Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people has just ended. Known as the day of atonement, it is the day to ask God for forgiveness for all your sins. In other words, it is confession time. It is a solemn day, yet there is joy in it because Jews believe that God is accepting repentance and forgiving our sins.
Catholics and people of many other religions engage in confession on a weekly basis, sometimes daily. So, why do people confess? In my opinion, there are many reasons. To engage in faith of course, but also to both verbalize and acknowledge actions and/or words that were not right.
How does confession help? In my opinion it does a few things. It is a relief to confess to something you feel you said or did that was wrong. It takes that burden off. It also offers a sense of acceptance or peace, that the time has passed and that you can’t take it back. That said, you can tell God and yourself how you will handle things differently moving forward. But lastly, I think confession helps people gain self-awareness.
Think about it. If you really listen to what you are apologizing for to God, then maybe you will hear yourself, and then be able to take full responsibility for your mistakes.
Get where I’m going with this? Why can’t people who are in a rough marriage, or those thinking about separating, or those who are going through a divorce, or even men and women who are already divorced confess to each other??
*I was really mean to you a lot of the times we were married.
* I was selfish. When you needed some time away from the kids, I didn’t give it to you.
*I never said ‘I love you’ and I’m so sorry. I figured you always knew that but I was wrong.
*I didn’t treat you with respect during our divorce and I know if I would have things would have gone a lot smoother.
* I hurt you and you didn’t deserve it.
*I blamed you for a lot of my problems, which I now realize we MY problems.
*I know you tried really hard to make me happy and I never appreciated you.
Do you know what saying these things to someone means? It will make their life so much better. It will give them validation. It will help them find closure and peace. It will help them heal and move on.
Do you know what saying these things to someone means to you? It will make your life so much better. It will give you self-awareness, which leads to peace and acceptance and loss of bitterness and anger. And it will help you love and forgive yourself.
There isn’t anything greater than the power of God and prayer, but the next best thing is admitting your faults, your mistakes, and your regrets to help un-hurt someone you might have hurt. (i.e. your ex-spouse, your estranged spouse, your spouse.)
I recently “confessed” to someone and I said to that person of how I wronged him, “I own it.” Verbalizing that felt very cleansing to me. It was an admission of wrongdoing, and it helped me feel good about myself, because I think I truly helped that person find peace with it.
In closing, try confessing. Not just to God (which don’t get me wrong, that’s great) but say it to someone you love, or even better, someone who deserves to hear it. Confession is the time when you forget the fear of vulnerability, when you let your defenses down, and when you humble yourself. It is the best way to a healthier you!
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.