Today was tiring but amazing. I travelled for a lot of it, going to Cambridge with Kel to visit a good friend of ours before going home: I’ve had a wonderful few days with him, filled with laughs and far too much alcohol for comfort. When I got home, I was exhausted and decided to spend a ‘short time’ going through my old emails for nostalgic purposes. That ‘short time’ turned into nearly an hour of trawling through the little bits of my life I’d shared with people so long ago, when I actually used my email for personal purposes. As you’ll see, it was surprisingly… Eventful.
It’s often the case that when I’m feeling slightly emotional or just need a way to distract myself, my old emails are a good way to centre myself. It’s partly because a lot of them are just confusing or hilarious but it’s more to do with the fact that it always reminds me of bits of my life that I’d forgotten. Not only did I find my old emails but I remembered that I’d forwarded some of them to my friends a few years later, commiserating over how awful they were. My younger self was almost painfully cringe at times but it gives my older self a way to look back and reflect. Now, I’m not sure how much of those emails represented how I truly felt.
Some of them were unspeakably unbearable to read, simply because they made me physically recoil from wincing so hard at my younger self’s actions. There were emails to my ex-boyfriend when I was 11: ‘love u sooooooo much!!!!!!! xxxxxx” and emails to my friends about how ‘upset’ I was: “Don’t tell him I said that” and “I just feel so heartbroken because he wouldn’t talk to me!!!! *screams*”. Alright, some of them were exaggerated but you get the picture. I was prone to massive bouts of drama back then and thought that documenting it was somehow helpful.
The thing is, it is helpful. Only because I know a little of how I thought when I was ‘going through’ what was apparently the ‘worst point of my life’. Now I know, of course, that it was nothing compared to what I actually have gone through but some of the things I wrote were hugely reflective of the issues I’d face in later life. Oh shit, that makes me sound so old.
On the other hand, though a lot of it I can make fun of, some of it was genuinely emotional. It was around the age of 14 – 4 years ago – that I experienced my first heartbreak which wrecked me for a long time afterwards. Reading my words on that, where I had an inability to understand, jolted me right back to how it felt. Reading funny emails between me and my ex-girlfriend was simultaneously painful and smile-inducing because we’ve gone through a lot together. Finding situations where I’d been the toxic person, some of which I didn’t even remember, was a little jarring as well. If I’ve forgotten that, what else have I forgotten?
There was a recurring theme in those emails, especially the ones when I was older, where I began to go through some really unpleasant things. I would constantly be paranoid that my friends were talking about me; I’d sometimes shut down conversations – presumably because I thought no one cared. As I still do, I used to take any kind of rejection to heart and blamed myself for pretty much anything, which was broken up by these awful spells of anger that I rarely get any more but they still happen. Seeing all of that so far back reminded me that there are bits of my life that still feel like a puzzle with a few missing pieces.
It’s like looking at my life through a bit of a haze. For the things I don’t remember so clearly, I only have those emails to go on because back then, before the age of 13, I barely used social media to communicate because I had the shittiest phone that I could barely use. It’s half funny and half horrifying to realise that I’ll never get a complete picture of some parts of my life – all I’ll have is some badly worded explanations to friends, or rants that end with too many exclamation marks to be legible. Saying that, it makes it a little mysterious. How much was I really heartbroken that Rowan was looking at another girl who wasn’t me? Will I ever find out?
I don’t think I can ever know just how many different things I don’t remember fully in my life. Isn’t that just memory, though? It’s fragile and confusing but can pop up in the most unexpected of places to show you a section of your life that teaches you something, or provides you with a bit of laughter when you need it most. Some things in those emails were upsetting; some were just weird but most of all, they were small parts of myself that make me remember that those layers of experience make me up as a person.
That’s what I want to remember. Not how many pieces I don’t quite understand but what the pieces I remember can show me. In the end, this was a good way to end a hectic day: by some sort of mixed-up reflection on who I am.
Do you sometimes feel like this too?
From Elm 🙂