Here is a simple statement that almost sums me up in one sentence. I don’t remember a time that I simply don’t remember.
We all have long term memory (well, those of us not officially ailing from dementia!) and we can all reflect on special moments from years gone by with a fuzzy outline of the events that unfurled. Yes, I can do that too, but I also, for reasons unbeknownst to me, retain all the useless and mundane trivialities that should have been caught in the “not necessary” filter part of my memory. Like the fact I first slept in my brand new 1000count Egyptian Cotton Sheets exactly one year ago yesterday, or that two years on this date today my mum had come to stay for a weekend… And it is all stored in picture perfect clarity and replayed at a moment’s notice in my mind.
While this peculiarity of my personality does at times serve me extremely well (in my previous life playing PA my boss found it a combination of amusing and informative, especially when it came to recalling dates and events) the fact that it NEVER switches itself into off mode can also be a little tiring. Like the heady scent of Jasmine in the summer, happy recollections from far ago can swirl around and send you flying back into that treasured moment, but there is also the paradox of the more painful recalls. They can leave you feeling raw, exposed and anxious; my emotions are so intricately interwoven with this constant state of remembrance that one little memory can trigger a full range of feelings, from happiness to heartbreak and everything in between. Not to mention being so easily propelled into the past makes it pretty darn hard to live in the present moment…
And after being surprised that not everyone could recount their exact events this time last week, last year, 5 or 15 years ago, imagine my relief when I discovered I am not the only one who lives (and re-lives!) their life through a vivid mind’s eye, as if a show reel of my life was on constant repeat
Freak show? Maybe. But at least I am no longer alone!
Enter Jill Price, via the Oprah Winfrey Show, who suffers from the same “unforgettable” affliction as me! After being greeted with sarcasm for sporting this odd gift, it was comforting to know someone else understood this same idiosyncrasy I’d been shackled with. And reassured too, to hear it even has an official fancy-pants medical term: hypothyemezia
The constant feeling of vulnerability overwhelmed her at times, as it would also do to me. Having every memory at the fore of your mind, and the fact that each carries with it an immediate emotional response, can mean you run the risk of walking in a constant state of alarm. And while I do feel like I can mostly control mine, it only takes a particular, sometimes completely ordinary occurrence, for the trigger of this loaded gun to fire with a vengeance. Such as the other day when I was in the supermarket and a song came on the radio that I identified with as a “break-up” song from when I was 16. Suddenly I was thrust back to that the days following that upsetting event, to the exact moment I heard this sad song for the first time. The image of me standing near the counter in a Just Jeans shop on a Saturday, killing time I was to start my weekend job at Video Ezy, my heart swollen with teenage angst engulfed me. Yes, almost two decades on those emotional demons still hovered in the far corner of my mind, and I had to physically shake them from my consciousness.
It can be a heavy curse that weighs upon you, as blissful relief from the permanent reminiscent ramblings of my mind seems to be hard to come by when your mind has morphed into a gymnast, leaping from one recollection to the next EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY.
And no doubt explains while it’s taken almost two and a half years for me to get over the distressing childbirth experience. Because people, I am not like those who say labour is “just one day and you forget it the minute it’s all over.” Not, it would seem, if you have an Elephant memory like mine!!
I think Harrison is in danger of inheriting this trait too – you only have to make passing reference to something once and he’ll suddenly remind you of it at some stage, even up to a month on. Pity his poor friends in the playground – any slight is bound to be trotted out of his little memory bank for months to come!
I guess the real irony of it all is that while I can recount to you such useful details as I what was happening in the world 5, 10 or 20 years ago to the day (and usually throw in what I was wearing for good measure), send me to the shops with a Grocery List and I am bound to fail to buy something that is on it. Hell, sometimes I even forget the actual list! So yes, while my long term memory is that to rival my ivory tusked large friends, my short term memory is shite – something I am bound to unfortunately never forget.. 🙂