Secrets — we all have them. Things we think, people we dislike, places we hate. Sometimes for reasons that happened decades, or even centuries ago. (Ask Serbia…they know.)
And actions — all too many people (yours truly included, unfortunately) have done stupid things with their money. Or been scammed. Or cheated by someone they loved. Or worse yet, they’ve been the ones doing the stealing and cheating.
A surprising number of sites have popped up over the Internet, where you can leave (anonymously, thank God) a confession of your actions and feelings. PostSecrets.com is the poster child for getting everything off your chest. Send a postcard, decorated, that says it all. Or head to Secret Confessions or the Experience Project; these sites let you type until you’re tired of it, and at the same time, pass judgment on others. They were stupid; you just made a ‘bad decision.’ Voila — a cleared conscience!
Well, sort of.
This one’s from Punch Debt in the Face‘s “share your secret” post.
I have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on big houses, flashy cars and closets full of clothes with price tags attached that I never wear. I am afraid that my husband is secretly disgusted with my lack of self control and will divorce me.
Do you think this person is breathing more easily, now she’s said it?
Or this one, from Secret Confessions:
My parents gave me practically all their life savings and I just took it. I used it, so my family can have a good place to live and everything. But that makes me scum, because my parents have nothing. They can’t even afford a doctor. Of course I promised to pay them back but that wont be anytime in the near future. If anything, I’ll be paying them after their grave. Does that make me scum or what? I feel even worse when other family members knows about it. I can see their eyes looking down on me.I should have never accepted the money. I wish I could be smart and rich. I live the honest life but I may have to break that rule, so that I can pay my parents back somewhat.
Then there are the heart breakers, like this one, from a slideshow of money confessions:
“I had to place my dog into the pound due to lack of money. I wish I hadn’t. I wonder if someone adopted him?”
Or the scumbags:
“I know my co-workers’ secrets because I go through their desk drawers when they leave. If they leave candy, stamps or money, I take it as my payment for keeping quiet.” (I think I worked with this person back in the ’90s, or someone quite similar. They stole lunches out of the office refrigerator a lot.)
The problem with any kind of secret, especially money ones, is that they eat you alive. Not only do they clean out your wallet, but they kill any sense of drive and energy. You might as well have your heart scooped out with a dull spoon.
Life is too short to waste any time. What can you do?
Are you doing something that’s morally and legally wrong? Stop it — now. You can’t deal with the past without cleaning your hands off first.Then:
Admit it. Even if it’s only to a journal at first, you need to admit what you did. Or meet with someone you trust, especially a counselor or pastor. The final test: tell someone you’re close to. (You’ll be surprised at how often they knew already, but were waiting for you to admit it.) It will not be easy. But it will be freeing.
Ask for forgiveness, if you can. It is never too late to try, even for things that happened decades ago.
Start to make it right. Sell some of those extravagant purchases, or forgo something to give yourself extra cash. Write a letter or e-mail. Include a small payment and a promise to send more regularly…then keep to it. If you don’t have the moral courage yet, do it anonymously. Plenty of books have been returned to libraries this way, some from decades ago. Send a check to the market you shoplifted from back in high school, or the little sister whose piggybank you rifled. Are the people dead, or the stores out of business? A charity can still use that money. Now, finally, you can:
Forgive yourself. Yes, you did something stupid. Or foolish. Or horrible. Maybe you can’t make it completely right. But it can be better. Now you can devote the energy you spent dodging and hiding to something much more productive.
Have a bad money secret in your life? Confessing feels great…but what are you doing to make it better? (Feel free to comment anonymously — we’re all friends here.)