Sunday, January 30, 2011

Regret Redux

I am not sure how the person who came up with the list of 30 truths decided on these 30 assignments, but an awful lot of them focus on regret--things not done or that should have been done. Regret and atonement. BFFs of mine.

Today I am supposed to think about something I wish I hadn't done. There are so many things I could choose! I could construe this broadly, and talk about how I wish I hadn't been so passive all my life. I could be specific, and say I wish I hadn't taken Sociology of Gender or Comparative Politics when I was a first year in college because I didn't get much out of either class. I could say that I wish I hadn't been addicted to McVitie's Plain Chocolate Digestive Biscuits. I could say that I wish I hadn't been born in St. Louis, although that way I would have missed out on my parents. I could say that I wish I hadn't been so lazy in Greek because the B+ I got in the second semester, although I took the class Pass/Not Pass, was counted in the calculation of honors at graduation time. I missed being summa cum laude by two hundredths of a grade point. Sigh. Plato just wasn't sexy enough, and I paid for it.

To narrow it down to just one thing is very difficult, but I will choose the evening of October 11, 1986. My parents were away for the weekend, and I was staying in the dorms on the campus of my high school, which is a day/boarding school. Only the seven-day boarders were around. I had a good time at dinner and then went to my room to do homework. I had a guy friend in the year below me. We were friends with benefits back in the time before such non-relationships had a name. He came by my room around 6:30. We talked, started making out, and before long, before I could register what was happening, we were having sex. He lasted less than five seconds, so I didn't have time to say, "Stop!" There was no condom. It was the middle of my cycle. Not good.

But pregnancy rarely happens, right? Surely I wouldn't get pregnant. Oops. I figured it out before I missed my period. I knew I had to have an abortion, and I did. Alone. I had a boyfriend, not this guy, who of course I didn't tell about any of this. That was bad--truly horrible and selfish of me. It was also bad that the boy who knocked me up was a complete asshole and laughed and joked when I told him that I was pregnant. He didn't offer me support, financial or otherwise, during or after the procedure, which I remember vividly: early in the morning, November 22, 1986. One of my friends drove me to Illinois to have the abortion because Missouri required parental consent, and NO WAY was I telling my parents. The afternoon before, Asshole had the nerve to come to my dorm room and say, "Hey, want to have sex again? It won't matter; you're pregnant already." My answer to that was HELL no. I think I threw something at him to get him to leave the room. He had such a terrible, vicious, smirky grin. Ugh.

I don't regret the abortion, but I regret having so little respect for myself that I let Asshole use me. I began hating myself even more. Why, or how, could anyone ever love me? Why couldn't this have happened with the boy I loved with all my heart, if it had to happen at all? Am I a magnet for bad luck? Yes.

I had the continued misfortune to run into said Asshole last year at a reunion my high school had in the Bay Area for those of us living out here. Yes, Asshole now lives in Oakland, about 20 minutes from me, not back in St. Louis. Yes, Asshole has a son my elder son's age, and we have mutual friends in soccer leagues. Ah, fate is cruel. Anyway, I avoided speaking to Asshole at the reunion and refused to get near him at all. At one point we were taking a group picture and his wife told him to stand next to me. I am pretty sure he told her what happened between us, and she was very nice, but I got the sense that they were trying to mess with me. Why would she be so nice to me? Maybe he didn't tell her, though, because I can't imagine he could paint himself in a good light--then again, he's a great liar.

Asshole proved he is still an asshole by making fun of the car I drove in high school in some conversation he crashed into. Is the car I drove in high school, 25 years ago, still a relevant topic? Seriously? He was also bragging about playing golf in San Francisco in a group that once included the German Consul. I know he brought this up pointedly: my husband is German, and Asshole butted into a conversation I was having with another alum in German. You can take the boy out of the cheap, closed-minded community, but not the cheap and closed-minded community out of the boy. So true. He is still incredibly insecure and focused on money and prestige, but now I have more of both than he does. Poetic justice.

On the other hand, it felt good to be in a room with him, register my disgust, and know that he really doesn't have the power to do anything to hurt me anymore. But seeing how slimy and strange he is--even today--makes me wish all the more that I hadn't subjugated myself to him on October 11, 1986. I was worth so much better.

I regret not being able to value myself back then. I forgive myself for being blind and hamstrung by fear of abandonment and low-self worth, but if I think too long about how even I abandoned myself, I still weep.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry. I have an ex-boyfriend who lived in Romania, met me in Holland, and now lives 20 minutes away from me here in the USA. We didn't do anything more than kiss, and talk about marriage, but I never thought I'd see him again, ever. And now we're practically next-door-neighbors. Ugh!