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.

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  • Darlene Fountain

    Love. Your. Heart.

    and yes, I was burned a lot..especially during what I refer to as my crazy time when you’d least expect it.. where you would think empathy and compassion would flow but sometimes when you are in that valley,I don’t know why, but some people put the hose on you and leave you there to dogpaddle – but God knows that is coming and the awesome thing is that he has put some other way off the beaten path chick who kind of picks up where the flamethrower jumped off. I know this first hand. Women I would have never chosen on my own. Jesus took the wheel per se. and I am grateful he did.

    your attitude of putting bandaids on scrapped knees and getting back on the bike? this is where we connect. :)

    • Melanie Dale

      Aww, Darlene, well put. “Women I would have never chosen on my own.” I love this so much. That’s beautiful.

  • Off The Cuff Cooking

    I’m a nurturer, so I tend to attract fast, funny, and flammable friendships… People with a lot of needs who leech on to me, and take what they can get and make it seem like we’re super tight, and then they take off someday, often without any last indication. I’ve gotten wiser to those warning signs and try to maintain better boundaries. Plus it helps to have more well-adjusted friends to balance the maladjusted ones. I think of the latter more as “ministry” now, and keep my perspective. And pray a lot. And I try to remember not to take it personally when they phase out of my life over time.

    • Melanie Dale

      So key, boundaries and not taking it personally. Relationships are so important, and we learn over time.

  • Lisa Humphries

    Thank you for your words on this issue. I have recently realized that when I first moved to the area where I live, I jumped into friendships with women who seemed “fun” and “cool”. Turns out most of them are “mean girls” (gossipy, back-stabbing, selfish). Took me a while to realize, and once I did, the drama started to really wear on me.

    God is taking me through some wonderful changes and I am becoming much more of the person I have always wanted to be, and less of the person that they want to be friends with. While I realize that our “friendships” (if they could be called friendships) are no longer sustainable or healthy, it still hurts when I think about all the things they have done, and how I have been taken advantage of and been taken for granted.

    I am finding healing in the arms of God, and on the shoulders of some really amazing women whose outlook on life and relationships with our Lord more match mine.

    I know you hear it often (or, at least, you SHOULD hear it often), but I like to imagine that we could be 4th base friends, drinking delicious coffee, sharing our love for God and His word, and nerding out over Dr. Who & the greatness of Joss.

    • Melanie Dale

      Lisa, I’m so sorry for the hurt! *opens arms for hug, pours coffee, cues Tardis*

      Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a huge mom date where we alternate Buffy, Firefly, and Doctor Who episodes, drink coffee, and pray for each other? Like a Jesus geek mashup of awesomeness.

  • Lynne

    Ahhh – it’s so reassuring to know that this happens to other people too (although I’m sorry for anyone who has to go through it.) I really value my female friends so I really feel it when someone pulls away deliberately. I’ve had two noticeable situations – one completely unexplained disappearance (FB defriended, end of all contact with no explanation – not even to mutual friends) and one similar to yours – a pull away followed by claims I had been saying mean things about her wedding dress to an unnamed third person – it was so untrue, yet so bizarre I even had a period where I was doubting myself and wondering whether I was having some sort of Jeckel and Hyde moment and had been saying things without realising. In the end I just came to the conclusion that as I definitely wasn’t living some weird secret life situation that she was either being misled by someone else or was mistaken or was making up an excuse to stop being friends. It was a tough to deal with as we had been pretty close friends for five years at that point.

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh, Lynne, I’m so sorry! I did the same thing, rethinking everything and wondering if I’d said the things without my knowledge, “some sort of Jeckel and Hyde moment” like you said!

  • Pam

    Wow, I’ve had this experience too with a friend. My friend of two years told me “if I were a guy and we were dating, I’d break up with you.” Ouch! That was hurtful! She had already started pulling away prior to that, for what reason I still don’t know, but I realized later that her ending our friendship abruptly said more about her and not me. I’m a good friend (not perfect) and I tried not to take it personally. I did spend time processing and learning from that experience making sure I was picking good friends in the first place, and I’ve made some adjustments there too. Of course, I was really hesitant about making new friends but I’m so glad I did…I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life since then! Thanks for the great post!





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