Lately, the most dormant, most inconsequential, most ridiculous memories of regret from my past lives (college, early 20s, even elementary school – I wrote in my fifth grade yearbook that I wanted to be a basketball player when I grew up without having ever played on a team) have been creeping into the front of my mind. I am not sure what’s going on. But it feels like I have no control over my thoughts. It’s like my memories are intentionally trying to make me go to the dark place.
I have been happy lately. The kind of in-control happy. The empowered happy. I have been working at it. So, I feel, perhaps, the regrets are all about finding something that will take me to the dark place. Everything now is good. My mood is level. But something inside me thinks that the dark place is cozy, familiar, even it it’s not exactly comfy. It’s like the corn on your foot that you’ve grown accustomed to, even though it f***ing hurts. My mind has been toggling through the mental flip book of remembering, stopping on the most random crap. My mind has a mind of it’s own, it seems. And it’s trying to get me down.
It’s really circumnavigating the recesses. Like it recalled some three-sentence-long (max) altercation I had with a sorority sister during rush my senior year of college. It’s that, it’s family stuff, relationship stuff, it’s work stuff.
I know: “I am the thinker, not the thoughts.” I try to remind myself of this. I can choose to put my mind toward things that serve me. On my way to work today, walking under scaffolding, I pictured myself with a cleaning product, preferably something that contained bleach, wiping away the mucky memories. They looked like tar. And I really did have to wipe and scrub and wipe again. But I could hear the squeaky cleanliness.
Also, I added regrets to my list of illegal thoughts. Because I thought it might be silly to try to annotate every regret, every complicated story that still exists under rocks in the dark forest of my mind, I grouped them by category. The way the illegal thoughts list works is that if I start to think the illegal thought, say, about a friendship that ended (I always feel regretful about these, even when I realize the friend was…meh.) I am supposed to flip the thought to something positive like maybe, “I have everyone I need in my life right now,” within five or ten seconds. If I don’t flip it, there is supposed to be some immediate punishment. My coach suggested any of the following: dropping and doing 10 push-ups, snapping a rubber band on your wrist, or, my favorite, but the one I am least likely to employ, confess to the person sitting next to you (even on the subway!) what you’d just been thinking. “Do you believe I was just thinking about how I regret that this friendship of mine ended ten years ago?” I do think that suggestion is quaint, kind of like Forrest Gump sitting at the bus stop.
We’ll see if I can do the flip and switch. Or if I will have to continue picturing myself scrubbing my memory clean.