love. We eloped. Baby #1 arrived last year and baby #2 will be here next summer. The amount of time that has passed from that day in line till today has not even been 3 1/2 years.

    I’m saying that a lot can happen in a very short amount of time, so I sure hope you’re not kicking yourself with any backwards calendar counting and thinking there isn’t time for a marriage and a family because of all the time you’ve spent doing other things. If that is what you want, I’m proof that it can happen in the blink of an eye, even for the worst of us.

  10. I’m pretty sure cycles of self pity and shame follow us through most stages of our life. What changes is what we fixate on. I’ve been where you are – thinking I’d missed my last chances for love, marriage. Then I got married. After 3 years of marriage, my current pity party is that I missed my chance to have a baby and that it may never happen. I’m still working my way through this funk and recently blogged that SOME kind of change needs to come. Putting it out to the universe as a way to force myself to change my thinking. I feel your pain. But my point is never say never. I thought things would never change before; they did. I’m hoping for the same now. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to make some changes because sitting and waiting doesn’t feel right. Good luck to both of us.

  11. Enjoy the pity party and revel in it and get it over with. Then pick yourself up and do it better. Listen, Colonel Sanders was broke and bankrupt at the age of 60 when his successful little restaurant went belly up because an interstate took the traffic from his town. He went with his pressure cookers and sold small restauranteurs about the great chicken he made and the rest was history. Many people have made millions, lost it all and then made it back. If there are things that are unloveable about you, you have the capacity to change them, so do it. Only you can make yourself a better person. Learn from your mistakes and learn to enjoy life. Get more adventurous instead of less so. Go out and enjoy life because unless you learn to love yourself and your life, then no one will love you.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

  12. The fact that your ex said what he did makes me feel relieved you’re not with him anymore. What a cruel and unnecessary thing to say.

    It’s hard to feel positive about yourself and your life at times. We all go through. I think it’s like a wave you just need to ride into the shore. Take a breather, and then get back out there and swim.

    I’m glad I stumbled across this blog.

  13. Pingback: 2010- The Year in Review | ELEANOR’S TROUSERS

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