Apr 132005
Authors: Kelly Hagenah

Friends. They are an incredible asset to life; that is, until one goes bad. Sometimes, even the greatest of friendships turn sour. Sometimes, people are just not who you thought they were. Sometimes, no matter what you do, a friendship is anything but. Sometimes, friends are actually willing and able to hurt you, consciously or subconsciously, with or without a reason. And sometimes friendships just go bad.

I want to discuss the fact that these friendships happen to the best of us; they happen sporadically and uncontrollably. They may happen once, twice, thrice – and sometimes in the aftermath of their occurrence, we find out something that could have changed the outcome. However, no matter what the situation, foe-friendships or friendships-gone-wrong do happen, but they do happen for a reason. These relationships allow us to learn the true value of real friendship. They do for us what no genuine friend ever could – they make us realize that sometimes, no matter how much you may love, trust, respect or care about a person, things change and there is nothing you can do to change that.

The main thing to remember about these foe-friendships is that we have to teach ourselves the lesson that is to be derived from it. However, the first thing we need to learn, is that it takes time – a lot of time, a lot of hurt, pain, doubt, regret, questioning and forgiveness. It takes a long while to be able to look back on something and learn whole-heartedly from it.

We've all been there. Whether it was in the fourth grade when our best friend began to ignore us in favor of the new kid in town, or in high school, when the friend we confided in told everyone our secret. Or maybe it was just last week. Maybe it finally occurred to you only a few days ago that the reason her disregard hurts so much is not because you thought she was your friend, but because you finally have realized that she no longer is. That is the biggest challenge within these relationships. The heart-wrenching challenge we have to face – learning and accepting the fact that our once-cherished friendship is actually over.

However, once we have acknowledged that this lesson-learning opportunity is up to us, and once we have reassured ourselves over and over again that it just takes time, there is a positive at the end of the list of negatives. Once we have accepted the fact that our trust and definition of friendship has been messed with, once we find ourselves ready to say goodbye – we are rewarded with the lesson.

So then, what is that lesson exactly? The crazy thing is that the lessons resulting from these friendships-gone-wrong are ones that will consistently change throughout our lives. On some days they may mean the world to us, and we will forever be thankful that our heart was broken that time because we learned our lesson. Other days, they won't mean a thing.

All you will be able to remember is that she was capable of doing things you never thought she could be. And then there are the days when you will look back, and you will come up with a thought you never had considered before, and it will amaze you.

I recently had to acknowledge the fact that a friendship I had truly cared about was over. I will tell you one thing for sure – it sucks, and I hope none of you are ever given this kind of challenging relationship. However, on the other hand, I have to smile at the situation. For what it's worth, this friend gave me that push to know I don't always have to want things to be OK. Her dismissive nature made me realize that I have so many other great friends who offer so much more. Her friendship, or lack thereof, may not be missed – but it will forever be remembered. And while I would never wish anyone any pain, I do hope that you all one day accept the challenge of recognizing the good in a friendship-gone-wrong.

Kelly Hagenah is a senior speech communications major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian.

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