November 12, 2014

Healing from Friendship Divorce.


The other night I was messaging back and forth with a sweet friend.

We were discussing a current situation in my life involving a friendship fall-out and what it’s like to feel the same sadness, insecurities and friendship angst from childhood—only now as a grown woman. She had the most poignant thing to say on the matter.

No one ever talks about friendship divorce—it’s hard to watch a friendship die, even when know you’re doing the right thing. It’s like watching a picture break and you suddenly notice a new piece of jagged glass that wasn’t there last week when you thought it was done breaking. It’s hard.”

Sometimes it is incredibly hard to walk away from a friendship. For me, it was especially challenging as there was a time I thought I had been closely connected with this friend—only for it to end up souring in an ugly and confusing way. Looking back on it all, it was and still is hard to understand how and why it went down the way it did.

No matter what, friendship divorce can be difficult to move beyond because it is painful when we lose those relationships, regardless of how they end.

But there are things we can do to make it easier.

Focus on ourselves.

Unfortunately, as we grow up, the same friendship challenges and fears we had as little girls and boys follow us into adulthood. We have a need to be accepted, supported and loved. So much so that sometimes we compromise who we are in an effort to fit in.

Sometimes a fall out can be the best thing for us, especially if it was a less than genuine friendship—or one where we had to hide our true selves. The best thing we can do when we are down is be the best person we can be and continue being kind, honest and most importantly, genuine.

Going through my own friendship divorce I have learned that it is far more therapeutic to focus on myself, my career and being the best kind of person I can be. With time, true friends (the kind that I truly want by my side) have seen my genuineness and found me.

Be a true friend to others.

I had a friend who was defriended on Facebook by another woman simply because that woman said my friend hadn’t invited her to enough outings lately and her feelings were hurt. Real friends talk to us when they are upset with us because hey, we are all human and screw up sometimes!

Real friends understand and—more importantly—forgive us when we are crabby or snap at them; they are patient and see the bigger picture, and they allow us to sit in silence and say nothing if we need. In order to get through a friendship divorce, be that friend. Hug them and help them do the dishes when you stop by unexpectedly and their house is a mess. Be understanding, non-judgmental, and genuine.

Life is far too short to invest in a friendship that is centered on stepping on eggshells or constantly worrying if we have upset the other person. True friendships bring out the best in us and give us a sense of peace. Being the type of friend other people need and want only helps to reassure that we are on the right path while also giving us closure on painful past friendships.

Don’t be a mean girl (or boy).

It is hard to repair a damaged reputation if we act in ways that are undignified. That includes gossiping, name calling, acting like a victim, and rehashing ‘our side’ to anyone that will listen—all in an effort to gain allies and temporarily make ourselves feel better.

Don’t be mean. Try to understand that there are reasons why friendships fall out, and perhaps what we should focus on is that better friends and better things are meant for us in the future. Be accountable, trustworthy and respectful instead of bitter, childish or spiteful.

In the end, we cannot control anything or anyone except ourselves and our own actions, and ultimately that will speak for itself. We will either be backed up, or we will fall. It is much easier to end on top when we have acted in a respectable way. Although it may be hard to do in cases of ugly friendship divorces, it is always better to take the high road.

Move on.

We can start this process by accepting what happened and focusing on being the best person we can be. Ultimately, we have to let go of the anxiety and sadness of a lost friendship, which can be difficult.

We need to go easy on ourselves however, if we fall a few steps back when we revisit the hurt or relive arguments in our heads, regressing in our progress. It doesn’t help to rehash the situation or spend time trying to figure the other person out, nor does it help being hard on ourselves.

If we need to cry it out and then get on the mat for a nice long yoga session alone, we should. A glass of wine and some dark chocolate works wonders, too.

In the end, friendship divorces are painful and can take time to heal. Just as with most other experiences, there will be good days—where it feels like it is all in the past—and bad days, where we stumble upon a new shard of glass. But if we remember to stay positive and be true to ourselves, the pain can and will slowly subside.

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Author: Tiffani Shipman

Apprentice Editor: Melissa Horton/ Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Sanmitra Kale, Flickr CC

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