I just read my daughter's diary and now I regret it
Before anyone judges, I have to be completely clear about this: I abhore invasions of privacy. I grew up in a strict (and sometimes abusive) home. Both my parents regularly read my diary and searched my room hoping to catch me doing something -- anything -- that they didn't approve of. The problem is that they didn't approve of anything. They used my own words against me at every opportunity. I swore that I'd never raise my daughter the way my parents raised me, and that I'd never invade her privacy unless I had a very good reason to do so. I've told her this. Until today I kept that promise.
My daughter is 14, has never given her dad and me a reason not to trust her. She's a good kid who's never given us any trouble and an outstanding student. But lately she's been so unlike herself; she's been moody but mostly depressed. She's tired all the time. She complains that she doesn't feel well. She's usually very open with me about a lot of things but she's been keeping to herself a lot. Because I'm a celiac and suffered from the classic symptoms of exhaustion and feeling unwell before my diagnosis, I worried that she had it as well. Thankfully she tested negative.
I finally decided to break my rule and read her diary in the hopes that it would give me some insight to what's going on with her. She used to keep her diary out where I could easily read if it I wanted to, but in the past few weeks it's been hidden. I had a good idea of where it was, and I found it and read it from the first page all the way through yesterday's entry. To my relief I didn't find anything that indicated drug or alcohol use, or being involved in something harmful. No mention of being bullied, either. But I was surprised and deeply hurt by some of the things she said about me. I had absolutely no idea she felt that way. She mentioned how clueless I was for not realizing that 85% of her smiles to me are fake. Her entry on the day she sat in on my voice lesson said I was a horrible singer and that I was deluded to think that paying a teacher would ever make me any better. Meanwhile, I remember her gushing on the way home about how awesome I was...and it sounded sincere.
In the end, the impression I got was that she's desperately unhappy because she feels ignored and isolated at school. She was very hard on herself in her diary, calling herself fat, ugly and stupid. She applied to a local magnet high school for gifted and talented students and took it very hard when she was rejected, calling herself a failure and an idiiot for even thinking she was good enough to get in. It hurt to read all the mean things she said about me, but it hurt even more to read the mean things she said about herself.
I don't know what to do with the information I discovered. I don't know how to help her without making it obvious that I read her diary. Although I felt it was necessary, reading her diary was a huge mistake. I got some of the answers I was looking for but I'm paying for it with regret and sorrow.
The one small consolation was an entry several pages after the day she tore apart my singing ability. She made a list of people who inspired her. It was a short list, only about four names long, one of which was the artist Pink. The last name on the list was "Mom". I'm still crying.