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When You’ve Been Burned by a Friend

Remember how I was in a car wreck back in July?  I was already joking about it by the time I made it to the hospital, because it’s my way, but truthfully, it was pretty traumatizing.  For about a week after, every time something sudden happened, I started screaming.  If my child came in too quickly for a hug.  If a car turned into the lane next to me.  If my husband reached for a toothbrush and I was standing next to him.  I was really jumpy and shaky.

I’ve stopped screaming, but the jumpiness is still there.  I’ve lost the ability to relax and enjoy driving, because I no longer trust the other drivers around me to do what they’re supposed to.  If I can be driving along and get slammed in between two cars out of the blue, then what’s to say all the cars at the intersection are going to stop on a red light?  What’s to say the car turning in from the cross street is going to see me and wait for me to pass?

I find myself reaching for the horn more often, flinching as I pass through intersections, and I have flashbacks to the accident over and over in my mind.  Slam!  Slam!  Slam!

Physical therapy three times a week is excruciatingly piecing back together my body, but my mind is going through its own healing process and it all just takes time.

It makes me think about relationships with other women.

Have you ever been burned by another woman and felt a little gun-shy after?  You were friends, you trusted her with pieces of yourself, you shared feelings and opinions and struggles in confidence, and then she turned on you.  Whether she phased you out gradually or confronted you dramatically, it can leave you feeling jumpy and nervous about ever putting yourself out there again, kind of like my car wreck.

I get it.  For about a year I developed a friendship with a fun and funny girl who made me think and laugh.  I loved hanging out with her, but for some reason, a switch flipped and she stopped talking with me.  She answered in one-word responses, and I noticed that she seemed to avoid being around me.  Now, I know I’m not everyone’s dark roast cup of coffee, but things had seemed so fabulous, so I felt confused.  I approached her one day and asked if I’d done anything to upset her, and she assured me that everything was fine.  I still felt distant, but I hoped she was right.

A few weeks later, I found out she’d been telling people that I’d said things I hadn’t said, making me sound like a horrible, judgmental person.  I was devastated.  She kept avoiding me until I never saw her again and I always wondered what I could’ve done to change her mind about me so abruptly.  Ouch.

Sometimes, either intentionally or unintentionally, women tear each other apart.

What do you do when you’ve been burned by a friend?  Here are some things I did:

First, process your wreckage from the relationship.  Spend time healing.  Determine if there were warning signs early on about her trustworthiness, tendency to gossip, whatever.  Consider your own junk and how you could’ve handled things differently.  Be gentle with yourself.  Betrayal leaves deep wounds.  Pray, rest, heal.

Then, tentatively start engaging with other women.  It’s okay to hold back a little at first.  Test the waters.  Let yourself laugh again.  When you’re ready, take it slow and make the plunge.

I still have to get behind the wheel of a car and put myself out on the road.  It’s really hard for me right now, but I have to do it every day, and each day I pull out of the driveway and drive past the spot of my wreck, it gets a little easier.

We’re made to live in relationship, so when you’re ready, get back out on the road.  Wear a seatbelt, check your mirrors, but get back out there.  You never know who you might meet.