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Regretfully Yours

Fear of regret should never hold you back.

This year I finally got my tubes tied, and one thing that sticks in my mind about the whole experience is what my mum told me.

“I really want to do this,” I said, “and I don’t think I’ll regret it.”

“If you regret it,” she replied with a shrug, “then you regret it.”

And that was that.

It’s been a couple of years and that concept has lived in my mind ever since. The simple acceptance that regret can and will happen.

When I got my tubes tied, due to a change in surgeons I got a lot of last minute pushback on my decision. A lot of “are you sure?” and “what if things change?”

While in the end I still got my surgery done it made me realise, with the vividness of first-hand experience, how truly stupid the discourse around reproductive choices like this are. I am thirty. I am married to my long term partner of ten years. I know my body and my life and what I do and do not want.

And if I regret this choice?

Then I’ll just have to deal with it. Sure, I would be sad if I woke up one day with a burning need to reproduce that I couldn’t fulfil, but no-ones life should be so singularly focused that one regret, not matter how large, ruins it.

If I had listened to the surgeons concerns, I wouldn’t be in the happy place I am post-surgery. If — worse still — the doctor had made the decision for me, based on my potential future regret…let’s be honest, I would be pissed.

Regret is a natural, immutable part of the human experience. I regret staying up so late last night reading fanfic. I regret the last fight I had with my husband. I regret a lot of stuff. Big stuff and small stuff, recent stuff and stuff from years ago.

Yet here I am. Living, breathing, happy.

Regret is a tool to learn from, if you let it be. Let past regret shape future action without dwelling on it in an endless “I wish”.

Of course it’s a good idea to avoid making decisions you may regret, especially big ones that do have life-long consequences. Staying up past my bedtime? It’s a small regret with limited impact. Getting my tubes tied? That was a decision that took a long time to commit to, even though I’ve never really wanted children.

Regret will happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. So embrace it, let it teach you something, and learn to shrug at the thought of it.

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