My memory is horrible. It has been for a while. I missed my most recent appointment with my psychologist because I forgot what day it is. Forgetting what day it is happens to me frequently, but missing an appointment, or even being late, is absolutely not normal. It’s not just days, but also months and years. I sometimes have to confirm what year it is because I’m not sure. Not long ago I was at my kid’s school filling out a form for one of them. I filled it out, signed and dated it, and gave it back to the lady at the desk. She looked it over, handed it back, and asked that I correct the date before she put her notary stamp on it. I looked at the date I wrote and asked was it not the 21st? She said, “It’s the 21st. It’s just not September.” It was February. I had no idea why I thought it was September.
I’m not sure why, but I can remember things like numbers, movie lines, songs, years that something significant happened in history, baseball statistics, directions (most of the time), and a bunch of other trivial nonsense. I would make some money on the game show Jeopardy. But other things in my memories seem to escape my mental grasp. For some things it’s like a blank slate. It annoys me, but I’ve gotten used to it. It has become part of my new normal.
In the last meeting with my psychologist I remembered something that I had previously completely forgotten. The memory was triggered when we were discussing an event that happened between therapy sessions. An event that had me pissed off to the point that I almost got into a physical altercation with someone. I wanted to. I really wanted that guy to get out of his car and give me a real reason to get out of mine. I would have likely done permanent damage to the individual. I just needed him to start the physical aggression. He had already started the verbal attack. But I didn’t let myself get baited into it, even though I really wanted to. Short of the story was this guy was trying to exit a one lane, one-way, entrance only driveway to the school, as school was ending. Imagine the traffic piling up on the road behind me as I had no place to go. It was getting chaotic, especially in my head. Being trapped like that isn’t the best scenario for someone with PTSD.
The memory that was brought on by this event was something that happened in Afghanistan. I was in Kabul, going from my base to one called Phoenix with the USFOR-A chaplain team (my unit eventually stopped letting me go on missions with them, but that’s a whole different story). I was in the front passenger seat of an up-armored NTV (non-tactical vehicle). It was only me and the driver in the lead vehicle and two others in the rear vehicle. The driver and I were having a normal conversation like we usually did. Probably talking about going to Green Beans or Pizza Hut. Our base didn’t have those kinds of things, so when we traveled we always talked about what we were going to treat ourselves to. Here’s how the conversation ended up going:
Driver: “Shit, we took the wrong road.”
Me: “Maybe this one comes back out where we can get back on the other one.”
A few second go by as we come around a curve to a pickup truck in the road with 8-10 pissed-off-looking dudes in the back with AK-47s.
Me: “Turn around, man. Turn the fuck around!”
Driver: “I’m trying, there’s no spot.”
Me: “Make one!”
The men took notice of us, although they made no aggressive moves. We immediately made a place to turn around. They probably thought we looked stupid and laughed after we left the area.
Driver: “I don’t think they’re going to bother us, they would already be coming after us by now.”
Me: “You think they’ll give us directions?”
I had completely forgotten about that event until my therapy session a couple weeks ago. I wonder what else is trapped in my head that I don’t remember. It was a weird feeling to have that memory come back like that. I clearly remember that day now, but for the last couple years it’s like it never existed. It’s not uncommon for most of the Afghans to have AK-47s. But to see a group of men in the back of a truck that looked like they were organizing for something and ready to go, on a road we weren’t supposed to be on was a bit unnerving at the time. It certainly can lend some explanation to me feeling uncomfortable in stand-still traffic. As long as we’re moving, I’m ok. But long stops with a lot of other vehicles around makes me nervous. That’s what happened with the jackass going the wrong way out the entrance, I felt trapped.
I have thoughts in my head that I’m not sure sometimes if they are part of a memory of an event or part of a dream I’ve had. Maybe both. But I know I miss my memory. Well, I think I do. I guess I don’t really know, do I? LOL. I make a lot of jokes about my memory not being so great anymore. I can’t remember shit sometimes, but at least I can laugh about it. I’ve rescheduled my appointment with the psychologist for next week. Don’t let me forget.
Thanks for reading. Good day, God bless.