Friday, August 13

Navel gazing

Recent events have prompted me to indulge in an extended period of navel gazing. I spent the last week re-reading my old diaries from the 1990s and embarking on something of a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows.

I really have laughed and cried over some of the things I wrote and some of the things that happened to me - most of which I remembered in one way or another. Sometimes as an event too painful to hold on to in much detail, sometimes just as a vague recollection. Some things I have no memory of at all - even though they are set out in explicit detail.

That decade of my life was a very varied one, at times incredibly unstable and often involving extreme emotions. A succession of relationships - mostly rather unconventional in one way or another, sometimes overlapping, often difficult - seemed to drag me from pillar to post. Friendships came and went; thankfully some endured.

I particularly learned that I like myself much more as I am these days. Reading back my old diaries brought me into stark confrontation with a rather selfish and hedonistic individual - perhaps partly created by circumstances, but certainly lacking in self-awareness and shirking personal responsibility in some respects.

Does anyone else ever re-read their own diaries or have those who wrote them taken the wise course and burned them?!

I say that flippantly but I don't see burning them as a solution. In some ways it's very interesting to look back from such a distance and recognise the events that shaped me and others around me. Some of these events seemed unimportant at the time but on hindsight they almost achieve notoriety. It's also a reminder that self-perception is a valuable skill to have.

It's also nice to be reminded of the good things that I'd forgotten. Without the diaries I would have dismissed one particular relationship as a real mistake - it ended on a sour note and the individual concerned had struggled throughout with his own personal demons, sometimes using me as an emotional punch-bag to work through his own issues.

The diaries brought back to life the side of him that I had fallen in love with - a funny, cheeky and erudite man with whom I was 100% sexually compatible. In itself a lesson in growing up and recognising that sexual compatibility does not a successful relationship make.

It wasn't all doom and navel-gazing gloom, however. Some of the comments, particularly in relation to a number of my first rather unsuccessful internet-dating excursions, made me laugh out loud.

On hearing of my date with Jules, a 'jolly, ruddy-looking bloke' who 'had a terribly unappealing habit of making an excitable-sounding noise at the end of every sentence as he sucked air in through his teeth', my good friend Suze quipped: 'Not so much the Jules in the crown as the clinker in the ash heap'!


Leezz said...

I haven't done much re-reading yet of my 1980s and 1990s diaries but have been glancing through some from the 70s in preparation for a 30 year school reunion next month. I'm absolutely mortified by how shallow I come across as in most of the entries - in particular thanks to the daily listing of which boys I caught sight of on the bus! I'm hoping that later and particularly current volumes will make more thought-provoking reading when I eventually look back at them!

knit nurse said...

hmm, yes the pre-college diaries are particularly embarrassing! Along with endless dreary swooning over boys are the weekly listing of the acts on Top of the Pops and minute details of every meal I ate and every item I bought!

colleen said...

I never kept a diary but I did write recently about re-reading some letters which my friend kept from when I was 18. One of those made me burst into tears. It's quite scary to think that all those old emotions are still there under the surface of an older, wiser and- possibly -less self-absorbed person.

Ines said...

"Self-perception is a valuable skill to have"... Wy then most of the people doesn't care at all about it? Maybe we are too concerned in what people think about us, in what they want from us, so we progressively forget who we are...