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Day 19 -- Something I regret, in great detail
I was going to pick something I am ashamed of, among the hundreds of such things that come to mind.  But that's not the same as regret.  For one thing, shame is only an emotion; it doesn't prove you were wrong, any more than being proud proves you were right.  In order to regret something, I would have to imagine that it could have been otherwise, and for the better.  I can't think of any action of mine that actually made any difference.  Even when I have managed to hurt people (which AFAIK is rare), it is hard to know whether it would have improved the world if I hadn't.  I suppose I could say I regret my character defects, tho they have always been there, and it is hard to imagine life without them.

Well, then, cowardice.  I am terrified of conflict.  This seems to be mainly due to incompetence at losing gracefully, tho it must have been exacerbated by pacifist propaganda in childhood.  I make up for it by frequent fantasies of outrageous behavior, which distract me from shame.  I wrote in my journal 7 January 1997:

Emotions:  Continual hate fantasies (every few minutes) all morning.  In almost all such fantasies, my offendedness & offensiveness are a surprise to their object.  This suggested to me, some time ago, an explanation for them in addition to the mere fact that they are a distraction from shame & fear.  Namely, it seems likely that in childhood I once gave offense to someone unintentionally & was mortified to find that I had done so (a Freudian would say, all the more so in that I had unconsciously willed the offense), and that, in my fantasies, I am trying to avoid a recurrence of the surprise by giving offense deliberately.  Of course, there is also mixed in a wish to be punished, due to shame at being spoiled.  Finally, there is also overcompensation for shame at not having kept up my side in past conflicts.

I have sometimes thought that if I had been plunged into a fearful environment in childhood, I might have been forced to fend for myself.  At times in my life I have had fantasies of doing so (joining the army, emigrating to Israel), but of course, I never dared.  Later on, at age 40, I was bowled over by reading Captains Courageous: maybe all it takes is falling overboard & getting punched in the nose.  %^)

Or, one could say, I regret that I am alive.
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