Forgive and Forget: A Childless Woman’s Perspective…

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a stone heart nestled in forget-me-not flowers on Forgive and Forget: A Childless Woman's Perspective on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog
SENSITIVE POST:  Discussion of a tenuous relationship with a person who has made insensitive comments about my infertility & childlessness; mention of Christmas and the holidays; has the potential to trigger those who may be struggling with difficult relationships and/or those feeling vulnerable today

In June 2018, I wrote a post entitled, “Forgive and Forget: I’m not so good at that.”  You see, a person that I was quite close with, someone who I love (and who I thought loved me), hurt me numerous times during my hubby and my infertility battle.  The words, the comments, the opinions…  Well, Dane is the only one who saw the depth of heartbreak they caused.  In fact, in 2014, when I was just beginning to embrace our infertility, accepting that we would indeed be childless, and trying to redefine momhood as a dog mom, this person’s thoughtless remarks knocked me so off-balance that I wobbled hard for weeks…

Forgive and Forget: Take 1

So, I was surprised four years later (in 2018) when someone else who I’m very close with told me that the offending party had read my blog.  Truly, this was shocking, as when I mentioned I was going to start Not So Mommy…, let’s just call her “Not So Supportive” (NSS, for short), told me that I really didn’t want to know her opinion about my desire to tell my story.  So, when I heard that NSS had spent hours reading my blog…  Well, I had a hard time believing it!

I was told that NSS cried as she confessed that she had no idea what I had been through during our battle and that she was sorry for my struggles.  NSS hoped this message would be passed along to me.  And it was.  She, however, has never said anything to me (either in person or in writing) about her revelation.

So, I had to decide if I could forgive her rudeness, the heartache she caused.  Was it a matter of being ignorant?  And now that she really knew the story, she’d be more understanding?  Could I now trust her with my heart?

That’s when I wrote “Forgive and Forget,” which I mentioned above.  (By the way, you can read that post here, if you like.)  I promised a community member that I’d do a follow-up blog once I had worked through my feelings and let everyone know how the situation turned out…

Forgive and Forget: Take 2

Well, it’s been over a year and a half since I wrote “Forgive and Forget,” and I am just now trying to write that follow-up post.  It’s not that I forgot I said I’d write it.  It’s that I am still not quite sure what I should do…

The Anxiety…

You see, being around NSS causes me much anxiety.  In fact, I’m a bit anxious right now just writing about this.  Seeing her name causes my heart to pound and my hands to tremble.  Truly, I’m not exaggerating.  I have a near panic attack when we talk—whether in person or via text, message, or email.  It’s not that I don’t want to forgive and forget.  It’s just that, in the past, every time I have let my guard down at all, NSS has said something that hurts me, something that causes me to wobble…

Our Most Recent Interaction…

What do I mean?  Well, let’s talk about our most recent interaction, which occurred shortly after Christmas…

The text message came through and I was immediately tense.  As I read, my heart started pounding harder.  So hard, in fact, that I could hear it.  It felt as if it was going to beat right out of my chest.  As I started typing, my hands were trembling.  They trembled so much that I had to set the phone on the counter in order to type out my message.  I tried to keep my responses brief and non-emotional, with nothing that would instigate a rude remark.  But I felt as if NSS was poking at me, just trying to get me to say something…  I carefully crafted my next lines.  And her response…  Well, it hurt my feelings.

You see, NSS did not attend a potluck dinner that I hosted while we were visiting family for Christmas.  The main purpose of this gathering was for everyone to see Bruna (our exchange daughter) and meet her mom and sister, who had flown clear from Brasil to spend the holidays with us.  Why did NSS not attend?  Because, in her words, it would have been “confusing” for her child.

My Thoughts…

After processing this for over two weeks, here are my thoughts…

Though NSS understands (and perhaps even accepts) my infertility struggle better, she does not understand (nor accept) my childless life.

Why do I say this?

Well, because the only reason the gathering I hosted would be “confusing” is if you don’t want your child to believe that an exchange daughter and her relatives, people you’ve met because you opened your home, can be family—a real family.  I mean, it’s only “confusing” if you feel the need to explain that Brandi is pretending.  You know she calls these people “family,” but they aren’t really…  Brandi’s just a sad, infertile, childless woman…  Perhaps she’s a bit delusional.

Now, you may think that I’m stretching here.  That I’m putting words in NSS’s mouth.  But you must remember…  I haven’t told you the harsh criticisms she’s made in the past.

Will I forget?

So…  Forgive and Forget?  Well, I appreciate the fact that NSS read my blog in the past and tried to better understand what I went through during our ten-year infertility battle.  But to forget everything she has said and simply be open and vulnerable with her…

No.  That is not going to happen.

At the beginning of January (about a week after my last encounter with NSS), I came across this quote…

“You can forgive a person and not allow them back into your life.”

Those words resonated deeply.  Though it is not possible to never see NSS again, I’ve made a decision…

My Choice…

I choose my family—me, Dane, Maddie, and “Our Brasil Girls,” as we affectionately call them.  If this family is too “confusing” for NSS, then she does not have to be a part of it.  I struggled and grieved and fought to find my way back to joy, to strength, to peace…  I will not allow anyone to steal this from me.  I will not question the validity of my life simply because someone else doesn’t understand it.  I will NOT allow guilt to cause me to continue with a relationship that I know isn’t helping me move forward with the what is…

So…  Forgive and Forget.  Well, I’m not so good at that.

Especially when I’m protecting my heart, my life, my family


If anything I wrote resonates with you, please tell us about it in the comments.
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Mali February 10, 2021 - 11:32 pm

I am sorry I missed this last year! (Thanks for linking it in your recent post). Oh, how I cringed when I read that NSS had read your blog. It felt to me like an invasion of (your) privacy. As if she was spying on you. And what a coward – to expect someone else to pass on their apologies. If she had truly understood, wouldn’t she have offered those in person – or at least in a heartfelt note?

I like this post a lot. Because I like the idea of forgiving, but deciding to move on. It has helped me to be able to figure out why someone has reacted in a particular way, or has treated me unkindly, and – unless I have been insensitive or unkind – so so sooooo often it turns out it has been about them and their issues, not me and mine. I’ve just been the one who has been in their way and got hurt. So I try to forgive. Because forgiveness takes away their power over me, and in particular, their power to hurt me. In forgiving them though, I don’t expect them to behave any better in the future. And in loving myself, in showing compassion to myself, I know I need to protect myself from them and their hurt and hurtfulness (two different thins). Protecting myself from future hurt as much as possible, and protecting myself from expectations of better behaviour (which might bring me to put myself in a vulnerable situation or lead to disappointment). In doing that, I know can be kinder and more compassionate to those who need it and will receive it.

That’s my plan, anyway! lol

Brandi Lytle February 11, 2021 - 4:50 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Mali. As always, I truly appreciate that you regularly read my blog and often comment, always with thoughtful insights. Though we’ve never met in person, I feel as if we know each other. I’ll be forever grateful to have connected with this incredible, worldwide, childless community!

Jamie January 21, 2020 - 12:18 am

Here’s what I hope doesn’t happen to her. That one of her children marries and discovers that they have fertility issues. That she sees a future with no grandchildren. But, wait. Maybe they adopt. Maybe they even adopt interracially, or they adopt a child with special needs, or they adopt a teen or a family group of siblings. Will she have trouble “understanding” what makes a family then? Probably NOT. See, she understands but she likes feeling superior. She likes looking down her nose. She likes knowing they you didn’t get your dream but she did. I hope she reads this. And I hope you find the strength to forgive and move on. Don’t answer her texts. She’s a coward. She read your blog but can’t find the courage to send an apology text. Move on. (I’ve forgiven my one girl cousin but I have cut her out of my life. I miss what I thought we meant to each other, I discovered it was one sided.). Love you sweet friend. We’re coming to TN in May/June. Might have to meet in Ashville!

Brandi Lytle January 21, 2020 - 11:57 am

Thank you for your passionate response and giving me the strength to know that I must stay firm in maintaining boundaries. Oh, I really cannot express what your words mean to me… So many hugs! And yes! A meet-up in Asheville would be awesome! 🙂

Sadie January 20, 2020 - 4:32 pm

Oh I so relate! Several years ago I spoke with my pastor about how to forgive someone. His words I will never forget:

“Forgive and forget is nowhere in the Bible. Forgiveness, yes. Forgetting, no. If someone repeatedly abuses you, it is wise to protect yourself from further abuse.”

He went on to explain the saying about not forgiving is drinking poison expecting the other person to die. It is critical to forgive to move past the hurt. However, continuing a relationship with someone who is abusive (NSS is abusive if you haven’t made that connection) is not a requirement of forgiveness or even recommended. You must remember what happened so it isn’t repeated, but can forgive and release the anxiety and toxicity they have caused in your life.

Boundaries are healthy. If NSS is a family member (as is the person I talked to my pastor about) boundaries are even more important. As one example, I reply when I’m willing/able and sometimes not at all. Just because they text/call doesn’t mean I have to stop what I’m doing. I wait until I’m in the right headspace and don’t let it consume my mind in the meantime. It may be days or even weeks before I respond sometimes because I’m unwilling to let them ruin my day/life.

As for the “confusing” comment…. I have found this to be a flimsy excuse certain people use when they simply don’t want to do something so blame their kids. I have never once had a single kid, no matter how young or old, be confused by us not having children and/or making a family out of people (and pups) we aren’t biologically related to.

Sending big hugs your way and praying for you in this situation.

Brandi Lytle January 21, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Sadie, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I am literally crying as I type… Thank you for passing along the words that your pastor shared, as it’s been difficult because I truly want to have a heart like Jesus. It is comforting to know that God does not want us to maintain relationships that cause us heartache and that it’s okay to set boundaries with those who have repeatedly hurt us. You have no idea what your affirmations mean to me, as I really can’t put my thanks into words… Sending you so many hugs! You have made a true difference!


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