You know how people say "when you look back on your life, you will only regret what you HAVEN'T done"? Hmph. Clearly these people have never lost their temper and acted ugly & shamefully.
I am full of deep shame & regret after a fight (yelling, screaming, childish, ugly ugly) that I instigated with my mother-in-law, mostly because I can no longer say that "at least I've always treated her nicely & acted like an adult". I have completely lost the upper-hand in our ongoing power struggle. To paraphrase what my husband said: "I've got your back & I will always take your side, but it would make it a LOT easier for me to do this if you act irreproachably and SHE is clearly the only one being unreasonable."
My friends have told me to forgive myself...that it was completely expected for me to lose my temper given what has been going on lately (too complicated & don't feel like talking about it lest I get worked up again!). And in fact, I never said anything nasty or hurtful to her (which she certainly did to me), but the tone I used and the overall act of starting the fight is not appropriate behavior towards an older family member. I've apologized profusely (hell, I'd say I GROVELED) and I'm putting on a great show of calmness and respect. As Scarlett O'Hara would say "Butter won't melt in my mouth".
But the fact is, it happened, and it is a large and very dark spot on my otherwise unblemished record with her. And it has obliterated any confidence I had in my success in deliberately creating inward and outward calm & balance in my life. Clearly I haven't changed at all, I've just been packing and packing all the worries & annoyances & sadnesses deep inside and I finally burst open like a too-full suitcase. I really thought I had made some progress and I am severely disappointed in myself.
Life is really really hard sometimes.