Last Saturday I worked my local Farmer’s Market selling my soaps and herbal products. It was the first one of the season and I had a wonderful time seeing friends, family and neighbors. The only problem, recognizing people and remembering their names.
I have a horrible memory. I have had this problem most of my life but when menopause hit it got even worse. So there I am, running into all kinds of wonderful people who I really like, smiling as my brain struggles to remember where I know them from and who they are.
Most people are very forgiving, thank goodness, but it really bothers me and I feel bad when I don’t remember someone. I thought I would write about it and confess in public so that everyone can know that it is not personal to them, it is just that I have brain damage.
I truly believe that I have damage to the area of my brain that handles memory. My friends are always teasing me because I don’t remember childhood people or things I did even all the time. Last month at a party for my sister I sat with my long time childhood friends and listened to them talk about things we did without even so much as an “it rings a bell.” They couldn’t believe it.
I attribute this brain damage to alcohol abuse. When I was a child, 12 years old and through my teens, I used a lot of alcohol. My father was an alcoholic and life wasn’t great so I tried to cope in a way that was known to me. Escape with alcohol and drugs. Thankfully I grew up and discovered that wasn’t a good way but I think the damage was done.
I also fear it could be Alzheimer’s or that I am a prime candidate to get that disease. After all I am half way there already. The thought of not knowing my own children some day, and not just forgetting their names or which one I’m talking to, kills me to even think about. Yet I see the possibility as my memory is just so bad.
So, while I was at the market with my daughter who was helping me, a very good customer of mine showed up. She is one of my favorites and although she looked very familiar, I didn’t know her right away and I should have. She had to tell me her name and I was super embarrassed about it.
After I was reminded her name I remembered a story about her that I love to tell and I related it to my daughter. I began with the words, “I will never forget her.”
My daughter said, “Until 10 minutes from now.”
I laughed at that but sadly it could be true. This condition really effects my life. I had a job as a waitress a few months ago and had extreme problems trying to memorize the menu like was expected of me. I couldn’t do it and needless to say, although I was a great server, couldn’t keep my job.
Thankfully I can still manage to run my soap business. I just want all my wonderful friends, neighbors and customers to know that I very much like and appreciate you even when I am giving you that blank stare like I never saw you before. Please know that it is not because you are unimportant to me, or that you don’t matter to me. It is just that I can’t remember.