I have had many things said about me, usually behind my back, and often untrue. It amuses me when people don’t think that gossip will get back to you; that you don’t instinctively know that it is happening. A big indication is when these individuals try to regale you with how much they despise a friend of yours, then talk about the machinations of their lives and what is going on with them. It is a good idea to do a stocktake. ‘If they are saying this stuff about other people, there is a high probability it’s being said behind my back as well.’ It can occur within families and amongst friends.
The most searing time for me was when I came back to my community after months in hospital, when my spine was broken at fifteen. I had been abducted and thrown from a building. The story was told and retold-as in a Chinese whisper- until it was spun that I had run off with my drug-addicted boyfriend! I entered a local café, my walking frame and metal body brace making my appearance obvious. A group of ladies from the church I attended as a child ceased their chatter upon seeing me. They then ignored me, and continued to talk in whispered tones. The children I had played with were encouraged not to speak with me, and adults lowered their eyes toward the pavement. The families I had dined with, and the friends who had been at my parties all scattered. I had no support and certainly nobody concerned with hearing the truth about my life.
As awful as it was, it certainly made me stronger. I have searched for those with minds more concerned with having real discussions than with the goings-on of somebody’s life. If you want to know something, ask the individual concerned! I once lived in a small town, and my story was rehashed so many times, it didn’t remotely resemble my life after the hundredth retelling! I laughed at the time and said that if you want to ensure good quality rumours are circulated, you have to put them out there yourself. Just discreetly put a tasty morsel of salacious gossip into a conversation with a known big-mouth. It is a horrid feeling, knowing that others are spreading rumours about you. It can ruin reputations and careers. I question the integrity of a person who would do so, rather than what they are saying about another. I certainly question their motivation. I either ignore or walk away from anyone up to these tricks. I don’t have time for it, for a start. This life is too damned short and far too precious. It still burns, hearing that people don’t think well of you. It hurts that despite the best of intentions, you haven’t made a good impression. Perhaps, the problem isn’t you.
Constructive criticism born of love is far different to malicious gossip. I would question the person who gleefully informs you of what’s being said. When gossip reaches my ears, it is snuffed out and never thought of, nor discussed again. Why introduce hurt into someone’s life that wasn’t there before you spoke? Maya Angelou, the late African American poet, suffered a great trauma as a little girl. As a result, she didn’t speak for several years. Rather, she listened. She was of the belief that one day we will be able to measure the energy that emanates from words. Whether they be kind or cruel. Use words that heal, not harm, and avoid anyone who is nasty behind someone’s back. Odds are that they doing the same to you.
Feature image from the film Malena starring Monica Belucci