Over a casual Friday night supper with neighbors, I heard a promise made between two friends that I’ve never forgotten.
“It stops with me.”
In context, the conversation acknowledged that gossip, hearsay, and half-truths were one of the less desirable social behaviors that are part and parcel of any upper middle class community, including ours.
“I can’t control what other people say, but if I hear it and it’s about someone I know and it’s not true, it stops with me.” Neither of these women are into lip service; I knew they both meant the promise they had made with every fiber of their beings.
It added to the respect I already had for them both, and has helped me choose my own words carefully in social settings when tongues began to wag.
It’s also cost me more than a few relationships, where I made the hard and sometimes lonely decision to distance myself from those for whom tearing down others was compulsory.
That decision came only after more times than I can count when I did the very opposite, all for the sake of wanting to fit in and belong. Deservedly I got burned in the process. If that taught me anything, it’s that bonding over bashing a shallow friendship makes.
To the fiercely loyal in my midst, who not only have my back but allow me to have yours, I am deeply thankful.
It stops with us.