One of the first things that struck me about this “55+ Active Adult Community” I moved into last spring was the quiet. There are no kids playing in the street. There are no cars within earshot exceeding 15 MPH and the dogs, all of the tiny fit-in-the-purse variety, are secured indoors. There is no need to bark. What is sometimes soothing to the ears, however, becomes a bit dreadful when all you can hear is the sound of your thoughts.
At about 3 am today I was awakened by nothing in particular and my brain decided to traipse down that well-worn path called second-guessing. I suppose if it was really only the second time I had pondered these issues it would be bearable. But here I was taking on yet again the questions underlying the folly of my life. Yes, this alcoholic has a magnifying mind and in the wee small hours of the day I create mountainous scenarios in my mind that I choose to excavate with a toothpick.
The thoughts that sometimes plague me can be put in three buckets – regrets, remorse and resentments. The “three Rs” as I tell my therapist. As I type this, I see that remorse has no plural, unlike the other two. Nobody says remorses. I conclude that’s because remorse is too big a thing. It is amorphous, lacking a clearly defined form, vague and unfocused. It hangs like fog.
Simply put, I say regret is “What could I have done differently?”. Resentment is “Who wronged me?”. Those are somewhat easier questions in pursuit of a thing or person as the answer. Like a game of Clue, once you find the who and what, it’s game over – go back to sleep. But not so with remorse. I generally frame that with “Why did I do it?”. The whys are always harder to discern and I suppose they keep therapists, sociologists and liquor stores busy. But sometimes a lifetime of couch therapy may only scratch the surface – that flimsy toothpick turning the rubble.
Why, why, why? At 3 am the question is too much, it’s weight unbearable. So I get up, make some coffee and type – no closer to an answer but with the clicking of keys to fill the void.