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As we travel down the road of life, we meet a lot of people along the way. Some are family members, some are friends, and some our acquaintances. There are those who stick around our whole lives and then there are those that are only with us for a short while but still have a big impact on us. And then there are those friendships that you think will last a lifetime but end up falling apart. Those can hurt and the hurt can sometimes last a long time if you don’t know how to forgive and move past it.
I had a friend in high school who was, essentially, my best friend. She was one of the first people I met when I started going to a new school in 8th grade. We had a lot of fun together, shared a similar sense of humor, and were practically inseparable. I was close enough to her to be vulnerable and open up about my dreams, fears, insecurities, etc. which made it all the harder when our friendship started to deteriorate.
It Started Small
It started small. There were little comments disguised as jokes that went on for years. I ignored them and laughed them off. But then they started becoming more frequent and started to bother me. Later, there were things I would ask her not to do that she would find funny to do anyway. She seemed to take pleasure in putting me down or spreading rumors about me. I actually found out from my husband, who also knew her, that she told him I was a gold-digger and some other degrading names. This was before he and I got together and a few years before the end of her and my friendship.
Eventually, these things took a toll on our friendship and I quietly started to phase her out of my life. I was polite in public but stopped responding in other ways. I was once tempted to renew our friendship when a group of friends got together one year. We hadn’t spoken in a couple of years. However, while our group pleasantly chatted, she thought it would be funny to bring out a photo I had asked her to destroy years ago. While seemingly small, it speaks to the greater issue of respect. She didn’t respect me or our friendship so that was the last time I reconsidered it.
I was told by a mutual friend years later that there was some jealousy at play. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I suppose it is a possibility. The point is, it hurt. I carried that hurt with me for several years and I don’t think I have ever opened up to another friend again. However, I did eventually work on and learn how to forgive, let go of the hurt, and move on.
How to Forgive and Move On
Remember the Good Times
In order to move on, you have to acknowledge the hurt that you feel. And you can’t do that without acknowledging all the good times you had with the other person. You wouldn’t be so hurt if there hadn’t been good times. This is also a major key in forgiving the other person. Take some time to mourn the good times that you two shared.
My friend and I had some great trips to the beach and we share some amazing high school memories. She was with me at prom and graduation. We had fun parties and low-key trips to the mall and silly jokes that still make me laugh to this day. Acknowledging those good times allow me to still see her as a person, flaws and all, and forgive her a little more easily.
Know That They are Human
As I mentioned above, remembering the good times allows you to also remember that they are human. They aren’t just a person who does mean or hurtful things. They have their own issues that may have nothing to do with you that causes them to act in hurtful ways against you. There may be jealousy or they have been hurt by someone else and are lashing out at you.
The majority of humans aren’t hurtful for no reason. There is usually an underlying cause that even they may not realize. If you can find out what it is, perhaps you can save your friendship, but a lot of hurts can’t be healed just by talking about it and you have to do what is best for you even if it means walking away. Just knowing that they are human can go a long way in helping you forgive and move on.
Know When to Walk Away
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean keeping that person in your life. You can only take so much before your health suffers whether it is mental health, self-esteem, etc. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get out of the relationship. You may do this by cutting them out completely or just keeping them at a distance. If you do this, try to do it in a loving way. It isn’t necessary to cause yourself more stress by getting into an argument or being mean every time you see them. If they want to know why you have pushed them away and they ask, then feel free to have that conversation. You know the person you are dealing with and whether or not they will listen to what you have to say. A lot of times it isn’t worth it to try and explain because most of the time they don’t’ get it.
I spent years dealing with my friend’s issues. I don’t like conflict so I tried to ignore it. Eventually, though, it started to take its toll on me. I was unhappy when we were hanging out. I couldn’t trust her so I couldn’t be myself. I got tired of the petty comments and general attitude. So, I started distancing myself.
Fortunately, this came to a head after graduation. I was away at college so it was a little easier as I didn’t see her very often. I slowly stopped responding and hanging out. When we had group reunions with mutual friends, I was polite, but focused most of my attention on the other people present. I was less stressed and happier without her in my life. I didn’t realize how much effort I had been putting into our relationship until it was over. It was so freeing.
Dealing with a failing friendship can be hard. But you can’t allow yourself to be consistently hurt by the same person over and over again. At some point you have to face it and make the decision to end the friendship. But by learning how to forgive and move on, you can find some peace. Forgiveness is never just for the other person. Forgiveness is mostly for you.
Now, when I think of my former friend, I wish her nothing but the best. She was a very important part of my life and I hope she finds the happiness she seemed to be missing. But that doesn’t mean I will ever let her back in my life again. I wouldn’t be able to trust her and, without trust, a relationship can’t survive. Sometimes, the best things you can do, is wish them the best and walk away.