The realization that my friend had lied to me hit me like a punch to the gut.
As I pieced together the events of the past few months and the reality of her lies washed over me, I was dumbfounded.
We were so close.
We shared intimate details of our lives.
She listened to me as I complained about the stresses of my work life.
I listened to her as she detailed the unraveling of her marriage and the strains that marital stress had put on her family.
We traded texts often and had dinner together when we could. Over cocktails, we’d laugh and tease each other about our shortcomings. And we’d support each other through the tough times in our lives.
She looked me in the eye and told me she loved me as her friend.
She also looked me in the eye and lied straight to my face. A lie meant to hurt me.
And I still can’t believe it.
What drives a person to conjure up a fabricated story and relay it to a friend?
How could she look at me and not see the friend I had become to her, the one who would lift her up at a moment’s notice, the one who would go to bat for her when others said hurtful things about her character? I was the friend I assumed she was to me.
But, I guess as the old saying goes, when you assume, you make an “ass” out of you and me.
And I feel like an ass, that’s for sure.
Because I trusted her to be honest with me. I trusted her to level with me if she thought I was making a mistake in my life. And, I trusted her to never hurt me with a lie that was not only damaging to my career, but to my personal reputation.
Her lie spread like wildfire and, soon, I started to notice that others were treating me differently. Not overtly, just sudden small changes in behavior that left me to wonder what I’d done wrong.
I noticed that people were a little less friendly when they greeted me. Friends who used to include me in Girls’ Night Out gatherings were suddenly posting pictures of their adventures, without me smiling next to them.
I shrugged it off.
I have plenty of friends, I told myself. My life is busy and full — one missed girls’ night out doesn’t mean I’ve lost my social circle.
But, as the months wore on, I noticed people were being more distant. And it hurt, because I didn’t know what I’d done, who I’d hurt or what I’d said to make a large group of women start to turn on me.
It started with one small lie.
And then another.
And then a huge whopper.
All from the woman who sat next to me at my kitchen table while our kids played.
Lies from a person I trusted to hold the friendship I offered her safe in her heart. I was her safe place to land when her life was chaotic and stressful. I was always at the ready with a glass of wine, a hug or a Starbucks gift card.
She, on the other hand, was a liar.
It was that devastating realization that washed over me as I listened to another friend finally tell me what was being whispered about me online and at those girls’ night gatherings. The friend who detailed the lies being spread about me shifted in her seat and wouldn’t catch my gaze as she told me what I’d begged her to help me uncover.
Part of me wishes I had left well enough alone because the lies were outrageous.
It was too late, though.
My reputation had already taken a huge hit and there was little I could do but hold my head high and wait for the storm to blow over.
My real friends knew the truth.
But, were they my real friends? How could I tell anymore?
The friend who held me as I cried in her arms after the loss of my father was capable of telling terrible untruths about me.
My friendship radar was broken and I didn’t know who to trust. The friend who lies to you breaks your spirit. And your heart takes a permanent hit that never really heals.
Friends are supposed to love you and be your sounding board. They are supposed to hold you accountable when you get too big for your britches and they are supposed to be the ones clapping the loudest when you’ve achieved your goals. Because you’d do that for them.
Or you used to, before your former friend lied to you.
Once you’ve been lied to by a friend, your entire perspective changes.
You find yourself holding back a tiny piece of the friendship you have to offer because part of you is so wounded. Those wounds eventually fade into the tiny scars that keep your heart from openly trusting new friends.
Every friendship is held to a higher magnification on a microscope: will this friend spread lies about you too? Are the signs there? How can I really trust that this woman will hold my heart in her hands and keep it in a safe place?
The problem with being lied to is that you never know who will do it again.
Because liars are everywhere.
And it fucking sucks when it turns out a liar has been in your kitchen the entire time.