Being diagnosed with a chronic illness often leads to self-examination of your mind. You think you made mistakes somewhere down the path of your life and now karma has come to bite you very hard.

Often questions go through my mind after issues arise and not just since my MS diagnosis 8 years ago. I ‘wonder’, often with almost child-like wonder. I tend to think about the how, why, when and who of life, of my place in it and I ask myself who I am and whether I had or will have a purpose in life. Of course, I don’t think like this every day of every year but I do go through phases where I am stuck on a certain subject and I have to turn inward to look for answers.

Right now, I am in a phase of questioning again. Do I (want to) forgive and forget; can I forgive and forget or do I forget first (which often happens because of my memory issues) and forgive later?  Alternatively, do I just forgive and get on with it? Is not forgiving a sin and do I actually have to forgive and forget?

The first question of wanting to forgive? If circumstances are reversed, I admit that I have hurt people in the past. Not because I wanted to, but because the situation, the reason or the person drove me to say things I would otherwise never say. I don’t condone my own actions at all, and I take full ownership of them. Admitting I was wrong comes easily enough if indeed I was wrong.

However, please allow me the same generosity because quite often other people will be upset about things that do not upset you. I do want to forgive if or when the situation provides me the space to do so. Given time, I will settle my thoughts somehow, allowing myself to see sense when before there was none.

I can forgive, but I cannot forget,
is only another way of saying, I will not forgive.
Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two,
and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.

Henry Ward Beecher

The second and third question of being able to forget and do I forget first and forgive later? These questions beg me to sit down and smile. Quite often, after thinking about negative moments in life, I actually see tiny rays of light shining through the cracks. On the other hand, perhaps I am just very lucky to have cognitive problems because of my MS and I really do forget things quite easily, so it is as much a neuropsychological issue as a physical one. Never a dull moment when you have MS!

In other words, unwillingly I forget.

And willingly?

Not always, because quite familial emotional issues have a tendency to remain active and they are scraped on my memory with a thin needle. So, forgetting is often hard, if not impossible. The mental and emotional imprint is burned too deep to forget. The hurt of this might lead me to drawing a line, painful as it is.

When my illness was called into question by what I thought was family; my illness suddenly became the ‘monster’ in their eyes, and they forgot that I was more than just my illness. But I didn’t change as a person; my priorities, my body and my way of life as a result did. I am still me, I still have a soul, feelings, emotions, aspirations and dreams. I wanted to be treated as ‘me’ and not as ‘you with that dreadful illness’.

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Again, I want to forget, and I will forgive the people that hurt me, but I have and need to forgive myself more for allowing those people to hurt me.

In the end, it all boils down to the ability of letting go. Try not to carry heavy, past burdens with you every day. The past is the past, some memories should never be forgotten but remember that the future is right ahead of you. It is tonight and tomorrow; it is a new day and a bright beginning of a new you. You can change the future and time really does heal if you allow it to. And forgive yourself. But most of all: stay positive because remember: falling on your face is still moving forward.© WVE and Ireland, MS and Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WVE and Ireland, MS and Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. annesquared says:

    A very thoughtful post. I believe the words of Beecher are a bit idealistic – we have a memory for a reason. And I don’t know that forgiveness of someone is necessary – but imo letting go of the burden you place upon yourself is essential for staying as healthy as possible, especially once genetic time bomb has been triggered…
    We don’t everything about the brain – I believe that training it in a positive manner can have no negative impact on us.


    • Billie says:

      I absolutely agree with what you write about Beecher… just found the words nice and some people might find them true. I also believe that forgiveness is not always necessary but forgiving yourself is. Otherwise you carry a burden with you that only leads you to negative thinking. Writing the post was vital for me; it somehow made me realise that yes, you need to let go in order to stay reasonably well health-wise. I learned to be positive years and years ago and often get remarks that my optimism is one of my vital behaviourial assests, but that doesn’t take away that sometimes I do get stuck wondering if I have to forgive, can and want to forgive. Writing about it certainly helped :D


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