To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Like some breaths come easier than others, some words are written easier than others. Bear with me, as these are the words difficult to express.
Enduring the betrayal of false friends is one of the most difficult experiences we as the human species come across during our lifetimes. In poetry and music, heartbreak from the loss of a lover or significant other is commonly talked about. Much less discussed is the heartbreak that comes from losing a friend.
It hurts in a different part of our heart. It isn't the soul-shattering, exploding pain that comes from breaking up with someone we passionately loved. It's a slow ache that builds over a long time, ebbing and flowing. But it hurts all the same. Friendship is an investment in a way. You put time and effort into a person that accumulates in many different means. We all invest different things: money, possessions, care, words. But the most important thing we invest is our time. We spend long nights with our friends on the phone after their breakups. We slave for hours creating and finding the perfect Christmas or birthday present. We are there for them when they are at their lowest and highest. We do this first and foremost because we love them, and we love the time we spend with them and for them, the good and the bad. For we've chosen them, all of them, both the virtues and the flaws. But we also invest in a friend, because deep down we want them to be there for us when it is our turn to struggle through a breakup or difficult time. We need people we can count on to love us and care for us when we need them the most. While we like to deny it, we all require companionship. We'd go crazy without each other.
That's why it hurts all the more when those we have counted on and invested in are not there for us. It's a punch in the gut on top of the wounds we are already experiencing. It makes you question yourself for trusting someone who turned out to only hurt you in the end, and it darkens the happy times you spent together because looking back, you recognize it all to be a lie. It's a betrayal of the deepest kind, and most of us never forget it. The pain stays with you and affects your ability to trust and believe in the future friends that ultimately always come along.
This is why I believe Emerson considers it such a crucial part of success: to endure the betrayal of false friends. It is only when we have experienced pain of this kind and yet go forward through life with laughter on our lips that we truly have lived. While losing friends hurts like nothing else, it is also a learning experience and allows us to choose better friends in the future. The worst experiences I have had in losing friends have allowed me to find the friends later I know will have for a long time. When you make a dramatic mistake once, you never make the same one again.
So to those experiencing or who have experienced the betrayal of false friends, know it is a part of life and a part of the road to reaching success and joy. Thank the ones who have hurt your heart in this way. You would never have become the greater person you are today or found your true friends without them.