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C11 P59 – Regrets

C11 P59 – Regrets published on 25 Comments on C11 P59 – Regrets

Looks like Blue’s having some regrets. Maybe just about his nose..?

Sometimes there’s big regrets, and sometimes there’s little ones. Occasionally, it’s the little ones that bug me more. In fact, I tend not to regret my bigger decisions. Panic about the potential impending doom that hasn’t yet happened, but…not regret. What gets me are the tiny little regrets that will creep up on me out of nowhere. I’ll be washing dishes, and suddenly – BAM – I’ll recall something I did when I was 16 and stupid and probably only I remember it, but I’ll feel as ashamed about it in that moment as I did when the events happened.

When I had come home from my study tour in Japan, my family went on a camping trip. Just across from us was another group of campers. My father pointed at them and said, “Hey, look. Those must be Japanese people. Go say ‘hello’ in Japanese to them.” At first I refused. I thought it would be rude, and invasive, and I wasn’t even sure they were Japanese. I heard snippets of the language they were speaking to each other, and it didn’t sound like Japanese. My father insisted. He started to get angry with me. The more I said I didn’t want to, the more upset he got. Finally, I agreed to do what he wanted, if only to stop arguing about it and head off an explosion. I trudged over, head down, just wanting to get it over with. Already embarrassed. I couldn’t look anybody in the eye. Just stared at the ground. I got to their camp site, closed my eyes, bowed, and said “Konichiwa.”

At which point, they very politely informed me that they were a Korean Missionary group.

I was absolutely mortified. I wanted to curl up and die. I was angry at my dad, but even more, I was completely disgusted with myself for caving and doing something against my better judgement in the first place. For not realizing sooner. For contributing to the incorrect and, frankly, racist assumptions they’d probably already been dealing with.

I was 16. I still, out of nowhere, remember that moment. I’m almost twice the age I was then, but it still bothers me. I can’t take it back. I can’t change it. And I can’t let it go. What purpose does hanging on to it serve? Yet the memory will come up and out of my mouth will hiss, “Ssstupid!” I’m not sure if I’m accusing myself of being stupid for what I did, or for still dwelling on it. Or both.

Sometimes, making a comic is a scary thing. It’s growing up in public. Learning to become a better person, LIVE in front of a studio audience. I look at old pages, old comments, and I worry and fret and feel that same kind of embarrassment. Have I contributed to mindsets and beliefs that hurt others? Have I done something wrong? Have I failed to live up to my own principles? Even when I think I’m okay, I worry that maybe I just don’t have the perception to see how I’m messing everything up. What if, the times I feel the most in the right, that I’m actually the most in the wrong?

Or am I just dredging up doubts and small mistakes, to use as weapons against myself?

My analyst recommended trying to put a name to these feelings. Possibly even imagining a shape for them. What popped into my head was “Wicker Switch.” A woven, malicious being, roughly man-shaped, with a pointed jaw and the rough shape of two horns on its head. What does it want? What purpose does it serve? I just don’t know yet.

Maybe the real means of escape is accepting that it’s okay not to know. As long as I try to become less ignorant. Making mistakes is inevitable. Making the same mistakes is a choice. What’s really hard is realizing what’s a mistake in the first place.

Do you have your own Wicker Switch? How do you deal with yours?

For our Una music today…
“Tinsel Town” by Seal. This was one of the songs Cory gave me just before I went on a big trip. It was the first summer after we’d met. I hadn’t admitted to myself how I felt about him yet. I didn’t trust my judgement fully. After a bad relationship in high school, my faith in my own attraction to other people had been shaken. But I played that CD over and over and over and thought of him. And bought him presents. And drew doodles that may-or-may-not have resembled him. So whenever I hear one of those songs, I think of that time. I guess Una’s a bit of a romantic. Although this song isn’t the most romantic of the batch. (The single song off of the CD that I MOST associate with my pining romance is “Loneliest Star”)

“I Come With Knives” by IAMX. On the other end of the spectrum is IAMX. There’s an ugly intensity to a lot of songs that I find beautiful sometimes. I can’t listen to IAMX all the time. It can put me in a really depressed and angry mood. On the other hand, if I’m IN a depressed and angry mood, listening to IAMX songs frequently gets me out of it. Cathartic. That’s the word I’m looking for. The feeling of indulging in that negative feeling. Steeping in it, letting it soak in, letting it wash out. Only, Una would do that with ACTUAL knives. Hence the song choice in particular.

25 Comments

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I have so many mistakes and regrets, and they pop up all the time. Embarrassing things I did, or cruel things I did, or times I let people get under my skin where, in hindsight, I should have just ignored them. I remember stupid moments from fifth grade like they happened yesterday. I sometimes wish I could erase the memories; they’re not serving a useful purpose at this point. Instead, I ignore them and focus on something else. They’ll return at some point and I’ll ignore them again. That’s all I know to do.

Oh! I guess this means I’ve caught up. I’ve been really loving this comic and trying to take it bit slow ( as in only one or maybe two chapters a day) to make the flow last a bit longer.

You have indeed caught up! I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying your read through the story. I like your paced approach. I wish I had that discipline when I read a story! I always INTEND to read just a chapter or two…and before I know it, I’ve devoured the whole book and it’s 3 in the morning. 🙂

or four, or five, or the alarm clock interrupts me. Yup!

And those awkward tidbits of memory that make one feel just awful, wondering how you survived to your current age, never seem to come to an end for me. Even ones that have revisited me more than too many times already.

It’s the revisiting aspect that really gets me. I mean, right after something happens…sure. The brain is trying to tell us “Hey, maybe you should think about this and be better.” But with ones where I KNOW what I did wrong and I HAVE addressed it, or AM addressing it, that seems pointless. Or, the most unfathomable, if I’ve looked back and gone, “You know what? In that situation, I did the absolute best I could.” Yet I STILL feel bad. That makes the least amount of sense.

Maybe my brain is trying to teach me how to be compassionate to my past self…or my brain just hates me.

Try to remember that no-one’s perfect, and that includes you, so don’t beat yourself up for it ^_^() Though as you know coming from me that’s very pot calling the kettle, since I’m prone to the same sorts of things. What usually helps me (sometimes anyway) is to remind myself that the fact that I feel so bad about it means that the incident really drove the lesson home, so I won’t do it again in the future. Even the bad things help us grow as people. All the mistakes, all the regret, all the misery – I wouldn’t change the past if I could, because the repercussions are impossible to see, and without them I would not be the person I am today. What if changing those moments in your past meant you were making similar mistakes far more often today?

Just randomly. This page brought to mind how much you’ve improved since the comic started – it seemed to me that it was of a much higher quality than I remembered, I went to compare to early pages, found I was right, and got caught in an archive dive due to a scene I didn’t remember ^_^()

*blinks* Apparently the site is no longer friendly to archive dives…I got a message that my ‘access to the site has been limited’ because I “Exceeded the maximum global requests per minute for crawlers or humans.” So…if we archive dive and read too fast we get in trouble?

Whoa…THAT is not supposed to happen! I’ll see if I can figure out what went wrong. Is there any way to replicate what you did? Or could you give me more information about what message you got? It’s also possible something is going weird with the host. I’m sorry that you ran into that, and I’ll try to find out what’s going on!

Okay…I THINK what happened was that my security stuff was set to throttle any user that tried to access the site more than 15 times per minute. Effectively one page every 4 seconds, which I can definitely see a speedy reader managing. I’ve changed the setting to 30 times per minute. Let me know if you run into this problem again! I’ll keep making adjustments until we find a good balance between keeping the site secure, but not making it a bad reading experience.

I figured out a number of years ago, that most people do not remember things the way we do. For most of my past gaffes, I figure that most people forgot about them about 10 minutes later. Most people simply aren’t all that deep 🙂

So I’ve put a statute of limitations on how long I kick myself. Good thing, since I have decades of foolishness in my past.

Most of mine are dumb questions that I asked once.

I’ve found, in accordance with something you said earlier, that deliberately calling up the memory, speaking aloud (or just in my head to myself) the legitimate, or sometimes not so legitimate, reasons I said or asked or did the thing, and then telling myself ‘I forgive me’, has really taken the sting out of a lot of the minor ones. It seems stupid that you can forgive yourself for something just by saying it, and there’s a bit mroe that goes into that, a kind of force of will, but that’s a way to do it.

“I forgive me.” Words have power and saying things out loud can make them true, just like Mizha learned last chapter. I’ve learned it’s a good tactic with my depression, too – if you start thinking in those panicked ruts, stopping, taking a deep breath, and telling your depression, “No. I won’t listen to you.” in a calm voice can stop the tide. Especially if you counter it’s irrational arguments with logic. And then forgive yourself at the end.

Like for example, one night I had promised a friend that I’d take a nap and then wake up early, but when I woke up I physically couldn’t stay awake, so I had to back out of talking to them. My brain started screaming at me for being unreliable, and it said something like… “You’re so stupid and useless, you can’t even suffer through being a little tired to talk to a friend and you won’t have fun. Shouldn’t your happiness come first? Plus she’s counting on you.”

And I just… I don’t know what it was, I snapped. I started laughing at myself, probably lookd like an idiot, because I was like, “I can’t force myself to stay up for 48 or 72 hours on six hours of sleep in order to potentially have fun I might be too tired to enjoy.” And I realized just how stupid that sounded and told my depression to shut up. And suddenly I could sleep.

I’m still working on putting that into practice but the few times I’ve remembered it’s always shut the patter off right in its tracks, so maybe it can help you too?

Just catching up with Leylines, and read your blog here … man, do I ever have that thing. I’ve often wondered (and discussed with my Mum, who has similar feelings) why it is that, of all emotions, shame is the one that survives the longest. You’d hope it would be love, and you’d guess it would be fear … but nope. It’s embarrassment – that’s the one that stops you dead in the street, feeling exactly the same emotion at exactly the same strength, TEN YEARS AFTER THE EVENT.
WHY. JUST WHY.
Mum and I wondered if it was an evolutionary thing – something that beats you over the head to keep in line with the pack at all times. Obviously, if you’re living the wild, you need to be afraid of certain things, and you need to care about things … but it’s also absolutely critical that you don’t get shut out of your social group – because that would be a death sentence. And that embarrassment is your brains way of reminding you that you must always fit in and try to get along with others, or will you end up alone in the forest (unless you’re the kind of alpha type who can punch their way through any problems, but I think it’s safe to say I’m not one of those :P). It’s just kind of a b*tch that that programming still exists when the threat is largely gone – it’s no longer the end of the world if you can’t fit in with the people you were initially landed with.
I dunno, not sure if this is actually where it comes from anyway – but it was interesting talking about it.

The idea that it’s a pack impulse at least makes sense. We’re communal animals. Our pack/community structures are what have allowed our species to have such a large impact on our environments and move from middle-range threat level to actually pretty dangerous to most predators…provided we’re in a group. I think the theory has some legs!

When you put it like that …. you could even make an argument that shame is fundamental to our success. Or rather, the combination of shame and a complex brain that allows us to have extremely varied thought patterns as individuals. In order to come up with all the innovations that we have done, we need to have clear, individual thoughts – but in order to turn those thoughts into a reality, we need to put our individuality to one side and work well with others. So, shame (or fear of acting outside social norms?) balances our desire to just do whatever we fancy all the time; and so keeps society stuck together?
…. That’s not a very nice thought, actually – like you’ve got this monitor in your head that’s specifically designed to crush your individuality. YEY! >:(

Maybe it’s like pain. Pain isn’t pleasant to experience, but it’s important to have. If we didn’t experience pain, it would be very hard for us to know how to take care of our bodies. We’d also have no impetus to do so, because even if we injured ourselves, we’d have no pressing need to tend to the problem unless it hindered our ability to do what we wanted to. And by that point, our bodies would probably be too far gone to help.

Pain comes with its own complications. Coping mechanisms can arise to avoid pain that actually cause the body more long-term harm. Chronic pain can become oppressive and detrimental physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Too much effort to avoid pain of any kind can result in a sheltered and stunted life experience.

Shame is the same way. Too much of it, and it starts to hinder our ability to function in the very groups it’s designed to help us be a part of. Get too fixated on it, and it creates negative feed-back loops.

Perhaps the key to handling shame is the same to handling pain? Have to address the problem, let the wound heal, and learn better for next time without letting it control every aspect of life.

That does make sense … also, ‘chronic shame’ sounds remarkably appropriate for the problem 😛 (Did just have to google ‘chronic’ to check I wasn’t being an idiot – but, yep, definition given as ‘(of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring’ … sounds just right to me).
And clearly the solution ‘just stop thinking about it, and it’ll go away by itself and never come back’ is not the right one for either problem!

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