The story about a friend’s betrayal makes a great story line in many movies, it is also a daily occurrence, and timeless as time itself. We have all been there at least once in our lives. It makes a part of who we are, helps us to keep safe boundaries and to be careful with our trust.
A good friend can be a fountain of never-ending happiness, love, joy, camaraderie, fun and bellies full of laughter. But a friend who has betrayed you can also bring heartache, hurt, resentment, bitterness, hate (and all the other feelings that belong to the dark side, even if they do have cookies).
I had a friend once who just came into my life, as many good friends sometimes do. Let’s call her Mrs X. We hit it off like a house on fire. Mrs X was a bit older than me, but I was in total awe of her career, she has accomplished so much, she was fierce, beautiful, graceful, so confident, nothing could get her down. She was always just perfect to me in every way. She was good to be around, she made me laugh, she made me feel good about myself and her confidence was contagious she had great life experience, advice and stories. Her personality just roped me in. We were great friends for many years.
Something happened in her life with her career and director position at a huge group. She was no longer the Director, and she was struggling with her own business and she had no income. Mrs X had nowhere to go, and her back was in a corner financially. I tried to help her with finding a position and keeping her motivated.
My career on the other hand was in a good place. Our company was expanding, and they needed an additional role to fill. I put her forward for the role and motivated my Directors to employ her. Which they did. It was a couple of months after Mrs X was hired (maybe 3) when she started slowly but surely to use me, to gain favour from our Directors, by trying to place me and the work I was doing in a bad light. Silly things like copying Directors into mails about projects trying to create and point out mistakes (which she could never do), tried to dominate me in meetings, talk me down and sabotage my projects, the list goes on. The aim was to make me seem incompetent and place her in a better light, to hijack my position.
It never worked in the end and they did eventually let her go. BUT the destruction of a friendship that she has left behind and the feelings that got bulldozed by her actions were not merely something that could or should have, been swept under the rug. As you can imagine it was hurtful and for a while harmed the trust I had in people. It is not something I really talk about.
So what do you do in a situation like this?
I think first and foremost, you need to think about if the friendship is something you would like to repair/save and if not, you need to walk away. If like me, that is your decision, you can’t just walk away and pretend like it never happened either. You should either speak to the person, or put it in an email to get closure. Remember, the aim is not to get the person to admit fault, the aim is to let someone know what they have done wrong and why you are letting go. Don’t expect anything in return.
Focus on the really great relationships in your life, your other friends, family and try and think about all the amazing things you get from these relationships. It’s not fair to assume that all your friends will betray your trust, or try to do something behind your back to hurt you. Be aware of what is happening around you, but give people the benefit of the doubt.
Forgive the person who has hurt you. Not for them, for you. Forgiveness is not just saying “I forgive you” (in fact you can forgive without saying a word). In your heart, it will mean you have accepted what has happened, and you realise that you cannot change what has happened. You will also have peace in the fact that you can control how you are going to handle it, and how it is going to impact you going forward. If your feeling is “peace” then you know you have forgiven and moved on.
In conclusion; People make mistakes, and we must accept it. Many have made mistakes towards us, and us towards them. We don’t have to and should not accept if people treat us badly. Life is much shorter than we realise, and we need to invest in people who invest in us. We can’t always choose accurately and control every situation – that is life. We can be a little bit more cautious when helping others.We must never compromise on being a good person and helping others because we have been hurt in the past. Friendships are about being open and making yourself vulnerable. If you are around friends you don’t feel safe to do so, you need to re-visit your friendship and ask yourself why. The good that comes out of a great friendship is worth the hit and miss of the one or two betrayals that you will suffer in your life.