Don’t Look Back. There is Only Pain There.

It’s been an odd couple months for me. Well, maybe not odd. More like nice and refreshing.

After Tom died, I flung myself full-speed into my freelance assignments. I rarely, if ever, said no to work and often found myself spending nights and weekends on the computer to meet deadlines. I regularly told myself that I needed to change – that the pace was not healthy for me or the kids – but I couldn’t quite bring myself to slow down.

Well, my work decided to slow down for me. My largest client, who normally accounts for more than half my work, pared back its editorial budgets for the end of the fiscal year and for the first time in about six years, I didn’t have any work from them for the whole month. This month I only have one assignment so far. Meanwhile, a second client has ramped back on a project that I thought could fill my time.

The result? Even though I’ve used some of my free time to work on other projects (notice how I’ve starting consistently posting here twice a week?), I really haven’t had a reason to be on the computer all hours of the day.

I’m so used to being connected, I must confess that it’s making me a little twitchy. But here’s some of what’s happened now that I have more free space in my calendar:

We’ve eaten less fast food and spent more dinners around the table.

The 3 year-old and I have started a near-daily ritual of eating berries off the bushes in the backyard for dessert. Then we lay on the grass and look at the clouds.

I’ve been spending some time each day trying to control the overgrown mess of landscaping around the house.

We’ve been visiting the library each week.

I have been indulging in some Netflix shows a couple times each week, a luxury I always told myself I was too busy to enjoy.

And all that brings me back to the subject of this post: don’t look back.

Don’t Look Back Unless You Enjoy Regret

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two months (minus the twinge of economic uncertainty that’s accompanied them), I’m tempted to scold myself for squandering past opportunities.

We’ve been here three years, why has it taken me so long to go out and enjoy the berries?

                                             Why haven’t we had more campfires?

                                             Why don’t we spend more evenings enjoying the breeze outside?

It’s an exercise in self-flagellation – one that comes with no benefit. It makes me feel despondent at best and despairing at worst. So I’m doing my best to never look back – to never think about what might have been.

Because here’s the truth: I did the best I could three years ago. And I was doing the best I could two years. And last year, yes that’s right, I was living the best life I was capable of then too.

It’s the same with you. You too are doing the absolute best you can with whatever life has handed you. And in the past, you were too. Don’t look back and think about how things could have been different because you weren’t in a place to make them different. You were doing all you could with all you had and looking back with regret doesn’t achieve anything other than to make you miserable.

Leave the pain in the past. Look forward and march forward with your head held high instead.

Are you tempted to dwell on the past? If you’ve found a good way to stay focused on the present, let us know in the comments below or on The Mighty Widow Facebook page.