Once upon a time I had a friend. I loved her with my whole heart, and she loved me. Our friendship was beautiful, and then one day … it ended.
The details on why the relationship ended are still confusing to me, but the reality of it all is very clear. One day she was my forever-kind-of-friend, and the next day she was not. This friendship failure is one of my biggest regrets, and you should probably know before you read further, there isn’t a happy ending to this story. My friend still calls me “enemy.”
The pain from this kind of rejection was devastating to my already fragile heart, but there were a few things that made healing—which is still in process—possible.
1. I did not talk about my friend negatively.
I could not control what people were saying about me, but I could control what I was saying. I made a promise to myself that no one would ever be able to say I gossiped about my friend.
2. I did not “stuff it” or pretend like it didn’t happen.
I talked about the failure with my husband (Tim loved me through every minute of that season, and I am thankful), and I talked about it with women who could pour health back into my life. Healing took place in community, not isolation.
3. I had to girl-up and allow people to get close to me again.
The risk of being hurt again was huge, and the temptation to buy into the lie that all friendships (with women especially) would end in rejection was even bigger.
4. Forgiveness was essential for me to live free again.
The relationship is not reconciled, but my heart is free from the bitterness and anger that wrapped my heart when the relationship failed. I still experience grief, pain and regret from time to time, but I am thankful I no longer hold unforgiveness toward my friend.
5. I chose not to turn my kids against my friend or relationships in general.
This was the hardest part of my process. What happened between my friend and I was an adult problem. I do not want my kids to deal with adult problems until they are adults. They know that my friend doesn’t want to be my friend anymore—and they can relate to that feeling—but that is all they know.
6. I did not write passive-aggressive posts on social media about my friend.
However, one thing I did wrong was “un-friending” her too quickly. I found it to be extremely difficult to see her posts on my social media feed, and so in an impulsive act of self-preservation I un-friended her. I wish I would have known I could have just “hidden” her from my feed. The unintentional consequence of un-friending her was it caused more hurt for her.
7. I had to manage my own shame from the failure.
This failed relationship is painful, but it does not define me. The fact my friend may never forgive me does not make me unforgiveable. Rejection does not make me unlovable. This failure does not make me a failure. I am a child of God, which is where my value lies—not in my successes nor my failures.
That friendship is no longer, but the loss has made me more grateful for the friends who love the real me—in the good times and in the bad. They love me when I’m freaking out, “hangry” or obnoxiously hyperactive. They love me when I forget to return their call, or when I text them impulsively at 1 a.m. They love me when I get it right, but more importantly, they love me even when I fail.
You need friends, and your friends need you. So be brave, girl-up and love well.
This post was originally published at the Hello, Darling.