My heart was broken again last week. I opened myself up to a new friendship and I’ve learned that this new friend has been criticizing me behind my back. I’m on a quest for more honest connections with other people so this is particularly painful for me. I immediately went to a place where I want to swear off people forever. I want to take back my heart, and hide it from anyone and everyone to keep it safe.
I kept thinking,
Then I realized it’s a lot like a cancer diagnosis. Instead of “Why me?” The question really is
Why not me?
What makes me so special that nobody would be tempted to talk about me behind my back? I am the first to admit that I am not perfect.
Which brings up the real tragedy. The fact is that I do EXACTLY the same thing. I admit I openly criticize others behind their backs as well. Gossip is so engrained in our culture that I think a lot of us do it without thinking about it. I usually tell myself that it’s OK because most of what I say behind anyone’s back I have said to them personally. I think that I’m being honorable because the person in question must know how I feel. But really, it’s never OK. I learned from my parents early on that you should never say anything about anyone that you wouldn’t say to their face.
I am reminded of the importance of that discipline right now. If I am to expect my friends to honor some kind of friendship code then I need to step up and follow the same code.
I spent a lot of time this weekend in cardio-therapy. I’ve been able to pick my heart back up off of the floor and realize that first and foremost I need to become the kind of friend that I expect others to be.
Maya Angelou has spoken often of the power of words. She said the following to Oprah:
I’m convinced that the negative has power- and if you allow it to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over. Those negative words climb into the woodwork, into the furniture, and the next thing you know they’re on your skin. A negative statement is poison.
I AM ready to be the kind of friend I expect others to be to me. I AM willing to be more careful with the words I use, both in front of people and when I speak of them when they’re not present.
The change I wish to see begins with me.