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When family throws you under the bus

Though I never thought it would happen, here’s what I’ve learned from it.

I’m not going into specifics, but in a nutshell, I have a few family members who have been working some kind of strange smear campaign behind my back, something I’ve only become aware of this week. It feels so surreal because not only is most of it false—no one has ever called to confirm anything with me, let alone to check in or see if I need help on the area they’re condemning me for (I know this is vague and confusing; bear with me!)—but I’m also so anti anything like this—gossip, “drama” for lack of a better word, and simple lack of courtesy—that it doesn’t feel like it could possibly be happening to me. But it is.

I recently saw a quote that read, “A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her” (Unknown). That is exactly how I’m looking at this, and I wanted to share with you the few lessons I’ve learned this week alone. (Who knows what else I’ll gain from this experience?)

No one is immune. It doesn’t matter with what character you’ve built, what you’ve done, what your intentions are—someone out there is going to hate your guts. You can’t stop it; it cannot be helped. So don’t live your life trying to please anyone, as it’s pointless and will. Not. Work. Every good deed, every daily maintenance moment that I’ve put into what’s being said about me (it’s not my child, as I’m sure some are thinking, but another care taking experience) has gone completely unnoticed and unthanked while every moment of weakness is exploited, expanded beyond what it really is, or even not completely understood.

Don’t make assumptions. I don’t know about you, but when I hear something about someone I don’t automatically start assuming things (or, at least, I try not to), and if it concerns me I will contact them directly rather than gossip and spread rumors or even lies behind them. I just figured that’s what adults do. But many, many people keep that grade school mentality throughout their lives, so you have to be prepared; the scenery may have changed, but some people will never grow up. It’s funny that I’ve seen the same people who claim to follow The Four Agreements making assumption after assumption about my family and me, and I want to quote The Princess Bride—“You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Keep communication lines open. I’m a very busy woman. I work, I’m building my career (my first novel will be published this fall and I’m trying to finish my next one), I homeschool my six-year-old and care for other people and pets as well, I run a co-op, I volunteer… So I don’t really have time to call everyone under the moon and explain myself every day when someone else is telling half-truths or falsehoods (not founded on spite, mind you, but for simple lack of understanding and perspective), nor should I have to. But in this case, I wish that I had taken the time years ago and started some kind of ritual like that. It would have been time consuming and, again, not something I should have to do, but at least it would have prevented this.