I remember years ago when I first read the above quote by Drew Barrymore. I’m guessing it must have been the response to a question which inferred that she ought to; that a history as colourful as hers could be a cause for shame. I decided on the spot that I too was going to live regret-free. Sod everyone, I thought, I will do what I like, be who I like and eschew apology.
It doesn’t quite work like that though. I think, unless you truly believe in yourself and the road you are travelling regret is impossible to shake off. Back then, I was still partying hard, as I believed all self-respecting twenty-somethings should (and of course did in the circles in which i found/put myself). I was unhappy with my weight, figure, boyfriend, lack of boyfriend, job, state of unemployment etc. The world, life, was not working out as I thought it would or should.
A low point was my wonderful flatmate having to walk a disheveled and hungover me to the hairdressers to fix my self-shorn locks after a break-up. To this day I cannot listen to The Corrs without turning the colour of a beet (or type it!). Mega cringe worthy (and expensive). With binge drinking there will always be such stories. Sometimes they might even seem funny. For a while.
Fast forward a few years: family life is well and truly bedded in, pretty much every day begins and ends with the mayhem that is trying to get three brothers to do anything, be it getting to school or sports or bed. See Mummy (and Daddy) reward themselves for getting through another day of chaotic mundanity (yes it exists!) with some large glasses of wine. An acceptable two or even three is enough for one, for the other it flicks off the brakes, allows an escape, a quick volte face from responsibility to enjoyment: me time.
Living like this for years, day upon day takes its toll. Most of the time having no extreme hangover symptoms was a win. Showing up for my life was a win. To expect any kind of achievement on top of that felt greedy, I got used to enough, just enough.
I didn’t realise just how crap I felt all of the time until I felt better. I had become so used to operating and existing below par that it felt normal-ish. Then the guilts would come to call, that inexplicable morning-after anxiety would rush in and, POW!, I was felled. Those days spent ticking minutes off until I could drink the horrors away.
Through all of this I promised myself no regret, I would just start again and again and again. But I did regret. I hated it, hated the feeling of helplessness, the knowledge that I was unable to stop, to resist. For as long as I was drinking, I would regret because regret was happening, was future as well as past.
Eight weeks sober and my regrets are giving way to curiosity. Naval gazing I may be but the constellations I am finding keep surprising me, keep changing. Discovery about myself, genuine, authentic awareness without judgement means I think I finally get what Drew was getting at. Once you forgive yourself, accept yourself and are happy with the path in front, you really can let go of regret, and it’s the most liberating feeling in the world. Thanks Drew!