It is also important to note that, while this article is light-hearted in nature, it in no way seeks to diminish the devastating effects of clinically defined PTSD. I realize that it is a far stretch to compare diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to a broken platonic relationship. However, in an honest attempt to illustrate the deep wounds and lasting pain broken friendships can cause, the two terms were used interchangeably. If you, or someone you love, suffers from PTSD, contact your local installation readiness group, as there are many resources and tools to help build resiliency, find balance, and gain support.
We all have “that one” friendship. You know, the one where it is difficult to mention the other person by name without getting a shiver down your spine. Things went south and there was no hope of recovery.
Now, you find yourself avoiding others and promising yourself that “It will NEVER happen again.” Never again will you let yourself be vulnerable or compromised emotionally. Not today.
That was the case for me.
A few years back, I met another military spouse through a mutual friend. We enjoyed each other’s company, had a few laughs, and spent many a day frolicking through the aisles at Target (with a hot coffee in hand). Soon after, we began to share our dreams, our hopes, and our struggles. I opened up about my fears, and so did she. We connected.
As the friendship developed, things got deep. We were spending a significant amount of time together and we just knew that this friendship would stand the test of time. Looking back, I can see where things began to unravel. But, during our time together, these “red flags” seemed small and insignificant. I can’t deny that some of the flags were my own shortcomings and misgivings, but they were flags nonetheless.
Things eventually came boiling to a head. Boundaries were crossed, harsh words were lobbed like grenades, and the friendship imploded. Rumors began flying. The shrapnel of lies and slander cut through me. Grasping for control and balance seemed like an impossibility. I became anxious, as close friends chose sides, and the effects rippled through our community, almost as a boulder tossed into a lake.
The pain was excruciating. How could someone so close to me be so determined to destroy my character? Was our argument so cataclysmic that the fallout should be so devastating?
I responded with a total shut-down. No more vulnerability for me. It was unsafe. New people that entered into my space would be met with limited kindness and would stay outside of an “arm’s reach.” There would be no more sharing and no more deep connection. It certainly wasn’t worth the trouble.
This went on for the better part of a year, where I scrutinized people’s motives and analyzed their actions. I was irritable, hyper vigilant about what I shared with others, and distant. Certain nuances about a person would cause me to be triggered. I would constantly ask myself “Would this person be capable of doing the same thing to me?”