Originally published April 7, 2015
I was on a trajectory to a perfectly normal life. I was mostly good, though sometimes a bit naughty. There were times I was full of certainty and promise and other times I was crippled by misgivings and frozen by doubt. Sometimes, I felt myself to be invincible; other times, I felt vulnerable and bare. In other words, I was perfectly normal.
And then the scandal. I was only a peripheral player. There was no reason for me to have been brought into it at all, but the silver ball of fate landed in my number. I was in the right place at the wrong time.
Soon, everyone had an opinion about me, most of them bad. Any why? I’d done nothing so different that many others did before and after me. Except others don’t get caught in such a spectacular way.
After that, my life was never the same. The press hounded me. When that finally abated, many still whispered about me. My name was synonymous with my shame, and I would never be free of the taint.
I tried my best to rise above it; to develop a philosophical attitude. I managed a fair degree of success in no longer caring what the strangers thought or said about me, but I never was able to get over that initial punch in the solar plexus when I’d be recognized in a social setting and the murmur of whispers and surreptitious glances would begin afresh.
I went on with my life. What else could I do? I would not hide. Pourquoi? I was not a criminal! More than one person suggested I change my name. I refused, on principle. None of those who threw hypothetical stones at me were without plenty of sins of their own.
I lived a much smaller life than I had before. My friends and family closed ranks and kept me sheltered from the gossip and petty ill will of others.
Eventually, the public forgot. My transgression was too far in the past for anyone to care about it. There were far more intriguing sinners to star in the morality plays of the self-righteous.
And slowly, I started to live again. But those were decades I would never get back.
I won’t say those years were wasted but it took me a long time to appreciate all I learned from the derailing of my life. I am learning, still.