More than words

For the past few months, due to divvying up first my mother-in-law's household goods then her personal items, I find myself again and again considering the items my daughters will find once I'm gone or, as is the case with Jim's mom, incapacitated and no longer able to live outside of a nursing home. I've thought about the books they'll take for their own bookshelves, the knick-knacks they'll split between them, the family photos they'll add to their own albums and share with their own children to come.

It wasn't until reading the comment from Grams on my post about going through the very last of my mother-in-law's items that I considered things the girls might find that I don't want them to find. "It made us know how much we didn't know about our parents," Grams said about what she and her siblings found in their parents' belongings. Her comment made me think about my own tucked away possessions, items that will reveal to my daughters thoughts, feelings, traits I wasn't willing to share while living, ones I definitely don't want them to know once I'm gone.

I'm not talking about illegal activities, funky fetishes or stacks of money with which Jim and I played McScrooge. Pretty much everything I have is out in the open, available for inspection any time anyone wants to delve deeper into who I am, who I was. Pretty much everything, that is, except my journals.

I've always thought the published journals of famous people, long after they're dead and gone, paint an inaccurate picture of the person, put them up for analysis, speculation and scrutiny based on limited information. If they're anything like me, those famous folk wrote in their journals when their hearts were heavy, when they were at their most vulnerable, most sad, most confused, most sick and tired of spinning the wheels of a daily grind that wasn't the life they originally imagined. But those worries, fears, complaints scribbled in private are not truly representative of the person as a whole.

And that's what I worry my girls would find in the many journals I've kept, journals written from the time I was a teen up through about four years ago. I rarely -- if ever -- write in a journal anymore, but all the angst, fears and probably a good share of self-pity of the past sits locked away in a trunk in the closet. The words written long ago are only a portion of who I was, who I am ... at my darkest.

I'm not sure why I've held on to those journals. It seemed better than the alternative, though, better than throwing away all the years of pouring out my heart onto paper. I've lost the key to the trunk in which they're stored, and that's been okay with me. I have no need, no reason, no desire to relive all those old thoughts, so knowing they're in a trunk which I can't open has seemed reasonable, safe.

But upon my death, I'm pretty sure the girls won't let a lock without a key keep them from finding out what's inside the funky blue trunk in the study. So I'm considering what to do with that trunk. Do I pitch the thing in the garbage, locked and unopened? Do I pry it open and scan the journals to see if my concerns are unwarranted? Or do I leave well enough alone, leave it locked, leave it in the closet, leave it until I'm dead and gone and the girls can do with it what they will?

Like I said, I'm considering it. I don't really know what to do. Or when to do it. I'm at a crossroads, feeling a little anxious about the whole thing.

Maybe I need to go journal about it. Commit words to paper in hopes of coming to some sort of resolution, some sort of answer. Just as I did in journals in the past.

First, though, I need to find a hiding place for the new journal. One that doesn't require a key. Better yet, one that will self-destruct after a short period of time so I don't have yet another journal causing me such consternation.

Photo credit: Stock.xchng

Today's question:

Do you write in a journal or diary? If so, what do you do with them once filled?