…was a Monday, and I recall it with something of a sadness, for on that day I engaged in a deep self-betrayal, and the repercussions were substantial and long-lived.
You’ll forgive the vagueness. Some things can only be spoken of in the abstract.
In my life I have often practiced self-excoriation in the face of even my average mistakes; when I look back on something as destructive as what I did that day, my self-judgment has generally been brutal, has brooked no quarter.
But sadness, but grief: those are different. Those are not things you whip yourself with.
You see, Jerry has taught me a few things. Jerry likes to say, in the face of mistakes, “What did I have to learn?” Jerry says, “I’ll do better next time.”
I suppose it speaks well of my growth over the last almost-year that I don’t find myself reaching for that bloodthirsty penitent lash when I look back on that day. I acted out of fear; the repercussions were substantial: I had something to learn, and I did learn. I have faced opportunities to make similar mistakes since then, and while I can’t say I have entirely vanquished that cruel and compelling fear, I am here today to say that I did better the next times it came around.
Having witnessed the damage in my life from self-betrayals–the one I speak of here, and others too, some still coiled in my psyche, ready to draw blood–I have developed and continue to develop a different and more complete integrity. It’s a process, integrity, not a destination, and there are always temptations, and even a cursory glance at my life shows how much growth still remains. But things are so much better in my life now. Surely that is evidence that I am more true to myself than I was that day two years ago. Because I know this: if you act consistently out of integrity with yourself, the universe will test you and test you and test you until you learn.