How do I prepare myself for confession now?
I stopped going regularly because I was becoming distraught and emotionally unstable, seeing sin in my every action. I had been through a rough time, experiencing a miscarriage and emotional abuse at the hands of a close relative and rapid change of circumstances, and I supposed I was struggling with depression.
So, I stopped going.
Now I am terrified of the idea of going back to confession (not to mention the fact that I don’t know what to do with my children while I go). I don’t even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don’t know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don’t feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin. I also am terrified that the priest will be my pastor and some of the things I am unsure about (as in, they may not be sins, but only temptations) are extremely personal and intimate. My pastor will know it is me, and I do not want to talk about these questions with him (just as I wouldn’t with anyone other than my husband).
How can I understand if I have fallen out of a state of grace? How can I discern between mortal sin and venial sin and imperfection? I have an examination of conscience (several actually), but with my background (emotional abuse and severe upbringing leading me to constant self-recrimination) the examination of conscience book is not clear for me. I don’t want to wind myself up again and start spiraling. I also do not want to confess sins that I am not actually guilty of, out of my strong tendency to find severe fault in myself.
Any help would be appreciated. But I do hope for kind help, not condemnation or blame. I can do that well enough on my own, and I really need to know how to do this right. I find myself longing for the relief of the confessional, and inside I feel like a sinful mess, but I do not know how to properly examine my conscience without my emotional baggage getting in the way. Oh, and I should also mention, I have only been Catholic since Easter 2010, but I am a 30ish woman. Thanks so much. :o