A self-awareness exercise I came across recently had me facing some interesting facts. The idea is to list things that you regret having done or not having done and then seeing how you could address each regret. And also, to think about why you did or didn’t do the thing you regret doing. Or not doing. (Okay, those last sentences made way more sense in my head that it does on paper, but hopefully you get the idea.)

The regrets have to be things over which you have some control. So saying ‘I regret I’m not taller’ doesn’t count. Unless you deliberately made yourself shorter by sleeping in a shoebox. Or something.

So, I sat down, got honest and wrote down the things that I do regret and here are some of them:

  • I regret not having lived overseas
  • I regret giving up playing the flute completely
  • I regret not having another child
  • I regret not buying those red shoes I saw at Bloomingdales the first time I went to New York City
  • I regret waiting until I was 36 before visiting New York City for the first time
  • I regret getting a perm when I was in secondary school. What was I thinking?
  • I regret the times I ignored my instincts – they were always, but always spot on!
  • I regret not being able to speak Italian. (But I will continue to say that all it would take is six months in Venice for me turn my high-school skills into fluent Italian. And I have the hand movements down perfectly!)
  • I regret not telling my family that I love them more
  • I regret wearing white jeans. Ever
  • I regret not having seen Frank Sinatra sing live
  • I regret spending my teens, twenties and now thinking I was (am) fat and trying to hide my body when it is perfectly fine

You get the idea. I then tried to do the same exercise, but based on how I feel about my diabetes. Did I have any real regrets? My list looks like this:

  • I regret waiting three years before starting on a pump
  • I regret not finding my endo from the beginning of my diagnosis
  • I regret any and all of the guilt and shame I have felt about having diabetes
  • I regret not speaking with someone about diabetes sooner and understanding that it’s okay to grieve
  • I regret feeling the need to be stoic all the time and understand that sometimes it’s okay to say ‘this really sucks’.

I actually am quite proud of my diabetes list of regrets. So much of diabetes is out of our control. Whether we’re talking about our diagnosis or complications which we may or may not develop – sometimes despite our best (and worst) efforts – we sometimes still get dealt something that we hoped would not happen.

I guess for me, I don’t want to look back and say ‘I regret not having seen my ophthalmologist frequently’ or ‘I regret not having my kidney check done each year’, because if something happens, I don’t want to think that I could have prevented it.

Let me be clear. This is not a blame game. I know people who could make a list that would have no regrets at all because never did they miss a screening check, never did they see an HbA1c result above 7.0% and still have developed complications. I just want to be able to say I did everything I could to help. It’s as much control I can claim over this condition. A condition that really doesn’t understand what control is.

So, what are your diabetes regrets?