Most of us aren’t really bad people, but we often feel like horrible monsters. No doubt, we have done some terrible things and have had some horrendous thoughts. Yet, that doesn’t mean we should consider ourselves to be wickedly different from the rest of the species.
It doesn’t mean we should be beyond forgiveness, redemption, and understanding.
For the longest time, we had Catholicism. It still exists today, but we are all so hostile towards religion, in general, for all the wrongs they have done and the flaws they are still trying to overcome. We don’t even see some of the good ideas they gave us.
Yes, confession may have that dreadful Catholic guilt effect. However, if we strip away the emotional manipulation and moral violence of the church with its copy-and-paste rhetoric, we can see a very healthy and needed service to our souls.
That small confined space with true anonymity allows us, naughty humans, to get a chance to out ourselves in a safe and regular way. We get sick from keeping too much in. Letting it out in a safe way allows us to create a more loving atmosphere.
We kind of have our replacement today for the priest and confession booth with the therapist and couch. We’ve in a sense replaced religion with science, some could argue that this is progress. We won’t argue that here today in either direction, but the therapist does a play a similar role even if under a different guise.
If we have the money, and most of us don’t seem to (especially for something that ‘doesn’t even work’), we could tell all of our most hideous, disgusting, violent, disgraceful, and depressing thoughts. We could tell all of them and be embraced with kindness, understanding, empathy, acceptance, and interest.
This can, quite literally, be life-saving.
Unfortunately, therapy is out of reach for many. And even beyond the pill-pushers, many, if not most, therapists aren't really apt to be a good therapist. Not because they don’t have the right education and techniques, but because healing the soul is not as mechanical and scientific as the 19th-century ideas of the world have led us to believe.
Therapy isn’t so much a science as it is an art. It takes a certain therapeutic person to heal another, not procedures or rituals.
In an ideal world, we would have places were people could go, at a very reasonable price, to tell someone all the bad things we’ve done and the worst stuff we have thought about doing. No pills or prayers. No analyzing or guilt.
We could stop in and escape from our normal lives and responsibilities for just a few minutes to sit quietly with a gentle person and tell them everything. We could, of course, talk about sex. But also the less talked about taboos of being guilty humans: envy, cowardliness, and delusions.
We could talk about:
Our unfair expectations based on romantic hope
Our meanness or indifference towards others
Our desire to sleep with our partner’s best friend or someone at work
How we flirted with a person at the bookstore or coffee shop
How we looked inappropriately at the gym
How we sometimes want to run away from our family
How we feel miserable at our good jobs
How we sometimes just want to hide and cry
Quite honestly, we could say all the things that would normally get us made fun of on Facebook or on the news if they were to find out. All the humiliating things that would leave us exiled from good society.
And we would feel good.
In fact, we may soon see realize that trying to live by the expectations of the outside world is what makes us feel so bad inside that we need to get it off our chests. That we need to ‘seek help.’ That we need to feel shame and guilt.
The most beautiful part of all of this is when we finished communicating; with all our vulnerability and trust in this person given, he would simply look at us without condemnation and with infinite compassion to say,
That would be enough. And it would mean everything. This confessor wouldn’t forgive you from a god, nor would he diagnosis you with a newly researched disease. She would be unshaken.
She would be familiar and comfortable with the craziness that is being a human. She would be warm with a caring spirit. She would know how to remind you how idiotic and pathetic we can all be, and that we still have a right to exist and to hope and to love.
If we understood ourselves a bit better and realized how agitated our souls became, we would take the idea of confessing more seriously and for the right reasons.
We would allow ourselves to stop for 10 minutes a week to speak without fear about all the nasty things we have done and have thought about doing. It would be both relieving and redemptive for us.
It is a shame we have such a narrow idea of what is normal and permissible. We don’t have these therapeutic men and women to confess to on our way home without religion or science. However, if you are determined, you may find a priest, therapist, or friend that can be the ear and good soul you need.
Personally, I’ve always talked to my dog, but we aren’t all dog people. And even a dog may not be able to give you the same feeling of acceptance and understanding as telling another human how difficult and weird we are sometimes. How desperate we feel being us.
Here’s to wishing you all the best. And if you find someone you can spill all your nastiness to and they still embrace and accept you, hang on to them. They may just be what saves your life from personal damnation and mental-illness anxiety.