By Ken Wells - 09/22/2021


Series Two; Blog Sixty-Six

A “frenemy” is an oxymoron that refers to a person who is a friend but at the same time can be an enemy.  Sigmund Freud once said that “an intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable to my emotional life…not infrequently, friend and enemy have coincided in the same person.” A frenemy can be one-sided, jealous, passive-aggressive, undermining and a host of other traits. The most devastating trait is betrayal.  This trait is experienced like a dagger to the heart.  In the Bible, King David referenced his agony of being betrayed by a friend. He wrote “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him.  But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance.” (Psalm 55:12-14)

Betrayal from a friend is like the rug being pulled from under you. This happens in recovery community. You thought it would never happen after experiencing dishonesty and deception before getting into recovery. Now you feel double-crossed by a dear friend in your 12-step community. It cuts to the bone.  How do you move forward and not just give up on recovery?

Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Embrace your feelings. Write them out in a journal (abandoned, tricked, despondent, fear, anger, hate, resentment, etc.)  Emphasize I hate it when… I feel tricked, when… etc.  If you don’t like to write, speak it into your phone and play it back to you so you can hear your feelings.  It will help you embrace them.
  2. Share your raw feelings and reactions in the presence of someone you choose to trust.  It won’t be helpful to commiserate and require that your friend have the same feeling you have about this person.  Having another pile on to what you already feel only makes matters worse. Yet, someone who is willing to listen and support you expressing your raw feelings is a powerful healing experience.
  3. Identify ways in which you have hurt others in like principle (not like kind) that you were hurt by your friend.  This is a difficult step.  When you have been devastated by another’s betrayal, it is difficult to embrace the idea that you have hurt someone else in principle like you have been hurt by your friend.  This step requires a certain degree of maturity on your part.  Most likely at the root of your friend’s betrayal is the mentality of “I want what I want when I want it”.  This hurtful reasoning created much pain for you. Setting your pain aside and looking at ways in which you have done the same in principle to others is difficult and not automatic.  Yet, this is an important step toward managing the betrayal behavior of your frenemy.
  4. Forgive yourself for your hurtful behavior toward others.  It will pave the way toward forgiveness of your frenemy. To forgive yourself you must put yourself in the shoes of the one you offended.  Sitting with the reality of the hurt they felt because of your behavior is an important step for you to take in order to forgive yourself.  This circuitous path will lead you to being able to forgive others who have hurt you.
  5. Forgive your frenemy for the betrayal behavior.  Forgiveness is about doing the work of not holding the hurtful behavior against your frenemy who hurt you. Likely, it will not be a “one and done” experience.  You will need to let go of the need to blame and walk in the opposite direction.  You will need to practice sending positive energy to the one who hurt you.  You will need to rely upon your Higher Power to do this.  You will need to forgive regularly until the pain and sorrow reduces to a point of no longer dominating your experience of the offender.  This forgiveness is empowered by the work you have done when you forgave yourself for committing a like behavior in principle to another.  The act of forgiving your frenemy will come with the benefit of unlocking the emotional prison that the act of betrayal created for you.

Forgiving your frenemy does not mean you must continue a close relationship and be good friends.  It does mean that you can let go and not be dominated by the betrayal experience from someone who you thought would never hurt you in the way they did.

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