People say 3 am is highly romanticized. You’re in your bed, staring blankly in the ceiling, darkness and quiet all around you it almost feels like you’re being consumed. You feel nothing, you say to yourself, but your eyes blur with tears and you stifle the sobs that are slowly coming up your throat. You’re the only one awake and yet you don’t find peace in the stillness. If nothing, it makes your thoughts louder and harder to ignore. You think about all the things you regret, all the words you should have said when you had the chance and all the opportunities you let pass you by. Your heart starts pounding and you bury your fist in your eyes. You don’t want to remember, you don’t want to open it up. And of course as soon as you said that, everything comes rushing back. There was no stopping the avalanche of emotion now. You are crushed with its intensity. Soon it’s 6 am and you’re gasping for air, throat dry, eyes tired of crying. You crave numbness, only to be forced into function by the bright morning ahead.
Yes, 3 am is powerful. But as I grow older, I realize 3 am does not have the monopoly on catching you off-guard. As a matter of fact, what’s harder than lying on your bed shouting at the void voicelessly is being in the grocery store, finding that one brand of cereal you used to love and being hit with an overwhelming rush of emotion and nostalgia so strong everything seems to slow down. What’s hard is keeping a straight face because breaking down in the cereal aisle isn’t something you want to be caught doing. What’s difficult is trying to breathe normally when you feel like your chest is about to explode anytime. It’s 2 pm, you’re picking up some fruit and you miss someone so bad you have to rely on the cart to steady yourself.
Is it an age thing? I thought we were supposed to be hormonal at 15, crying about the person who broke our hearts for the first time. Not at 20, when there are so many things ahead of you. I remember writing at 15, saying ‘this might sound silly in the future but it doesn’t feel silly now’. And it’s funny because that’s still how it is right now. It might sound silly later but right now the pain feels very real. I know better than to generalize or worse, trivialize other people’s pain, that’s why whenever I talk about my experiences, I refrain from trying to make it sound like my pain is worse than other people’s. It is what it is.
What it is right now is a massive memory lane attack with a side of regret and general wondering. I thought I buried most of these emotions thoroughly, not to be tampered with for another 20 years or so, but here we are, tampering away. It is of course triggered by something. I have unfortunately uncovered an old playlist (music really is dangerous), and a journal filled with raw, unfiltered emotions that was written more articulately than I expected. It hit me like a blimp.
Have you ever wondered what could have happened if you just spoke your mind? If you had the courage to ask the questions? If you fought really hard for what you wanted? Because maybe if you did, you wouldn’t be writing about it right now. You wouldn’t be blaming being too emotional and vulnerable, wouldn’t be worrying that you sound too depressing , wouldn’t be scolding yourself of acting like a hormonal teenager.
Even now I’m too scared to talk about it so openly. I cannot write about every specific detail because as much as I ask why and what if, I couldn’t bring anything back. I dreamed last night that I became somehow a ghost, able to do everything normally but isn’t completely normal. I remember weeping how I couldn’t go back anymore, pleading to turn back time, hurting all over, and then I woke up. The relief washed over me so powerfully, I couldn’t move for a few minutes. Everything felt so real. Just like right now. Except what is happening right now wouldn’t be over the next morning.
I miss someone so terribly. I miss talking to this person, pouring out my heart and not worrying of sounding awkward and weird. I miss having someone smile over my stupid stories. I miss laughing so hard my face hurts. I miss having someone to text when I see something funny or interesting. I miss all the little things. I kept replaying in my head what I could have done that would have kept everything the way it was. I keep regretting what I’ve done and what I didn’t say. I should have done things differently, I should have not given up so easily. I blame myself. I couldn’t let it go.
When does regret ever stop? Do you eventually get into point in life where you feel complete and without remorse? How do you get there? Because right now, I feel as far away from that place as I could possibly be. I just hope I could see what part of this timeline I am in right now. Am I closer to forgetting than I am to the past? Will it be over soon?
Oh how many people have asked for a do-over. How many people wished to turn back time to make it right. And it’s futile. There are no do-overs. There is no possible way to find out what could have happened. No way to know if it would have turned out better or worse. There’s no going back.
So I guess there’s no point in writing about it too. The present contains us, and we are unable to change anything but what is in front of us. Every second that passes, we give up something that ‘could have been’. Every second, we gamble, hoping that our choices will later be proven right. We hope that we chose the path that was for the best. And when we seem to be wrong, we convince ourselves that this was the only possible outcome. We try to make ourselves feel better with what we have become, and someday, we might actually believe that we were right.
Someday I hope to wake up with relief, and not regret.