I became depressed when my friend who was a reference on my CV lied about me to potential employers

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An illustration. Photo by Getty Images
An illustration. Photo by Getty Images
  • In romantic relationships, we usually know how to navigate breakups because we have found references in society, songs, or movies.
  • However, most friendships end without an exchange of words, and there's no room to address the friendship breakup to ensure closure.
  • As Patricia (32) found out, the end of a friendship can be depressing, yet we don't treat this kind of heartbreak with the same type of compassion as we do when it comes to romance. This is Patricia's story.

I met my best friend, Zama*, at a mutual friend's wedding and we clicked instantly. It felt like love at first sight, to be honest.

Zama and I exchanged numbers on the day of the wedding and after that we started hanging out, going out for lunches and dinners together.

We were pretty inseparable. She became the sister I had always yearned for. She was there for me when my grandmother passed away and I was there for her when she was going through her divorce. We even had keys to each other's homes. 

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At the time, I was in the final year of my marketing and advertising studies and she was a senior marketing manager at an advertising agency. After completing my studies, I secured an internship at a media company for a year, and after my internship ended, Zama helped me get a job at the company she worked at.

I was excited to work at the same company as my best friend and to learn from her too. After a few years, I was promoted to marketing coordinator, and Zama became my direct line manager. We loved working together and Zama used to motivate me very much.

I excelled at my job but after two years, I started to feel like I was not growing in the company and I thought it was time to seek new job opportunities elsewhere.

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I started applying for marketing manager roles at different companies and when I told Zama about my decision, she was supportive and even said I could add her as one of the references on my CV.

As I was attending the job interviews, I noticed a cycle - the interviews and assessments always went well, but I would never get the job.

I then decided to call a few of the companies to enquire about my applications. I got the shock of my life when I found out that my reference (Zama) had told prospective employers negative and false information about me. This reference was my very own best friend! Someone I considered to be a sister.  

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In my state of shock, I decided to confront Zama. I thought she would deny it, but she didn't. Her reason was that she felt like I was unappreciative because she helped me get a job after my internship. She wasn't even apologetic. 

After our confrontation, I wrote her a long emotional email about how hurt I was. She responded with an equally lengthy email in which she eventually apologised. I just knew that we couldn't get past such a betrayal and out friendship ended.

It was difficult to go through life without her and our encounters at the office were awkward. The friendship breakup had a negative impact on my life in so many ways that I was even diagnosed with depression.

Therapy sessions helped to talk about it and, in my journey of healing, I was recruited for a senior marketing manager position. I guess there is some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. 

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Friendship breakups are difficult to manoeuvre. When you are in a romantic relationship, there's some sort of manual for breakups. As a society, we don't talk about how painful friendship breakups are and how difficult it is to get over them.

I had to learn to grieve the friendship, the same way I would after a romantic relationship. But, instead of looking at the lost company as a negative thing in my life, I treated it as a learning experience.

And the experience has ultimately made me stronger.

I will always love Zama, but our friendship lasted just for a season.

* Not her real name.

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