One of the most poignant songs ever written about divorce is Jimmy Webb’s, “Didn’t We”. The plaintive refrain, “Didn’t we almost make it? Didn’t we almost make it, baby? Didn’t we almost make it, this time?”, is a pageant of hopes dashed and an anthem to regret. The lyrics indicate that the heave-ho this couple finally gave their marriage was the last in a long succession of let’s-try-it-one-more-times. And the fact that they were right on the verge of staying together and failed to do so despite their best intentions is the saddest thing I can imagine. But imagining it is as far as I can go.
Listening to this bittersweet account of love gone wrong made me almost wistful for the feelings of abject sadness that Mr. Webb sings about, and in that moment I wished I could join this parade of nostalgia and abject misery. But sadly, any feelings of tenderness or romantic notions of regret are lost on me and have been for quite some time. Even at the tail end of my marriage, I felt nothing of the sort. Mostly I felt contempt and an utter lack of compassion for my ex, which is sad, but true. You see, I’m one of those people who have a cut-off point. When I’m done, I’m done. I know it’s time to move on and I do it. It’s as simple as that.
Besides, I have no use for regret; it’s such a cumbersome emotion. Like a brain tumor, it festers in your head, growing over time, and it has a nasty habit of threading itself in to the rhythm of your days and nights, which can severely alter your perception of reality. Regret is pointless. Just like it’s pointless to waste your time wishing you had bought a piece of real estate when it was a bargain, rather than for the top dollar you paid, or wishing you’d ordered the salmon rather than the dry and tasteless veggie burger you opted for. You can’t foresee the future. You didn’t have a clue when the real estate bubble might burst or that your lunch would taste like cardboard on a bun. You went with your gut and it was wrong. That’s life. And just because you decide to toss the dice doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll roll a string of sevens; you could just as easily roll snake eyes.
So why not rejoice? Rejoice in the fact that you’ve been there, done that and got the divorce decree? Isn’t it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I think the answer to that burning question is a resounding “yes!” Because, despite the fact that loving my ex is another emotion I can’t for the life of me, remember feeling, I know I did love him once upon a time. After all, I have the wedding pictures to prove it! But still, I sometimes wish I had the ability to slip into the deep, martyred abyss of regret and wallow there for a while. And I have to admit that I do regret the fact that I’m unable to go there. But, honestly, that’s one regret I can live with.