Death Of A Friendship
A new client, Kat (pseudonym) is struggling with feelings of betrayal and anger after being duped and deceived by her ‘best friend’, Heather. Heather shared private and confidential information about Kat amongst their mutual friends, causing great shame and embarrassment to her. The relationship took an even worse turn after Kat discovered that a series of malicious messages that she received, apparently from one of Heather’s ‘enemies’, were in actual fact, sent to her by Heather. Perhaps worst of all, Heather used Kat to create tension between other people and even trolled her online with fictional accounts in order to make Kat believe that both she and Heather were victims of the same common enemies. When Kat discovered this quite by accident, she cut all contact with Heather. Kat came to me in disbelief and shock; not quite able to understand why this had happened. It made her question everything about her so called friendship.
In Kat’s view, Heather had used her and abused their friendship to exact a revenge on somebody else . Kat always knew that Heather was capable of lying as she had witnessed her doing it many times (sometimes they even schemed together) but she never expected that she would be the one to whom Heather lied and that she would be turned on. Did the friendship mean anything? What was the truth and what were the lies? How could a best friend and someone who called her “sis” cause her so much stress and lead her to believe that she was in danger of online abuse. It felt too overwhelming for Kat. She needed some help in processing what has happened here and acknowledging her feelings of anger and betrayal.
When the web of lies and deception was discovered, Kat felt duped. She had based her own version of reality on the lies told to her. She had said and done certain things in support, which had helped Heather, as the deceiver, to gain further advantage. Lies and deception give power, while aggressively and passive aggressively robbing power from others. It’s like holding all of the cards and being privy to knowledge that the other parties are not.
How had the situation had got so out of hand for two supposed best friends? My best friend and I have known each other for 13 years. I struggled to imagine using her as a pawn to hurt other people. You simply do not behave in the way or treat others so poorly. We do not have a connection that I would jeopardise; and vice versa. I wondered what had driven Heather to deceive in such a hurtful way and how she managed to Discount the level and impact of her betrayal? Kat felt that she was made to look like an idiot. She feels used and angry because she let her friend do it; not realising that Heather wasn’t sticking around because of a ‘ride or die’ sisterhood bond, but more because of the home she provided when Heather was homeless, the trendy holidays and dinner out to those ‘see and be seen’ places that she often funded.
The immutable truth is that a person cannot give what they do not have. If they care more about something else, such as ‘winning’ and hurting others, these will always take precedence. Kat feels outraged because Heather turned on her. However, can you legitimately expect a person who lies to themselves and to others so freely to be honest with only you? Why would they? How would they even know that they were being honest when they have not cultivated that within? Their version of truth is so patently different. Some people believe that something is true as long as they believe it. Some people say the same thing for so long that they believe their own lie and some people play a role for so long that it becomes second nature. There is an awfully big appeal in deception because it allows a person to remain in their uncomfortable comfort zone, to not open up their mind and face things and to quite simply avoid being responsible and accountable for their actions.
Kat struggled to understand how Heather could betray her so easily Kat listed all of the things she had done for her, as Heather’s only close friend; She taught her how to stand up for herself because Heather was a people pleaser and easily influenced; She listened to every jealous rant about various women and family members that Heather despised; She helped Heather to move out of a former partners home and allowed her to live with her for months. In short, Heather was truly Kat’s best friend, but now she can not honestly say that Heather felt the same. All of this makes it easy to understand why Kat feels so angry, but this doesn’t remove the responsibility to assess the situation. It seems the deeper issue here is around Heather ‘obtaining goods by deception’ – when a person is convincing you that they are the victim, and you jump in to defend and help. When in actual fact, the Persecutor had played the Victim all along.
Uncovering the fact that you have been deceived means having to manage your own mind f*ckery. You end up ‘playing back the tapes’ and going over every word. It might feel like your eyes, ears and mind were deceiving you. You might have defended the person who duped you. You might have listened to them vehemently deny what was actually true or you might (as Kat did) never have suspected them of what they’ve been saying and doing. When you play things back, certain things start to make sense, you recognise the signs of the deception and various conversations get dismantled. What was real? What was fake? This is when we discover that the same person who would screw someone else over, will also do the same to keep us exactly where they want us. Strangely enough, in spite of knowing that she was best friends with someone who lies and deceives, Kat was surprised to discover that, yep, Heather had been lying to and deceiving her too. Surprise surprise! There really is no such thing as a honest cheat.
Heather felt ashamed at being caught out and tried hard to win Kat over again. Kat felt that she was only remorseful as she had been caught out and so, she would not be able to trust her again. That’s the problem with lying and deceiving; once it’s been allowed to continue or the person has gotten away with it for a very long time, it’s incredibly difficult to know whether you’re standing in reality with them or are standing on the ‘portion’ of reality that they’ve allowed you to see. That’s why the last thing you should do when you sense or know that you’ve been deceived, is to continue to whitewash it with denying, rationalising and minimising. How does someone who has told a whole load of lies and deceived even know that they’re telling themselves the truth? You believed them when they were lying; now you’re supposed to believe them when they say it’s the truth. Those who lie and deceive can end up lonely with only their illusions to keep them warm at night, especially when the faithful harem of supporters dry up.
Being used as a pawn in someone’s game hurts, as does getting duped and run over in the process and participating in someone else’s bullshit. The main thing here is not to fool yourself – that’s a deception in itself. If you want to live your life authentically, stick to your own values. We can spend a lot of time wondering or asking why, especially if we feel like we’ve given them everything so that they wouldn’t ‘need’ to deceive and have had plenty of opportunities to tell the truth. Unless you think and act like they do, their behaviour isn’t going to make sense to you. They had a motivation. It’s like trying to think like a sociopath and wondering why they do what they do. Unless you’re inclined in that direction, you’re not going to be able to wrap your head around what they’re doing.
When we live a lie, we’re putting out falsehoods and in time we’ll look back and have little substance to hold onto and plenty of regret. It’s better for us to state and live our truth than to spend our time deceiving the hell out of ourselves in order to hold onto people who are deceiving the hell out of us. If you live your own truth, it’s difficult to live someone else’s incompatible lie.
A sad truth is that almost everybody tells lies. Family members lie, your neighbour lies and yes, even your best friend tells tales. Yet, a betrayal of trust marks the difference between a rupture that can be repaired or one that renders a relationship of any kind irreparable. The moment that you lose the trust, then arguably, you lose everything.