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'!
6 hours ago