I go to confession once a month, where I sit down at the City Dock Café in Annapolis across the table from Deacon Moore (one of my older, balding male friends), and I tell him everything I’m feeling guilty about.
He usually absolves me of my sins right then and there, in between sips of a cappuccino.
“So I have this resentment towards a certain person,” I explained to him yesterday morning. “And I read somewhere that the best thing to do is to pray for the person and to do something nice for her. But clearly that’s not working.”
My devout balding male friend laughs.
“I think that being honest about the resentment is pretty much all you can do,” he said. (You can see why I prefer him to the priests in the “dark phone booths” as Eric says.)
Which brings me to this exercise. If honesty can help absolve my guilt, then here are a few things that might go on my “character defects” list–you know, details missing from my resume:
1. I find Oprah somewhat annoying (but I’d still go on her show).
2. I played the mentally-ill card to try to get out of jury duty.
3. I own two Yanni CDs (but I haven’t listened to them since 1993).
4. When I met Mother Teresa, my first words were “I’m Theresa, too.”
5. When people ask how it was working with a modern-day saint, I immediately picture her ugly feet as I say “amazing.”
6. I can’t commit to a political party because I’m disgusted with both. Last presidential election, I scribbled in Eric’s name because he is wise, grounded, intelligent, and diplomatic. And his architectural training–designing houses that won’t fall down–makes him a natural for the White House. Plus he plays golf.
7. I wash my hair once a week (like my mom). And I still use the make-up I bought for my wedding. (That’s how much I like to primp.)
8. I hate yoga. It does nothing for me. (And yes, I did give it a chance–an entire year of weekly classes.)
9. I can only meditate when I’m moving and burning calories.
10. I have skipped Mass the last two Sundays because I’ve been traveling (and my mom always said you got a dispensation for that). And I think my church schedule is a bit more relaxed ever since I signed up for “FaithDirect,” which automatically deducts dough from my checking account every week–whether I’m there or not. (Despite rumors to the contrary, school administrators really do check envelope numbers when you try to get your kids into Catholic school).
11. I cuss like a sailor, and I like it.
12. I tell dirty jokes. Lots of them. And I like that too. (For example: What did Snow White say to Pinocchio when she tackled him to the ground and sat on his face? Lie to me! Lie to me!)
13. I slouch and I don’t care.
14. I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom based mostly on guilt. I tried to predict which option would make me feel LESS guilty (because there is guilt with both)–and which voices inside my head would be more difficult to ignore, and they were definitely those that supported the whole stay-at-home thing: “You should be there the first time he bites his sister, craps in the potty, and makes front-page headlines by pushing a preschool buddy into fifteen feet of freezing water. You won’t regret it.” I view these years as one long spiritual exercise–a purgatory of sorts–that leads to enlightenment and exhaustion.
15. I don’t enjoy volunteer work. (Read next post.)
16. When I was nursing David and Katherine, friends referred to me as the “uni-boober” because one side (righty) produced much more milk than the other.
18. I broke every single one of “The Rules” when dating Eric. Example: On our first date, I exhibited symptoms of serious gastrointestinal distress. (He sprayed me with Lysol.)
19. I barely broke 1,000 on my SATs (I suffer from test-taking anxiety, in addition to every other kind of anxiety.)
20. I spent my senior year of college volunteering for the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana as a way to win the heart of the sexy director. He ignored me, but the faculty acknowledged my efforts–with an award for outstanding service to the community.
21. For Halloween one year I dressed up as a priest having an affair. (I wore a clerical robe and lipstick all over my face.)
22. I was kicked off my high school drill team for bringing booze to band camp.
23. I don’t wear sunscreen.
24. If it weren’t for the whole destruction-of-the-planet thing (and all the environmental hazards that come with it), I’d support global warming, as I love the warmer winters.
25. I’m only just beginning.
That exercise does actually feel kind of liberating. You should try it.