Jenn, former atheist over at Et Tu?, shares a wonderful account of her first confession.
When the time finally came for my first confession, I thought it would be redundant. Having gone so long without the sacrament available to me, I'd pretty much straightened everything out with God myself -- I'd offered a full and honest account of my sins asked sincerely for forgiveness. . .
Then, when I finally sat down in front of our priest, everything changed.
I'd thought about all these sins a million times within the safe confines of my head, but now I had to speak of them. I had to put them into words. I had to hear it, and so did someone else. Though I fully believed the Catholic teaching that I was confessing my sins to God, that the priest was only a conduit, there was still the fact that another person would hear my words. I started shaking. Then I started crying.
Go read it! And the previous post about why she found her way to the Catholic Church is worth staying for, too.