Bad memory problems

I have a bad memory. Truly terrible. I actually think it contributes to my introversion because it means I run into awkward social problems:
“Oh, we’ve met before? Several times? Of course we have…”
“Meet… um… [blank]??”
“We saw that movie together? Did I like it?”

Then the non-trivial which is hundred-fold worse:
“Oh, you already told me your sister had cancer… :((” *wishes the ground would open up and swallow me whole*

At work I compensated by taking copious notes about EVERYTHING, making full use of my calendar, sending follow up emails after meetings confirming agreed outcomes, and writing down personal things I learnt about clients or colleagues in my contacts database (“partner: Terry, kids: Olivia and Ted, likes Chinese food, went deep sea fishing last year”) etc.

The note-taking and sharing summaries of meetings worked in my favour because it made me seem super organised and on-the-ball, but really, it was just because if I didn’t do it, I would forget. The contact notes about people were only useful prior to formal meetings: If I ran into those people off-the-cuff, I was screwed.

In my personal life, it’s a lot more complicated and it’s often shockingly embarrassing.

If it’s just me, myself, and I, I compensate. I make lists, I set alarms, I use my calendar, I send myself emails, create spreadsheets.

With other people, it’s a lot more difficult. I have re-introduced myself to people who I have met before (sometimes several times) because ‘nope, not even a glimmer of recognition’. I never remember people’s names, even people who have been in my life for years (I made up a little rhyme to remember the names of my ex’s family members), I don’t remember things people have told me or experiences we’ve shared. And this includes important and meaningful things. I know that one of my friends had something really traumatic happen to them: I remember what it was, but I can’t remember which of my friends it happened to.

It’s made a lot worse in personal relationships because it’s hurtful to people that I forget things about them, especially when they are important, intimate things. And it’s (understandably) impossible to convince them that it’s not because I don’t care, but that ‘I’m just like this’. It’s just… not believable. And honestly, even if they do believe me, they’re still hurt by it in various ways.

I’ve lived with it since I was a teenager, so mostly I compensate well enough, but it *is* a social inhibitor.

I’m always slightly terrified that I’m going to get into conversations with people where they talk about things they’ve told me before, so I tend to be very vague and hope that I eventually catch on to what on earth they’re talking about. It’s of course a barrier to intimacy, and it’s another reason why I hate chit chat, but at least chit chat is trivial. I also have instances where I say a thing and I’m oblivious that it reveals that I’ve forgotten something important and it can be awful, so I’m wary of that also.

Me: “I don’t think I’ve even known anyone with cancer…”
Them, shocked: “Well, except for my sister…”
*wishes the ground would open up and swallow me whole*

It may seem mature and logical to simply say ‘I’m sorry, I forgot’ or ‘Can you remind me again…’, but trust me, when it’s non-trivial, it makes you sound like an arsehole, especially if you do it more than once (and god knows I can’t remember if I’ve done it before).

I’m up-front about my terrible memory with potential submissives I’m interested in because I’m very aware how hurtful it can be, though I’ve also learnt from experience that my warnings don’t at all mitigate that inevitable hurt when it happens.

On that note, I would like a sub with an excellent memory who can walk around with me and whispers things I should know in my ear as I navigate the world :).

So anyway, who are you again?

. . .

Loves: 16
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  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets things. Agree about important family matters. There is no way around looking like an insensitive a$$ if you forget about a sad, intimate story.

  2. Oh I am so bad with names at work. I once had a coworker sitting next to me and he asked me to send him a file via email. Because I forgot his name I asked for his email address. Our company addresses are name@xyz …. his look made me feel so ashamed.

    1. Bahahahaha. I relate so hard.

      I’m good at avoiding using names, but yeah, when you NEED it, and you have to resort to ‘how do you spell that again?’ and they go ‘d-a-v-i-d’ with that look on their face, it’s pretty bad… :P


  3. *huggg* Memory does play a role in how we operate. If you have never read any Oliver Sacks (MD, neuro) books, they are fascinating and fun, and he lived a wild life.

      1. mmmmmmm, it was picked up at 18h last night, did they not deliver it yet, grrrr must be of corona times haha

        love to be your good boy Ferns

        Love Tiptease

  4. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself. I’m quite sure that your willingness to do so has helped many of us with similar challenges feel a bit less alone (my wife and I are close to exclusively quarantined together! and several times in the last week I’ve said, “I think my sister sent me something about X” and she just sighs and says, “No, we talked about that yesterday at breakfast.”).

    For myself, it’s more a matter of what I remember. Cancer, oh my God, that’s terrible. This must be so hard (and scary). Can I help? Something like cancer could totally upend one’s plans. Or does it? Depends on how serious. And my brain is off to the races for the rest of the day (or hour).

    I suspect that other people do a better job of staying on the “task” at hand (not coming off as an arse). I like to hope I bring something else to the conversation (when I muster the energy to join in – but fear of not remembering key details keeps me away – really, I’m not that insensitive but it can be a challenge to focus).
    I know that I always learn from what you bring to your readers and the strength you show not always trying to keep up appearances.

    1. It really must take so much patience for our loved ones. The idea that ‘if you don’t remember that you don’t care’ is ingrained.

      I also got a ‘if you aren’t going to remember what’s the point of doing anything really special?’ blamey-retort once and man if that didn’t fuck me up.

      On the upside I genuinely CAN ‘forgive and forget’, though really it’s just ‘forget’, so there’s that :P.

      I’m glad you got something out of this.


  5. Ahhh this almost made me cry, which probably sounds dumb ????

    I’m only 24, but I have a sleep disorder which effects my memory and I HATE it. What’s worst, is in high school I had a super good memory (like not having to take notes in class because I would remember what the teacher said). It was so good that despite having seven classes, I never needed a planner to remember when homework was due or when we were going to have a test or quiz. I also was obsessive about spelling names correctly because I had friends who had unique names that would make comments that no one ever spells their name right, so to me knowing how to spell it was a big deal. Now, I’m lucky if I remember their name at all.

    My sleep disorder only effects short term memory so fortunately friends that I’ve known for years I have those memories, but new people can be hard.

    It is kind of a good thing that I was so good at that stuff in high school though. I had my sleep disorder for a year and a half before I was diagnosed (which is actually a very short amount of time – some people go 5+ years before they have a diagnosis) and I know when my memory started slipping I felt like I was going crazy. I was like she literally just said it and now I can’t remember. But I was determined to keep being “super organized” like you said so I started keeping a detailed planner, with separate monthly spreads for school, work, and personal life as well as spreadsheets to help me remember everything! I also take notes better than anyone I know, because I know if I don’t I won’t remember one thing that was said. Lol.

    I’m super sorry that you have experience with this, but it has actually help me knowing someone understands!! Plus seeing how you cope can help others! So thank you for making this post ????

    1. Oh my goodness. That sounds really tough, I’m so sorry (and no, it doesn’t sound at all dumb).

      I was lucky enough to be able to shove exam-related content into my brain and retain it long enough to do well at school, even though the rest was shit. I’d walk out of every class and have to ask my bestie where I left my bag, but I could do last minute cramming and hold enough information for a few hours to ace exams. But AFTER the exam, it was as if I had literally leaked the information onto the page, because then it was gone. Weird.

      I’m so glad you got diagnosed: I can well imagine that feeling of going crazy. Truth: If I had NOT been like this when I was young, I’d be terrified I was getting some kind of dementia. Not even kidding.

      But you know, my brain will very helpfully remember in excruciating detail that mean thing I did to that random person that one time. THANKS, BRAIN!

      And I’m so pleased my post helped in some small way. I know how powerful the ‘oh thank god, not just me’ing can be with shared experiences <3.


  6. I was thinking about commenting but you will probably forget to respond ????
    I normally don’t get upset when you or anyone forgets I just say “yeah remember x and x…”

    my memory is weird because of my PTSD. Short-term isn’t good but long-term is good. It creeped her out I think at first when she found out, cause I admitted and showed her, that I took (and still take) note of things I want to remember about her or about us. I call it my stalker file ????

    1. In my experience everyone thinks they’d be fine with it, even think it’s a bit cute, but that’s only because they don’t get it yet. If I forget something intimate and important and meaningful, and then I do that more than once, THEN they get it. I’d add also that when that happens, they’re usually too busy being hurt to be okay with it :/. Tricky biz.

      Taking notes is ALWAYS a good thing in my mind. I do that also, though of course it doesn’t work ‘in the moment’ if you don’t have it handy :/. In D/s, some people formalise it, they call it a Butler’s Book (in case you didn’t know that) :).


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