Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More


The school I work for during the day sets marks one day each year as Reflections.  Everyone is required to write a letter of gratitude, forgiveness, or insight to someone living or dead.  If I recall correctly, letters to the dead are burned and letters to the living are mailed.  Taken seriously, it’s a good idea, especially if you’re ready to let something go.  I’ve spent the last four years harboring some pretty deep resentments towards a few people who were once my friends.  It’s not healthy and it has definitely made it very difficult for me to put trust in people. 

Back then, I was in a job that I loved but was constantly being frustrated by.  I had an employee that I was trying to fire who was spreading lies and trying to undermine me.  My wife was pregnant with our second child and I was very sick, but didn’t quite realize just how badly.  The medical problems reached the point that they started impacting my memory, so that last year is pretty much a blur.  In retrospect,  I can see just how bad.  Oddly enough, I vividly remember the day things fell apart.  Without warning, three of my friends completely blindsided me.  I won’t go into details, but to this day, I don’t know why they did it.  Heck, one of them turned an walked the other direction when I saw him at a college reunion.  I was deeply hurt by their actions (a pain I still feel, though not as intensely) and became very depressed.   I took a leave of absence from my job (where they worked too) and ended up even sicker.  This was the bottom.  I couldn’t go back.  There hasn’t been a day since that hasn’t been impacted by those events.

Someone told me it wasn’t personal.  I have a hard time accepting that.   I can’t see how it wasn’t, but it’s time to let go.  I’m never go to learn what happened or why.  That life was like another family to me.  I see the delusion in that now.  I’m past the inclination to settle the score.  What goes around comes around and I don’t need to be involved.  Still, this isn’t something I can forget.  There isn’t any hope to look back and laugh someday and it’s likely to be a cold day in hell before I’ll receive any apologies for the shameless way the situation was handled.  Maybe I did something (is there something unspeakable in one of those memory gaps?), but 10+ years of friendship and being there for them should have counted for something.  If I did something, I never had the chance to atone.

So, no forgetting, but maybe letting go and perhaps even forgiving.  We’ll see if I can actually do that when Reflections occurs next week.  It’s at least a good exercise and something worth trying.


Clarkesworld Bestsellers for the Week Ending January 21, 2007


Clarkesworld Bestsellers for the Week Ending Jan. 28, 2007


  1. Well said.

    Good on you, Neil.

  2. Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever had anything like that happen to me, but 10 years is a long time to hold a grudge. Sounds like you’re doing well now and whatever the reason was, there’s nothing that will change what happened. So write the Reflection (or three) and send them if you think you’re ready for all the possible ramifications (no response, a response that says not to contact them anymore, a response that explains what happened (and why) that could make you more angry and defeat the purpose of the Reflection, etc.). Good luck.

    • I knew them for 10+ years before the events in question. Everything happened 4 years ago, which is admittedly still a long time. I don’t know that it’s anger as much as still being hurt by the whole thing. I’m the type that likes to come out of a bad situation knowing how it happened so I can avoid making the same mistake. Knowing even stupid reasons would actually be more help than harm. Realistically, I don’t expect to ever know or understand. I don’t even care if I hear back from them. Essentially, the people I remember died four years ago.

  3. “There isn’t any hope to look back and laugh someday and it’s likely to be a cold day in hell before I’ll receive any apologies for the shameless way the situation was handled.”

    I’m a little familiar with that situation. Although I’m not a Buddhist, a core piece of Buddhist thought has helped me in trying to get past betrayals and slanders and whatnot that are just…not fixable, and little to no personal resolution will ever be forthcoming: desire causes suffering. I try to cut myself off in any mental digression into want, regarding the situation–wanting the whole thing not to have happened, wanting revenge, wanting vindication, whatever. I don’t worry about any other aspect–I’m allowed to be angry, I’m allowed to be petulant, I’m allowed to grieve however I choose. I just can’t want anything to do be different.

    Other than that, I just let myself bleed until the bleeding stops. And it always stops.

    Good luck.

    • Thanks. Well put. Went through loads of those mental digressions. For the longest time I had piles of what-ifs. The ultimate in futility… always shaken by the thought: It’s the past stupid.

  4. I related to this entry so much that I cried a little while reading it. I too have been blindsided by many “friends” over the years, ignored and/or ridiculed by others, basically been made sick by these people who I care about and who are supposed to care about me. The incidents still feel like fresh wounds, years after they’ve happened. I don’t forgive people because all it does is make them feel better, it doesn’t do anything for me, and the same thing happens again, over and over, sometimes with the same people but occasionally others, new people I meet who eventually realize I’m a good person to fuck with/stay away from and the pattern repeats itself. I realize that I am doing something wrong and unforgiveable to be treated this way but I can’t put my finger on what it is. And I get the feeling that it’s something deep down that can’t be changed or rectified, so whatever, friendships are overrated most of the time anyway.

    I realize I don’t really know you at all but if you want to talk to someone then I’m willing to listen.

    • Thank you and sorry to hear you’ve been treated so poorly. There seems to be no shortage of people who do things like that. I’ve been thinking about what you wrote about forgiveness. In this case, I believe forgiving them is more for my sake. Call me cynical, but I don’t think they really care or believe they have done wrong. I’ve never been given reason to believe so and my faith in their character isn’t in the best of shape. Intelligent and talented people, yes, but I can’t picture them caring anymore. Heck, this might even piss them off if they believe strongly in the righteousness of their actions. Oh well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén