Janet Conner, the author of Writing Down Your Soul, went through a traumatic divorce.
Part of her healing practice consisted of journaling.
She used to leave her journal on the table next to her writing chair in her living room.
Until her husband broke into her home and only took her journal.
Her husband couldn’t use her journal against her because she wrote so fast that it was illegible.
After a while, Conner recovered her journal. It passed from her husband to her husband’s lawyer, then to her lawyer, and at last to her hands. This isn’t ideal for something that was meant to be private.
Next thing Janet did after she recovered her journal, she wrote in it and hid it among the files in her office.
In her book Writing Down Your Soul, she wrote about how to keep our journals private among other things. For example:
How to Keep Your Journal from Prying Eyes.
- Janet suggests to ask yourself if your partner, children or anyone living with you would look in your journal.
However, looking at Janet’s experience, consider people that don’t live with you too. Her husband lived in a different house. They were a couple of months into the divorce process.
Her advice in case the answer is yes, or if you’re not sure is to stay on the side of caution and protect your journals.
- Going through relationship trauma:
In her Writing Down Your Soul workshops, some people going through difficult times in their relationships chose to write outside the home or write only when they were alone. Also, they hid their journal carefully.
Get a shredder. If necessary, they wrote on looseleaf paper and put the pages through a shredder.
- Older people sometimes talk about not wanting relatives to find their journals after they are gone.
For people that trust their families: You can leave a request in your will asking that your journals be destroyed without being read.
Otherwise, destroy them yourself. A group in her workshops suggested having a bonfire party with a few special friends. But, considering the risks if you don’t act carefully, it’s better to use a shredder.
So it’s up to you to keep your journals. For example:
Janet Keeps all her journals because as she wrote she is not ready to let any of them go.
On the other hand, I don’t keep them. The moment I finish a journal, I destroy it. The purpose’s already accomplished. I write so fast that I don’t understand what I wrote afterward, so it has no case to keep them anyway.
Janet advised not to stop writing because of privacy issues, “People going through relationship transition need to write as much or more than anyone else.”
I agree with Janet. I stopped journaling when a relative who didn’t respect my privacy read my journal. Don’t make this mistake.
Don’t let people like that keep you away from all the benefits of journaling. However, take precautions to protect your journals.