Dear Miss Osage ~
I have a friend who took my name off a project we did together. When I asked her about it, she said it wasn’t her. But she has been avoiding me ever since. I think she’s lying. What can I do?
Frustrated, age 12
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Yup, this is hard. Thanks for asking…
All relationships are built on trust – pure and simple. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a foundation and your interactions become something like a scripted act in a play. They are not real. Naturally, this is frustrating. Satisfying relationships are the opposite – they ring of truth that you can feel in your heart and your body. You know when you are truly connecting.
So, what are your options? You can try talking to her again privately and tell her you need to know what happened. If she continues to dodge and claim she had no part (and you are confident she was the only one motivated to do it), you can be clear in saying you don’t believe her story. You can express feelings of frustration and sadness. You can leave the door open for honest communication down the line.
Then, you mostly have to let it go.
Aside from pursuing sleuth work (looking into things from a research/spy angle), you have to trust your gut. Asking around and talking to others may only create a larger rift than already exists. I would encourage you to keep this between your friend and yourself. Definitely, ask a teacher for support if you believe it would help bring clarity to the situation.
But it sounds like you are now faced with deciding what to do with a ‘friend’ who refuses to honestly disclose to you an action s/he likely feels ashamed of. The choice you can make is to look at the situation through the eyes of compassion. Perhaps s/he was feeling bad about her/his contribution and needing to somehow reclaim a sense of worth. This insight does not justify or excuse a dishonest act. It allows you to consider the person making the bad choice is likely in some kind of pain.
It is often said that people who are hurting hurt others. Or, hurt people hurt people. Again, not an excuse, but an insight. If you see the pain in the person (after defending yourself and your own honor), it helps you in more easily letting it go.
I am a strong believer in honesty, and sometimes joke that, “lying makes you lose your magic powers”. This can ultimately be true. Consider all the energy your friend is putting into being scared of facing her/his choice. Avoiding someone also causes strain, emotionally and physically, as someone hides to cover up what they have done. Eventually, this person is so on edge about this, and concealing to preserve their lie, that they cannot access their own personal power. They are too busy dealing with the subtle, and not-so-subtle, consequences of deceiving in the first place.
If you insist on honesty – and then take some space when honesty is not possible – you essentially maintain your own magic power.
Can you still be friends with someone who you sense and believe has lied to you? That is for you to decide. Does your connection go back many years? Can you imagine being close again on the other side of this? What do you most value in your friendships? Does that exist in this relationship?
Consider the foundation, and what can be built on the ground you currently have with each other. When you give someone your time, attention and emotional energy, you are making an investment. . . Do you want to invest here?
Hopefully, a path soon becomes clear, even as you are frustrated now. Continue to trust your gut and only engage in connections you can trust. If rebuilding trust is possible here, you will know over time. If you find trust cannot be restored, you may consider investing your valuable ‘friend energy’ where the foundation is more reliable.
Hold tight to your honesty, and your magic powers, and choose for health.
Best of luck ~