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The gossip has taken all the good that I do and turned me into nothing.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Cheating, Family, The ex-factor, Three is a crowd, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (21 December 2018) 5 Answers - (Newest, 20 February 2019)
A female United Kingdom age 36-40, *otherhen writes:

Hey Cupids,

My questions are about moving on after divorce/separation.

I met my beautiful lover earlier this year when he was in an unhappy marriage. We started seeing each other but feelings were serious enough that he left his wife after 7 weeks because he didn’t want to carry on knowing that he wanted to be with someone else. His wife was understandably angry but not heartbroken, she admitted that things had been bad between them for quite a while.

My marriage was over at the time but I was still living with my husband and our children (I slept on the sofa for over a year) but wasn’t able to afford to leave. My husband also refused to speak with me about our finances. Until I told him that I’d met someone who was going to support me until I got a solicitor and got my money legally.

Since then I have really struggled to get by facing people in the village, school etc. I get that some people love to gossip but I’m so sad that nobody cares about the truth.

I understand the harm I have done and I’m not proud of myself. But for all that, I have finally left an abusive relationship, given my children a better, calmer life, and I have met someone who I love and who loves me.

I do have mental health issues which has been worse over the last few years, but I feel as if everything I am has been reduced to being the “other woman”.

We are now living together outside of the village and everything is wonderful, my children are happy and safe and they love my new partner.

So why am I so upset about this gossip? I always believed I was a good person who did lots for the community, I always volunteered, looked after my elderly neighbors, and had a big network of friends who helped each other out. Now I feel like I’m nothing.

View related questions: divorce, heartbroken, money

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A female reader, motherhen United Kingdom +, writes (20 February 2019):

motherhen is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thank you all for taking the time to offer comfort and advice.

Over Christmas I did have a breakdown which looking back was a long time coming.

I am feeling much stronger in myself now, and I am starting to know myself better each day. I don’t think I gave myself a chance to breathe and take the time to realise what I’d been through, I was so consumed with making sure the children were getting everything they needed, love, support, outside help etc. And also a bit wrapped up in my new relationship, which is still the best thing ever!

I spent so many years believing everything was my fault. Even my parents never believed in me. They saw bruises on me and my son, yet somehow that was also my fault, I was nagging too much, I was demanding etc.

I thought about your questions and I don’t do anything for praise, it’s just the right thing to do, if I can help I will.

I’m not trying to minimise the betrayal that I was part of, I fully accept the harm I have done to another family, I am slowly coming to terms with that. It’s not a nice thing to see in yourself at all, especially as before last year I was never ever going to be “that woman” but in my heart of hearts I have never been so happy, so loved, so secure in where I’m supposed to be.

Sending love to you all xxx

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (24 December 2018):

WiseOwlE had given you some great advice.

One thing I would add is that I think you may have had low self esteem and possibly still do and this is what is making it hard to 'buffer' yourself from the way that people are trying to trash your reputation.

I say this because you were in an abusive relationship - either you had low self esteem already and this made you put up with the abuse. Or you were abused and this gave you low self esteem. The value that you place upon yourself, the love that you give to yourself, is what matters most, even more than that of your loving partner.

Bear this in mind when the gossip bothers you. It is your lack of 'buffer' that needs to be worked on, not so much the gossip. If you have low self esteem the gossip will seem to confirm you are worthless. Only YOU can find ways to fight back against that idea, by valuing yourself.

The mistake you made was marrying the wrong man in the first place. Okay, so you put that mistake right, one way or another, and now you are with a good man. Had you been truly manipulative etc., as the gossip suggests, you would have gone about it in a way that no-one would ever have suspected anything; you would have had such expertise in duplicity, lying, backstabbing etc., that no one would ever have had any idea. All they would eventually know was that you and your ex husband were divorced now and you found a new partner. Had you been truly manipulative, you would even have found a way to direct all bad gossip towards your husband.

Don't feel you have to stop volunteering etc. But maybe e-direct this. I think a good idea would be to get some online education about things like how to help women in abusive relationships, and then put this into practice - for example working in a women's refuge. If you did that kind of voluntary work, it wouldn't take long for the gossips to realise that maybe you left your ex husband for a good reason, and maybe the fact that you didn't go shouting around the town about it is to your credit.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (24 December 2018):

Anonymous 123 agony auntTwo things here: first, keep in mind that the "other woman" is always looked down upon, no matter what. The man who was part of the affair gets off relatively easily; it's the woman who has to bear the brunt. It's easier blaming the woman and the gossip value is more.

Which brings be to my second point. Why do you even care what these people gossip about you? Do you really think they said anything really good behind you're back anyway even when you were a "good" wife, mother and member of the society? I've come to realise that people rarely say anything good about others, no matter what. If you're lucky then maybe 1 person out of 10 will say something complimentary about you while discussing you. The rest will have nothing very great to say. To your face, yes but behind your back, no.

Tell me, what's important here? What people say about you or what you know and feel about yourself? You know you're a good person so f**k everyone else! Hold your head high, have a fresh start to your new life and don't bother about the barking dogs.

Merry Christmas to you!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (23 December 2018):

Read your last comment in your post:

"So why am I so upset about this gossip? I always believed I was a good person who did lots for the community, I always volunteered, looked after my elderly neighbors, and had a big network of friends who helped each other out. Now I feel like I’m nothing."

People are naturally judgemental. If you recall, you built a reputation based on being a good neighbor. Being charitable, and showing kindness to everyone. You set a standard.

They were just waiting for you to slip and show a flaw, or make a mistake. They held you to the standard and example that you set for others. My minister says, "that's the devil you find in sinful folks!" If you're a good person, they can't wait to see you falter or fail! "Just who does she think she is?" "Miss Goodie Two-shoes!!!" Then turn right-around, smile to your face, and tell you how lovely you are!

An affair with a married-man is still an adulterous-affair; until he is separated and divorced from his wife. Just because it was a bad marriage doesn't make adultery okay. So you gave them something to talk about.

We men take a lot of flack from women for cheating. In fact, the guy in the affair is more demonized for cheating; than the woman he's cheating with. She's considered a victim! Well, now you know how a guy feels! I'm sure he got some of the same! If not worse!

Little can happen in a village or small-town that people won't see or hear about. Naturally there will be small-town gossip! They know him, his wife, your kids, both families, and you!

Were you only being a good-person to be admired and get pats on the back? Or was it because that's the kind of person you are? If you're overly concerned about what people think; then maybe you're too concerned about your public-image. Perhaps you may have an unhealthy need for praise, validation, and adulation from others? That makes it phony. Do you like hearing what a great person you are? If you know you're a good-person; nobody can take that from you! You'll shun the praise!

If YOU think what you did was wrong; it's probably your own guilt you're battling with. Forgive yourself! Things have changed. Your relationship is healthy and legit.

Being a Christian, I try to behave according to the rules and scriptures in the Bible. How often do people want to throw it up in my face, if I show signs of being human?

I get angry, I might tell a lie, I might exhibit vanity, and I can feel envy. Who doesn't? I just pray to be the best person I can be in God's eyes! I ask for His help, forgiveness, and mercy; but I can't be obsessed about how I'm perceived in the eyes of other people! They may think they know me; but they don't know my heart! Church-people can be the worst!!! Quick to cast stones! You hold your head high, and do what's right and good. Not one mortal on this planet holds the keys to heaven!

Be careful. Check yourself, or they'll drag you down to their level. They aim to trash, tarnish, and belittle you. Don't give them the satisfaction. You know who you are!

You have your own system of values. When people contradict or behave contrary those values, you'll take issue with that. You will also judge others! Well, nobody likes hypocrisy; especially a hypocrite! If you live in a small village, or work closely among people; everyone gets into your business. You're mature and experienced enough to know that. You grow a thicker skin, and let it bounce off!

Let people talk. You can't control what they think, or what they say. They have their opinions. If they don't like you, they will think the worst of you without necessarily having any reason to. So your pristine reputation is no longer that shiny coin it used to be. You're human. You're far away from that now. Don't look back! God forgives us for our sins, and He expects us to forgive others, and ourselves.

You're blessed now, be thankful for what you have! Forget them! Don't allow them to steal your joy and happiness!

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (23 December 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntYou are defining yourself by how SOME people see you AT THIS MOMENT. It's early days yet and, a year or two down the line, everyone will accept your new relationship and people who have nothing better to do than gossip will have got bored of you and found something else to gossip about. Their need to gossip says a lot about THEM and absolutely NOTHING about you. Stop taking it personally.

You say you understand the harm you have done. What harm is that exactly? You have removed yourself from an abusive relationship. You have made your children and yourself happier. Your partner's decision to leave his wife sounds like it was overdue. You didn't handcuff him and drag him away. It was HIS decision.

Rather than feeling you have "failed" in some way, you should take stock and concentrate on the GOOD you have done. Hold your head high and carry on doing what you were doing in the community. THAT defines who you are, not what busybodies think of you. Their opinion of you is none of your business. It is THEIR problem, not yours.

Have a lovely Christmas and start the new year as you mean to go on, knowing you ARE a good person and that the gossip is a temporary thing which will pass. Stay strong. You have been through far worse and survived. You can survive this too.

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