memories that don’t even exist

a glass of water on wooden chair
Photo by cottonbro on

They’re fabricated like a work of art,

Full of colour and those tiny marks,

The details that will make it real

Even when it’s not.

We come along with painted brush

And fill in gaps the way we wish,

Disregarding paint by numbers,

Sploshing colour here and there.

And when the picture is complete

We stand way back admiring thoughts

That never were a part of life,

Never real, no matter how much we

Can feel we need them in our world.

I had a fascinating conversation with my son who is doing A-Level psychology today. He was talking about memory, and I guess my role as an educator means that I have a natural interest around the subject. I guess I’ve always known that memory is unreliable, but it’s only since becoming a teacher have I realised how bad it really is.

It’s amazing to hear about examples of eye witnesses totally making up what they saw – not because they want to deceive, but because their own brain has deceived them.

The effect of stress is the thing that really interests me. When I was drinking I worked in the hospitality industry and I had a very stressful time. The stress completely altered my perception of reality, so I’ve had first hand experience of how powerful and scary that kind of situation can be. I look back on that time and I still remember it being a bit like a fairytale with wicked witches and evil ogres. I guess my brain has done that to make sense of something terrible.

However, we deal with traumatic events, it is quite special what our brain does. I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences, funny or scary.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

PS I’m 5 years sober today and feeling pretty flipping grateful. I just needed to put it out into the universe that life is OK.

5 thoughts on “memories that don’t even exist

  1. clcouch123

    Way to go, five-year you! I guess my recent traumas involve heart attacks. I had my first attack in the middle of the night. There probably were signals but, if so, I didn’t know them. I kept wanting for the pain to pass so I could go back to sleep. It didn’t pass, I heard a noise outside, then asked a neighbor to dial 911 (999) for me. The second attack happened some years later while I was driving to work. I finished the drive and asked someone again to call for the emergency people. Both times, by the way, the manner as well as the procedures done by the EMTS were reassuring. I had operations in between attacks, and I’ve had operations since. And many therapies. As I look back–and I might be recalling incorrectly–it seems I was of a more practical frame of mind in the midst of things and then got scared later. Silly.

    1. patientandkindlove

      I think that stress is so interesting to observe. I wish I could step outside myself at those times and it’s interesting that some people remember things more clearly when under immense stress.

  2. Margot Kinberg

    Congratulations on five years of sobriety! Well done! That’s a lot of hard work, and I hope you take some pride in it. It is an interesting thing about memory, isn’t it? The things we are sure happened, might not have. And, there are memories we have, but can’t easily access. Either way, I think it’s a fascinating topic, too – I really do.

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