When your first child is finally old enough to attend preschool it can be overwhelming. For the first 3 years you’re flying solo with your baby, maybe attending a music class here and there but nothing as major as preschool. Not only is this a new opportunity for your child, but it’s the beginning of a new era for you as well. You finally get to make…
I remember leading my daughter in and out of school those first few days, walking past other moms wondering who I’d end up being friends with. I’d always see this one woman in particular who looked like the type of mom I wanted to be. She always had on a great outfit and looked like she worked out 7 days a week.
Coincidentally, our daughters were in the same class and always asking for play dates. One day we happened to be walking out at the same time and I asked her, “So, do you go to a gym around here? You’re in such amazing shape. I really need to get back into working out.”
She told me about a gym around the corner from the school that she went to religiously, and I decided to check it out. Long story short, I joined and she quickly became one of my closest friends. We’d talk on the phone everyday, help each other with our kids, and go to the gym together.
I was so excited to have such a great (and awesomely cool) mom friend that I ignored the signs something was off with her from the very beginning. She’d disappear from social events without warning and often lost her phone. When we’d go to the gym together, the young trainers would ask her if she was going out over the weekend.
Over the next year I learned that she was living a double life. This beautiful, seemingly “got-it-together” woman had a serious alcohol problem, along with self-esteem and infidelity issues. Once I found all of this out, my first instinct was that I wanted to help my friend. But the more I found out, the more she scared me. She’d also been telling lies about me to people in our community for the majority of our friendship. To say I was hurt is an understatement.
About a year after our friendship ended, I was invited to a charity event that a lot of those preschool moms would be attending. We had since moved and my daughter was in a different school. I thought it would be fun to see everyone.
I was having a great time drinking wine and catching up with old friends. A woman sat down next to me that I’d never met and we started talking about mutual acquaintances. It turns out she was very close with my ex-friend and knew of all her troubles. Apparently my feelings towards her were more raw than I’d realized. Combine that with two glasses of wine and I acquired a hellish case of verbal diarrhea.
I told her several dirty stories I knew about her and I said way too much. My words came from hurt and anger, with an intention to warn this woman that my ex-friend was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Stay away! By the end of my onslaught, she was horrified. By exposing all of this dirty laundry, I didn’t accomplish my goal of warning her; I only made myself look like a gossip.
Another mom who I’d known, and liked, for several years overheard our conversation. She was deeply offended by the stories I’d told and wrote me a message the next day telling me so. She accused me of gossiping and trashing my ex-friend’s character. And shame on me for doing so when there are children involved.
Ouch! Insert foot in mouth.
Clearly, some wine and a touchy subject got my panties in a bunch when I should have just kept my mouth shut. I had always liked these women and I was embarrassed that I offended anyone. While I do feel that I was justified in what I said because of our history and my intentions were good, whenever anyone expresses hurt feelings over something you’ve said, it’s time to take a good hard look at yourself.
I took several minutes to think before I responded to her message, and made my best attempt at fixing it. I started off by asking myself a few questions:
What was my purpose in saying what I did?
My purpose was to warn this woman against getting too close to my ex-friend because of how deceitful she can be. I didn’t want her to fall into the trap that I did and get hurt.
Was my purpose valid?
Yes. I’d been hurt and was only trying to be helpful.
Did I say too much?
Absolutely. There was no need to share the details that I did.
Do I need to apologize?
Yes. Someone was hurt because of what I’d said.
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In my reply, I began by apologizing for offending anyone. That certainly was not my intention. I stated what my purpose had been since my ex-friend had hurt me very deeply and I wanted to protect anyone else from going through that same hurt. I openly admitted that I had gotten carried away and said way too much (quite ungracefully). I explained that few topics get me fired up as much as my ex-friend and I obviously wasn’t over it as much as I thought.
I also shared revelation with her. My friendship with my ex-friend brought nothing but bad things into my life, yet I was still continuing to rehash my experience. And by continuing to talk about it, it was only bringing more negative energy into my life. At that moment, I had truly rid myself of her.
My reply, because of my honesty and admittance of wrongdoing, was very well received. She appreciated where I was coming from and forgave me for my harsh words. I felt much better after our exchange and really believe it happened for a reason.
Gossiping is never helpful to anyone. But most of all, it makes you look bad. Still we are all guilty of it from time to time. If you offend someone by gossiping, make sure you own up. None of us are perfect, so admitting you said too much is key. But in your apology, always make your original intentions known. Perhaps you could have handled things better, and you will next time.
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