Calamity, Regret, and Gratitude

My clients give me lots to think about. I often wonder who’s getting better therapy, them or me. Recently I had a client use the word calamity. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. She referred to herself as “Calamity Jane.” While I had a good sense of what calamity meant I wanted to look it up to see the true meaning. My research described calamity as, “adversity, great misfortune, misery…” While I wouldn’t describe my life as a calamity, there are certainly times when I feel it has been calamitous. And yes, that is a word. Many of those times were brought on by me and many not.

When I ponder what I would like my future to look like I tend to think back on the calamitous times and at least I know what I don’t want it to look like. One of my earliest memories of something I would consider misfortune (at least for me at that time) was when I was somewhere around the 6th grade. I had some silver dollars on my dresser and had a friend over. Somehow my silver dollars disappeared and the next time I was at that friend’s house she had silver dollars on her dresser. I accused her of stealing them from me. My mom made me go apologize to her. It was quite embarrassing and made me angry. Angry that my mom didn’t believe me and support me, but mostly because I still know she stole my silver dollars. I guess a more adult version of calamity in my life would be choosing the wrong people to be with. I am really good at that. It’s one of my greatest skills. People who can’t be counted on. People who aren’t really what they present themselves as. I think there are many people who present what they would like to be rather than what they really are. I might be guilty of that myself at times. Maybe we all are. A good friend told me today to look at a person’s actions rather than focusing on their words. I know this but it doesn’t always come to mind when it should. There are many things I would do differently in my life had I the opportunity to do it all over again. Unfortunately we don’t usually get do-overs. I would have been more focused on a career after high school. A serious career. I would have researched my interests, job opportunities, return on investment. I would have been there for the important people in my life more and been less selfish. I would have taken better care of myself. I would have jumped at opportunities that I passed up due to insecurities and self-doubt. So many regrets, so many lessons learned the hard way.

I don’t think I’m talking about anything unique to me. We all have those regrets. Those mistakes we shouldn’t have made. Those missed opportunities because we had stars in our eyes focused on the wrong galaxy. We aren’t clairvoyant though and often don’t know the wrong or right thing until the lesson has already been learned and the regret stings like a hornet. If I can screw up a good thing, I surely will. That’s another one of my great skills. The should’ve s and could’ve s get us all the time.

So that’s my take on my life’s calamities. I’ve instigated my share of them and I’ve been blind to many of them, nevertheless I’m as responsible for my actions as the next person. I do however believe there is also so much to be grateful for. That gratitude balances out the mistakes and misfortunes.

My gratitude list is abundant. I’m grateful for a few good friends who say the right things at the right time and exactly what I need to hear. I’m not a real outgoing, social person so a few good friends is a gold mine for me.  I’m grateful for parents who are always there when I need them even at my ripe old age of 53. I’m grateful for my son Jamie who is caring, sweet, smart, thoughtful, hard working, career oriented, and sensible. I’m grateful for my education that has led me to helping people who in turn help me more than they know. I’m grateful for my experiences and opportunities. I’m grateful for my breath, the flowers, the sun, and the moon. And let’s not forget the simple things we too often take for granted like food, water, a home, a job, a car, and ladybugs.

Today, one of my most wonderful friends sent me this and reminded me of just how important she is to me and me to her. It was just what I needed. This too shall pass.



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