Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rachael Confesses All the Time

I'm a compulsive confessor.

Which isn't to say I don't want to keep secrets. I do. I plan to keep secrets all the time. It would be a lot easier not to tell Lala that I hit a post while driving her car. I just plan on not telling. And sure enough, as soon as she walks in the door, I go red in the face and say, "I dented your car -- I wasn't going to tell you but now I am," as fast as I can string the words together.

It's as if as soon as I have the thought, "don't tell," I get this wild compulsion to TELL RIGHT NOW. I tell too much, more than anyone wants to hear. If I'm late, I don't say gracefully, "Sorry, traffic." I say, "Oh, my God, I'm sorry, I completely forgot today was the day, and I didn't remember until I got the Google reminder, and by then I'd walked the dogs and had to take a shower, and then I broke a glass and had to sweep it up, and then I couldn't find your address, but BOY, am I sorry."

Even online, there have been times I've confessed to things perhaps I shouldn't have. I just did a Google search on Yarnagogo (my other blog) + Confession, and I got a whole list of 'em. And thanks to the miracle of the internet, I've now remembered: a truly awkward kiss; the time I tried to take a photo of myself in the elevator at HarperCollins and dropped it instead, breaking into pieces that I picked up JUST before the door glided open to reveal my editor's lovely assistant; the fact that I love America's Next Top Model (don't judge); the revelation of my crush on Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo fame; my unabated lust for Anthony Bourdain.

I'm not sure if any of this needs to be made public. But I do it anyway, because a compulsive confessor loves nothing more than an even higher box from which to yell her confessions. It also explains why I've been having so much fun writing this collection of essays that will be coming out from Chronicle next year. All I'm doing is confessing. Everyone understands and empathizes with shame -- I would argue that emotionally, love and hate are the only two emotions as important as shame in making people act the way they do. So it's interesting to be taking my life apart, peering into its nooks, blowing dust off things that made me blush long before I learned how to truly confess.

Side note: Admission of culpability is difficult for some, yes (not for me), but overall it's easier than admitting one was wrong. They're two separate things. I can admit I've screwed up and made a mistake. I won't keep it a secret. I'll be the first to point out my fault -- I want to confess it before you find it out. But I'm not as good at admitting I was wrong. That's what I'm working on now, and I can tell you, it's slow going. And hey, that's admitting a secret I'm not comfortable with right there.

It feels good. And it just goes to show.


Juliet Blackwell said...

I love this -- I can just see you blurting out the mea culpas as soon as you're faced with the reality of lying to someone's face ;-)
But I'm with you --admitting one was wrong is just plain tough. Not that I've ever been in the position to admit such a thing, of course, since I'm never wrong ;-)

toni in florida said...

If there's one life lesson I have learned from years working in the comm center, where everything is recorded and there are always witnesses, it's to admit when I screw up. Quickly. Preferably before anyone else notices anything is wrong. It can be awkward, but nowhere near as bad as when someone else brings it to the world's attention... making it look like you were trying to cover up a mistake.
As for admitting when I'm wrong, that's just a variation on the above. A little more awkward, perhaps, but almost addictive once you get used to it. In general. There are still people I have problems admitting my "wrongness" to, 'cause they can be such asses about it themselves, but I'm working on it.

Sophie Littlefield said...

ugh! i don't know what happened to my comment from this morning - mostly I said that I love that you can't help but confess stuff...it's one of my favorite things about you!

Rachael Herron said...

Toni, that's exactly where I learned it. As soon as I screw up, I stand up and announce it to the room, and then to my supervisor, even if I think no one will ever notice. Better that way. Sophie and Julie, awwww.

L.G.C. Smith said...

Rachael, I'm only now, a week late, reading last week's posts, but I have to comment. OMG. I so know what you mean about blurting TMI. I can keep other people's secrets. My own? Ha. Impossible.

Once I managed to not tell my parents for five years that I'd lied about going to see the Sex Pistols at Winterland. I'd taken my sister who was sixteen. I was eighteen. It was so fun! But we lost a coat when someone threw up on it, and my sister caught a snot rocket from Johnny Rotten, who had a cold, and her arms were trapped by the press of the crowd so she couldn't wipe it off -- and I had to keep that gem to myself! Torture! We told the 'rents that we went to a BJ Thomas concert at the Berkeley Community Theater. He was doing Christian music then. Nowhere near as interesting, but my mom kept trying to make me go check the lost and found there for the crappy old ski jacket we'd dumped. So then I had to lie about that, too. Yes, Mom, I went down there today and it wasn't at the lost and found.

Interestingly, I was never embarrassed about keeping this particular secret, but I still look back with horror on some of my blurts. You'd think I'd have learned that keeping my own secrets can be a reasonable option. Sadly, no.

On the up side, I don't mind admitting to being wrong. Most of the time. Not, as Juliet said, that it happens all that often....