Monday, April 13, 2009

Stop the Tape!

Have you ever had one of those nights where you wake up in the middle of the night and start obsessing about a particular period in your life? Not even talking about anything TTC, pregnancy or loss-related moment. Not just a moment, or an event, or a definable thing that you wish you could take back or do over. More like an entire phase that you reflect upon and think, "oh my gosh, I'm pretty sure I was an asshole" for a pretty extended period of time.

That happened to me last night.

Over a decade ago, I lived and worked in an Eastern European country for just shy of two years. Yes, it turned out to be the place where I met M. as he was traveling through and from that moment on, the rest of the story is history and a good one. Those are the points in time I LIKE to dwell on. Remember. Reminisce. But before my scruffy knight in shining Gap cargo pants came along, there was a different period. Filled with all kinds of characters. Some I still know and love (very much), some I wish I had never, ever EVER met and many that I simply wish knew me now instead of having the (dis?)pleasure of knowing the 22-year old me. I'm really not sure I would be that fond (or even tolerant) of the 22 year old me.

Sure, there were parts that could have been charming, perhaps even fun. I'm fairly certain that I was fun on several occasions. But here are the things I realized in technicolor last night:
  1. I was a pretty sucky friend. There could be some exceptions to this, but I think this is a fair statement.
  2. I was definitely a sucky ESL teacher, and employee in general. I can try to blame some things on language and cultural differences here, but that only goes so far. Showing up late for your own class? That's not cool in any language.
  3. I was needy (which, explains much of #1)
  4. I didn't think I was needy, which makes it worse. I fancied myself independent, world-weary, street-smart. Ha. I crack me up.
  5. Most of my actions, reactions and decisions in general make me wince when I think about them now. And those are only the ones I can remember. And I'm not too interested in digging back farther than that. At least not this morning.
Of course, now that it's morning and I am dressed and performing pretty proficiently in a job that I do well, surrounded by people that have NO CLUE about the person I was (thankfully) on another continent, I think I probably wasted a good night's sleep for nothing. That this is no big deal. That of course, the 34 me is not exactly the 22 me and if we all had flawless lives with no wince-able moments, well, wouldn't that just be grand. But last night, in the dark, I couldn't stop the tape from playing, couldn't stop the replays, couldn't NOT look at the train wreck that was my life.

Not looking for you to tell me I'm being too hard on myself, or surely it wasn't that bad. No. Sorry. I think I could probably amass some very tangible evidence to prove otherwise. Before even calling witnesses to the stand. What I needed was to just get that out, so I can stop obsessing and more forward writing the things I am supposed to be writing instead of an indulgent blog post. I am wondering is if any of you, dear readers, have found yourself in this situation - of looking back and wincing but not being able to not look?

No need to divulge details, just tell me I am not the only one.

23 comments:

birdsandsquirrels said...

You are not the only one! I definitely have those moments of looking back on my own train wreck days, cringing and wondering why did I say that to that person, and why did I do that with/to that person. Ugh.

I hope that getting it out helps you to move forward.

Just me said...

Yes.

When I'm feeling jealous of some lithe twenty-something, I remind myself that I certainly like me *better* now than I ever did then. I do, however, often wish I could have my 20-something body back while keeping my thirty-something year old mind and knowledge....

and let's be clear: I don't ever like to focus too long on the pre-20 years. What an idiot I was.... LOL

Barbara said...

Not the only one at all!

I've been selfish in the extreme, a useless friend, a dreadful daughter and a pretty hopeless human. And yes, I wince mightily when I look back.

But I'm ok now. Well, okish... pretty much most of the time... usually.

xxx

Stacie said...

Been there and done that. It isn't pleasant, but for me it works as the reminder I need to not go back to the way I used to be--the way I could have been now if I hadn't grown up a lot. I know I am a much better person now than I was in my early 20s.

Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I do this all the time. I wish I remembered the smart things I say and do (certainly there must be some) as well as I remember all the foolish, careless, cringe-worthy things I have done.

Ryan's Mommy said...

There are many moments in my life that I look back on and cringe. Some individual stupid moments, some entire periods of time when I acted like an asshole, and when I think of those times I feel it like a burning pain inside. I can blame most of them on youthful indiscretion, and some of them of alcohol indulgence. Neither of which is a good excuse. I think there are very few people who don't wish for a do-over regarding some aspect of thier past. You are definitely not alone.

annacyclopedia said...

I wince a LOT when I look back at my life in my 20s. And sometimes, like you say, it's just painful. But the older I get, the more I'm able to look back and hold that screwed up, confused, anxious, needy me with some compassion. Cause even though I messed up royally many times, I was doing my best. And as nice as it would be to go back to some of those times with the wisdom (such as it is) I've acquired along the way, that's just not how it works. And it's quite likely that any wisdom I have picked up is down to the mistakes I made in the past.

But yes, the cringing. I know it well.

Lori said...

You are not the only one.

In fact, you are not the only one to reminisce about past wounds (self-inflicted or otherwise).

See Stirrup Queens today.

If it's any consolation, I was a bad ESL teacher, too. And needy. But I did it when older than 21.

So there.


We both turned out OK, I guess.

Sarah said...

The things I have done are so painful and embarrassing. And it only gets worse when I remember the things I *thought.* And not even that long ago.
Sarah

Kami said...

I was just thinking back on how grown up I thought I was back in my 20's. I think it is a time where most people think they have it all figured out. I (hope) I am more aware now. Maybe we will be saying the same thing about our 30's and 40's when we are in our 80's.

jill said...

Definitely not the only one! I have several train-wreck periods that I wish I did not have to remember.

Amy said...

You're not alone. Not by a long shot.

Infertile Myrtle said...

I look back at the "old me" and wonder how in the heck I made it to where I am today. I was seriously a train wreck. People that know me now can not belive the little tidbits I've shared with them. If the only knew the whole story! :)

Anonymous said...

You can definitely count me in on this one. I'm reminded of a particular time of poor judgement frequently, as the other party involved thought it was a great thing. The frequent reminding sucks a**.

And, along with Barbara, I've also been a pretty sucky daughter at times as well. Which is why I love my Momma so much. She's one of the few people I'm comfortable enough to be that way with and she's put up with a LOT from me. :D

~m~

Sassy said...

I'm currently sorting through blog posts from 2005 and while I swear it wasn't that long ago, there's a lot of cringing involved. It's hard to believe I was that naive and hopeful. In some ways I wish I could go back and try our first two years ttc again, but at the same time I'm glad that we were able to be so positive and optimistic before the shit really hit the fan.

Gibson Twins said...

Definitely not the only one. I'm mid-20s now and have two just-turned-13-going-on-21 sisters. Everytime they say or do something that seems stupid or self-centered or bitchy, it brings me back to being at that stage. I don't like it much at all.

Katy said...

Oh yes, oh yes, you are SO not alone... I often have nights where I can't stop the cringe-worthy tape in my mind from it's constant playback. I, too was incredibly needy but fancied myself a strong independent person.

I'm reconnecting with people from the past on Facebook now and am sometimes reluctant to do so because those were my psycho days. Oh well, live and learn.

FET Accompli said...

You are most definitely not the only one. I look back on how selfish I was in my twenties. Basically obsessed with me and my education and my career. I just did not understand other people's pain or hardship. Through my experiences I have learned to be empathic and to be kind, and these are things I am still work on improving.

WiseGuy said...

Well, you really are not the only one...I have had a lot of moments in my life which I now want to either Undo or Redo. In fact, I have even wondered, if I would have taken a different road, when the fork in my path came. I am sure I would have turned out differently. Just that I don't know whether I would be better or worse off!

nutmeg96 said...

I do the same thing. Sometimes I'm so embarrassed about my behavior way back when. And it's always the middle of the night that I do that, too. Wonder why that is...

Rebeccah said...

And it's not just one's 20s that cause this feeling. I'm in my 40s now and firmly convinced that my biggest mistakes were in my 30s. Perhaps it's a sign that we're always growing, that we're better able to recognize mistakes as we get older? (I prefer that theory to the alternative, which is that I'm a big screw-up who will never learn, no matter how old I get ...)

Kristin (kekis) said...

You are FAR from being the only one! I have made many mistakes in my past that I wish I could take back. Now, rather than torturing myself with it all, I have to consider it part of becoming who I am today. Those are the parts that I now choose to not repeat. I can only hope anyone who got run over in my path holds forgiveness for me and learned from my mistakes.

theluckylife said...

Oh my hat yes!!! I still am afraid to go back to London for fear of running into my old bosses. All those days I arrived late for work, so hungover that I was probably still partly drunk. The lies I told! CU-RINGE! Wearing scarves to work in summer to hide hickeys from strangers, so flipping trashy. Thank you God that I am 36. Thank you that I live in another country now. Thank you that I had some time to be a better daughter, friend and employee. I still try to forgive the 20 something me, it's important I suppose.

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