Is Confession Good For the Soul?

Before this goes any further, let me qualify that question.

–I’m not talking about religion or conversations in the booth with your priest.

–And I’m not only talking about your soul.

I’m talking about confession on a more interpersonal level.  Relationships.  Deceit.  Guilt.  Confession.  Truth.

Mostly romantic relationships, but it can really be any relationship.

Guilt has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember.  Even before my OCD was diagnosed, and long after, part of my ritual to expel guilt was that I needed a confessor. My mom usually fulfilled this role, even though most often the guilt du jour had nothing to do with her.  Often my confessions were embarrassing and tedious, to both me and my chosen confessor, and were more often then not unnecessary, as my guilt was more a product of my OCD than anything I had actually done wrong.  Though my OCD is now better controlled, there are still times of high stress where I feel a formless guilt and a compulsion to “confess” something to the most important people in my life.

However, the majority of people experience guilt normally, in response to appropriate things, and in varying degrees.  What they do in response to that guilt is as individual a thing as the guilt itself.  Especially when the guilt involves a close romantic partner or spouse.  Relationships are complicated and successful relationships and lasting romantic connection take work.  When asked, most people would likely agree (at least out loud) that honesty is the best policy, although some of those people would likely also tell you there is such a thing as too much honesty.  I’m guessing there are many people, men and women, that would admit having told a “white lie” now and then, to spare their partner’s feelings.

 

Do you think I’ve gained weight?

Does my hair look thinner to you?

What do you think of my mother?

Sure, honey, dinner was good.

Yeah, I got off…

 

While I do agree with the use of tact and sensitivity, I am personally not a fan of the “white lie.”  I don’t lie to my husband, even about little things.  You may not believe me, and that’s okay, but I think I already demonstrated that I have a pretty overactive conscience with regards to some people.  That’s just me.  I don’t know if it’s the norm or not, or how many people do tell white lies to their spouse with little ill-effect on their conscience, and I am making no judgments.

What I am curious about are the big things?  Lies about our past…hiding money…cheating…

Any secrets or lies that would seriously damage a relationship, or at the very least, hurt you or your spouse emotionally if they ever came out.

There seem to be two main school of thought regarding secrets, lies, and whether or not to confess.  Some people feel that confessing, telling the truth, clearing the air, is the only right thing to do.  If you love someone, you don’t hide things from them or lie to them.  Period.

Then there is the school of thought that confession is actually a selfish act, done more to assuage the guilt of the “confessee” than out of any desire or need to right a wrong.  That there is no point in hurting the wronged party more by confessing, when nothing can actually be gained from truth coming out.  For example, you cheated on your spouse.  It was a mistake, a one time thing, you feel horrible, and you know it will never happen again.  What will confessing do but hurt your spouse, your relationship?

(We won’t go into the school of thought that is “deny, deny, deny,” even when confronted with evidence.  I think people that do that are operating with a questionable moral compass to begin with.  That’s all about self preservation, and guilt doesn’t much factor into it.)

Personally, I always advocate honesty, but if there was going to be criteria on “when to tell the truth,” I’d say the deciding factor should be the answer to one question.

Would the relationship change significantly, would feelings or actions of either party be different if the were the truth known?  

After all, how can a relationship be secure, be real, if both parties are not operating with all the facts ? Would your girlfriend leave you if she knew you cheated?  Would your husband forgive you if he knew you went off the pill even after he said he wanted no more children?

Anyway, I am curious to know what you guys think.  Consider this sort of an informal reader poll…

To tell or not to tell…

Talk to the Queen.

 

honesty

 

 

 

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“Mental Illness” and its Role in this Tragedy

I want to talk about this, but there’s just so much ground to cover, so many feelings and opinions about the subject.  I can’t get into all of it.  It’s just not in me emotionally.

Since the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut, people all over Facebook (and I’m sure every other social media) are having very strong opinions about what caused this and about why we in America have more school shootings than anywhere else in the world (combined probably.)  The two main things I’ve seen are “Gun Control” and “the Mental Health Care System.” I am assuming there will be some “the answer is to get Bibles back in the schools” and “better education” coming along shortly.

The term mentally ill is already being thrown around when we know nothing for sure right now.  Probably because to most of us “sane” people, we can not conceive of a normal, well-adjusted person shooting at babies.  Bear with me, because I am so upset I am shaking as I type.  I understand the urge to blame someone, or something, especially since the killer, like so many of these cowardly wastes of skin, killed himself after he did these horrendous things.  It makes me so mad that he’ll never have to feel the GUILT he should feel, let alone pay for what he did.  I don’t believe in Hell. I wish I did, because then maybe I’d feel he’s getting what he deserves there now.

But I want to take a moment to explore what it means to be “mentally ill,” and how it may or may not apply to this situation.

Wikipedia describes mental illness as A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological pattern or anomaly, potentially reflected in behavior, that is generally associated with distress or disability, and which is not considered part of normal development of a person’s culture. Mental disorders are generally defined by a combination of how a person feels, acts, thinks or perceives.

*The above definition may also be problematic because social factors can create sociopaths, people with antisocial personality disorder, which very much is in the DSM as a mental illness.  Sociopathy is highly correlated with lack of empathy, “damaged” moral compass, and violent crimes that can result from such a disorder.  Also, sociopathic personalities generally feel little distress about their lack of normal morals and emotions.

So, basically, sociological factors such as upbringing and economic factors can in fact combine with psychological issues to create a killer.  Essentially it is an play between nature versus nurture.  (edit 6/2015)

However, mental illness can encompass such things as anorexia, OCD, depression, phobias, stress disorders, and much more.  The point is, it can be said that half of America is mentally ill, under this criteria.  Mentally “ill” does not automatically mean violence, although, using criteria which measures behavior against society’s mores and parameters would naturally mean anyone who committed violence would automatically be considered “mentally ill.”  However, not all people who commit violent crimes have a mental illness diagnosable in the DSM.  At this early stage, I don’t think it’s helpful or accurate to say that the mental health care system is at fault for this.  I really can’t blame gun control or lack thereof either.  *In regards to gun control, the kind of gun control we really need is stricter fines and punishments for people like the mother (who died as a result of her irresponsibility anyhow), who knew her son was mentally unsound, yet did nothing to restrict his access to her guns.  Don’t misunderstand me.  While I do not advocate disarming citizens with a blanket ban on guns, I do believe there should be strict and definite sanctions for any gun owners who are caught being irresponsible in any way with their weapons (ie: leaving a loaded weapon in an unlocked car springs to mind, and yes, it happens quite a bit.)

I can’t help but think there is a social component to this phenomenon of school shooting.  I look at it in the same light as the increased suicides over bullying and the increase in family annihilators.  Some people are seeing this stuff reported and are getting it into their heads that this is an effective and acceptable way to “make a statement.”

There have always been bullies.  In schools and even in adult life. But since the explosion of social media, bullied kids can’t even get respite from their tormentors at home.  The bullies continue to harrass and hound their victims on social networking sites.  Though there were school shootings before Columbine, Klebold and Harris’s names became known the world over almost overnight.  Initially it was speculated that one or both of them had been bullied in school, and the killings were some form of retribution.* (New evidence seems to suggest they were not, in fact, bullied.  Rather, they were extremely angry and to some degree, psychopathic.  Psychopathy is in the DSM, but as a personality disorder.)  Now many bully victims are increasingly feeling that their only way out is suicide.  I can’t help but feel that like copycat suicides,  public response, media coverage, and perception have a lot to do with the proliferation of mass shootings.  But what is the answer to this problem?  Stop reporting on news and crimes?  It’s not possible, and shouldn’t be necessary.

But I don’t believe there is any one answer.  That would be too simple.  It’s not JUST a gun control issue, not just a mental health issue, not just a media reporting issue.  Our country, our world, is sick.  And I wish I knew what the answer was.

But what I will say is that, as a sufferer of an anxiety disorder, I would be classified as “mentally ill.”  Even were I not medicated, I can’t even imagine ever…EVER…going into a school and harming innocent babies!  I don’t understand why people like this feel the need to make innocents suffer for their misery.  Part of the problem I really believe goes back to personal responsibility.  I think America has become a society that fosters feelings of entitlement and a refusal to accept responsibility.  

Anyway, I’ve already wrote more than I meant to.  As a mother now, I feel a gut wrenching empathy for the parents of those poor children killed or wounded.  But I also feel a sense of desperation because I don’t know the answer.  I wish I did.  I just know that spreading the blame is not the answer, and mental illness is stigmatized enough without assuming that it’s the reason for this tragedy.  Arguably, a person who would do this is “not right” in the head, but it doesn’t mean the system failed him.  I’m betting he never gave the system a fair go in the first place.  In terms of mental issues, one usually has to acknowledge the need help, and want help to get help.

As an adjunct, please feel free to share your thoughts, but as this is a sensitive topic, I want to re-emphasize my policy on comment etiquette.  No flaming, keep it civil– or your comment will never make it past moderation.  I realize I may be expressing views that are contrary to your own.  I offer them up in the spirit of expressing my feelings and maybe trying the only way I know how to make sense of this.  I respect your right to disagree.  Please don’t take my words personally, and don’t make it personal.

Bah! Humbug! Homesick for the Holidays

Ah, the smell of BBQ, like a campfire in the fall.  My Peppermint Patty coffee creamer.  The joys of experiencing the holiday through my toddler’s eyes…

The ridiculous crowds at Walmart, the rude drivers, the stress of not having enough money to buy groceries, let alone presents…

Oh, and it’s currently 69 degrees outside.  Bah! Humbug!

But all of this I could handle if I didn’t feel so down and out.  The holidays are drawing inexorably nigh and it’s looking less and less like I’m going to make it home to see my family.  I was going to hitch a ride with my uncle in his motor home (he generously offered last year,) but he told me they had planned on taking the car this year.  This was a few weeks ago, and he said if they changed their minds, of course we could ride with them…  But it’s hard enough for my husband to get time off for the holidays ahead of time, so the closer the holidays approach before we ask, the less likely he is to be allowed off of work.  Last year, as we were the only one’s whose family is almost exclusively (with the exception of my uncle) out of state, he was the only one of his coworkers who did not get to spend Christmas with his family…any of them, because the baby and I flew home by ourselves (oh, holy night…mare that I will never repeat!)  He had off Christmas of course, but as we live 800 miles away from family, one day just isn’t sufficient travel time.

If my uncle were able to take the motor home to MD this year, I’d tell Hubby to tell his boss that he was takin’ off, and tough titty said the kitty if they didn’t like it.  It’s not right.  Seems to me they could spare him for a few days, as everyone else at his job generally stays instate.

“Tough Titty…” (Tough Kitty)

It’s bad enough I only see my parents like 3 times a year now (and consequently, they only see their granddaughter 3 times a year.)  It’s killing me, and I know it’s killing my mom.

I miss my family and I want to move back home… but I also don’t want to.  Simply put, I’d only move back to MD because most of the family is there.  Frankly, I don’t like what the place has become.  I feel safer out here with the good ol’ redneck, racist, ignorant, fat hillbillies than I would back home where I’d fear getting mugged going to the freakin’ Wawa.  I realize part of this is perception, and that there is crime everywhere…  but according to my perception, it seems like the people out here are more ignorant than actually malicious.  Prime example; last year, in my home state, a guy I went to school with was stabbed to death in his own apartment when a seventeen year old hood broke in to steal the gun my classmate had for home protection.  Did I mention he knew the kid from around the neighborhood?  Did I also mention this guy was legally blind?  Who the fuck stabs a blind guy?

But back to the point, suffice it to say this conflict of feeling is causing me some distress…

Were we to magically discover hubby had the time off of work, thus allowing us the opportunity to drive ourselves home, then there’s the question of the $300 dollars in gas we’d likely need to get there– one way.  Would our POS Explorer even make it that far?

Assuming we’re grounded and we just have to accept it, how now am I going to afford to get everyone I want to gifts?  Our parents usually understand if we can’t afford to get them anything, but I like to buy for my sisters, and then their are my nieces and nephews, and my best friend’s kids, and my cousin’s kid…

Obviously I am not the first person to observe with no small trace of irony that this holiday is not supposed to be this stressful.

Yet I feel blue, and despite what I intellectually know and what I would tell others in my position, I feel like I deserve a big lump of coal in my stocking for not being able to give my family, and most importantly, my child, the things I want to be able to give them this holiday season.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  That’s not what the holiday is about, if they really care about us, they’ll understand, and all the baby needs is love…

So why do I still feel like a giant, disappointing piece of crap?

Bah! Humbug!

My Dirty Secret

No, not dirty in a good way.  Just not something I discuss a lot…or at all.  And not something I really want people to think of when they think of me.  Why?  Not because it’s disgusting, or people won’t want to be near me or talk to me or even admit they know me.  I don’t smell funny or have some weird fetish (well, i do, but I’m not telling you!)  But because it’s sad.  Kinda pathetic really.  But I’m not sure what I can do about it.  But I am willing to bet I am not the only person who feels this way and isn’t sure why.  “What is it, already???” you may be asking.  Just this: Continue reading