A woman is being supported for her decision not to apologize for writing the diary her little sister read in secret and which traumatized her as a child.
The woman, who said Newsweek she wanted to be identified as “Rosie,” popular Reddit forum r/AmITheA**hole queried, asking “[Would I be the A**hole] What if I told my sister that her trauma from reading my diary is not my fault?” The original poster (OP) got over 5,200 upvotes and 600 comments for its post.
Rosie, now 22, begins by saying she had a “very sad conversation” with her little sister, now 18. Rosie says that as a teenager she “struggled a lot” with her mental health. She is now better after several years of therapy and cutting off an abusive family member, but said her diary from that time was full of ‘very intense and horrifying things’ and ‘awful and angry dialogue’.
When Rosie was 14, her then 10-year-old sister started secretly reading her diary. She hadn’t told anyone she was doing it until recently and told Rosie that although she was ‘very traumatized’ she continued to read the diary for over a year in order to keep up with developments. of his older sister.
Rosie says she feels “absolutely awful” that her sister was so upset by what she read, but she’s also frustrated because it was her outlet to express her anger and other feelings. She had no intention of sharing this writing with anyone. She also said that her sister’s trauma could have been resolved sooner if she had either confronted Rosie at the time or even told an adult.
“I feel like what I wrote in my diary was my business. Writing terrible, angry rants made me feel better and helped me deal with my very difficult emotions at the time. I’m not proud of that, and that’s not how I would handle things today, but I feel like I should have had my private coping mechanism and an outlet. for my emotions,” Rosie wrote, noting that she also realizes it’s common for a 10-year-old to spy on her sister, but it was still a violation of her privacy.
Rosie said that during their conversation she was sure to validate her sister’s feelings and apologized for causing her distress. But Rosie also says she feels like it’s her sister’s fault and she shouldn’t have to apologize for writing her diary in the first place. While Rosie’s sister describes reading the diary as “something that happened to her”, she points out that she tried to hide the diary to protect it from prying eyes.
“She’s mad at me for writing these things, but I don’t want to apologize for writing my emotions. It’s clearly a tragedy that she read it. But to some extent, I I feel like she’s responsible. I’d like to be available to help her process the trauma, and I’ve apologized many times for causing her so much distress, but I don’t want to apologize for the fact that the diary existed,” Rosie wrote, asking the Reddit community if it would be wrong for her to refuse to apologize.
Journaling is recommended by many therapists as a way to deal with trauma. Matthew Tull, Ph.D. wrote an article for VeryWellMind.com explaining how journaling can help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Tull recommends “expressive writing,” saying it can help people manage anxiety and anger, as well as reduce tension in the body.
Additionally, writes Tull, some studies have shown that journaling by patients with PTSD may also help with post-traumatic growth, which he describes as the “ability to find meaning and have change.” positive in life” after a trauma. He says it’s best to start journaling at a time and place with few – or ideally no – distractions, start by reflecting on the trauma and its impact, and writing about thoughts and feelings. caused by the trauma.
It’s also important to make sure you have an aftercare plan because writing about trauma can bring up troubling thoughts and feelings. It is also important to read what is written to help process these thoughts and be sure to pay attention to how these thoughts and feelings change as a result of writing them down.
Of course, it is very important that these journals remain private, no matter the age of the person reading. write for psychology today, Nancy Darling, Ph.D., urges parents not to read their children’s diaries. She was moved to write her article after reading a woman’s letter to the New York Times in 2017 saying she finds it “important” to read her 9-year-old daughter’s diary, so she can help her deal with her fears and encourage her.
“Even in short, there are at least three fundamental reasons why most of us would think it wrong to sneak into a diary: it violates privacy, it violates the integrity of the child and it undermines the trust that is the foundation for a healthy mother-daughter relationship,” Darling writes.
Darling says that if a parent believes their child is suicidal or a victim of abuse, it may be necessary to read their child’s diary, but only in these extremely serious situations. And of course, a parent reading their newspaper is very different from a little sister frisking their brother, which, while sometimes common, is never appropriate.
In some cases logs may be revealed. For instance, Newsweek has previously published stories about a woman’s diary discovered decades after the fact in a thrift store, or about a woman who found the identity of a World War II spy in her grandmother’s diary. -mother transmitted through the family.
But in both of these cases, the consent was given – via the fact that the grandmother gave the diary as an inheritance – or implied, in the sense that the diary was sold to a thrift store. And, of course, the diary writer can choose to share her words herself, as one woman did with her childhood diary written on 9/11.
The redditors took Rosie’s side.
“[Not the A**hole]. Stop apologizing, like I know there’s all this stuff about us needing to validate other people’s feelings, but that’s not the case. She can’t stomach the idea that she is somehow a victim of reading your journal. She shouldn’t have read your diary,” u/JCBashBash wrote.
“You are the only person here who is actually violated, she is not responsible to some extent, she is fully responsible for the fact that she saw something of yours that was private, and for a year reading it secretly .It’s not normal for a 10-year-old to spend a year stalking another person and reading their private thoughts,” they continued.
“Diaries are also only for the writer. Often they are full of their deepest thoughts, often also their darkest. Without the context of their specific life experiences, no one, especially a 10-year-old child years, will only have to judge what’s in there in the right context and sometimes the adult version of the teenager who wrote it will lose that context over time,” u/letstrythisagain30 agreed.
“Since the sister had to go through several steps to expose herself to the diary, she was the one who actively and knowingly violated OP’s privacy and consumed the diary’s content,” u/otakuchips wrote. “OP, she doesn’t become the victim of YOUR feelings and circumstances.”
Others felt that no one was at fault.
“It is certainly a [No a**holes here]. She was young and trying to keep an eye on you, you had a healthy outlet for your feelings. It’s unfortunate but no one really did anything wrong (if she had been older that would be a different story),” u/TWAndrewz wrote.
“[No a**holes here]“, agreed u/jstnrgrs. “What does she think you did wrong? The only thing I can think of is that maybe you should have done better to keep the diary locked up. But as a 14 year old, I can’t really blame you for not doing it. As a 10-year-old, I don’t think she can really be held responsible either.”