Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Forgive and Forget

When I was at Race for the Cure on Mother's Day, I saw a group of women wearing a T-shirt that said, "Family does not let family go through cancer alone."  I immediately started tearing up and then proceeded to send a bitter text message to a family member.  Ever since then, I have been thinking about the phrase "forgive and forget."  It's definitely a virtue (is it one?) that I lack. 

I'm holding some really deep resentment toward several family members who I feel just completely dropped the ball ever since I was diagnosed.  Like, sometimes when I'm not even thinking about it, these horrible feelings will just come over me.  I'm filled with such bitter and resentment toward people I thought were going to behave like actual family members to me during this period of my life.  I don't know what to do about it.

I am nowhere near forgiveness so that's probably why I'm miles away from the forgetting part, too.  I thought when I was diagnosed, that my family was going to rally around me and we're all going to kick cancer's ass together.  Not once did I think anybody was going to drop their lives and come tend to me (since I'm not, y'know, terminal), but I did think my diagnosis would at least have an affect on one or more of them.  That really didn't happen. 

Before Boomer came into my life (which was the week before Christmas), all I could think about was cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer.  I was entertaining some really dark thoughts and spent many nights crying and wondering how I was going to manage all of this.  How was I going to get to appointments?  How was I going to juggle treatment and work?  How was I going to keep up my house maintenance, like cooking and cleaning.  I was dealing not only with cancer, but with a boyfriend who had a job from h-e-double hockey sticks. 

I really thought certain individuals would step up with the appointment issue and the house maintenace.  Nope, not at all.  Actually to be fair, they did do the bare minimum, like, "Hey, I took you to one out of your two dozen appointments.  I HELPED."  I understand that Stage One cancer isn't terminal or anything.  I have a great prognosis but this is still cancer treatment.  I'm not dying but I have gone through hell. 

Heh, is one of the important steps of forgiveness - actually telling the person/people how much they hurt you?  Do I need to tell X: "The fact you never offered to help me at all, or stopped by my house when you live super close to me, or lifted a single finger to help, has filled me with an overwhelming bitterness toward you?"  If she/he/they are even reading this, I'd be surprised because that means ACTUALLY ACKNOWLEDGING I HAVE CANCER. 

If I do have this magical unicorn moment with the family members in question (mine isn't known for communication or ... affection), then what do I do afterwards?  I'm always going to see them as the people who let me down while I went through cancer treatment.  Or is ignoring someone's illness and treatment for whatever reason (I would love to know what that reason is) something you can forgive and forget? 

I wish I had answers. 

I wish I didn't have to post this shit on the Interwebs to begin with, but I really want to hear what people have to say about forgiveness in the face of such resentment and bitterness.


  1. dang, lady. that whole family/forgiveness bit sounds like a bitch.

    i in no way have been going through anything similar or as scary as what you have, but i HAVE been dealt a difficult situation the past 7 months or so where i feel like i have been deeply wronged by someone i love, and i have had a truly horrible time, mentally and emotionally, trying to figure out how to forgive them. part of my anger comes from that the fact that (much like you) i'm not sure they even realize their folly. what's even harder is trying to decide when to just be done permanently. knowing when to say's really hard. and when i say "when" and tell this person i'm done contributing effort to a relationship with them, i undoubtedly will be the 'bad guy' because i called it quits; they undoubtedly will continue to not take responsibility for their contribution to the end of our relationship.

    i'm no wise woman, but i would DEFINITELY say that you should tell this person/people how you feel about them. it's not our job as humans to be our fellow humans' moral watchdogs, but it IS ok to express how you feel, especially since it seems you've been deeply hurt here. and since they have been so hurtful to you, what are you saving face for? let em have it, and wait for the relief to come to you.


  2. I have been trying to post something on this blog for a while now and the Internet gods have not seen fit to allow it. However, here's my two cents. I have been there -- had people disappoint me profoundly at a time of enormous life crisis. Here's what I learned:

    1. This is a death of sorts -- the death of a hope/belief that when it came down to it, the people who should rally around you WOULD rally around you. However, they didn't, and that realization, besides all of the pain and betrayal and rage that you are feeling, is a loss of an innocence and you didn't realize you still had. Respect the mourning process for this loss.

    2. You won't ever feel the same about these people, but you might eventually feel affection and compassion for them as the terribly flawed people they are. Don't blame yourself for taking years, even decades to get to that point, though.

    3. Finally, and this one is a huge relief as time passes, TRUST ME: These people have to live with their despicable behavior and weakness for the rest of their lives. If you or I had that on our conscience, it would make our lives not worth living. That is a curse. If they don't realize what they've done, that's a different kind of curse.