True friends stab you in the front.
~ Oscar Wilde
In a friendship where there is a kind ear, and shoulder to lean on, there is a sense of safety, affinity, and acceptance. You can be yourself. You don’t have to pretend or put up a false front. The ease and comfort, give and take, mutual understanding, and respect that come from these types of friendships are what we all cherish and desire.
However, when a friend betrays you or turns into your enemy this leaves an open wound in your heart. It is safe to say, a betrayal unhealed will decay all relationships; especially if you do not know how to turn it into enriching fertilizer.
To learn how to heal, first let’s look at the word betrayal. It relates to deception, violation of trust, and exposure. The keys to lasting friendships are trust, respect, honesty, and loyalty. Yet lasting friendships are the hardest to maintain. Why? The answer is simple. To have flourishing friendships, you must first be the kind of friend you want and use the past as organic matter to learn valuable lessons about yourself.
That’s right - it starts with you. You are the one constant person in all your relationships. Are you a friend to yourself? Do you trust your instincts? Are you honest with yourself? Would you like being around you?
Unfortunately, most people look outward at friendship betrayal from the stand point of a victim. This is the easy way out from taking any personal responsibility for your behavior in the relationship.
If you look deep enough, you will find patterns that show up in your behavior. Looking at your part in the relationship is the only way to heal old wounds and open your heart to new a kind of friendship behavior; one that is built on trust and honesty not the blind trust that leaves you weak and vulnerable.
Below are three categories related to betrayal that may help you compost the past and sort out friend turned enemy relationships:
Withholding honest communication
- Was your trust blinded by a lack of something inside you? Look for the internal voids you were trying to fulfill from the relationship. This gives you a sign of what’s missing in you.
- At any time, did you ignore a gut feeling or a voice of reason in your head signaling something is not right here? This is a sign of not trusting your internal guidance system.
- Did a loved one question something about the friendship and you found yourself defensive? This is a sign of deceiving yourself and that you wanted to be right about the friendship, rather than listen with an open mind and heart that they may be right and see things about the relationship you did not see.
Misplacement of loyalty
- Was there something you wanted to say to your friend but didn’t for fear of how they would react? Fear of how others will react is the number one excuse for not speaking up. This is a sign of abdicating your full self-expression to fear.
- Did you share something in confidence that you wished you hadn’t right after you shared it? This is a sign you intuitively didn’t trust the person.
- Did you find out that your friend disclosed something confidential, and you didn’t address it? Breaking of confidences is a sign of gossip. Unfortunately, sharing gossip among friends is way too common. Yet, when you are the one being gossiped about it is upsetting when you find out. If you don’t address this with your friend, you may be avoiding responsibility for any of your own gossiping and misplacing your loyalty to yourself.
- Did your friend ever tell you something that you later found out wasn’t true, and you didn’t address that with them? You may have stepped over it for fear of losing the friendship. However, the trust you have for them has now eroded. If you don’t share your loss of faith in them, and afford them the opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding, it is a disservice to both of you.
- Finally, to confront a misplaced loyalty means you have to confront your own behaviors about any lies you have told and gossiping you have done. Being unable to do this is a clear sign of not trusting yourself and the relationship enough to be an honest and loyal friend.
So in all cases of betrayal in friendships, there is something useful to learn about you.
As you begin to heal and flourish, you may find you have outgrown some of your friendships. Regardless, “friend turned enemy” or “friend for life” there are precious lessons to learn from each that can enrich your life
Debra J. Slover is an award winning author and founder of the Leadership Garden® Fund and Legacy. As a philanthropist, through the U.N.I.Q.U.E. series of youth and adult leadership empowerment tools and Cultivation Grants, Debra promotes the use of leader-friendly gardening practices with a goal to create fertile ground for youth to thrive by empowering the leader within everyone. Her expertise stems from 34 years empowering youth and adult leadership in school and community environments both statewide and nationally. A mother of five/grandmother of seven, she resides with her husband in Albany, Oregon. Visit: www.LeadershipGardenLegacy.com