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Overcoming the Emotional Fallout: Healing from Friendship Trauma

A Twitter user started a thread this week with the question, “When did you realize your supposed friend actually hated you?” The tweet has over 10,000 quote replies of bad friendship experiences and trauma and I urge you to go and read for yourself because it’s quite appalling what some have been through at the hands of people they trusted. This one takes the cake for me.

Friendships are a beautiful thing. Our amigos are the people we laugh with until our sides ache, the ones who lend a shoulder when life's weight becomes too much to bear, and the ones who make mundane days and moments feel exciting. But, friendships aren't always sunshine and rainbows. If you’ve had a friendship fallout, you understand how painful it is to reconcile how something that was once your source of joy and comfort is now a source of pain and heartache. In my opinion, friendship breakups sting more than romantic ones.

What is friendship trauma?

Friendship trauma can be described as the deep emotional distress and turmoil that arises from negative experiences within a close friendship. It's the heartache caused by betrayal, broken trust, abandonment, or any other hurtful actions or behaviors by someone we once considered a friend. This trauma can be just as profound as other forms of emotional or psychological trauma and can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being.

Examples of friendship trauma

Imagine confiding in a friend about your deepest secrets, only to have those secrets betrayed and spread to others. Or a close friend suddenly distancing themselves from you without explanation, leaving you feeling abandoned and confused. These are the kinds of situations that can lead to friendship trauma. It's the unexpected and painful twists in our relationships that can shake us to our core.

To those who have walked through the shadows of friendship trauma, know this: You are stronger than you realize. You can heal, grow, and find joy and fulfillment in new connections. Take small steps toward rebuilding your life and trust in friendships. Seek those who lift you up, nurture your passions, and celebrate your progress.

The Range of Emotions

When friendship takes a painful turn, it's not just sadness that envelops us; it's an entire spectrum of emotions like;

  • Betrayal: It's that feeling when someone you trusted deeply has let you down, shattered your faith or fundamentally violated your trust.

  • Anger: Anger often surges as a protective mechanism, a natural response to feeling hurt or wronged. It's a sign that your boundaries have been crossed.

  • Sadness: Profound sadness can wash over you like a tidal wave, making it hard to find joy in the things you once loved.

  • Confusion: The "why" questions can be relentless. Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? These questions can circle endlessly in your mind, adding to the emotional turmoil.

  • Grief: Friendship trauma can sometimes feel like a loss, akin to mourning the end of a significant relationship. It's perfectly normal to grieve the connection you thought you had.

It's crucial to allow yourself to feel these emotions. They are a natural response to the pain you've experienced. Emotions are like messengers; they bring information about our inner world. By acknowledging and processing them, you begin to understand yourself better and pave the way for healing.

Friend group

The Journey to Healing

Remember, healing from friendship trauma doesn't mean erasing the pain entirely; it's about learning to carry it with grace and strength. Every step you take, even the setbacks, brings you closer to a place of peace and acceptance. Sometimes, you may revisit old wounds or emotions as you continue to heal and grow. It's all part of the process, helping you gain deeper insights and build resilience. Here are some strategies to help you on your healing journey.

  • Communication: Sometimes, closure comes from having an honest conversation with the person who hurt you. However, this isn't always possible. If you choose this path, set clear boundaries and expectations for the conversation. It's okay to say no when you need to, and it's crucial to protect your emotional well-being.

  • Self-Acceptance: Accept that the past cannot be changed and make peace with it especially when there’s no closure or communication about what happened in the friendship. This self-acceptance is a form of self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself. It's easy to be critical during times of healing, but self-compassion is a powerful antidote. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you'd offer a dear friend.

  • Engage in Self-Care Activities: Dedicate time to activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it's reading, art, exercise, or simply taking a walk in nature, these activities can be healing.

  • Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. It helps you process emotions, gain insights, and track your progress. Write down all the things you never got to say to your friend who hurt you.

  • Forgiveness: This is a complex and deeply personal process. It doesn't mean condoning or excusing hurtful behavior. Instead, it's a conscious decision to release the hold of resentment and anger that the trauma may have on you. It allows you to regain control of your own emotional well-being.

  • Letting Go: You can write a letter (even if you don't send it), hold a symbolic ceremony, or engage in a ritual that signifies your release of the friendship you once had and loved. This will help you not live in the past or keep replaying the “what could have been” and “what ifs”.

  • Seek Support: Lean on your support network—friends, family, or a therapist. They can provide guidance, comfort, and a listening ear. Reach out to us at or Tel: 786-490-5988 to book your session.

Find joy in this: You haven’t yet met all the people who will love you and be your dearest friends. Look forward to it with excitement.

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