Guilt demands its due.
Contemplating this I say,
"Perhaps I'll pay...."
Anything it wants, I'll give--
all my haunted, familiar places--
rent in form of rents on me.
My body, twisted inside out
And with face to foot, elbow to knee
scalding regret and caustic remorse
will mark my aching flesh,
my rippled, riddled
People tell me not to feel guilty, but I do. I can't help it. I stuff it down to the point where it is only a dull throbbing that can go unnoticed for a long period of time until something brings it up again. Even the smallest of bumps pushes the pain front and center. It's a bone deep ache, a chronic hurting that nothing ameliorates. I carry it with me every day, a hidden disease of the heart and soul.
People tell me it wasn't my fault. That it was meant to be and that Fate decreed it to happen. But I know differently. I know that if I had not been selfish and had stayed home it wouldn't have occurred. I would have been there to change the course of events. I am responsible for it because I chose myself over my obligations and now there is nothing I can do to quiet that voice that tells me every day, "It's your fault....it's all your damned fault."
And I am paying the price. Everything in my reality seems to be fraying at the edges. What once held light only holds shadows and shade. Guilt tinges everything with a slightly bitter, acrid scent of culpability and shame. I can't shake it. It revisits again and again...quickly becoming a familiar, unwanted friend.
I don't know what I am doing. I don't know how to change how I feel. I don't know that I ever can move beyond this secret I hold...that I am fundamentally a bad person who causes bad things to happen. I hate myself for not being there. If it had been anyone else, I would have forgiven them immediately as there would have been nothing to forgive. But I cannot grant that grace to myself. It is the penance I must pay and I must pay it silently. No one understands and no one deserves the worry of knowing.
Usually I am optimistic about life in general, about the goodness and beauty of this particular existence. But right now I am so damned sad I don't feel any optimism whatsoever. Hope abandoned me months ago and I am coasting on fumes, on ideas I held dear a year ago. I am not who I want to be. I am not who I used to be. I don't know who I am anymore. All of my touchstones have disappeared. All of my references have changed and morphed into something else entirely and I am not navigating this new course with grace and aplomb. I am failing myself miserably, a completely derailed train ready to crash and burst into flames. I just don't want to take anyone down with me.
And I can't apologize enough. A lifetime of sorry wouldn't suffice. But I am sorry. I am more sorry than anyone will ever know. I am more sorry than anyone will take the time to hear. Every atom apologizes for failing, for not being there when you needed me, for being selfish and absent.
I dream of you at night. I almost wish I didn't.