Dear Annie: I am a 71-year-old husband, father and grandfather. I have a wonderful wife, five children (three are step-children), and grandchildren whom I love very much. However, in my distant past were some very dark and hurtful times. They involved a divorce, an estranged daughter due to the divorce and the crushing feeling that I was not the honorable man I’d thought I was.
Now, many years later, I have remade a good life. I am no longer the man I used to be. My richest blessing is my family. My estranged daughter is back in my life, and I love my stepchildren as if they were my own. They are, in my heart. If I were “called home” today, I could say that I’ve had a good and blessed life.
I keep a personal diary. I write almost every day about my thoughts, concerns, hopes and joys. However, in my diary are “the dark times” from my past. All of that pain is not a part of my life anymore. I am afraid that if someone read my entries, they could be hurt by what I wrote. My question to you is this: Should I remove and destroy that section of my past from my diary? – A Better Man Today
Dear Better Man Today: First and foremost, congratulations on turning your life around. Last time I checked, I have never met a perfect human being. Though you might have made poor choices in the past, you also made the important and wonderful choice to repair any damage done and rebuild your relationships with your family. When we know better, we do better, and that is what you did. Family is everything, and the fact that you see that is admirable.
As for your diary, tear out the hurtful pages if that is what you want to do. However, if you would prefer to leave them in, then leave them in. It was through those dark times that you came to see the light. The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow.
If you are afraid of hurting people’s feelings, perhaps you could add something in your diary saying just that. Pretending the past didn’t happen won’t erase it. However, the love and gratitude you feel for the people in your life today is what’s important. People forgive, and if you express that appreciation and love your diary, I’m sure it will come through.
In the meantime, if you don’t want anyone to read your diary, keep it in a safe place.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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