Do you need help on how to fix a broken friendship?
Is it me, or does it seem as though friendships were much easier when we were younger? Good, bad, or ugly, I always knew where I stood. Best friends one week, dumped the next. I rotated friends in and out like my latest pair of leg warmers. If we split, I just snagged a new bestie and kept it moving. Fast forward 25 years, why do friendships seem more complicated now? My friends don’t go through a revolving door, and my relationships certainty aren’t black and white. I’m talking more like 101 shades of gray, to be quite honest. They can be so much fun, and yet so complicated when they fall off track. In fact, some of my girl-breakups were so painful, I’m pretty sure I went through the complete 7 stages of grief! Adult feelings matter. A lot. So why aren’t we talking about them?
We don’t talk about friendships much as adults
Trouble in your marriage? There are plenty of therapists, couples ministries, and free advice columns you can access for help. It’s a common problem that everyone talks about. But what about advice for our girlfriend problems? Who do we consult on ways to apologize, take the high road, and reconcile when we hit walls and dead-ends? We have to be more open about this subject because we can suffer from broken hearts over our girlfriends too. As we age, sometimes we get better at ignoring the pain, resentment and disappointment towards our friends and focus on the 100 other things on our plate. We tend not to speak as openly about these issues because they are…taboo. Moms are too old to cry over friends, right? Wrong. We do cry, sometimes often. So many of us silently hurt and keep these feelings tucked inside.
We don’t admit how valuable girlfriends are
We spend time trying to convince ourselves that our adult friendship feelings are not important when they are. Marriage is important, but so are girlfriends. It’s imperative to have that one friend you can confide in, laugh with, and vent to on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. That friendship may be a lifeline and save you from many breakdowns! When it’s good, it’s good! But when it’s bad, boy does it hurt. We are never too old to feel hurt and disappointment in our friendships. In some ways, pain cuts much deeper now because we have invested so much time, energy, and trust into that person and are very selective about who we let in. But we are no longer kids, and our friends are not easily replaceable. It’s complicated, and it’s absolutely okay to be utterly “in your feelings” over a girlfriend.
So how do we fix broken friendships?
Move all those bags out the way
“Bag lady, you gone hurt your back. Dragging all them bags like that.”-Erykah Badu
As we age, our emotional baggage accumulates and gets really heavy. Let’s be real….we have so many bags, our bags have bags! Yet we still drag these old, busted sacks around for years. I’ve had several friendships that soured after our conversations turned into an endless rant of ways in which we hurt each other. Not to be outdone, we compared lists to see whose list was longer and who owed more apologies. Basically, which one of us won the gold medal in the Oppressed Friendship Olympics? It sounds silly in the end because we actually both LOST! Our baggage was like having 20 elephants in the room, suffocating the life out of a once-beautiful friendship. It was hard, but we had to learn to push those tattered bags aside and live in the moment.
Open up and free yourself
Its natural to guard our feelings and limit the insights into our heart. We all do that to a certain extent for self-preservation. In fact, revealing our emotions can be embarrassing or feel like we are exposing a weakness. But honesty and transparency are the cornerstones of any healthy friendship. I suggest having a couple tear-jerking, breakdown sessions to push those elephants aside. I’ve had a few of those heart-to-hearts with my friends and it completely changed us. Forget crying pretty! We had full-blown crocodile tears, inaudible slurred sentences, and a series of long hugs. Unleashing those raw and vulnerable emotions helped to bridge the gap from hurt to reconciliation. Like Dr. Phil says, “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Acknowledge your own your mistakes, insecurities, and missteps. Be vulnerable. Its liberating.
Cross the bridge to reconciliation
Being the bigger person and stepping out on faith can be extremely uncomfortable. You can simply start with something simple: “I miss you,” or “I want our friendship back.” I have been on both ends of the olive branch and both were liberating! Once, I reached out to a friend and was thrilled to know she wanted to mend us too. Another time, I received a message from a dear girlfriend out the blue that made me fall in love with that friendship all over again. In both cases, we actively CHOSE to push our baggage aside, and it worked! That maneuver allowed our raw battle wounds to fade into scars, making us stronger. I am a believer that you only get a few real friends in your life. I challenge you to extend your olive branch today. Chances are, they want you back too.
This post is dedicated to my dear friends T & T.