This morning I went to the farmers market to get some greens. When I looked around at what was available, I saw a stand that I bought something from just two days prior. I had bought greens that day, and they were still in the refrigerator. In that moment upon remembering, I realized how much I rely on my boyfriend who prepares most of our meals. He is on the opposite coast today, so I have to take care of myself. Just a month ago, I thought my memory was improving, and it may be. But it’s still not great. Mike, who is ten years older than me, can recall what kinds of vegetables are in cold storage in an instant. From the time I left home to get greens until I realized I had some already, at least 15 minutes had passed. I was so sure I didn’t have any greens that I didn’t bother to check.
Ironically, my friend Kenya Moses posted a quote yesterday, “Just because people look for what they think they don’t have, doesn’t mean they don’t already have it.” This can be things, character traits, friends, or anything we may forget. Unfortunately, a symptom of PTSD is forgetfulness. I often look for what I already have.
Some people think that these kinds of memory problems are common for middle-aged people. But it’s not just trivial things like what’s in the refrigerator that I have trouble remembering. It’s also important things like doctor appointments and computer file locations for important documents. I can look at my calendar in the morning and in seconds forget what I have to do that day. I need aids and logical ordering to help me remember.
When I remembered that I already had greens to eat, I felt loss and sorrow. It was only two days ago that I bought, washed, and stored them. These feelings began to overwhelm me so I stepped aside to regulate them. I felt dizzy, something at the top of my throat, and weakness in my arms. And then I thought about the effort it takes to remember what I want to remember. This effort is essentially waiting and being patient. Sometimes recalling information takes an effort not unlike stepping away from a problem the way Robert Pirsig described in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Other times, it takes a moment of silence, such as speaking situations in which I must simply wait for a word to become verbalized. Finding simple words can sometimes take a few seconds.
I still have memory limitations in spite of extra exercise, mental puzzles, and learning new things. I don’t know how long these limitations will be in my life. Maybe for the remainder. If so, I must learn to accept this and be patient with myself. I also need my friends and family to be patient with me.