In a Strange Land: Thirteen

For the rest of my days, I would carry with me the knowledge of regrets and failings that I dared not speak of. It was a silent burden that I struggled to articulate even to myself or mostly avoided.

I believed that it was not about perfection. Though I had failed, as we all do, to be perfect, the sting of regret that I felt was not about imperfections. Imperfections were forgivable. Imperfections could be justified, rationalized. They could be acknowledged, corrected, and made up for. But those failings that I could barely acknowledge to myself were, so it seemed, beyond my power to remedy. I had no excuse for myself. There was no explanation.

In private moments when I sensed my knowledge of things that I could not change about myself, I felt the emotional weight of my circumstance. Sometimes it moved me to the brink of tears. Those were moments of deep sorrow for me, and the sorrow overflowed my capacity to reason. I held back my tears in silence. I could have wailed, if I were the kind of person to whom wailing came easily.

It was transient, this sorrow. It passed over me from time to time like a thundercloud, cumulus and threatening. I did not live day-to-day in that cloud. It did not dominate my life, though it would never leave me and I knew that a few moments of reflection might encourage it to form again in my consciousness.

The proof of my failure was my inability to speak of it even to those who were closest to me. It would remain hidden, an entirely private burden that could neither be lifted nor put down.

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