The sun is still well below the horizon but its light reflects from the clouds and dawn is not long away. I could see the horizon, so it was Morning Nautical Twilight.
This far North, first light in the middle of December came at 0735. Most people don’t realise just how far north England lies ~ my little town is as far north as the Gulf of Alaska and the Canadian cities of Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, about 55N. And, today it is cold for England ~ about 22F.
Some may ask what I was doing on the cold sea-shore well before first light? The thing is I had not been to bed at all. The thing is sometimes memories, regrets, and guilt haunt my midnight. The nightmares, werewolves, harpies, and the faces of those I have wronged come back to remind me of my vile misdeeds.
If I was ever going to live with myself there was something I needed to do.
I have made a list of everyone I have really harmed, not including myself. Without exception they are women I have had some kind of relationship with. I seem to have had an uncanny ability to fuck-up every relationship I have ever had. Perhaps relationships are something that I never learned to understand.
Even when a woman walked out on me, it was my fault and I had hurt her along the way.
I think I have always acted as an English Gentleman. Sometimes it was just an act, and sometimes an English Gentleman can be a cruel, unfeeling, heartless bastard. Too often I gave money and material things instead of love and affection. Too often I put my own transitory gratification ahead of what could have been good and fine in my life.
Relationships and illicit affairs came and went. When in trouble I would hide in the bottom of a bottle or run away to work in another city, on another continent. Facing up to what was wrong did not occur to me, especially since what was wrong was me.
Of the bad things I have done, affairs with married women is probably among the worst. They could never end well, and someone was almost bound to get hurt along the way. In that kind of an illicit affair there is a family to consider, and I never did. Some say that it takes two to tango. And, that the woman must share some of the blame. All I know is that I can charm the very birds from the trees, and I had a great deal of money to throw around.
For my own sanity I need to deal with this.
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. ~ The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The picture is of just one of the married women I had an affair with. Now there is no chance for me to hurt her again, or even to make amends. Living with that is a small price for me to pay for everything I have done wrong.
words and pictures by jack collier