Last week I caught the tail end of a rumour. It wasn’t a nice one, in fact, it was the type that can destroy lives. As I listened to what may be just a rumour, or may not be, it awakened a memory, not really buried in my mind and I started to think about rumours and gossip and the reactions to them. There’s always the typical reactions, they are always more or less the same, so I sat back and watched them unfold.
The Band Wagoner’s are typically terribly bored and possibly ‘slightly’ unhappy. They usually sport a functional anorak, have frizzy hair, perhaps a slightly deeper than normal voice. They are always utterly private themselves but thrilled to be part of another person’s drama. They may be peri-menopausal or menopausal but would never admit it. They are the first to cast a stone or give you unwanted legal advice. ‘Listen if you need someone to give you advice my cousin’s wife’s sister’s mother is a real big noise, she’d be delighted to give you free legal advice.’ NO, SHE WOULDN’T.
The Head Downer’s know everything and have heard all the stories but pretend they know nothing. Known to hide behind a bush, wear sunglasses, a baseball cap, and a hoody, and pretend they are on an important business call to the New York office, (eh, isn’t your main office in Fermoy, Esther?) when they see you coming. ‘Listen, Mary, I’m too busy to listen to gossip, I have a HUGE job, tell me everything you know.’
The Impartial’s are NOT GETTING INVOLVED. They are calm, collected and totally non-judgmental. Let’s call a spade a spade – The Impartial is always stuck in the middle. They don’t want to make life awkward for themselves. ‘I’m not going to choose sides, Frank, it’s nothing to do with me at all. I’ll just carry on as normal.’ Well sorry, Marjorie but you are involved and by not choosing, you’ve chosen. Choose a path. Sometimes you must choose yourself, but decide, Marjorie, just decide, for Christ’s sake.
The Gossip Seekers – NEED to know everything, but can’t find anyone to tell them anything. Lurk around corners trying to earwig, finally are forced to invite you over for dinner to glean all the information and once they have it, they drop you like a hot snot and you never hear from them again. ‘There’s no smoke without fire, Francine.’ But sometimes there can be a fire without smoke.
The Knee Jerkers instantly remove you from all WhatsApp groups, perhaps air their thoughts on a public forum, start a petition, and tell anyone they can. Usually, holier than thou, have a few skeletons in their own closets waiting to jump out. ‘I’ll avert attention from myself. I’m doing the right thing, Ann.’ They use the word DISGRACEFUL, more often than the word ‘And’.
The Scaffoldings are often those that you least expect. They are the pillars of support, the ones that hold you up; the angels. There’s never as many of them as you thought but they are the ones who will help you ‘hide the body’. The ones that will stick their neck out for. The ones that make you realise it is quality over quantity every time.
Have you ever been the subject or the accessory to a rumour, an idle piece of gossip? Perhaps you don’t even know you have? But until you have, let me tell you, you’ll never be as quick to judge again.
There is nothing that can set you free quicker than honesty. Not with others, no one likes that person who tells you all the things you don’t want to hear. ‘I’m just being honest; would you prefer if I lied to you?’ YES!
No, those people are assholes. But the honesty I refer to is the type that is often the hardest to face; honesty with yourself – admitting the things that you might find difficult to utter aloud, accepting your shortcomings, laying it bare, being truthful.
Here is mine.
For some time, last year, I wasn’t ok.
The year started like any other – starving, broke, booze-free, cutting down on coffee, jumping on and off the scales five times a day to see if your stance made any difference to the extra festive pounds. January turned to February, February turned to March, March turned to shit, and then everything changed.
I’m not sure how to explain it, without explaining it, but there was what we’ll call an incident, an occurrence, a situation, a glitch, a disagreement, a difference of perceptions, and after it, everything was different. I can’t say what it was, or who it was, well, I could, but I won’t. I won’t because this is not about what happened that day or about anyone else, but about what happened afterward, to me.
Looking back, perhaps I could have handled it differently, maybe I should have, and maybe I shouldn’t. But I found myself very alone and sinking. After ‘it’, I encountered a version or twenty of some of the stereotypes above and I crumbled.
Everyone always tells me I am strong, that things bounce off me, but this time they stuck, and I couldn’t understand it. It terrified me. Deep down I knew the truth, but I was scared, threatened, doubting my usual good judgment. I was angry. I was hurt. So, I reached out to a few people. After all, it’s ok, to not be ok. Isn’t it?
No. It turns out, it’s only ok not to be ok with certain people and with others, it is NOT ok to NOT be ok. I remember telling someone how I was feeling in a text and they answered. ‘Hope you feel better soon.’ End of story. B’Bye. See you never, except maybe an awkward wave, or dipping low behind the frozen section in Super Valu.
I diminished my circle. I spent time with my family, my husband. I let those who wanted to help me heal, help me heal, and those that didn’t, I watched slowly slip away, and I let them. Let’s face it, you’re never too busy to be a friend or to be there for someone, are you?
And then, I started to write my book.
At the same time, I started in a new gym.
I got up. I got dressed. I went to the gym. I wrote. I hugged my kids. I went to the gym. I wrote. I went to the gym. I wrote. I wrote. I wrote.
For someone who claims to be so perceptive, I didn’t even realise what was happening while it was happening. And here it comes, my word of the year…I was evolving. It was only when I started to feel better that I realised how much I had been hurting and how much I had changed.
I’m a naturally bubbly person, I always have been. I remember someone once saying to me, ‘no one is that happy all the time,’ as if my joviality offended them. But I actually was that happy, until I wasn’t. And look, I don’t have a perfect life. I wasn’t happy because I had loads of money or big holidays or 12% body fat. I was just happy because I was happy and I suppose that can be irritatiing.
I’ve been told many things over the years, that’s the problem with being an open book, sometimes others think they have Carte Blanche to tell you their observations. That’s ok. I could be honest with them back.
‘That top is shite on you, Mary. Pure shite.’
‘You’ve a grand big arse on you, Esther. HUGE.’
‘Yes, you are a dick head, Marjorie. An out and out dick head.’
‘Oh, fuck off Dymphna, everyone knows you don’t answer every bloody message on the Whatsapp group. Zip it now.’
But why hurt someone by telling them their truth – that’s for them to discover themselves.
And that’s the truth.
Maybe you are reading this thinking this is my way of lashing out, of making a point. It’s not. I’m not writing this to annoy anyone, to point the finger of blame, to give a sly dig or to sell books. (Ok, maybe the book bit.)
I’m writing it because I find truth in writing.
When I reached ‘the end,’ of my journey, I tattooed the words on my arm, as a reminder that this time in my life happened, that I didn’t run from it or hide, I faced it – my way. Someone once aggressively shouted at me, in a hair swishing, highly dramatised manner, ‘the truth will out.’ Never a truer word was spoken. I believe it too. The truth will always out.
But who cares? We all know there are three sides to every story. We all know never to let the truth stand in the way of a good story and we all know that sometimes it doesn’t matter what the truth is; the damage is already done. But I found MY truth and that’s all that matters. I harnessed the hurt, I let it rip me apart and then I sewed myself back together, into a better version, (wish I’d taken a few inches off, while I was at it), maybe a little different, nowadays I keep my bounciness for those who deserve it, for those that love it. You must earn my bounciness.
The truth is, I wasn’t ok. But I am now. The truth is, there are amazing people who will guide you for no other reason than being good. There are people who came into my life in the last year, who made me giddy again, who made me – me again. The truth is, is that there are some people who are just not worth it.
Find your truth. Listen to it. It’s hard to face it. It will sting more than the birthing canal. Stare in the mirror and admit what you don’t want to. Or don’t. Whatever floats your boat. My truth helped me write a book, a lifelong ambition. My truth helped me reach the end of a horrible time and open the door to the next phase.
Every hard time will reach the end…and it will ALL have been worth it.
The truth is, IT IS OK, NOT TO BE OK. Because you will be ok again. You might even be better than ok. You might be absolutely Frickin’ Fabulous.
My book is called Evolve. Out real soon.