I bet you that if I said ‘the seaside in summer’ your head will be filled with memories from childhood. Admittedly not everyone was lucky enough to go to the beach, or even to have a holiday. Maybe you live near the sea and spend all of your time there anyway so my memory hint will be pointless to you. My point is, I could say almost anything to you and it would jog something in your sub conscience to give you a memory.
I have ‘false memories’ pertaining from my childhood. Nobody knows where I have them from. Nobody I have spoken to knows what I am talking about, or even what a 6 year old brain might possibly have changed from real to fake. Usually when you speak to a child about things they remember you get a sense of what they are talking about, but if that child suffered severe trauma those memories are often wiped, or changed somehow. I don’t remember a lot of my childhood from age 6 to 12-13. There’s various vague snippets, but nothing really concise. The brain in a child is well documented to wipe or ‘store’ major trauma incidents to protect the child. It’s possible to get these memories back with therapy and hypnosis etc, but that’s not a road I can see many taking. I don’t blame them.
The sub conscious brain is a creature all too complicated to try to understand. It’s responsible for memory, actions, and thoughts amongst other things that the human brain can do. I get ‘feelings of memory’ in that I mean I’ll smell or hear something and in my SC mind I’m getting that it’s familiar, a memory is there that is relevant, but I just can’t pull it out. I can’t seem to bring it into the light to see it with my own eyes. My brain has pulled the curtains shut and is reluctant to open them, it’s instead giving me a peak here and there of what I have in my mind. I suppose I should be greatful that I don’t remember my trauma. I have paperwork that tells me what happened. That paperwork is just words on paper. There’s nothing in my brain to link it with my life and what happened to me, it could be about someone else, if it wasn’t about me. I have no pictures, or smells or anything in my SC mind that shows up as a film trailer when I read that paperwork. I’m not the only person who lives with this. Anyone who has suffered severe trauma at a young age has a similar condition.
I’m writing this blog because I was just using google maps to look up a place I need to visit, and one of the first pubs I went into is in this area. I was saddened to see it’s been demolished and is now a bloody car park. Then I tried to find where I lived in this area, and I can’t remember what the door to the building looked like. They’ve probably changed it by now, it was a very long time ago that I was there. The building itself will not have changed, maybe a coat of paint and new windows, but still there all the same. Indecently, when I got to this area, I tried to explain where something was to someone asking for directions, without knowing that the pub I had been referencing had also been demolished after a fire destroyed it, and it’s now a unit of flats.
When you reach a certain age your memory starts to fade. That’s just a fact of life. I’m 37 and already suffer from memory loss where past events are involved. The older the memory, the less you can remember of it. You may remember going to the beach on holiday, but you might have forgotten where that holiday was, or what beach you were on. My town has a number of beaches dotted along the coast line, so if I took my children to one of them and they made a memory there, one day they’ll recall that memory but place it on the main sands, rather than one of the smaller beaches. They’ll do that because we live in the area, and they know that there’s a main beach that most people go to, so it must have been there. They’ll recount the memory to me and I’ll remind them that it was in a different place. I might tell them other things that happened that day that they don’t remember at all, but I do.
My son has a very good memory, but he sucks at explaining what he is talking about most of the time. He can have several different conversations come out in one sentence, and make something that happened 2 years ago seem like it happened this morning. Or he’ll be randomly be talking about something that’s relevant to now, and go off about the car crash he saw a month ago. He struggles with differentiating between memory and current conversation. He won’t say ‘Oh that reminds me of this’ he’ll just start talking about it, like you know what he’s on about. You then have to work out what he means. Sometimes it’s easy, if you’ve seen what he’s talking about and can remind him when it happened, but if it’s something he saw on his kindle, or at school then you have no clue and no option but to just smile and nod, and try to explain to him that we have no idea what he’s talking about and he needs to use more words to tell us. It can be very frustrating.
On the other side of that, talking to someone who has memory loss is often heart breaking. I’m talking about Dementia and Alzheimer’s. My Grandfather had a series of strokes that left him in a dementia kind of state; he had no idea who anyone was outside of my Grandmother and Mother. I remember being told that my mother had shown my grandfather a picture of my newborn daughter and he looked at her, smiled, screwed the picture up and put it in his pocket. He had no memory of his granddaughter being pregnant and having a baby. It’s a sad memory. He died on Boxing day 2000, just 3 months after my daughter was born, he never met her.
Why do we remember the good and the bad? if the brain is capable of shutting out the trauma of severe incidents, why is it not able to let us forget the other sad things that happen, like my Grandfather’s illness? If my brain is capable of shutting out the major trauma I suffered, why does it leave me with enough memory to know it happened in the first place. Why not just erase that whole sad episode of my life, and leave me with the stark black and white of paper evidence and no real connection to events?
I’ve said frequently enough, why do we remember one thing but not another? Why do I remember a gorgeous long haired biker pissing up the side of the tent I was sitting in at a motorbike rally in 1997, the reactions of the people inside the tent and how hard he was laughing, but not what the first film I saw at the cinema was? You would think that something as momentous as the first ever cinema trip would be something to remember, yes? I have no recollection of that. I do, however, remember standing in my living room, on the phone to an Indian lady, asking her what films were currently showing at the cinema, and recounting what she said to my boyfriend who was sitting on the sofa, and when I raised my voice to get an answer from him she hung up. That’s what I remember when I’m asked what film I saw at the cinema the first time I went.
The Tellytubbies blessed our goggle boxes in 1997. How do I remember that? Well, when I was 16, I lived with my boyfriend in London. We were riding through a busy intersection on his motorbike late one evening when the lights on a billboard made me look at it. It was an advert for the tv show. It’s etched in my memory as if it happened yesterday. It came in handy last week at a pub quiz when I was the only person who knew the answer.
Taking a trip down memory lane can be fascinating. It can remind you of long forgotten memories of loved ones, tough times and friendships past and present. Photo albums are great at bringing memories to life like a picture book of the mind. All of my photo albums are stored in my loft. Pictures tend to be kept on mobile devices nowadays, which in itself I think is a very stupid idea. I see a lot of stolen phone posts begging for the return because of sentimental value for the pictures stored on it. If those pictures were so precious, why did you not save them elsewhere, or PRINT THEM OFF! because, like what happened to us, the device could be stolen, or corrupted, damaged or broken beyond salvage and then what will you do? When my husbands computer started to fail one of the first things he did was back up all of his pictures to our friends external hard drive. Unfortunately, that hard drive became corrupted and none of the data stored on it was saved. All of the baby pictures I took of our youngest when he was very sick in hospital were lost. There were pregnancy pictures, family gatherings etc, all gone. So, just to clarify, if you have sentimental, irreplaceable pictures stored on your phone, laptop or external hard drive, go and get them printed. The cost is immaterial when you compare it to not having those pictures.
Memories pop up when you least expect them. I’m currently sitting in MacDonalds in my home town, writing this. My brother-from-another-mother used to work here way back when I was in my very early teens. I worked here for about 2 weeks. It’s had a face-lift, but is essentially the same place I remember from my childhood. i met my eldest child’s father outside of here way back in 1999. I saw him yesterday, he told me about things that I had forgotten from when we lived together. He reminded me about someone I had long forgotten about, whose face I can’t recall and I wouldn’t recognise him if he sat next to me. I doubt he would know me either.
A friend of mine told me a story he remembers from when he was 9. He’s been an F1 fan since he was 2. He wanted to become a formula one driver when he grew up. It was a massive part of his life up to the age of 9, when disaster struck. He had to go for an ECG, which in turn lead to another test, which lead to the discovery that he is Epileptic. Therefore, unable to drive an F1 car. He is still a big fan of F1, I don’t think that will ever change. He told me how devastated he was when his parents broke the news to him. The look on his face as he told me this, well, have you ever seen a grown man almost in tears? It’s not a pretty sight.
What colour was your first pet?
Were your childhood wellington boots red, blue?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Did you have a favourite cartoon?
Where did you get the inspiration for your children’s names from?
How old were you the first time you ate in a restaurant?
Please drop me a message, or comment with your answers. I am genuinely interested to read your replies.