My betrayal and guilt – sadness and regret




All life must be filled with regret and sadness for what might have been, since as Coleridge tells us, “the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waters behind us”.

And so – if only we had known what we know now, how much better, how much more fulfilled, our lives could have been.

And today? If only we could know and understand now, what we will understand and know sometime in the future when that lantern finally “shines on the waters behind us”.

If, that is, we survive into that future with our burden of regrets and sadness at what might have been.

Anthony J Sargeant – 24th May 2015


Recently I watched the BBC programme about ‘The Grammar School’. It showed people who came from working class homes like my own who went on to fulfil the promise and hope invested in them, some going to Oxford and Cambridge as some of my peers at Haberdashers’ Aske’s did. Then Last night I watched a programme about Melvyn Bragg from a poor working class background … ditto.

I also had all the opportunities before me – in the early years at Aske’s I was always near the top of the class. In falling by the wayside at school I now feel that I betrayed my class. I failed to seize the opportunity extended to me and thereby become a standard bearer for all working class children like myself.

At least for the first three years of school my trajectory might have taken me to one of the great London Hospital Medical Schools – that was my ambition. But it all fell apart – from the fourth year onwards.

What happened ? I don’t know. I am just painfully aware that I betrayed the hope of many around me by my failure. I feel that pain more keenly now than ever. There is little consolation.

I may think and write some more about this – althoough it is probably not healthy – it makes me profoundly sad and leaves me with a sense of guilt, of betrayal.


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