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XOIIO's avatar

What do you think this says about me / my past?

Asked by XOIIO (18283points) June 18th, 2012

Alright, so apparently my childhood was shitty, thing is I don’t recall it. I’m a week from graduating grade 12, the farthest back I can remember in my life is near the end of grade 8, the graduation specifically. I can see little snippets of some sort of memories before that, but the only thing I can remember clearly is a snippet that’s just a bit longer than the others is from that night. What do you think this means? How far back can you remember?

Also, do you have a past if you can’t remember it?

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27 Answers

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Maybe you just didn’t keep a journal.

XOIIO's avatar

I’m a man, of course I didn’t keep a journal XD

mazingerz88's avatar

Wait, you’re not Jason Bourne are you?

wildpotato's avatar

I think it says that your conscious and unconscious mind are acting as they should, to protect you from your past traumatic experiences.

I can remember certain individual incidents as far back as about age 4 or 5, I think. Narrative memories begin at more like age 11.

I think you do have a past if you don’t remember it, if only because inductively, the explanation that contains known operations like the passage of time and chains of causality is preferable to an explanation that refers to possible other, but unknown, operations like creatio ex nihilo.

tups's avatar

I don’t remember much from my past either. Sometimes I feel like I never was there, when I think back. It all seems so unreal.
There’s certain episodes I remember, but they also seem unreal.
Some people seem to remember every little detail. I don’t at all.

wildpotato's avatar

I also think we have a past despite our forgetting because we each have idiosyncrasies that it makes the most sense to ascribe to past impressions. And more generally, it seems as though we are creatures that exist in memory, perception, and anticipation, mentally oriented in a past-present-future structure in pretty much every way, like culture (in constructs like history and politics) and language (in the use of past and future tenses).

I think that even if I don’t remember it, my past shapes the person that I am now, and at least in that way is real.

stardust's avatar

Agree with @wildpotato. It’s your minds way of protecting you from painful memories.

augustlan's avatar

Most likely, @wildpotato is right. I don’t recall huge swaths of my childhood for the same reason.

whiteliondreams's avatar

I can remember as far back as 3 years old, but not entirely descriptive. I remember stepping on a bee from walking on the grass, I remember shooing a butterfly, I remember my dog snapping at me, I remember my sister teaching me to tie my shoelace, I remember rolling down the stairs for fun. <—3 years old. It’s the in betweens I have trouble remembering, so don’t sweat it. If you take psychology and learn more about how memory functions, you will be slightly disappointed to know that memory is not as effective as anyone thinks it is. In fact, there are things known as confabulation, cue-dependence, interference, replacement, source misattribution, and imagination inflation. So when you think about a memory, it may or may not have existed and if it did, it may or may not have been accurately depicted.

bookish1's avatar

@XOIIO Wow, you really don’t remember anything before 8th grade?
I had a rough early childhood and I barely have any memories before age 5 now. Almost none regarding one of my parents who terrorized me. But I remember things pretty vividly from 1st grade onwards.

digitalimpression's avatar

I can empathize, though not to the same degree. I only have snippets of memory before 6th grade. I don’t think it says anything specific about you other than that your mind is blocking out parts of your life that may best be forgotten. At least that’s the case with me.

You do have a past, even if you can’t remember it. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel like you have a past. I remember things now and again, but thankfully, my mind makes sure it’s a good memory before passing it on to me.

JLeslie's avatar

Did you move a couple times before 8th grade? Does your family do anything to enhance memory like recall different times because they were funny or meaningful? The memories we use and repeat stay with us. Or, really it is that they are more easily recalled, kind of filed in a better way to find them in the file drawers we use more often as opposed to the file draws that have been stored in the atfic and we don’t know for sure what is in those files anymore.

Also, memories that are very traumatic can be engraved like steel with strong attachments in the brain to the motions they stirred, so whenever that similar emotion is spurred the memory pops up also. At the other extreme a very traumatic memory can be fogged over as the mind tries to protect us so we can move forward. We hear about people blocking out horrible childhoods, which I do believe happens, but I think more often lack of memories in childhood is because the person probably did not do much to remember their childhood. People with lower IQ’s also would be more likely to have trouble remembering, but in no way am I suggesting lack of childhood memories means someone has a low IQ.

You could try to jog your memory. Talk to your parents (or whoever raised you) and ask about the house you lived in, what you liked to do, a particular playground, going to visit your grandparents, a particular food you liked, a best friend you had, your elementary school teachers, and see if it stirs anything up.

Shippy's avatar

I too had a traumatic childhood and years ago, I did go into therapy for it. Oddly the actual events or recalling of them were never discussed. Instead, my therapist, went about giving me coping strategies, to deal with presenting symptoms. That was then. I would imagine there are different approaches to therapy, and not recalling each event was part of this type of approach. So I am not sure how worthwhile it is to do so.

ucme's avatar

I’ve genuinely no idea, but my memory from birth to around 5yrs old is pretty non existent.
I know I was alive & walking the earth, very happily at that, my parents told me so.

wundayatta's avatar

The memories we have from early on tend to be things that made strong memories—like especially good things or especially painful things. I remember riding an open air train in Cape Cod when I was 4. It is my earliest memory… or one of them. I also remember my father walking on his hands across the lawn for us and standing next to my dog with my arm across his shoulders. I remember my brother stepping on a beehive and getting severely stung. This actually happened several times over the course of his childhood, I think.

My big bad memory from pre age four was sticking my big toe in my tricycle spokes and having the nail removed for my trouble. Oddly, I remember it being my right big toe, but it is my left big toe that now has the weirdest configuration.

Funny thing though, our brain also helps us forget bad memories, too. There must be some difference between bad memories we remember and bad memories that we block out without even trying. Perhaps they have to do with their usefulness to us. Some may be too scary to be useful, and others may provide a decent lesson.

XOIIO's avatar

@JLeslie nope, no moving.

Judi's avatar

I haven’t read all the other answers but my guess is that it’s a coping mechanism. If your childhood was really shitty, your brain is blocking the crap in order for you to function.
My Kids early life was pretty bad. Their dad shot himself when they were young and life WITH him was no cake walk.
The other day I was going through storage with my daughter. She opened up a box and found the dress she wore to her dads funeral and the dress she wore to my wedding with my current husband. She was instantly in tears and not sure why.
The brain is an amazing thing. It’s capable of blocking and altering reality in order for you to live with yourself and function.

marinelife's avatar

It sounds like you are suppressing memories of your childhood. Don’t force it.

If you want to remember and deal with it at some point in your life, therapy would help create a safe place for your memories to come out.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s possible you’ve had traumatic experiences. Our brain makes it so that you don’t remember, on purpose.

JLeslie's avatar

@XOIIO Interesting. And, you don’t remember your fifth grade teacher? Or your third grade one? The way @wundayatta described memories of early childhood is how most people remember childhood. It actually is moments of memory not a long string of days and days and years of memories. He also described a false memory, his a more benign one of which foot had an injury. Be careful of false memories, if you choose to see a therapist it is amazing how destructive they can be in placing memories in your head. Therapists can be very good too of course. I had one appointment with a therapist who seemed hell bent on wanting me to believe I was sexully traumatized by my father when I was a child, which is absolutely absurd. I was there because I was having a lot of medical GYN medical problems, which affected my sex life, but I had been sexually active for 8 years already with no trouble, there was no reason to try and insist I had some sort of hang up about sex because of my past. Needless to say I saw her once and never again.

I have a few friends who went to therapists where the therapists were big on repressed memories and they have become angry sad people who seemed to me all worked up about memories that I don’t even think are bad enough to cause such an intense trauma that they have cut off from their families. I hate to say not bad enough, because for them it is very traumatic, and I empathasize with that feeling, but I also think if the matter had been framed differently when recalling it in therapy it would not have destroyed their life so much. These incidents I speak of are not extreme abuse or sexual molestation or rape or anything so extreme that we all would agree are unfathomable for our children to endure. A therapist who helps you recall should not be pointing you in the direction of abuse, but just in the direction of memory, how you felt about it then and how to view it from an adult perspective also. Staying in the childhood emotion can be a bad thing sometimes.

Maybe you just had a regular, not very eventful young childhood so nothing sticks out? Are you an only child? Is there any indication something bad may have happened? Or, something big like you were adopted at age 8? Although 8th grade is something like 13 years old. Do you remember going through puberty? Your body changing? There may have been one huge event that put your brain into a new chapter and all the old stuff is closed off.

I think ask your parents if they are approachable people. Ask them why they might guess you don’t remember. Maybe they will tell you a story of what happened to you in 8th grade that you don’t expect. That is if you are curious and willing to know,

Just my opinion, I am not an expert of any sort.

XOIIO's avatar

@JLeslie nope, I can fog illy remember one or two names, but not definitely i only know one was the same as a cartoon character.

bkcunningham's avatar

@XOIIO, forgive me if I ask you something out of line, I have no idea about your past. Did either or your parents or a sibling or another relative talk about the past with you? It seems my entire life is full of stories from the past shared by my family and friends. I have so many memories starting from when I was just a little girl that I don’t know if they are real memories or images I’ve invented from a story someone has shared with me over and over.

I’ve worked with someone to help me remember my earlier memories. It is very healthy. I was helping my mom hang clothes on the line when I was two years old. She had her clothes pins in a Chase and Sanborn coffee can. The lid to the coffee can had been removed with an old can opener that left the lip of the can very jagged. I put my hand in the can to retrieve a wooden clothes pin and I cut my wrist open. I was so fat, my mom said the skin laid back and all you could see was two slices of white fat with blood oozing out.

I remember going to the hospital and having it stitched and going back to have the stitches removed. My mom’s sister Sarah took me because my mom had other children at home and couldn’t leave them alone. I loved my Aunt Sarah like she was my own mother and loved to hear her tell how I was so brave and wanted to watch the doctor put the stitches in my wrist. She told me how she tried to hold my head between her hands and I kept looking at her with my big blue eyes and saying I wanted to see. I feel like I remember her hands on my head and her looking down at me smiling and talking.

I honestly don’t know if I remember the event or if I’ve imagined some of the scenes because the story was told to me so many times.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@XOIIO This type of memory problem is quite common for your diagnosis. I strongly suggest you do keep a journal or at least a calendar with a sentence or two to look back at to spark memories.

My husband keeps a daily journal now. It’s a life changer. Seriously, he has very spotty memories of his school days from his youth, also. This most likely has to do again with your Asperger’s Syndrome. When you were younger, your SPD (Sensory Perception Disorder) was most likely much more present than it is today. That means that you spent much of your time as a child just trying to exist through the onslaught of sensory chaos your brain was sifting through.

There are exercises you can do with a psychologist well-versed in autism to help trigger your earliest memories.

JLeslie's avatar

@XOIIO I am not asking about a teacher’s name, I am talking about a general memory. Sitting in class, what they looked like. I don’t remember all my jr. high teachers, but I remember my elementary school ones because you see them all day long the entire year. Even still my memory of first grade is just a few days out of the entire school year. Same with 2nd and 3rd grade. I know I was there day after day, but secific memories are just a few. Playing Charlie’s Angels in the playground, making origami, sitting in a circle in gym, making paper mache in art class, dancing the bump in music class, things like that.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with @wildpotato and have known several people similar who don’t remember much of hard childhoods. Tell your brain “thank you” and keep keeping on.

Me, I remember a bit before 3yrs old and a great amount of detail since then. This is good but it’s also bad and sometimes sad, just depends of the memories.

XOIIO's avatar

@JLeslie nope, what I told you is really all I can remember.

Supacase's avatar

I have several distinct memories from age 3, possibly 2. I have virtually no memories from Kindergarten through 4th grade. Based on what little I do recall, that was a particularly unhappy time in my life.

On the other hand, my husband can’t remember much of anything from his childhood other than the few stories told when the family all gets together. His childhood was fairly normal; they lived way out in the country and life was routine. They didnt do much of anything special like vacation, eat out, have birthday parties, etc.

So, I don’t know if it means anything or not. Is there any way for you to gather more information about your childhood from other members of your family? Maybe that can help you find out if something going on that you don’t want to remember or if there just wasn’t anything worth remembering.

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