One of the inevitable side effects of divorce is the ensuing gossip. Yes, little old you become fodder and material for idle gossip. Whether they’re neighbors, teachers, friends, acquaintances or sports parents your name seems to be on the tip of their tongue.
The strange looks you get indicate not all is rosy on the gossip front. There will be rumors. Some with a kernel of truth and some so ridiculous you will laugh over a glass of wine. Luckily, we don’t have telepathic channels allowing us to mind read. It would be scary to know everything people are saying or thinking of us…no thanks.
The bottom line? You have to rise above it and realize that people will say what they want and your divorce is always a juicy topic, until the next couple hit the skids. Then they will be the subject of gossip… scandal is fleeting that way. One day you’re a hot topic, next you’re forgotten like yesterday’s news.
Beware of ‘friends’ who only call you up to ask 20 questions but when you want to get together ‘they’re busy’-these are who I refer to as gossip queens. Usually, they have never been divorced and are curious. A person who has gone through a divorce would likely have more respect for your privacy and a better understanding of what you need in a friend.
Gossip Queens have little genuine interest in you as a person, only in obtaining information. They also come in a male version.
Remember, share your divorce ‘feelings’ anger or strategies with only trusted friends.
Have a few rote responses ready for gossipers when you run into them at the supermarket. For example, if someone asks how your divorce is going ask them “How’s your marriage going?” that will shut them up. One of my facebook fans suggested saying ‘He has a small penis’. Obviously, we kid, laugh and joke…
In spite of all the gossip, there are some people who DO genuinely care about you. I remember running into an old neighbor after separation. She was genuine in her delight at seeing my face. She was very positive and even asked if I needed a lawyer. She indicated that she had a hunch I would need a ‘tough’ one. I knew based on this woman’s past behavior that she was a good person. I also knew in that moment she was trying to help and show her support. Those moments are gold. Those are the people and moments that make a difference.
The LYRICS to this song strike a chord with me…
‘…seems like even her old girlfriends might be talking her down
She’s got her name on the grapevine
Running up and down the telephone line
Someone said something about….someone else… someone might have said about her
She always figured they were her friends
But maybe they can live without her…’-James Taylor, Her Town
When I was working in a home décor store about a year after my separation a couple came in to shop for some new kitchen dishes. She was a lovely woman whom I had met during my marriage through mutual friends. Again, she always had a genuine vibe about her. She was very friendly and made no qualms about mentioning to me that the circle of friends my husband and I were a part of could talk about little else than me. Turns out, I was the latest hot topic. For someone to actually tell you directly, you know it’s bad. I just smiled and nodded. All I could muster was, “Well, they’re all really good people. I just had to make changes when I left my marriage. I have different priorities.” She said she understood that and wished they could as well.
Gossip within families can be a problem too. The problem with this situation is, if you’re not there to explain or defend yourself you have no way to challenge the inaccuracies. It feels like betrayal when it’s within your own family. A family member told me he had to call interference many times. He would simply tell them to change the subject, he was tired of hearing my name repeatedly with the same questions and stories. Of course, I’ve been on the inside of their gossip with other family members, so I know how it works and the damage it can do.
To counteract family gossip, keep in regular contact and if you hear disparaging comments address them immediately. Speak up rather than staying silent which can lead to people mistaking rumors for truth.
What to do for the next parent teacher meeting, soccer game, family reunion?
-avoid the gossip queen
-be choosy about who you confide in
-spend time with those who lift you up (or at least hold you up)
-speak up when you need to
-care LESS about what others think and MORE about what you think
Unfortunately, gossip is a side effect of divorce and you’re likely to be the subject. Realizing that it’s only temporary and soon they’ll be on to the next victims will help you keep it in perspective. Knowing when to speak up is important but also realizing that what people think of you isn’t nearly as important as what you think of yourself. Maintaining friendships with loyal people and your supporters will get you through the difficulties. Justifying your life is unnecessary if you don’t really ‘care what people think’.
What’s on your mind?
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