Releasing Regret

Hello again Oncers!

I wasn’t particularly planning on writing about this moment today, but something happened in the past week, something that led me to release my regrets.

In the episode “Save Henry” (Spoilers through Season 3) Snow White, Emma, and Regina have been trapped by vines of a magical tree that constricts anyone holding onto regret.

Peter Pan has become victorious in stealing Henry’s heart and is taunting the three women by bringing up their regrets. He reminds them of how they’ve failed their children, ruined lives, and let people down.

He gives a full-on villain monologue to his trapped captives, gloating about how he has won and can never be defeated until Regina cuts in.

Regina, Emma, and Snow White trapped to around the tree while Peter Pan monologues.

Regina: Are you finished?
Peter Pan: Last words from the queen. Perhaps a deathbed confession from the one who has the most to regret of all.
Regina: Yeah, there’s one problem with that. I did cast a curse that devastated an entire population. I have tortured and murdered. I’ve done some terrible things. I should be overflowing with regret, but . . . I’m not. (She breaks through the vines.) Because it got me my son. (Takes Henry’s heart back.) Now. . . let’s go save Henry.

No Regrets? Really?

Moments Regina might regret.
From top left, clockwise: Imprisoning her son, Killing her father, Her
first kill, and Sterilizing herself.

I always thought this was a cop out. That the writers had gotten themselves in a bind, and needed an excuse for one of the heroes to be able to break free, because how could Regina have no regrets?

She ran an entire kingdom through fear and dictatorship, not to mention killed and tortured countless people. Yes, she may have gone through the journey of learning the error of her ways, but how does that equal not regretting anything she did in her past?

But then this week happened and I healed one of the largest regrets I’ve held been holding onto. Now I get it.

My Illness

Small moments during the years I was sick.

Nine years ago, I made a choice. I saw blood in my stool and went to the doctors. I didn’t know this was a choice at the time, I thought it was the only thing I could do. Don’t ask questions, don’t change my diet, or try to keep track of when it happened to create some sort of correlation to a type of food or stressor. No, just go to the doctors and they’ll fix me.

The doctors tested me, told me I had Ulcerative Colitis, and began pumping me full of medicines. Soon after, I began checking in and out of hospital due to pain in my pancreas, severe dehydration, and a host of other issues. I lost muscle mass and body control.

In short, I became a waif of the person I used to be. For two years I lived like this before having the surgery that removed my colon, effectively curing my UC. My life started over again, I felt like I had been given a second chance.

Figuring Out the Truth

Since that time, I realized I wasn’t sick, not really, not until I started taking the medicine. That was what caused my pain. That was what made my body fail. I had felt fine before I went to the doctors. Nothing bad was happening to me, except a little bit of blood. I went through two years of hell because I needed someone else to tell me what was wrong, instead of trusting my own body.

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Before we go any further, I want to say that I respect and still use western medicine. But I don’t follow doctors blindly anymore. I don’t believe their opinion in curing an ailment is the only way to feel better. If something is hurting I believe in speaking up, in having it checked out by a medically trained professional. I just don’t think their counsel is the end-all-be-all.

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Following Orders

If this situation had happened with the person I am today, I would’ve spoken up for myself. I would’ve told the doctor that I didn’t want to take any medicine until I felt pain. Until my body told me I need to change something.

Times I went out even though my body was very weak. Left: After a day at the Renaissance Fair Right: At a friend’s wedding.

But it didn’t happen today, it happened nine years ago, and nine years ago I was a very different person. I could barely, if at all, think for myself. All I wanted to do was please my parents, and make the choices they taught me were right.

So, when the doctors told me I was sick and they had a way to make me better, my parents who love me, care about me, and were worried for my well-being, asked me to take the medicine.

And even though I didn’t want to, even though I didn’t feel sick and I didn’t feel like I needed any medicine, I felt more obligation to respect my parents then respect myself, so I took it. I followed the doctor’s orders, and month by month I grew worse and worse. It became so bad that during one of my hospital stays I was in isolation for twelve days and another time I almost had a blood transfusion.

My Choice

I could choose to be angry. I could choose to hate my past self who followed others blindly without question. I could blame her for the choices she made. I could fill myself with regret about the choice she made nine years ago which I suffered for.

Moments on Regina’s path of transformation in Season 2. Clockwise: Ready to sacrifice herself for the town’s survival, Letting go of her first love Danial, and Removing a trap that would have killed Emma & Snow.

But you know what? I don’t. I don’t regret what I did nine years ago. I don’t hate past me. Instead, I love her. I know why she made all those decisions, and if she hadn’t made them, I wouldn’t be me.

All the choices I made in my past, regardless of what they immediately created, led me to the woman I am today. And I love myself. I love who I am and what I have become. And if I made a different choice nine years ago, I wouldn’t be me.

All of this healing happened in the last week. And when I came out the other side, after the crying and screaming and punching my pillow I realized that this was the type of internal work Regina had gone through when she was tied to that tree.

Yes, Regina was a horrible person, and yes, she was on the path of redemption, but all that horribleness in her past, it ultimately led her to her son. So, instead of regretting her past, she chose to embrace her present. Her beautiful wonderful present, while honoring the choices she made to get her there.

And that is what I have chosen to do too. Because life is not just what is given to us. It is what we choose to make it.

Pictures of me in the last year. From Left to Right:
Top of the Sears Tower, After walking 5K for the first time ever, My kitty curled up on my computer and me, and Preparing to go see Hamilton

PS: Just on the off chance this needs clarification. I’m NOT condoning murder or dictatorship, I just understand what this moment for Regina in the show was meant to represent.

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