Dear Amy: I’ve been writing in my journals ever since elementary school. I have kept every single one of them, tucked safely away in the back of my closet, for years. I’ll look through them occasionally just to see what life was like for me at certain points.
I still write in my journals, and I just turned 60 this past summer.
I guess that because of the advent of COVID, I worry about what would happen to these journals if I should suddenly get ill and could not “get rid” of them of my own volition. Those books hold years and years of my deepest thoughts, fears, anxieties and secrets. Honestly, I’d be mortified for anyone to read these, especially my family. How do I handle these personal treasures?
— Closet Case
Dear Closet Case: One idea I have is for you to take this opportunity to “cull” through your work, creating a document (including dates) of some of your experiences, quoting from your diaries and creating a timeline of your life. You may remember when Neal Armstrong first walked on the moon. Did you write about that from the perspective of a second-grader?
You might have written about experiences with your grandparents, parents and siblings: Camping trips, carnival rides, weddings, and holiday celebrations. Ordinary days are also worth noting, because they capture the essence of an individual’s existence in a specific place on the planet at a specific time.
Leave out the “icky bits” (we diary-keepers all have them), and make a printed copy of your edited version.
If you choose to do this, after you complete your work, put your diaries away with instructions among your important papers that they must be destroyed (without reading).
After six months, revisit your diaries and if you believe you have followed through on your original intentions, then you can destroy your diaries yourself, leaving your edited version behind.
Basically, I’m suggesting that you make your choice and then sit on the originals for long enough to believe that you’ve made the best choice.
Dear Amy: Am I being unreasonable? I told my husband that if we were to pay a visit to his sister’s home, we should stay in a hotel because she doesn’t turn on the heat (she lives in Canada and we live in a warm state), and because she insists on taking us to their Jehovah’s Witness Church and making us watch videos about their faith.
I do not want my children exposed to that. My husband says it’s only one time and will not be enough time to indoctrinate our children. We are relaxed Catholics.
I don’t mind visiting her city in Canada without seeing her, but my husband says that’s rude.
This situation has come up often, and we can’t seem to agree. Am I wrong? Am I being juvenile? Should I just suck it up?
— Distressed Mama
Dear Distressed: As of this writing, the border between the U.S. and Canada is (basically) closed, due to the pandemic.
If things open up, you won’t have to face any of these choices if you simply decide to let your husband take the kids to see his sister, while you stay home.
I almost always think a hotel or motel stay is preferable to inconveniencing a host for an extended stay, especially if there are kids involved (and if the hotel has a pool).
However, when it comes to the lack of heat in her home, as we who live in the Frozen North like to say (between the months of October and May), “put on a sweater.”
Regarding her faith practice, I fail to see what is so dangerous or damaging about witnessing how people of other faiths worship, but if this (sometimes intense) fellowship is in direct spiritual conflict with your own “relaxed” practice, then the wisest choice might be for your husband to skip the visit to the Kingdom Hall altogether, or agree to a truncated visit, drive separately, and meet his sister afterward.
Dear Amy: “Concerned Friend” reported that his friend of many years (a man) was the victim of physical abuse at the hands of his wife.
Amy, thank you for publishing this letter. I was also physically abused by my ex-wife. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. Only one person took what was happening seriously. I genuinely believe that this one person saved my life.
— Been There
Dear Been There: I’m cheering for you. Victims of domestic violence (male and female) can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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