F is for Forgetfulness….oh and Forgiveness!!

I had originally decided to write about forgetfulness today however this ‘forgiveness’ word keeps popping into my head as well. I guess we’ve heard the saying “Forgive and Forget” often enough to link the two words together however in my opinion, the two don’t really belong together.
Forgiveness is something you do for yourself.
Forgetting is something your mind does to you when you least expect it! 😉

Let’s start with forgiveness. In the case of many people it is something that can be talked about but it is difficult to actually do. And yes, forgiveness is hard work. It’s not a matter of saying to someone “I forgive you” and then going on your merry way through life. Unless you have actually forgiven the person, the feelings associated with what that person has done to you will continue to resurface. Unless you replace those feelings of anger, resentment, fear or disgust with feelings such as compassion and empathy they will sit below the surface and fester.
We know what infections do to the body. They make us sick and they need to be treated.
If a boil erupts, it is treated. If an infection is in your blood stream it is hit with antibiotics.
Put simply, when you refuse to forgive a person, you will become sick. It infects your entire being and may manifest in physical symptoms.
As with anything, the longer something is left, the harder it is to heal.
Welcome to my world. I’ve been there and done that.
And then I realised that I needed to forgive because I wasn’t allowing myself to move on. It took 18 years to forgive my ex for the pain and suffering he caused my children and myself. And then one day I woke up and realised that by hanging on to my resentment and anger, the only person I was hurting was myself. He didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, he’d done absolutely nothing wrong. That’s when I realised it was his flaw to deal with and not mine. By beating myself up, I wasn’t achieving anything.
Then the day came that I had to be in the same room with him once more and I saw him for the flawed individual that he is and felt nothing. There was no anger. There was no resentment. There was only sympathy.
Recently, something occurred at work. When it happened I was livid. I felt like I had been physically wounded. I felt betrayed. It’s amazing really how many emotions you can run through in the space of five minutes prior to speaking to the person who has just wounded you. But I sat quietly and listened to her explanation and apology and realised that she really didn’t mean to hurt me and that her actions were well-intentioned (if misdirected). Whilst I am still upset about the circumstances that caused her to do this, I forgave her.
In writing this, I am not attempting to set myself up as a paragon of virtue because I certainly ain’t that. I am as deeply flawed as those I have had to forgive.
Last night I was reading the current Australian Women’s Weekly in which a courageous and beautiful woman spoke about her forgiveness for the man who murdered her son in front of her. She will never forget what she saw (or what she lost) but she understood that her ex was flawed and she forgave him for acting in a way that (whilst abhorrent) possibly made sense to him at the time (he suffered a mental illness).
What I have learned about forgiveness is that once you forgive that person, they hold no power over your life. When you fail to forgive, you are allowing that person control. You may not intend it, but you are allowing them a bit of power over you.
Forgiveness really is important in life in order for us to be well – both physically and mentally. When we forgive, we can move forward.

Now to the forgetting part. I’m sorry – that ain’t gonna happen.
I remember clearly the reasons I needed to forgive my ex. I remember clearly the circumstances that led to the hurt by another person at work. That whole ‘forgive and forget’ thing is a fallacy. I haven’t forgotten what caused the pain but I have let go of allowing it any power over my life.
However, the way my memory is these days, it probably won’t be long until I forget it all anyway.
I am finding it deeply frustrating that parts of my memory appear to be missing. The other day, the GG and I were discussing the exploits of the First Born when she was in high school. I remember some of it but when the GG asked if I remembered another incident, I had no recollection of that whatsoever. Last night I was chatting with my mother on the phone and she mentioned a gift I had given her a few years previously. I wracked my brains and couldn’t remember what she was talking about.
I am forgetting words. I know the meaning of them and sometimes I can even see the thing in my head that I want to write or talk about but I can’t remember what it is. That scares me.
I laugh when people ask me to remind them of things.
I function each day at work with a diary, post it notes and reminders in my Outlook calendar.
This memory loss and forgetfulness thing is really getting me down.
I am praying it is only temporary.

I’ve been reading this awesome book written by an Australian woman, Debra Vinecombe. It is called “Menopause. Women tell their stories”. I am laughing along with the women who have contributed stories and then crying in the next sentence. I am reading about myself in so many instances.
She has included a piece of prose in there that I literally laughed out loud when I first read it. I then took the book to work and read it to all the menopausal (and post-menopausal) women in my building. Well all laughed…… and empathised.

Four women of a certain age and menopausal status discuss matters of the utmost importance over lunch

What amazes is not that our conversation is peppered with thingys, thingamejigs,
whatshisnames, whoziwhatsits and whatyoumacallits
but that we all know we’re talking about,
the compromising position they were in at the time,
with whom, and the names of all those implicated.
And we’d tell you too – every detail,
right down to the size and shape of their thingamabobs –
if only our blankety-blank, dooverlackie memories

weren’t so….
you know….what’s that word? Bad.
– Louise Nicholas-




38 thoughts on “F is for Forgetfulness….oh and Forgiveness!!

  1. You are really hitting the nail here Sue. The memopause time do many things inside us, when we have this period in our life.
    You do know, that we lose our memory, when we have a tough depression? And it is not easy to build up again, but by practice with step by step, it is possible to get some of our memory back. I have fighted with not being able to read a book for years, unless I wanted to repeat the reading many times, then the book was almost new to me many times.
    I do read books now and I do also remember some of, what I’m reading, so it is possible.
    Wish you the best Sue.


  2. I’ve found that depression wreaks havoc with my memory! Argh. The effect is only temporary, though some of the very dark months are happily forgotten forever.
    This business of “forgive and forget” reminds me of the liberation theology movement in Latin America, where priests were siding with the oppressed against the oppressors. The church was seen as aiding and abetting the oppressed by commanding they forgive their oppressors. The new theology said yes, you must forgive, but not forget – because in forgetting you allow the abuse/oppression to continue. You write about this same idea very clearly in your post.


    1. That sounds quite interesting.
      I do believe that learning to forgive someone is something you do for yourself though. It isn’t about saying that what happened is alright – it’s about letting go and moving on.


  3. Such good writing on forgiveness. You said it all for me!

    Forgetfulness – there are so many kinds. I have never been able to remember the name of a book I’m reading or name of movie two days after I see it!! Even before menopause!!

    I did read an article that said as we age, it’s not that we forget (like when we go into a room and can’t remember why), it’s that our depth of focus isn’t as intense. Is that another way of saying “be mindful?” I do find if I pay attention until I get to the other room, I know what I went there for!!


  4. Today I needed to be reminded of your point that when we don’t forgive someone who has hurt us, we’re actually allowing them to have some control over us. I’ve been struggling lately, feeling like I’m still too hurt and angry to forgive a former friend who essentially abandoned me…but I know rationally that I don’t want that person to have any control over me and how I feel about myself. Thanks for the reminder!


    1. When you forgive, you’re not saying that what that person did to you is alright. More often than not, they were way out of line. What you are saying is “I’m not going to allow those feelings I have to continue hanging around and holding me back”.


    1. Most definitely. Sometimes they’ve hurt you without even being aware that they have. Sometimes they are past the point of caring what others think anyway.
      Either way, why ruin our own lives continuing to carry the hurt?


  5. I learned to quit expecting perfection from anybody. That helped me to forgive, and forget. But, I thought I was forgetting words and memories due to my Meds. When I have my husband around, he makes a great interpreter. But….I don’t like when he corrects me that “it’s not a thingy” *eye roll*


    1. Hey ‘thingy’ works for me. As do any of the above words in that piece of prose. I’m sure if you were speaking with me I’d know exactly what you meant. lol


      1. Why is it that men can’t experience this same sort of malady? I’m sure you and I could have some interesting conversations with our whatchamacallits….or make each other cry. 🙂


          1. What I’m finding a bit funny, is I wasn’t prompted that whatchamacallit wasn’t a word. No red squiggly, or highlighted word flag. Go figure…


  6. I´m a guy, and is difficult for me to forgive. If someone hurted a close relative to me I can´t forgive. If someone murdered my own relative I would actually hope he would be freed not go to jail and when I saw him on the street I´d literally torture him. I understand your position. But for me is much more easier to forget. It will always be there, but I´m quite good at compartimentalising things in my head. So the bad things or bad experiences I´d had in my life I store them away in some part of my head and just don´t´ think about them. Sometimes they will resurface but with time everything gets at least a bit better. I also try to train my mind as to what is important, really important for me and the other things that life throws at me are just peanuts for me. I just focus on what truly is important, so I forget about the other things but I will never forgive my crazy ex girlfriend for giving me two scars in the face. It did take me about 4 days just to forget her, really, not kidding. I just left her, she keeps calling though, freaking nut job she is, but I´ve put her number in the list “not welcome” so the calls are restricted and won´t get through. I just got into writing too much and focused on what really matter to me, my health, my family, me, my writing, and screw that beach.(that last word was on purpose, not cursing). Just move on, but won´t forgive but will forget.


    1. Thanks for your well thought out response Charly. I need to ask though, do you believe by moving on from things and forgetting, you are actually forgiving? I am never saying that you forget what happened or even accept that what they did was right because that’s not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not allowing them that hold over you any longer.


      1. No, I don´t believe that by moving on from things and forgetting I will forgive. Actually as I said, I don´t forgive. I just choose to not think about it most of the time.

        Forgiveness is between them and God. I just choose not to let memories interfere in my day to day life and keep moving forward with new things. And if I see some idiot or some ex girlfriend, the exgirlfriend I just say hello talk a little politely ofcourse and walk away. If it´s an idiot who did something bad to me or my family I just smack him in the face. Not all that much now, when I was younger yes, now I tend to avoid it.


  7. The problem with explaining to people how holding onto pain hurts them, is that until they let go, they think it’s just mumbo jumbo. I learned to forgive at 27. No kidding. And only then did I understand that it only ever hurt me to begin with.
    Forgetting? No way. I have an excellent memory. Let me tell you about the time that I didn’t forget that thing I forgave you for….LOL
    Love that bit at the end. It’s so true. I’m constantly fiddling with doohickies and thingamabobs.


    1. Aren’t doohickies the best fun to play with?? 😀
      And you’re right. It really isn’t until someone has learned to really forgive that they understand what everyone was saying.


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