Runner's Trots & Rumors
Girl(friend): Guess who I saw at the bar last night! Jack. With a hot blonde. Not his wife and No ring on!
Guy(friend): Well he’s getting divorced; didn’t you see Jill’s Facebook post? Said its mutual and they’re still friends.
Girl(friend): Whatever. I bet he cheated. He’s such a douche.
Guy(friend): I don’t know, her Instagram’s been showin’ off a tall, dark and handsome lately. Plus, she just cut off all her hair and lost 20 lbs. My money’s on her.
Some chick I don’t know: Don’t they have, like, three kids? They could’ve just sucked it up for a few more years. Divorce is so selfish. I mean, people just need to get over themselves sometimes ya know? (as she adds 4 filters and koala ears to her “living my best life” selfie).
Alright, so usually when I catch myself caught in the current of a raging rumor like that one, I try to change the subject or make a joke in hopes the convo naturally dies out. But this time, I couldn’t move my mouth. Past practice has taught me the best thing I can do in those moments is Lock. It. Up.
The newly uncoupled were acquaintances, not people I knew well. And I knew for sure, these yappers didn’t know them at all. In that moment, I felt gross. Who the hell were we to talk about this marriage, their kids, that life? It was obvious I was irritated; poker faces have never been my thing. So, I bowed out and went home. Later that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about their situation. I knew their pain.
When you're going through a divorce, emotions are confusing (at best), abnormally overwhelming and knowing people are talking about it, just makes you want to dig a hole to die in. I was catapulted decade(s) past when folks were buzzing about my divorce. My memory-reel had no desire to shut-off and I went all the way back to high school!
All those snide remarks flooded in.
“Are you sure, I mean, did you even try to make it work?” (read that again, in your best pompous-valley-girl voice).
“You’re so brave, I wouldn’t be able to go through with it, knowing what people would think of me if I did.” (Helloooo, Backhand).
I must say, that was one of the lowest moments of my life. Just because I was the one who left, people assumed I was living the high life, or at the very least, okay. I was definitely not okay. That dark place is what I feel when I hear gossip about other people’s marriage issues. And, as you can tell, that particular kind of gossip doesn’t sit well.
I’ll also never forget the girl who called me a whore at my senior Homecoming Dance just as I stepped on the white “X” to take my picture in front of the entire arena. It came out of nowhere. I barely knew that chick, but I spent most of the night in the bathroom crying and talking through it with my soccer coach. Coach was great. He had been there for every stumble during those three previous years of chaos. I knew he was right, the girl had no idea what was going on. But, knowing this did nothing to ease the pain of her words, the whispering room, or that I felt so misunderstood and alone.
Let me set-up the backdrop for you. I was voted Homecoming Queen my senior year of high school. It was a shock, believe me. Because, that year I was the most isolated I had ever been. I didn’t socialize like I had years prior and I was suffocating in the grief of wanting to simply belong somewhere, anywhere.
What this girl “knew” was that a (cute) baseball player walked me down the field for the Game and then a different (cute) baseball player walked me through call-outs the following night at the Dance.
What that girl (and 90% of my peers) didn’t know was that one of those (cute) baseball players was my “foster” brother. I had been living with his family for the past two years because I had nowhere else to go. My mom passed away a few years before, my dad was at the pinnacle of his drinking career (which he's been retired from for 10 years now, can I getta Amen?!), and my stepmom and I simply could not live under the same roof any longer. My friend’s parents found out I had been sleeping in my car, showering at soccer practice and/or either of my two jobs, and they took me in. No questions asked and zero hesitation.
Homecoming Game Night, I had no one to walk me out onto the football field. My brother friend stepped in again, no hesitation.
The next night, I almost didn’t go to the Dance. I was devastated, embarrassed and well, pissed. I didn’t have a date, so I had no one to walk me out, again. My middle school-boyfriend-turned-best friend heard about the state I was in, showed up in a tux, and said “Get dressed. You are not going to let this ruin your night. Get that goofy smile on and don’t you dare let them see you cry.” That worked okay, until I was pummeled with the whore word.
No doubt, you have rumor war stories of your own. We’ve all been hit by these bombs at some point. I bet you’re thinking about something right now that someone said to or about you 5, 10, 20 years (or minutes) ago! You see, words are powerful and it is up to each one of us to use our words to build people up, not tear them down. We simply have no idea what other people are living through. I implore you to keep an open heart as you crusade through this story with me.
Nostalgically, I remember when gossip was only something I saw at the grocery store. Now it's everywhere I look, in (most) things I read, and (most) things I hear. And, it seems like somebody is always clappin’ back at somebody in gossip columns and Twitter troll rants. These same folks lay out dirty laundry for the whole world to see, like it’s cool to be a bully, burn someone, “show somebody,” or kick ‘em while they’re down.
While I support a (knowledgeable) argument or self-defense, surely there are healthier ways to express ourselves or take a stand than to engage in comment wars and salty one-up games. Let’s face it that is exhausting, a complete waste of time and energy, and (most likely) whatever “it” is we’re raging about isn’t even real.
All that being said, what I know to be true about gossip is this: (hurt) people, hurt people. This is a hard truth to see when you’re being attacked by rumor mongrels.
It’s even harder to admit when you are the rumor mongrel.
Which brings us to some of my favorite (knowledgeable) defenses to the relentless rage of rumor mongrels. Let’s get the trickiest one out of the way first.
No. 1: If you are the victim of a nasty little rumor and said rumor happens to be true, you need to figure out which friend(s) blasted you and say ADIOS.
Go ahead and forgive them, and do not hold onto it. I repeat – Let. It. Go. Move right along and find new friends or, at the very least, distance yourself from the toxicity they are imploding in. There are plenty of great people in this world, people you probably haven’t even met yet, who will value you and treat you with love and respect. Your real friends, the people who (genuinely) care for you, won’t tolerate gossip about you, around you, or to you, much less lay out your dirty laundry.
No. 2: What to do if you are the victim of a nasty little rumor and it is not true at all.
We all know the main reason people spread gossip is insecurity. Either they are a) intimidated by you and yapping makes them feel better about themselves; b) they are trying to look “cool” to impress someone or get-in with a certain clique (btw, cliques are so uncool nowadays); and/or c) they see you as competition and are trying to debase your value.
Little Tip Here: Be careful. Most likely, they unknowingly are doing this. Rumor mongrels typically have no idea that their yapping is a deeper issue than the orange tint of their towel tans, so (please) don’t go around blasting “how important you must be” if someone is talking about you. (Truly) self-aware people are few in numbers, so not everyone will get your point. It will (definitely) backfire and make you look like an immature idiot. And no one likes immaturity. Or idiots.
So, how do you deal? What's the key to winning a rumor war?
It's Simple: Wisdom.
Know what other people say about you, reflects them – not you.
Taking that a step further, know that these folks are in pain. The reasons for human suffering are infinite and there’s no real way of knowing someone’s why unless you choose to bring them in close. However, that might not always be wise or practical depending on their sanity or the situation, so just know their words abide in open wounds.
Know Your Reaction Reflects You. So, figure out what kind of person you want to be and then choose your words and actions accordingly.
Know you are not in competition with anyone. The only advancement to be made is to be better than you were yesterday.
No. 3. What to do if You are the rumor mongrel.
Admittedly, I’ve been one. So, I understand. You can fix it. Hopefully, you’ve learned (a little bit) about yourself, why you act a certain way or say malicious things, and why gossip is, well, just mean. But, if not, just know that there will come a time when you say the wrong thing to the wrong person and you, my friend, will be checked. I say all this with love and experience, just quit while you’re ahead.
No one, I mean, zero persons on this planet want to be friends with a runner-trotting-rumor mouth!
The Take-A-Way. I’ve been crushed by rumors a few times and, even worse, I’ve hurt others with my words probably more than I want to count. I’ve seen my family and friends attacked by rumor mongrels and I’ve had enough. The world hurts plenty without me adding to the pain. So, when I catch myself getting caught up in a raging rumor, I refer to my trusty ol’ Too Hot To Trot Checklist:
1. Is this conversation helpful?
2. Am I using The Golden Rule taking part in this convo?
3. Is the topic real or rumor? If real, see No. 1 again, for good measure.
If I can’t answer each question with a solid YES, or if at any moment I start feelin’ myself (a/k/a too hot to trot), my mind slyly winks at me with an ego-checking image of runner’s trots. I gag, then gracefully Exit Convo.
If you don’t know what runner’s trots are by now, stop what you’re doing and Google it. Believe Me, it is a real, so-embarrassing-you-can’t-help-but-cry kinda thing. You’ll need a healthy dose of gross for this strategy to work, so make sure you click Images.
Just say no to trot mouth my friends. Please, Thank You & You’re Welcome.