‘My friend spread gossip about me in our small town’

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When we arrived his mother took me aside. I told her what was upsetting me without going into much detail. What if she believed the gossip too?

“I didn’t want to say,” she started, “but that lady and her friends came and talked to me about a month ago. Don’t worry, I didn’t believe a word of it. None of it made sense or added up anyway.”

I hardly knew what to say. A whole group? Did they have nothing better to do? 

My mother-in-law held my arm. “Don’t worry about it. They’ll go onto the next thing soon and you’ll be old news.”

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I’ve lived in small towns long enough to know it’s true. It was why I hadn’t bothered defending myself the first time I’d heard the rumours. 

“It’s just embarrassing sometimes,” I said, thinking about the odd look a woman had given me at the supermarket. 

“People who know me recognise it as gossip, it’s the other ones…” 

I’d met one of the “other ones” a few weeks earlier at a kid’s party. I sat next to a woman I vaguely recognised and introduced myself. After half an hour of good conversation she turned around in her chair to face me straight on. 

“You know, you’re not a b*tch at all!” she said. 

I laughed. “Thanks?” 

“I was told some things about you but you’re nothing like that! Man, what is their problem?”

She didn’t say who or what and I didn’t care to ask. “I try not to buy into it,” I said. “They don’t say it to my face so there’s nothing I can do about it.”     

“Well, I’m really glad I got to know the real you!”   

As predicted, the gossip died down quickly again. It’s been a few months now since the last incident and I’ve had time to reflect. 

I’d never been on the receiving end of gossip before. All my life it’s been important everyone liked me and, most of the time, they have. It hurt when I found out people thought I was a b*tch, but it also made me realise how little it mattered. 

The opinions of the people closest to us, the people who love us and support us through good and bad, they’re the only opinions worth counting. It’s pointless and exhausting trying to make everyone like you. 

When I go to the supermarket now, I hold my head up and look people in the eye. I don’t worry about who likes me and who doesn’t. I get on with my life. Because it’s mine to live however I chose. The gossipers can stay out of it.  

Kelly Eden is a writer and writing coach living in New Zealand. Ready to tell your own story? Get free weekly writing tips.

Feature Image: Getty.

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