What to do with practically a lifetime of journals/diaries? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 01-02-2012, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently counted them. There are 35 journals at this point. They document a huge portion of my life (the past 27 years) but they are also very personal and private. I have them hidden in my house and I can't stop writing so the pile of books grows. What do I do? I've put so much into them, yet having them makes me feel vulnerable, privacy-wise. Thoughts?

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#2 of 22 Old 01-02-2012, 08:09 PM
 
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Is your concern that others in your house will read them? If so, maybe you could get a box or chest that locks and keep them there.


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#3 of 22 Old 01-03-2012, 07:03 AM
 
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that's the trouble with diaries!!

jackie o. reportedly burned all of her diaries before she died.

going that route, however, means you have to know that you are dying (ie, like she did, of cancer, for example) vs. going down in a car crash, etc.

 

just a thought, but you could find a way to convert them to digital and put a password on it; but that's just a passing thought. sounds like a lot of trouble, actually.

 

do you have them hidden in ONE spot in the house?

 

another idea is that you could have them bound together. a book bindery company could do that for you. perhaps you could get them bound into several editions, and get an old fashioned key put on the outside of the binding??

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#4 of 22 Old 01-04-2012, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, thanks for your responses. I do have them locked up (except for my current ones that I'm writing in at the moment of course). That is very interesting to learn about Jackie O. I have thought of typing them up, maybe even editing them just a tiny bit (in case anything is just too boring or I've decided it's way too personal). But I kind of like the rawness too. I appreciate your input.

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#5 of 22 Old 01-04-2012, 02:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Soltera View Post

Hi, thanks for your responses. I do have them locked up (except for my current ones that I'm writing in at the moment of course). That is very interesting to learn about Jackie O. I have thought of typing them up, maybe even editing them just a tiny bit (in case anything is just too boring or I've decided it's way too personal). But I kind of like the rawness too. I appreciate your input.


Also, if you are worried about people reading them after you die (a la Jackie O), you could ask someone your trust (or put it in your will) that you would like the locked box of journals burned/destroyed after your death. I know someone who had her journals burned and then mixed and buried with her ashes. (She was cremated.)

 


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#6 of 22 Old 01-05-2012, 06:42 PM
 
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hi, i know how you feel.  when last i moved, i realized i had a stack of notebooks as tall as I am!  and i definitely don't want anyone to ever read them.  i have made that known, to my sisters and mom and dh, but i'm not sure how much i trust that my mom in particular would be able to just destroy them without taking a look.

 

so over the last few years, i have been reading them and pulling out and destroying many entries myself.  a lot of what i wrote was unimportant and not something i would care to read later.  and then, a lot of stuff i would not want to forget and am very interested in saving for myself for later....but i won't need hundreds of notebooks worth to review my life, so i have been feeling good about thinning the stack by pulling particular pages out to destroy.


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#7 of 22 Old 01-06-2012, 01:23 PM
 
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Can I ever relate to these feelings. I currently keep my paper journals locked away in a drawer in my desk and have taken to a private Livejournal for some writing now that my daughter is older and quickly learning to read. I've also began keeping a "family notebook" to serve as a journal of my memories of mothering, including the writing from previous journals as appropriate to provide the full story of our family for my daughter one day.

 

My other journals I intend to have burned upon my death and will soon be amending my will to reflect these wishes.  


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#8 of 22 Old 01-06-2012, 01:57 PM
 
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I told myself that I was going to burn them when I turned thirty.  I was going to go to the beach, build a beautiful fire, and let my past drift away as smoke into the night.  It is now seven years later and I still have three boxes of journals.  I do plan to burn them.  I don't want people reading them, and when I read them I have a visceral reaction that is mostly unpleasant.  I'll let you know if I ever get up the guts to finally say goodbye to the past!


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#9 of 22 Old 01-08-2012, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! It is SO nice to know I am not alone. For me though, I guess the thought of burning them and just erasing all those experiences and feelings and work kind of kills me. I know what you mean about reading them being unpleasant sometimes. But also, even in the depths of depression in mine I will write some pretty funny stuff. And there are things I don't want to forget. I feel like if I edit it too much it won't be honest anymore, like only some of the truth, the pretty parts. Most of it is not pretty though. Anyway, I really appreciate talking to other women who are dealing with the same dilemma!

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#10 of 22 Old 02-09-2012, 06:51 PM
 
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I have the same issue. My solution has been to cull the pile, I separated a paper sack full of the journals that I would least want read after my death. This  spring they will be the weed barrier to my raised garden bed, eventually they will compost and I will feel a special connection with the garden of my  former words, thoughts, wishes. I think of burying my journals in much the same way as burying a placenta.

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#11 of 22 Old 03-07-2012, 10:22 PM
 
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Hmm, this is the exact objection that I have to journaling for myself.  If I wrote as if other people were going to read it, what would I write about?  (Although I had a grandmother who wrote the daily news, weather, high and lo temp.) 

 

My sister-in-law though told me that she writes a few journals a year and then has a burning ceremony. 

 

My sister and my mom found my diary when I was sixteen and read some very personal stuff.  Mostly how much I was bugged by both of them and my crushes, but still that would be my concern people knowing that stuff after I'm dead. 

 

I do like the idea of using it to garden or having it mixed in with my ashes but they do cremation by the pound, not to be funny, having just had my husband cremated but if you get to a certain weight they charge you extra and a lifetime of journals sigh...my husband being the tightwad I guess you'd have to burn those at home and add it to the urn to cut costs.  Then you could really take your secrets to the grave with you! But you'd have to trust one person with it. 

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#12 of 22 Old 03-07-2012, 10:31 PM
 
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I have some packed away from my teen years. They are so full of bad, strong feelings but I have yet to trash them. I am glad they are not within the reach of my own kids.
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#13 of 22 Old 03-07-2012, 11:28 PM
 
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I threw all of mine except one away from my teenaged years.  I was horribly depressed and they were just awful.  I kept just one from my teenage years.  The only reason I kept it is incase my kids have rough times and think I can't relate, they can read it and see that I can.  Hopefully the way I'm raising my children won't result in them being depressed, but you never know.  The only times I've kept a journal was when i was depressed, as a way to try and get myself through it.  the day I got happy, i quit writing in my journal.  Reading my journal would give someone a really skewed vision of who I am. I would hate for someone to read them after I'm gone and not around to tell them otherwise.

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#14 of 22 Old 03-07-2012, 11:33 PM
 
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I read them again then shredded them b/c I didn't want my kids to ever find them. ;)

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#15 of 22 Old 03-13-2012, 02:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrariety View Post

I threw all of mine except one away from my teenaged years.  I was horribly depressed and they were just awful.  I kept just one from my teenage years.  The only reason I kept it is incase my kids have rough times and think I can't relate, they can read it and see that I can.  Hopefully the way I'm raising my children won't result in them being depressed, but you never know.  The only times I've kept a journal was when i was depressed, as a way to try and get myself through it.  the day I got happy, i quit writing in my journal.  Reading my journal would give someone a really skewed vision of who I am. I would hate for someone to read them after I'm gone and not around to tell them otherwise.

Exactly. I found journaling to be a safe place to dump the bad stuff. One would think my life then was torture if they didn't know me in some sort of context or in the long term.
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#16 of 22 Old 04-11-2012, 07:27 AM
 
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I burned them when I was 30. It was a beautiful day and I was so happy to see them all go. When I realized that every page brought back such ugliness and sadness, I knew I was ready to let them go and move on.
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#17 of 22 Old 04-16-2012, 12:52 PM
 
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I had a few diaries and a couple of years ago I shredded them and threw them out (I'm 44 so I did hang on to them for a long time).  I really didn't want anyone reading them, ever.  For example, I said some awful things about my mother when I was mad at her.  I mostly wrote when I was in a bad mood.  Leaving them behind if I died would just hurt people's feelings and make me look evil.  I didn't want them around so I got rid of them.

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#18 of 22 Old 05-24-2012, 04:49 PM
 
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I have nearly 24 years worth of journals. I have shredded a few of them, but that was taking forever, so I am hoping to take them over to my brother's burn pit and torch them. Maybe I will bring some champagne and make an event of it.

 

I re-read them now and then and have very mixed feelings when doing that.

 

Now I am writing in a notebook, but as soon as I am finished writing I read what I have written, tear out the pages and shred them in the shredder. Works really well at this point in my life.

 

I just need to get organized, call my brother and set a date, then haul them all over there and have a bonfire.
 


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#19 of 22 Old 01-08-2014, 06:37 AM
 
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I relate so well to this!  I tend to keep my journals for awhile, and then when I feel like it's time to let go of the past, or start a new chapter in my life, I shred them all. When I moved in with my husband, I shredded all of my teenage journals. 

 

I guess it depends on why you are writing? Are you a chronicler/historian, keeping notes on your/your family's lives?  Or are you more of the "writing as therapy" type? I think I'd get rid of "writing as therapy" type journals because it's too honest and personal and vulnerable. 


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#20 of 22 Old 01-09-2014, 06:02 AM
 
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I have been having this exact debate with myself. I have boxes of journals that I can't seem to let go of. It is frustrating to reread them bcs so much of it is nonsense - talking myself through breakups or crushes. Obsessing about my weight.(from my college days). Now, finances, day to day stuff. It gets repetitive. But I can't seem to let them go. It actually causes me physical pain to think about getting rid of them, even though I know I do not want them around after I am gone. Esp. my current journal. I am working through some stuff that I know would hurt a lot of people but I feel this need to chronicle it. Its the same with my inbox and my chat history. I did recently erase some chats, but I regret it so much. Like suddenly my relationship with those people simply doesn't exist.:( 

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#21 of 22 Old 01-09-2014, 05:20 PM
 
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Same here: i have about 20 journals and cant decide what i'll do with them! I used to write when i was sad or angry and also when i was a teen and beggining to experience with my sexualitty, so they are really intimate and i would like to keep them private. I dont feel like burning them even though i get really nostalgic whenever i read them. I completely trust my mom and dad with them and i'm sure that they wouldn't read them, but my wife might. She respects my space andprivacy but if i died its possible she would like to read what i wrote about us because sshe's just too sentimental. I currently keep then loocked. I have no suggestions for you!eyesroll.gif

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#22 of 22 Old 01-15-2014, 08:03 AM
 
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I can relate to the idea of wanting to remember what it was like as a teen so I can understand my kids better. I keep mine because of that and because I like to have a record of some of my exact feelings. I forget them until I go back and read them. I'm trying to decide if remembering is important.

I don't currently journal so I'm just dealing with teen writings. I've culled some of the hurtful or embarrassing parts.

Mostly I worry about the possibility of destroying something and regretting it 10 or 40 years down the road. When I'm really old will I enjoy looking at these things and sensing those old feelings? Should I?
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