Wednesday, October 9


I realized today that I have almost no specific memory of the people in my life. 

I remember little bits of many people - sometimes I can wrack my brain and if they were influential I can remember their names and a few things about them. 

But even those memories are actually scenes, details that describe a picture in my head. 

I can vividly remember seeing Richard Heaton at Bridal Veil Falls with his son, or talking in his MTC office about how he balances being a father and his other responsibilities. Or being in his Church office when he was in my stake presidency and I told him about (G)MG.

I remember throwing a ball at a girl's face during gym class water polo because I thought the rules were unfair, then later throwing the ball into the second-story bleachers. I don't remember her face. I remember her name, and sitting with her at a table in a classroom, laying out a recreation of a Roman newspaper, complete with recipes for stuffed mice. But I don't remember anything really about her.

I remember nothing about my grandfather, even though he lived nearby and I was 8 when he died.

I don't remember my siblings' favorite colors. My brother has to remind me that he doesn't like peanut butter, and the other brother either doesn't like mustard or mayo... I can never remember which.

And, perhaps worst of all, I don't remember much about my mission companions, the girls I've dated, people at my work, and the many people I've gotten close to over the years. It's one thing to forget someone's name... but there are full months-long swaths of my life, in the recent past, that I don't remember at all, even with a journal to try to help. People that I've spent hundreds, or thousands, of hours talking with... and all I remember are a few scenes and bits of one or two conversations that happened. And sometimes not even that. I have no memories at all of one of my mission companions. None at all.

I've always been amazed when people remembered me, and not only remembered me, and my name, but also remembered a lot of stuff about me. I realize that I'm strange/unique/whatever. But I'm realizing that it's not just the fact that I'm memorable that makes a huge difference between our recollection when I meet a long-lost friend. It's also the fact that I remember so little.

Today a guy stopped me on campus. He was on his bike riding past me as I walked back to my car (I was there writing just to get away from home). He seemed really excited to see me. I had no idea who he was. I didn't know his face, and when he said his name I still didn't remember anything about him.

He was my roommate. And not just any roommate - he was my roommate from right before I moved into the house where I live now. At least that's what he said, and he was being sincere. I know we must have had discussions and talks. That always happens with people. But I don't remember anything about him except for when he said he was studying trombone, that felt right inside my mind. He knew my name, and remembered a ton about me. And I knew nothing, and still can't remember anything.

I find myself wondering if this - my inability to store or process or remember important information about people - is at the root of some of my issues with relationships.

I don't know.

But it's incredibly disheartening.

I mean, who wants to be forgotten? Who wants to ever talk with someone who will not only forget their name, but everything except a few intense emotional scenes in a few years? A few minutes later I heard my name called by a group of MBA students. I knew them less than a year ago. They introduced me to a first-year MPA and invited me to go to a lecture with them. And, again, all I could remember were fragments of scenes. A shot of us deep in conversation in the MBA Lounge. No idea what the conversation was about.

I don't understand. I can remember factual information for forever. And yet when it comes to stuff that matters... people... I know nothing no matter how hard I try.

On a potentially bright side, it's been a blessing in my life. I don't remember almost any of the heart-wrenching stories that make me cry when people reach out for help... I forget them sometimes within days (hence why if I don't reply quickly, it takes forever - until I do a sweep of all my emails again)... and I also don't remember feeling those emotions myself, except again for a few scenes. It makes living in the moment, and looking forward, a thousand times easier because I have no rocky past to build on.

And yet it means that every time I see someone again I feel like I need to start over. Maybe I know your name, your passions, even how to motivate you to be a better person... but I don't know the first thing about what you do in your spare time... unless one of those rare moments happens to have captured it.

I remember people only as parts of intense emotional or intellectual scenes. Their faces aren't there. Or what they wore, or how they spoke or who they are... just a stand-in that says "person" in my mind, with a name attached... or not.

My brain doesn't see people the way it should. Maybe that's why, even after learning coping skills, I still feel disconnected. Maybe that's why I feel like I don't know really anyone when the world seems to know me.


So now I realize it might be an issue.


What can I do about it?


  1. Have you been to a specialist about this? Have you had any blood work or tests done to help you understand better?
    When my thyroid went bad I had a hard time with everything. I just thought I was falling apart. With the cancerous thyroid I had lethargy, bad memory, weight gain, mood swings etc. I knew it wasnt normal but what did I know? I was told that I was just a busy mom. Even twice the drs said I was just exhausted and gave me sleeping pills. Nope. Cancer in the thyroid. Of course my problems were mine and so yours are probably very different. But no one will take charge of your health except you. Since this is long term then they may have a fix. Something that they have dealt with for a while.

    *Kind of a shameless plug* I also go to Albuquerque, NM (a 10 hour drive) and get herbs from a herb doctor. I have never believed in that form of health care but I decided to give it a try. I am a believer now. Let me know if you are interested and I can give you a name.

  2. I don't know what to say other than, sorry. That sucks. Listening to your words and feelings recalls to mind the times in my life when I've felt hopeless, confused, and lost. I've always made it through, somehow. Praying that you'll be able to learn the things you need to from this and that you'll find your way through. We need you and your amazing ability to fight the fight and to reach out in love. And that it's so difficult for you to connect with people and that you try anyway makes you that much more amazing.

  3. I don't know what to say either, except I have similar feeling sometimes. I forget important details about things i did when I was younger. My friends remember them so well, but I don't remember.

    They remember so much more for me. I have come to realize that my brain just works different that others because of my ADD. I have come to accept the fact the I have a harder time remembering things and learn different than others. I could spend forever worrying about or trying to figure out why my brain is this way. I choose to remain postive and enjoy each day.

    I've learned to Enjoy the moments and experiences ahead of me, Look to the future. I try to not focus too much on the fact that I don't remember a lot of experiences that have happened in the past. I try to not compare myself to others either because we are all different. We were given certain health issues or mental issues for a reason.

    Remember you are a child of God, and he has given you different many wonderful talents that are different than others. He gave them to you for a reason. I can see from your blog that you use those to bless others lives.

    I have realized that it is ok if i don't remember every detail about people or their names, especially if i don' see them much. But, that does not mean I cannot give up on trying to remember details about people. There is always something new to try . Write down their name, and place their name with something about them. Something unique. Study the ward directory to remember people's names. Work on memorizing peoples names by looking at the picture. Hence the ward directory for your ward.

    Try not to stress too much about not knowing little details of the past. I know it can be frustrating when you don't remember but remember your illness is not something you can control completely. I have come to realize that with my add. Enjoy each day and live it to the fullest.

    What do you do to help you remember names??? just curious\s???

    Sorry it is so long, i get on a tangent sometimes. It is my brain :)


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