I am regret incarnate. I am regret given purpose. Given need. Desire. I regret so much. Do I regret existence?
When I was six maybe, one of our cats had kittens. I don’t know why our mother let us but she let us each pick one and play with them. We were far too young to be doing this and they were far too small to be handled. I remember me and my brother were playing a game with them sliding them down inside a blanket. My brother said something about his being better than mine. I grabbed his kitten and threw it against a table leg. It cried and cried. The sound of it still haunts me to this day. I could never purposefully hurt another animal again.
Sometime during third grade I believe, me and my brother were out playing with some other boys. I didn’t have any friends my own age so we were always playing with his friends who were a good two years younger than me. I don’t recall what exactly led to it but one of the boys picked up a rock and threw it at my brother. It struck him on the side of his head near his temple. My brother went straight down like a marionette with its strings unexpectedly cut. I went into uncontrollable rage mode. I ran across the street toward the boy who had hurt my brother and simply wailed on him. I probably punched him a good few dozen times screaming all the while. Then I ran to a car, threw myself against the hood, and sobbed.
In sixth grade I stepped on a kitten. Another one of our cats had had a litter. We always had some kind of animal around the house when we were kids. At least a cat if nothing more. So our cat at this time had gotten pregnant and had a litter. They were all up on the top bed of me and my brother’s bunk bed. I went in to check on them and realized that one was missing. While looking for it on the ground I stepped back and immediately felt it under my foot. It mewed and mewed. Wouldn’t stop. I quickly picked it up and put it back with the others, making sure it had a nipple, then left the room in such shame. I came back a few hours later to find it dead, it’s bowels released on the bed where I had laid it. It still makes me want to cry just thinking about it.
Junior high and high school were pretty much nothing but regret for me. I regret going at all. I regret not being able to confide in anyone what I was going through. I regret having friends, the few that I did. I regret not having friends. I regret letting people down. I regret that my one high school English teacher actually believed in me. I regret that I never stood up to the kids at school that tormented me, to the one school counselor that screwed up my classes over and over again, to my family that treated me like dirt and a slave and little more than a welfare check.
Worst of all, I regret not standing up to myself. I could have been someone, been something, instead of the useless, pointless lump of sad that I am today. I could have graduated college, I could have gotten a job, had friends, had a real life.
Work. I did work, twice. The first time I was very young and it was a stupid security job at a strip mall after I had failed out of college. The second time…
I was going to a program deigned to help people like me (crazy folk) find and keep jobs. One of the first things they do is test you to see what you would be best suited for. My results were off the chart on everything. It wasn’t a difficult series of tests. I think it was designed for lower functioning individuals as it consisted of things like completing lines and finding word matches in groups in a set period of time. Things you would do in elementary school. My scores being so high, they had no idea what to do with me. So they offered me a job.
This company was contracted with the state and actually had two positions that they specifically kept open for clients. They decided to offer me one of those positions and I took it. This was in my mid twenties and I wanted to work. I really, really did. We filled out all the paperwork, got me all set up. I went to a consignment store and picked up a couple nice outfits that I could wear to the office. Shirts and shorts weren’t going to cut it here. This job was supposed to be a stepping stone. I was supposed to work here for a year and a half gaining enough experience to move on to a permanent office position somewhere else. I was so excited.
I didn’t show up the first day.
I tried. I tried so hard. I got up, got dressed, got all of my things together. Got on the train and road down to the office. Got off the train and walked the few blocks remaining. Got in front of the office and then… I just couldn’t go in. I paced on the sidewalk out front. I’m sure someone could see me from inside but no one actually came out. I paced and stood, sweating and absolutely terrified. After what seemed like an eternity I simply turned and went back home. I didn’t call out or anything. How could I? What excuse could I give? I got there but was too afraid to go inside? The scary little office building chased me away?
After a few days of anguish and self-hated I eventually did show up. But that first day. That day when I was right there. Right at the front door but simply couldn’t bring myself to open it and walk inside. That really sticks with me. The regret. Knowing how things could have been instead of what they are.
I regret this fear that has controlled me all of my life. How it’s tormented me. How I let it torment me. There’s simply no other way to say it no matter what anyone else thinks or says:
I regret me.