I used to regret things, but then one event in my teenage years changed all of that.
I was sixteen or seventeen and I had been dating the same girl for about two years. That was a long time for that age and I was pretty positive I would marry her someday. We were each other’s firsts, and for a high school relationship, that was a big deal. We had sex regularly and were typically pretty safe about it. The condom became one of my best friends in high school. One night, the two of us were enjoying each other’s company, in her bedroom, while her parents were away for most of the evening. Things were going well, then great, and then they were done. I was young, so things never really lasted all that long to begin with, but this time seemed much better for some reason.
As I withdrew and went to take the condom off, I noticed it had broken. The panic set in as we both tried to make sense of what had just happened. How long ago did the condom break? Had I finished? Was she already pregnant? Before I knew it, she was rushing into the bathroom. She was in there for a long time while I just sat there thinking about how I had messed up.
Our lives are over.
We are going to be that awkward high school couple with a baby.
All of those thoughts rushed through my head as I sat there contemplating the inevitable end of my life. Pretty soon she came back into the room crying and hugged me. She asked me to lie down with her, so we both got into bed and cuddled. Her parents soon came home, so we got up and acted like nothing had happened. Eventually, I left to go home and all I thought about on the drive back was what had happened. I crawled into bed and tried to forget, but that was not going to happen. A million things raced through my head as I sat there staring at the ceiling. I eventually drifted off to sleep, but it would only be for a few hours.
The next day she called me and said that she had talked with a friend that mentioned something about a “morning after” pill. We would have to head to the free clinic downtown, but it may be our best shot to avoid being teenage parents. I said “alright,” drove over, picked her up, and headed to the clinic downtown. I felt nervous, uncomfortable, and anxious. Things had gone wrong and I took full responsibility, so I was committed to doing whatever was necessary.
We stepped into the clinic and all eyes were on us. I could have cut the awkward tension with a knife. I had never felt so judged in my life. She signed in at the front desk and we waited for what seemed to be forever. A half hour later a staff member called her name and she hurried off behind closed doors while I continued to wait. I sat there staring at a wall and wishing that I had never had sex at all. All of those commercials about waiting and abstinence came to mind as I thought, “I am the exact person they were talking about.” I felt so stupid, immature, and powerless. I wanted to take it all back, but that was not an option any longer. I sat and thought and prayed.
Eventually, she came out, I greeted her, and she said things would be fine. We paid for the visit and left. Once we got into the car she pulled out a little package that had Plan B or something like that on it. She said it would improve her chances of not getting pregnant, so she read the directions and took the first pill. I felt relieved, looked at her, told her I loved her, and we kissed. She looked at me and said “I love you too.” We both smiled, I started up the car, and we drove back to her place. We were not completely out of the woods yet, but we both felt much calmer.
A week or so later, mother nature came calling and we both felt completely relieved. We talked about how lucky we were and how we needed to be more careful in the future. We made a plan of action to hopefully avoid this same situation in the future. We never once talked about not having sex again, even though we both probably had thought about it. We were young and sex was fun and important to the relationship, so why stop?
While I was in the clinic I felt terrible, but now that things were going to be alright, I felt great. I regretted having sex when I was there, but that had long since faded. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was fortunate to have emerged positively and that the entire experience taught me a great deal. Regret no longer seemed important and I made a decision that it was a waste of time.
Without that situation taking place, I never would have considered safer, smarter sex. I also would not have known about the clinic or those pills. More importantly, I would not have learned to face such a huge and potentially life altering decision with such courage and responsibility. For the first time in my life, I was forced to think about and make a decision based on the future of somebody other than myself.
This situation forced me to grow up a lot. I grew for the better. Regret would never have provided me with that sort of growth, at least not in my opinion. That was a huge month in my life. Heck, it may have even been the gateway into manhood for me. Regardless of how it can be viewed, that experience solidified my belief that regrets are trivial. Since then, I have not regretted a thing. I still make mistakes and do stupid shit, but I own up to my actions and learn from them.
I wish I could have done some things differently, but if I did, then I would not be the person I am today. Not having regrets has taught me to be true to myself, have courage in difficult situations, admit and learn from my mistakes, and grow into a well-rounded and responsible young man. I am thankful for all of my experiences, even if they are stressful, because they teach me a little more about myself and life.
Life is meant to live and not to regret.
Photo credit: Flickr / MIKI Yoshihito (´･ω･)