When I was facing a serious cancer and going through my inventory of possible regrets, I had but one major one. I was pretty happy about that. I had learned enough to attempt to appreciate life regularly, and had spent all of my 20s adventuring all over the world. I had begun deep healing in my relationships with my parents. I was a whacky but fiercely loyal friend and partner. And I had learned to be compassionate with myself about using the word “regret.”
I had a general rule that if I learned from the experience and made amends for it, I could call it a mistake or a lesson, rather than a regret. But let me tell you this: when looking at not being able to do anything about a regret cuz you may die, even one regret SUCKS.
So…I am guessing you’re wondering: What was my ONE major regret? It had to do with LOVE, of course! I had one great love that I had not fully appreciated or done everything I could for. We met in Kathmandu in our 20s, and all sorts of social “rights” and “wrongs” (too soon after a breakup so maybe I wasn’t clear…having to do the responsible thing…yada yada) kept me from saying “yes” when he asked, “Will you come ride a motorcycle with me through Cambodia and Laos?” Or months later when he came to visit me en route to Antarctica.
We kept in touch, regularly. We had 2-3 hour phone conversations (even until recently!). We tried to date but were always on different continents. Not different continents like North vs South America. Like Antarctica vs North America. That made it challenging.
Then I pushed him away by doing some hurtful things that I didn’t know were hurtful at the time…probably because my heart was closed off after hearing he was dating a woman in Antarctica, or dating a woman in Alaska. Sheesh. How embarrassing. Apparently those things kind of kept him from opening his heart to me anymore then. Fair enough. You can’t expect someone to open their heart to you if yours is squeezing shut.
We talked about “us” and resigned ourselves to the fact that while we both wanted to be together and give it a go, perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be in this lifetime. It was too difficult to make it happen. So we became “just” friends. REALLY good friends. Like he called me from the South Pole, or sent me little trinkets from Egypt or Bolivia when he would barely email anyone else, and called me when he was having a really hard decision to make. Or like I would call him when something awesome happened in my life…like, oh, say…when I got engaged.
We had promised each other we’d tell the other person – not matter how distanced we may ever become – if either of us got engaged. I can safely say we both assumed this was to give the other person a last chance to go for it.
So I called him. And he sounded surprised, then…he congratulated me.
I hate to admit it now, but I was indeed disappointed. It might have been wise to listen to that. It could have spared me my later divorce (albeit an amicable one, for my ex was indeed a super awesome man). However, I was young on my path to understanding my intuition then. I had chalked it up to “grass is greener” syndrome. Plus, he had a girlfriend he met in Antarctica that swam to islands in Fiji with him with a plastic bag tied around their ankle full of their belongings. WTF. How can you top that when you’re stuck doing 12 hour shifts at a hospital while in graduate school in San Francisco (albeit also squeezing in Yosemite walls and climbing trips to Australia, alone)? You don’t. You just are happy for him, that’s what. Sheesh.
In any event, as I was preparing for my cancer excision and renal auto-transplant in 2004, wondering how sick I was (or how sick I was going to be), I thought of HIM. That relationship was my one “What if.” HE was the one thing I had wished I had gone for fully. Not pushing him away. Not making up stupid excuses. Not waiting until it was convenient or easy. And now I was married, and he was about to be engaged (although I didn’t know that at the time), and both our partners were totally amazing. Fuck.
So I let it go.
I KNOW, right?! But I wanted to do what seemed like the “right thing” then… and a big part of me still feels good about that.
In any event, I tell you all this because the Universe is supposed to have come in and given me props for all my full-on living thus far. And she did.
The past few days when I wasn’t writing here, I was fully experiencing love with HIM. I am 38, and I am finally with him. I know now that the decade+ delay was all for good reasons. We appreciate each other even more now, that’s for sure. We learned to love one another as friends. We REALLY know each others’ crap, and knowing that the other person still wants to be with us after all that is rather lovely. And we learned many things in our other relationships that we didn’t have to learn with each other, which surely spared some heartache. And there are many other things to celebrate about having surrendered to the Universe back then. But no matter what, all I know is I am absolutely receiving love from him, fully and completely. And dishing it out.
Yes yes, we are building our lives together, and making all those plans and talking about kids etc. But for me, the point is that I AM FINALLY ABLE TO LOVE HIM FULLY, LIKE I ALWAYS WANTED TO. And I am receiving his love fully, like I never let myself do before. To be honest, even if we don’t stay together “forever,” I can die knowing I experienced my great love. And that is so much better than a “What if.”
Many of you could call my bluff…if you’ve truly been dealing with dying before you were ready before. I have to admit, there’s nothing like that to get you to realize exactly HOW SHITTY it feels to have “What ifs” when you are possibly going to die much sooner than you ever thought possible.
And now I got a second chance. How often does that happen? Probably not often, because actually we also have a huge part in CREATING those second chances ourselves, and we often give up too soon. But having said that, THANK YOU for this second chance (to all involved)!
It wasn’t an easy peasy “I’ll call you and let’s meet up for coffee” kind of thing. We were still almost a continent apart. When we both first opened up to this possibility again, he was heading off to China, and after that trip he returned to his home-base in Alaska (I was currently in Oregon). Getting to be with him took some balls this time around too. I really had to take some risks, and so did he. But it was so worth it. So very, very worth it.
I was talking to a client the other day about wanting to protect our hearts, and I was reminded of my new willingness for it to get hurt again as long as I am honoring my truth all the while. It is NOT worth protecting it at the price of possibly not loving fully again (there are wise ways to do this, but that’s another post;) The risks, while scary, are part of the dealio.
So the past few days have been me receiving fully and loving fully. And I find little notes from him in my stuff, and I watch him sleep and I’m like, “HOLY SHIT! I am with him! Like I always felt I should be! This is SO WEIRD! And so incredibly cool.” Talk about patience and faith and trust. And risk-taking. And … who knows what else.
But what I DO know is that had I not been committed to living Full On, to not making excuses, to not wasting any more of my precious life energy doing anything I do not want to be doing, to being willing to take the risks…I could have missed out on this. All of it.
If you’ve vomited after this, I completely understand. For me, it is The Notebook in real life, after all. Well, The Notebook minus the horse races and white picket fence and white people and one of us being an aristocrat part. Well, minus lots of things from that…but PLUS many more of our own flavahs.
I’ll admit that I own The Notebook, and everyone told me it was Hollywood bullshit, by the way. And yes, I know many of you are devastatingly disappointed by my admitting that, but oh well;) It is the only love story movie I own. The rest are Kung Fu flicks and the Star Wars series. However, I bought it because when I watched it, it reminded me not that my true love was still out there “somewhere,” but that life was too short to make up excuses for not living fully.
I liked being reminded of that, because for me it did so not in a woo woo way, or in a bullshit “Hollywood is trying to make you feel bad about your life” kind of way, but in a “Cut the BS and get off yer ass and go get it, even if you end up disappointing others by staying true to yourself. Life is too short!” type of way. I think it was because I KNEW that was true for me, and I needed to be reminded not to make up excuses anymore. I wasn’t waiting for my prince charming. I just had to have the balls to stop getting in my own way about it.
I still really do believe that it is not about if we stay “together forever” that defines true love, but rather this expansive wholeness that I feel in my heart. To feel this, even only for a brief while, is kissing God. So although I have every reason to believe this is a continuation of another lifetime and will continue to be so, this really, truly, for realz, is enough.
So have you not told someone you care for about your heart? Have you not forgiven someone who desperately wants you to? Have you not apologized for hurting someone, even if you didn’t mean to? Today, PLEASE do something about one thing that you would regret if you put it off. You never know what second chances might open up for you.
PS: I also skied up Near Point and watched cool sunsets;)
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Jedi Juice ™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by signing up at FreedomJunkie.com! Sign up for her next FREE Jedi Juice Training call at FreedomJunkie.com/jedi-juice