Regrets of the Past


We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  AA Promises

About two years ago I had occasion to get reacquainted with my best friend from high school that I had not seen in nearly 40 years.  In an email to me he basically said something like ‘I know this is your address, please reply, as I have been trying to track you down for years.’  I responded and explained that for a long period of time I had been profoundly embarrassed about how I had treated people during my active drinking days, including him.   Although we live hundreds of miles apart, we have gotten together a half-dozen times for an evening visit and that very past has made our relationship stronger today.

About fifteen years ago I got into my head the understanding that – if every breath I have ever taken has gotten me to sitting right here today, I would not change a thing.  As I write these words this morning, that sentiment remain true to me.

Working with others and sharing my experience, strength, and hope is an obvious way that this second AA Promise works today in my life.  However, I had an experience a bit over a year ago that revealed to me the depth of this Promise.

My father and I had a long and rocky relationship filled with the all of the dysfunctional family stories.  We were not close, and although I visited on occasion, we had gone many months or even years without a visit since my teenage years.  He died in February of 2013.  I had dutifully driven the 600 miles for a couple of false alarms to visit prior to his death.  A visit that January was clearly going to be the last time I would see him.  I wanted to have some sort of reconciliation with him, but I had a hard time figuring out what to say.  Then I thought that today, I have no complaints in the world about my existence.  I do not regret anything in the past as it all got me to where I am in today in life where I find complete contentment, meaning, and serenity.  My father had been instrumental in creating many of those experiences, particularly in the distant past, so I could be thankful to him for putting me on the path to where I stand today.  So how that concept came out with just the two of us in that hospice room was me saying “I just wanted to thank you for everything and tell you I love you.”  He seemed dumbfounded, so I repeated the words.  I said what I needed to say and my father heard what he needed to hear.  The hospice nurse came into the room to do something and told I would need to leave for a while.

My father and I had a couple of phone conversations after that hospital room meeting where we talked about baseball games of my youth, my next road trip, and other things I cannot remember.  We never spoke again of our final words in the hospital room.  Of importance, those words were true and a recognition of the Second AA Promise.

I find that this example shows the Second AA Promise is not just a self-serving “no regrets” type of condition, but rather an end of denial and an acceptance of the whole self.

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