Does anyone remember me? This seems to be a reoccurring question you see on military Brat social networking sites. Fellow Brats looking to re-kindle their childhood friendships or perhaps even just looking for recognition that someone remembered they once existed?
As probably many of us do, I scan the faces on the school photographs hoping to see someone familiar. Occasionally you will come across a childhood class mate or neighbour. More often than not the picture they’re in was not my class photo. Its a class from another school, a different country, or from a year when I was no longer there. At some point our paths had crossed and they had also turned up in my class or on our camp.
I often want to respond to my fellow army brats and let them know they are familiar, but to be honest I generally struggle to recall too many detailed memories about my childhood acquaintances. Unless they were close friends, its all a bit hazy. What can I say, other than ‘yes I can remember you were there at the same time as me’. But then what if my fellow army brat doesn’t actually remember me?
A reason for army brats poor memory
I’ve noticed on military brat forums that there are often posts where fellow brats are confessing to memory lapse. People not able to recall the names of their childhood friends or asking fellow brats to fill in the gaps where they’ve forgotten the names of schools they attended or camps they lived on. Sometimes a post reminiscing about a recollection or a past event will trigger an outpouring of comments from brats exclaiming how they’d forgotten that!
I was recently reminded about the time when had an armed escort on our bus to go to school, recollections had come flooding back, but how on earth had I ever forgotten that? Maybe because of an absence of childhood friends to reminisce with? Or I wonder if for some or us, it’s because our childhood memories have actually been repressed?
Childhood memory loss can be a coping mechanism
It is well documented that life changing events experienced as a child, such as moving house, starting a new school and separation from a parent, can be emotionally stressful and have a major impact on the child’s psychological wellbeing. In some cases these stressful events are even known to trigger a form of memory loss.
Could it be then, that disassociation with our past memories has been the army brats coping mechanism? Given that children of service personnel move so much, was forgetting a subconscious way of helping us to deal with the pain and discomfort of always having to move again? Supressing our memories and choosing not to look back probably helped us to not miss old friends and feasibly would have made it easier for us to quickly adapt into our new environment.
I’d just like to say, to all those army brats I once knew and haven’t yet replied to, it’s not that your presence at that time didn’t have an impact on me, it’s just that my memories are frustratingly foggy! I’m sure as is the case for all military brats out there, you’re personally remembered far more than you’ll ever know….