No...you aren't retarded! Try watching the continental method of Amy's videos...easy as pie...and relax your hands. Using the continetal method, you will have a tail once you cast on and will use your working yarn to knit.
Once you learn the knit and purl stitches, the others will come easier...practice, practice, practice and the best way to do that is to knit a scarf. Cast on about 12 stitches onto a size 15 needle (to me, easier to learn on a larger needle), then just use the knit stitch to finish the scarf...may take about 2 skeins of yarn to make a nice size scarf...or at least 80 yards. It will get easier with practice. I just began in November and have made about 25 scarves and now working on circular needles...and a totebag at that...so relax!