Sunday, March 25, 2018

Breaking the Rules: Confession and Revelation

Someone recently summed me up when I revealed my Catholic encrusted childhood. That knowledge muddies the waters in any relationship carrying with it preconceived notions of stereotypical neuroses. Guilt is one. Sexual addiction is another. Together they form their own twisted helix of desire and denial. Totally not me. Really.

The question at hand is Breaking the Rules, which for both Catholics and Buddhists segues into confession and revelation. The former lets you off easy, the latter involves learning something about yourself.

My family is sprinkled with sociopaths. Mom taught me how to peek at presents before Christmas and Dad told me the next time Jackie Jan beat me up, I should pick up a brick and hit her on the head. The priest wouldn't give Mom communion when she divorced. She joined the line to the altar anyway and knelt before the priest. He placed the wafer on her tongue. Parish nuns told my aunt it was a sin to take birth control, even when the infant she bore every year had increasingly disturbing problems. Mom drove her to a clinic for birth control. Too afraid of God to accept the medication, my aunt consumed heavy doses of alcohol instead. She drank to the point that my uncle lost interest in bedding her and the babies stopped. Footnote: she became sexually abstinent but my Uncle Benny didn't.

My last confession was when I was twelve. Went with a group of girls and when it was my turn I confessed to playing a kissing game with the boys on my baseball team. I was the only girl on the team. We played baseball everyday, and the kissing was a new and exciting after game activity. I wasn't exactly clear on whether or not it was a sin, but with confession it's better to be safe than sorry. I expected to have to say lots of rosaries, and get on with my day, it being perfect baseball weather. The games lasted until we couldn't see the ball and/or we took an afternoon break and hung out in whoever's house was empty of adults. Revelation: I had a typical Catholic's understanding of the machinery of confession since I had every intention of kissing my team again.

The priest on the other side of the confessional screen had different ideas. He asked me questions about tongues and probing hands in panties. We didn't kiss with tongues. There were no roaming hands. The priest's breath was halting and heavy, too, kind of trembly in an unpriestlike way. Waves of damp heat swept to my side of the confessional. I wasn't sure what was happening. It felt scary, kind of like I was in the bad-man-candy-from-strangers danger zone. I wanted out of there.

Worst of all is I knew it was taking way too long and people were going to start to wonder about Sandra and her Sins. Finally I told him I was feeling sick and he dismissed me in a sad, resigned way with only three Our Fathers and three Hail Mary's. My girlfriends gave me the what the heck squint when I came out. It was so embarrassing.

Confession implies guilt and censorship, but also forgiveness. This confession made me feel guilty. Not for what I'd confessed but for what I had aroused in him. He sinned. I did not.

I lost respect for him. He made me lose faith, not just in adults but in adult religious men.

Revelation involves sharing and openness, and should flow in a natural exchange of thoughts, philosophies, and experiences where unfinished people learn something about each other and themselves.

My last official confession was when I was twelve. Revelation is an ongoing process.

A short story:  Against the Rules