I had an interesting experience this past week. A friend told me that another friend had taken information I'd shared about a third friend's illness as a criticism of him and had immediately gone to the ill person to expand upon and report my "treachery". Some unrelated incidents were apparently remembered from the past and tossed on the fire until these two had built a roaring case of big bad Deb.
The reporter then went on to confirm that two others are spreading rumors about the content of my character, or more to the point - my connection to reality. Anyone who knows me well knows I am crazy silly, in a good way, but I'm pretty grounded in reality. However, there's a territorial imperative at play there.
In years past I'd have gone blazing to defend myself and confront these gossiping tongues and slanderers, but I guess all these years of meditation has (finally - thankfully) diminished my sense of self-importance. What's said about me is not so important. People will form their own opinions of me from dealing with me.
People who find it delicious or satisfying to speak ill of others are driven by a need to dissipate tension, relieve their anxiety, or build up their own egos or position in other's eyes. I've been in that state myself, and I always felt soiled afterwards, and ashamed.
Being free of the need to defend myself is liberating. There's no feeling of anger, and no pain that I've been "betrayed" by a friend. I don't have to change how I deal with these friends.
I like feeling like this. I'm hoping I can hang onto it.