QUESTION

Hi,

I have a friend whom I've known since I was 17. I'm now 62. I've had some life threatening illnesses over the past ten years. We worked together at the same place. Anyway, I was having lots of trouble with my health at work and started to slow down. My friend knew this.

She went to our boss and told her I was not doing my share of the work and was sitting around too much. Yet she still appears to want to remain friends. She doesn't know that I know she went to our boss. Now I don't work there because I had to finally retire due to my illness.

She still comes around and acts like she's my friend. Sometimes I think of what she did and feel angry but I don't say anything. I wonder why she did that and whether she could really be my friend?

Signed, Margaret

ANSWER

Hi Margaret,

It’s tough to cope with a life-threatening illness. At times like this, we expect our friends to rally behind us. It must have felt devastating for you to find out that your friend went behind your back and complained about your productivity, whether or not your work was suffering.

She did have the option of letting you know that her work was being affected by yours---so you could figure out a solution to address the problem together (which might have included you speaking to your boss).

After a betrayal like this, do YOU still want to remain friends? Can you trust this friend anymore? If you do want to maintain this friendship and let go of your anger, you will need to speak to her about what happened. Depending on her response, you may decide to forgive her or that her actions were unforgivable.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

About the Author

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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