Why we don't like to confess

by Kenneth L. Stewart, Ph.D.  

I have sat with a lot of family members, husbands and

wives mostly, who are so angry and so resentful because

of years mistreatment and abuse that it seems like

nothing can begin to heal the anger, bitterness, and pain.

So deep is the pain and so long-lasting has been the steady

stream of mistreatment that eventually tolerance reaches

its limits. People get sick of waiting, sick of hoping things

will change. Eventually they give up. They get so angry they

want to throw in the towel and walk away. No more second

chances, no sir-eee.

When there is a long history of mistreatment, inconsideration, lack of any attempt at understanding or thoughtfulness, then the relationship is just not important anymore. Sometimes it takes a long time for people to reach this stage - years maybe, 15, 18, 24 years, before someone finally says, "That's it. I've had it. That's enough. I want out of this nightmare." I am amazed they have endured this long. I guess its more a testimony of how much abuse people can endure. Its a testimony of how strong the destructive hope a person carries before they realize that this hope I have is destroying me, not holding me together.

People get to the stage of being so hurt that no amount of confession or apology will heal the pain. Relationship may need communication, but that is just a shopworn phrase that doesn't mean much anymore. People are always communicating. We can't help it. Its just we don't like what is being communicated, that's all. No, the big "C" that relationships need is not communication, but Confession.

We need to confess; to own up to our foul mouths, our deliberate betrayals, our inconsiderate actions, our abusive remarks or action. Admit it. But this is not the age of confession. This is the age of explanation, of spin control, of justification. Confess and you invite the whole righteous world down on you. Confess and you leave yourself wide open. Confess and you'll be crushed by accusation, revenge, and bitterness. Better to explain, justify, claim a victim status even more lowly than your partner.

Victims don't confess, they accuse. Self-righteous people don't confess, they also accuse. Better to attack and defend.Confession begins to heal things. But often confession comes way too late. The wounds are so deep and the bleeding so extensive that no amount of confession can heal the wounds or restore the lost love. Its like trying to grow something in a toxic waste dump. Its just not possible. There are too many poisons where nurturing soil used to be. In all relationships we need to practice the art of confession and forgiveness. We need to practice it early and often.

Lying, Confession, Forgiveness, and Hope