It’s the oldest cliche’ in the world – don’t regret your past, it made you who you are.

That’s really damn hard to actually do though. I have wasted a lot of time doing things that were a waste of time (at best) or completely idiotic and harmful to myself. While I can say that they shaped me into the person I am now, in a lot of ways I was just beating my head against the wall, and the real learning didn’t happen till after the fact.

Relationships are probably the biggest area that most people have regrets. I don’t have any regrets about ending relationships I’ve been in. All of them needed to be ended. My regrets are wasting so much time, time that I could (in retrospect) have been spending with this amazing woman I’m now married to.

How do I not regret being an introverted sissy that wouldn’t speak my mind and allowed people to take advantage of me? How do I not regret spending massive amounts of time, money, and effort trying to make things work that never ever had a chance of working? How much good stuff did I miss out on because I was trapped in the muck that I’d put myself into?

How do I not regret missing the last 7 years of Amber’s life? Or of Nicole’s?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last 6 months. And not because I’m unhappy – but because I’m ridiculously happy.

It is so easy for me to think too much about the past, or about the future, and in the process I miss out on the moment I’m in. Being in the moment is something I need to be better at. I think about my own past, I think about the tough things Nicole’s been through, and I can’t help thinking it would have been different if we’d met long ago.

BUT. Thinking about the past only has one useful purpose, and that’s to learn from mistakes and not make them again. I’m not going to say I’ve learned everything I can from my past, but I’m pretty darn sure I’ve learned the big lessons. So is nuance that I might be able to get if I keep thinking about it worth the time?

I’m thinking no.

Here are the big lessons I’ve taken from bad relationships…

1. Speak your mind. Kindly.

2. It’s OK (in fact, normal) to have expectations of your partner.

3. Mean people suck. Not in a good way.

4. In a normal relationship, sex isn’t a weapon.

5. You can be a giant jerk without ever raising your voice.

With those lessons in mind, I’m going to stop looking backwards. My life, Nicole’s life, Amber’s life… how we got here doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme. We are a family now. And all we can do is live in the moment and enjoy whatever comes.

We can’t go backwards and change anything, so why spend another second thinking about it?

Here’s to the future. But more importantly, here’s to NOW.