My name is Carol and I am a compulsive confessor.
I just can’t help it! I was born with the urge to tell people if I had done anything wrong as my default setting. From the minute I uttered my first words, those confessions just spewed out of my mouth.
It is like an overwhelming obsession. I feel stressed the second I do anything bad and have a need to admit to everything. I can never settle until I have told someone.
I’m as honest as the day is long. This inbuilt truthfulness thankfully also means that I can never make false confessions. And I cannot lie to save my life. I have not got it in me! So, believe me, if I say I didn’t do something, you can fully trust that I didn’t!
Some of my early examples were things like, at three, admitting to my mom that I had ran upstairs backwards after she had told me not to. I think she was only warning me not to do it in case I fell down the stairs, but then having run upstairs backward again years later, I couldn’t settle down to sleep that night until I had confessed this fact to her.
I suppose owning up to something like that is not that strange when you are three years old but by ten, come on! Did I really need to tell her?
Coming clean to my teachers was another problem. This led me to be seen at school as ‘a fussy child’. We had no dog that could eat my homework so if I hadn’t finished, I would just admitted to it! I would never snitch on anyone though, - what other people did in their lives was their problem for them to own up to. I had enough on my plate declaring my own wrong doings.
The strange thing is that with all the stress of having to admit things, I never look back on my life and dwell on guilty feelings. What’s in the past is in the past. It is the actual act of confessing that is my habitual problem.
I am a Christian, but I have always been thankful that I was not born a Catholic. The thought of confessing to the priest that I’d been eating too many sweets or that I walked home from school by a different route would have been a nightmare for me and probably for him as well. I just know that I would never have been able to actually leave the confessional! I would be like the American TV cop, Lieutenant Columbo, walking out, turning around and walking back inside and saying “Oh! There’s just one more thing!”
As I grew up, I learned through self-conditioning to separate which sort of things in my life I needed to admit to and which things to keep my mouth shut about as they just weren’t of any importance. I had to work really hard as this definitely did not come naturally to me.
There was a period in my life in my early twenties when a real battle developed within me as to ‘what made me who I was.’ I was very socially confident, but had an inner shyness. I was creative and liked open ended situations, but I also enjoyed logical order. I began to wonder how I could possibly have such contradictions within my personality.
This question was answered when I went on a basic counselling training course and the first thing we did was take a Myers Briggs Personality Test. The results explained what I was like, what my strengths and weaknesses were, how I reacted to happiness and in times of stress. It told me about relationships, jobs and friendships. Amongst the many things mentioned was the fact that I had the personality that always felt the need to confess to everything!
I felt that my life changed dynamically in so many ways after taking that test as it explained to me so many things about what made me tick. It also made me realise that owning up to everything is just a part of who I am, and what makes me, me.
The life of an compulsive confessor can get very tiring. It is still hard to ignore my default of unburdening my soul about everything to everybody, but hopefully after fifty years I have learned a bit of discernment.
So, thank you very much for reading this confession. I really do feel a lot calmer and more relaxed now that I have finally got it out in the open and told you all.
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