“Why can’t they just let it go?”
I wish I had an answer for him. But I didn’t. He was referring to people who remembered him when he was drinking too much. Although it’s been well over five years that he’s been sober, there are still people who talk negatively about him. I suspect their tendency to slander him has more to do with their own need to either place blame for their own lives or remain superior to him somehow. By keeping him in the place of being an “alcoholic,” people who continue to think of him negatively and then gossip about him can continue to judge him. Still, I needed more info, “What exactly did you hear?”
“Well, back in my drinking days, I worked for this lady. I did landscaping and stuff, and she paid me in cash. At first, she was all nice and sweet, but one day, I showed up a bit late after a heavy night. She smelled stale alcohol on my breath and from that second forward, she treated me like crap. She’d make me do the worst crap she could until I couldn’t take it anymore. I just stopped showing up. Anyway, she started telling everyone that I stole tools and jewelry from her, which I didn’t, but since she’s a “Christian” and since I was an alcoholic, people just believed her. She found out that I work at the Quality Inn and called my boss to share her lies about me. I swear to you, all I ever did to her was show up drunk a few times. I still did my work, though. I don’t get her; why the hell can’t she just shut up? It’s been five damn years!”
His story is pretty typical. The truth is that we ALL live in glass houses, yet that doesn’t stop many of us from throwing stones. I believe it’s about perceived moral superiority; if someone thinks they’re somehow “better” than someone else, he or she will project that belief through gossip about how bad someone else is. That, and some people are just douchebags.
Still, he wanted some guidance, and after sharing my theory of moralizing douchebags, he wasn’t completely “talked down.” So, I said, “Listen, as long as you know your truth, what she said doesn’t matter. All any of us can do is focus on being the best version of ourselves, right now, and leave the rest to God. Focus on your gig, take care of your kid, and there are no one’s words that can hurt you.”
Really, it’s all any of us can really do.