Healthy Boundary For My Own Good, or Fear-Based Victim Thoughts?

Something happened last week that has left me very curious. Here’s a factual description of what happened: a friend I’ve had for four years wrote a letter to me that was 3 pages long and posted it through my letterbox. In the letter, she said among other things ‘You’ve betrayed me’. She said that I had done two things which in her view constituted a betrayal. She went into great detail about how, in her opinion, only a terrible person and terrible friend would do these two terrible things. The letter was full of anger, viciousness, scorn about my whole personality – lots of references to ‘I probably should have known what kind of person you really were when you did X, Y and Z – those should have been red flags’ (All of these red flags were totally harmless things that she had joined in with and laughed about at the time; clearly, through the lens of her new anger, they looked different to her now.)

I immediately flew into a panic (heart racing to the point where I could hardly breathe). I couldn’t think straight, could hardly speak or make sense of anything. However, I was also relieved to see that the two things she was accusing me of were completely untrue. I had not done either of them. I was as innocent of these two offences as I was (am) of shooting JFK. Hooray! In the case of one, she had assumed I’d done it because she could think of no other explanation. In the case of the other, a mutual acquaintance had lied and said I had done something that I had not done.

I wrote back a very straightforward meessage saying, ‘I’ve read the letter. I have done neither of the two things you mention, and therefore, in my opinion I have not betrayed our friendship at all.’ I explained a bit more in a way that I knew would make it absolutely clear to her that I was telling the truth. She then responded and said, ‘So sorry I jumped to that false conclusion and so sorry that I believed the lies X told about you. I can see that you haven’t betrayed our friendship and I hope that we can move past this.’

Here’s the thing: a few weeks before the letter arrived, this friend had talked to me about X and said ‘She’s a liar and a manipulator, she’s unhinged, there’s something wrong with her.’ So, although my friend has apologised for her accusations in the letter, here’s the beginning of my current model:

C – my friend’s letter and her subsequent apology
T – she believed terrible things about me (though I’ve been a loyal friend for some years) based on the story of a woman *she herself* believes is a massive liar and manipulator.


C – my friend’s letter and her subsequent apology
T – I would never, *ever* write a letter in which I accused a friend of treachery in that way – not without first thinking, ‘She wouldn’t do that – she’s always been a great friend’ and then *asking* – ‘Hey, I heard this, but I can’t believe you’d do/say that – it’s not true, is it?’


C – my friend’s letter and her subsequent apology
T – she knows all about my childhood and that I’ve had some trauma issues in the past relating to my dad’s tendency to suddenly and unpredictably lash out and accuse and attack me verbally in a very condemnatory way if I said or did anything that he considered ‘wrong’. She literally knows I have a real fear of sudden, unprovoked attack.

Of course, she thought her letter was justified when she wrote and posted it, because she 100% believed in her two accusations when she made them. Now, I know she’s in a very tense and emotional state at the moment, so I can completely understand exactly how all this happened. I think she’s, in general, a really kind and good person. I think she’d probably be a fantastic friend to most people! And also…my current model is:

C – my friend’s behaviour around this letter and subsequently
T – I understand her and wish her all the best, but as someone who would never, in any circumstance, write such a letter to a friend, I don’t want to be friends with someone who *would* behave like that.
F – confused (because: is this an okay want to have, or am I dressing up a not-ideal inability to forgive in a disguise of ‘I’m just choosing what I want’?
A – spend a lot of time thinking, wondering, not knowing what to do or what to think for the best
R – in my heart, she is no longer my friend and I don’t want her to be. I want her to be fine and well and happy but not part of my life at all (but am I cutting off my nose to spite my face??)

If she had believed some horrible accusations about me from, I don’t know, Barack Obama or someone she admired and trusted, then I’d find her letter *much* easier to get past. But the fact that the horrible accusations came from a woman who she herself thinks is dishonest and unhinged, and the fact that her knowledge of me as a friend did not carry more weight, feels at the moment like a strong enough reason for me to think, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with her ever again.’ The truth is, I am now scared of her. I know that she’s someone who in certain circs will unreasonably attack, and I am scared of that kind of person. My dad was one.
Yet I feel trapped between two models, as follows:

C – Her behaviour around this letter and subsequently
T – Though I wish everyone well and understand that everyone’s always doing their very best, I nevertheless choose, for my own highest good, not to associate with or be friends with people who are capable of writing a letter like the one she wrote to me without first asking, ‘Is this thing that I’ve heard true?’
F option 1 – Proud (I’m looking after myself and being brave enough to choose to end a friendship and risk being perceived as being unable to move on. Well done me.)
F option 2 – Worried (A friend said sorry and I didn’t forgive her and chose to end the friendship instead. I’m afraid this makes me a mean and unforgiving person.)
A – End the friendship – either write and explain or just do that drifting off thing that makes it clear the friendship is on the way out from my point of view
R – I’m no longer her friend and I get to have only friends who would never viciously attack me – yay!


C – Her behaviour around this letter and subsequently
T – Friends should understand that humans sometimes really mess up and they should forgive that
F – Compassion
A – Do thoughtwork to deal with my current desire to choose the previous model over this one! Keep seeing her. Focus my attention on all the great things about her and work at making the letter mean only that she was in a very dramatic state with lots of bad stuff going on when she wrote it. Think on purpose all the thoughts that would make me feel friendly towards her and not scared of her.
R – We’re still friends.

The problem is: both of these models/approaches *can work brilliantly* using the model and thoughtwork. So is it just a question of what I’d rather choose? That’s fine – but what I really want is to check that my instinctive choice is one that’s for my highest good and not just my anger/hurt running the show!

Please help! Thank you!