I promised myself years ago that I would live a life without regret. I would find the silver lining, find the good in all the shit life would throw at me. And for the most part, I have kept this promise. For the most part.
I've made many stupid choices, done things that have caused me pain, sadness, anger, but I've almost always gained something worthwhile in the end. From every mistake has come something good - a lesson learned, an opportunity, strength, wisdom, a new beginning, even simply a new perspective on life.
Every mistake, that is, save one. And that one has haunted me for years. From that mistake, I have gained nothing but heartache, guilt, and - most painful of all - regret.
I fell in love with a man who was kind, thoughtful, beautiful inside and out, who was smart and ambitious and who pushed me to be so much better than I ever thought I could be.
I fell in love with this man, who was not my husband, and I very nearly kept my promise to myself. I very nearly took a step into a new life with this man I loved - this man I still love, though I haven't seen him in a very long time.
But I was a coward. I didn't leave my husband, who is cold and distant and who, I suspect, may actually be incapable of feeling anything as deep as love. I stayed with my husband because I knew he would never leave me. He will never leave because I provide for him.
And I love my husband, for all his faults, but in a way that will never quite be enough to quench the burning regret I feel for the love that could have been with the man who made me feel worthy of something more than what I had, than what I have, than what I'll always have.
I will always regret not taking that risk, not making that choice, letting that good man, that beautiful, kind, wonderful man walk out of my life without so much as a kiss to remember me by. I regret never telling him how much he meant to me, how my heart skipped a beat whenever I saw him, how much I wanted him, body and soul. I regret thinking my marriage vows were more important than my heart. I regret being a coward and staying with a man who will never make me feel truly loved when I had a chance at something so much better.
I miss the man who very nearly turned my life upside-down. After all these years, I still miss him so much it hurts. And as the years go by, I don't miss him any less - no, I miss him more.
And after all these years, I still regret the cowardice that made me break my promise to myself.
He was such a good man.