A few years ago, when I was working in my current job the first time (which is to say, before I quit and subsequently returned a year later), I had a woman accuse me of wearing her shoes. She had dropped them in to have heels replaced, and have them stretched. When she returned to pick them up, she asked my boss if anyone had been wearing her shoes, and looked pointedly at me. She said they were stretched out, completely ignoring the fact that one of the things she had requested that we do to her shoes, was stretch them. Obviously the accusation was denied, because there was no truth to it, but the woman didn’t appear convinced.
A short time later, one of the shopping centre security guards approached the shop with a grin, and informed us that the very same woman who had made her accusation, had gone into the security office and demanded to be shown the security footage of me walking out of the shop with her shoes under my arm. Of course, no such footage existed, because I hadn’t taken her shoes home to wear them. Not least because they were hideous, but also, and more importantly, not something I would do. When she was refused this by the security guards, she went one step further and left an online review for the shop, claiming that she would never be returning, because “The girl there wears customer’s shoes”.
I think back on it now, as I reflected on it at the time, and can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the whole situation. Some people, when they get an idea in their head, just run with it – regardless of how bizarre or outlandish the idea may be. And when someone is determined to drag your name through the mud, there is very little you can do about it. At the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want to believe, and you are not responsible for how people perceive you. What matters is that the people that are important to you know the truth.
I remember this story, because just recently I found myself in a similar situation, though this time it was considerably closer to home. A few months ago I met a girl through a mutual friend. We began seeing each other, and then began officially dating. Shortly after, I realised that it was not the right time for me to be in a relationship (based on certain things that I won’t go into detail about here), and I broke things off in what I thought was an amicable split. A few days later, I found out that she had changed the story of our breakup to the people she worked with, claiming that I had broken up with her because I “couldn’t handle the issues with [her] mental health”.
When I first heard it, I was angry. Here was someone I had hoped to remain friends with, lying about me to people I had no way of defending myself against. I was being made out to look like the insensitive jerk, the coward who couldn’t deal with the complexeties of mental illness. I am the last person in the world who would sit in judgement of someone suffering from mental health issues. Then, after a long conversation with my best friend, and a bit of personal reflection, I realised that getting angry was going to do nothing more than exhaust my energies on something that was entirely beyond my control.
I cannot control the actions and words of other people, but what I can control is whether or not those people have a place in my life. So, after some consideration, I decided that my ex was no longer someone that I wished to remain in contact with. Perhaps I am getting wise in my old age, or perhaps it is simply that I have no time or tolerance for petty, petulant high school drama. Regardless of the reason, I am no longer prepared to spend my time with people with whom I can find no genuine connection. At the very least, I am not going to waste any time on people who live for rumour and lies. And if nothing else, my recent dating experience had left me with no doubt that being single is highly underrated.