A Friend Hurt Me! Now What?

Ray Galloway By Ray Galloway, 3rd May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Quality of Life

Betrayal hurts. It's worse when a friend caused the pain. What do you do now? Here are a few important ideas.

Betrayal Hurts!

Let's be honest. There is nothing quite like the pain experienced when we're betrayed by a friend. We expect enemies to hurt us. We're not surprised when a mere acquaintance causes us grief. Friends are supposed to love us, and always do the right things for us. The fact that friends are close, loved, and connected emotionally magnifies the pain caused by any betrayal.

It doesn't really matter what the specifics of the incident are. Maybe the damage was caused by words. Maybe it was something they did or didn't do. Depending on the circumstances, it might be a good idea to talk out the particular event with someone, but right now you might not be mentally or emotionally prepared to do that. What I want to address here are a few things necessary immediately. The pain is raw, and what you do can make it worse, or bring about some healing.

Get A Grip!

This is probably something you don't want to hear, but it's important. Get a grip. It's not that you can't express anger, pain, disappointment, emotional release through tears, or jut stewing for a while. All of that is understandable. What's not so good is to let any of these become the controlling factor in your life. You can be angry, but you don't want to become bitter. You can certainly be disappointed, but you don't want to become despondent. There is a difference between expressing emotions in a healthy way, and becoming emotionally sick. Take a deep breath (or several!). There may be rough times ahead, but only you can determine whether you sail through the storm, or flounder in the surf.

When I say, "Get a grip!" I'm really saying that now is the time purposely get control of yourself. Unfortunately, some people don't think this is necessary or even possible, but you can do this. Refuse to wallow in your pain until it becomes a bed of self pity. That won't help.

Here's a bit of truth that you must consider. Regardless of how bad you hurt right now, how awful the betrayal seems to be, at some point in the future, you will look back and acknkowledge the reality of the pain, and be amazed that it's not what identifies you. In other words, betrayal hurts, but a betrayal is not your whole life.

Here's why this is so important. I met a woman years ago that I believe to be the saddest person I've ever known. The day I first saw her, that was the instant assessment I made, even though when I saw her, she was at least 30 feet away from me. Further contact with her proved that assement to be correct. Why? That was the question demanding an answer. She had gone to a long list of counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. She took anti-depressent medications. Nothing helped. Interestingly, she knew her problem. About 20 years before I met her, she experienced two major setbacks. First, she lost her job and on the heels of that event, her husband left her. She never recovered. I believe that she never managed this first important element. She never "got a grip" on things, and instead allowed these two things to rule her life.

Getting a grip is not to solve any problem, or even to heal from the damage. It's simply to say, "This has happened, but I need to move on. I will not allow this pain to ruin my life because my life is so much more than this pain."

What To Do Right Now

You might need the help of a counselor or other professional. There is no shame in that. People in the "helping professions" can be just that - a great help!

But more immediately, there are some things to do. The following is not all the actions one might choose, but they are helpful. If you have been betrayed by a friend, or any other person that you have considered as a close, loving or intimate relationship, this will get you started.

If at all possible, talk to the offending person. What I'm suggesting here emphasizes the important of getting a grip on yourself first. The idea here is "talk", not "yell, scream, accuse, belittle, or otherwise vent." You can certainly express your pain, but talk more about yourself and how you feel, and less about blame and accusations against the other person. There is always the possibility, however remote, that the betrayal was not purposeful, or done to cause great harm. Many people have overcome betrayal, renewed their friendships, and healed emotionall simply from talking things out with the one who hurt them. Unfortunately, this step is often moved down the list of actions taken. If you do that, any discussion will be tainted by other actions.

Try to understand the nature of your pain. Are you just angry? Are you embarassed or shamed? Was trust trampled? Were your hopes for the future crushed? Exactly what is it that makes up your pain? Understanding alone won't make the pain go away, but insight can help you know what to do and how to deal with it.

Choose only positive, emotionally healthy behavior. You can, and will, make choices in the face of your pain. A lot of people make bad choices, and inflict upon themselves even greater damage. Drugs and alcohol are not good choices. If you think because you hurt that you'll numb it by throwing a good drunk, you're fooling yourself. People in pain, frequently make bad decisions that only make life worse. Now is the time to reject anything that is going to increase your pain and further damage your life. Suicide fits here. It is no solution to pain. It doesn't resolve anything. Don't hurt yourself more than somebody else already has. There are ways to grow out of the mess of life.

Find somebody who will listen. I am not suggesting that you get lots of advice from your otherwise well-meaning friends. Quite often, that advice isn't helpful. As unpopular as this sounds, it might be time to seek out a minister, especially one who has a pastoral counseling background. But there are others who can be helpful. One problem you might have is that betrayal has fractured your ability to trust people. That's understandable, but don't let that paralyze you. Find a collegue, another friend, a parent, teacher, somebody who will just listen. In fact, tell them that you're hurting and you're not asking for advice. Ask if they would just listen and give you a chance to unload.

Forgive! This isn't easy, and it may take some time, but at some point, forgiveness is vital. When you forgive, you choose to put down the burden of betrayal. You let the offending person "off the hook." Why would you want to do that? Think of it this way. When somebody has betrayed you, who carries the biggest load? Is it the one who does the betraying? Not likely. It's you. You're the one hurting, carrying around the baggage of the betrayal. Forgiveness is choosing to put it down. You choose to no longer let the other person's behavior rule your life. You reject ill-will, animosity and grudges. Those things cause more damage to you than to the other person. Forgiveness is the single best thing you will ever do to help yourself move beyond the problem

Love your enemies! I suspect you are think, "This guy's really lost it!" Bear with me. Loving your enemies isn't easy, and sometimes might even be impossible, but only because the other person will not be loved. This is something perhaps way down the road from where you are today. But you can, and perhaps should, begin today looking forward to getting to this. You may think it's impossible, but let me discourage any negative thinking. While you might not understand it, at least think it's possible, and hope that you are able to do it.

A Final Word

This article addresses one of most cruel, heartbreaking and emotionally damaging things that can happen to a person. What you do with it, however, is up to you. The worst thing you can do is let others control your life.

If it's more than you think you can handle on your own, get some help. Seek out a counselor, a minister, or someone who can help you over the rough places. But in all that you do, determine to be better not bitter. That choice will always be yours.


Betrayal, Emotional Pain, Emotions, Friends, Friendship, Relationships, Trust

Meet the author

author avatar Ray Galloway
Educator, radio speaker, and personal coach. Writes articles on relationships, marriage, and interpersonal communications.

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