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Lessons Learned/Learning: Forgiveness

I have to remember to forgive myself when I can’t do it all.

Dragonfly in flight, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, D.C.

Oh, I want to do it all. My desire is there, my dreams are there, but my energy is not. I have to make decisions, every day, about how much to do.

When I was first diagnosed with MS, I vowed I would not let it affect me in terms of what I was able to do. What a rude awakening I was in for!

Once I discovered the extent of my limitations—how little I could handle—dark frustration settled into my bones. I have never cried so much.

I cried because I couldn’t do something, wishing I could. I cried because I had to do something, wishing I didn’t have to. I cried when I had to say No, I can’t, because of the guilt I felt.

Turtle, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, D.C.

I had to learn to forgive myself. It's taken years. And I am still working on it.

One strategy I’ve learned is to give myself permission to rest. I actually have to talk to myself out loud.

It’s okay, I’ll say. You have permission to sit down. Go over to your chair, and just relax. There is nothing you need to do right now .

Which of course feels like a lie—there are endless things to do!—hence, the need to talk myself down.

Dragonfly resting, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, D.C.

That moment of self-awareness, of forgiveness, can be hard to find. But I am getting better at it. And am much healthier because of it.

Lotus blossom, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, D.C.

Oh sure, I still overdo. And then have to forgive myself when I have to rest for two days. I am learning to find the balance. When to say Yes, go for it, enjoy; when to say No, stop, it’s okay.

Abraham Herschel’s quote has become my mantra. It has sustained me:

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

Lotus bud, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, D.C.

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