About three weeks ago, the internet caught fire over Chimamanda’s essay in which she called out two writers who betrayed her trust, among other issues. (Naturally, three weeks feels like a century when you think about how fast news travels and expires on social media.) Still, I’ve been thinking a lot about the special kind of heartbreak you experience when a friend betrays your trust. #Sigh. See ehn, friendship heartbreaks are just as painful, some people will argue that it’s even more painful than romantic heartbreak. I am not here to argue which one is more painful but to ask, how do we even deal with friendship heartbreaks? After all, we can’t all be Chimamanda and write essays that hold others accountable.
Like Chimamanda, I, too, had a friend who deeply betrayed me. This person in question was like my best friend. We had been inseparable since we were kids, so much so that our friendship made our families friends. Her parents are like my second parents and vice versa. Do you get the picture? It’s not as if we haven’t fought in the past, but there are fights, and there’s heartbreak, two different things.
When I heard what she did, I was stunned. Like they say, ‘it really be your own people.’ I couldn’t even believe it for days, even after the evidence was staring me in the face. I wanted to call her and scream at her and end the friendship immediately, but as I said in this article, I have learned not to react to things when I am angry. So, I swallowed it all and reflected on the situation. I had serious questions to ask myself, and I think these questions would benefit anyone in the same situation.
- Is what happened enough for you to burn years – In my case, over 20 years — of friendship? Is it a red line?
- Are you shocked about what happened? Haven’t you seen signs of it? For me, the signs had been there, but it was easier to turn a blind eye.
- Is the friendship still serving you? When I told another friend about my situation, she said that it is not enough to hold on to a relationship just because it’s been going on for a long time. That is not a good reason. Is the friendship still valuable to you?
- Are you and this friend still on the same wavelength? Have you been doing more to hold on to the friendship more than the other person? Be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in it.
After I took time to answer these questions, I could forgive my friend, but I also accepted that something that cannot be repaired has broken in our relationship. Even though we still talk and keep in touch, things will never be the same.
In this situation, I learned that forgiveness is an action word. It’s not that you will forgive and forget at once, no. Instead, every day you wake up, you’ll have to take a deep breath and forgive again. You’ll forgive not just for the other person’s sake but for your internal peace. Don’t let what someone did make you bitter and taint your heart.