I have picked up the phone and not made the call. I have gathered the words to confront honestly, the other version in which I belittle, and then the one in which I threaten.
There is a person who lives here in my small community with whom I was friends for many years. (I resisted the urge to insert the word 'stupidly' between 'was' and 'friends'.)
Too many years.
Friends with the community Gossip Queen.
Too many years.
Who would never talk about me that way, right?
Too many years.
For years before I had my own children, I would step in to help Marla with almost anything - firewood in a lean winter, wine on a rough day, emergency childcare for her three children, overnight care for her children to assist her 'on-the-rocks' marriage (now, long over), waived preschool tuition bills, offered my shoulder and sleeve for her tears....to name a few.
Some of these favors continued after I started my own family; the requests were unfailing, but my availability was more limited.
The addition of Elijah to our family brought along a new direction and uncharted territory, involving hours of OT, PT, and testing. With a two year old in tow. I remember calling Marla a few times to ask her to watch Supergirl while I took Elijah to some appointment. By this time, she was going through a dramatic divorce, and her response was always 'This is my alone time - I don't have the kids then, so I need that time to myself'.
Whatever; I didn't really have the time to feel jilted back then.
Then, just four months after Elijah died, I had a surprise pregnancy and an even more surprising miscarriage. Marla's commentary on this event was the wake-up call I had been ignoring for years to call it quits in this give and take relationship (I gave, she took).
"If you were taking better care of yourself and sleeping better and living a more spiritual life, this wouldn't have happened."
I remember walking her to her car and suggesting she get the hell outta my yard that instant.
At that moment, I was free. I was free to resume and maintain healthy friendships with supportive friends and be left with only the residual sheepishness of having been her friend for so damn long. For ten years I had listened to her gossip about every single person she knew, watched her take what she could from her friends, and flirt with every single friend's husband she could get near. Those memories are my cross to bear.
It was over.
Not too long ago, a good friend of mine who is one of the kindest, most patient and forgiving souls you have ever met,
Nina then asked her about a specific situation which Marla herself had incited years ago, creating a deep rift between myself and another local woman.
A situation which, even at the time, I knew had to be somehow exaggerated considering the source, but I was so hurt and angered by it that I never explored the source or extent of the malady.
The short version is that this woman was a friend of Marla's and threatened to call CPS on us because we lied about Elijah's age in an elevator in Hawaii.
The longer and more detailed backstory is here, and highly recommended if you wish to follow along.
So, Nina asks Marla about this situation in particular, and Marla agrees, "I probably said too much."
Nina presses on and says, "You think so? I know so."
And then, Marla tells Nina something she is sure she didn't already know.
"I know how Elijah died. I had told her too much."
"You know what?"
"Well, you know that Gwendomama was in the hospital [on too many pre-term labor drugs to count] for six weeks when she was pregnant?"
"Yes, I knew about the pre-term labor."
"Well, the reason she was in the hospital was because she was anorexic and starving herself and then...well...the baby....you know...."
It was at this point that my friend Nina ended the conversation, then sat on it for two weeks before she could even tell me. I appreciate that she did.
But I am beyond angry. Beyond hurt.
To take the knowledge of someone's past - a painful past which took years of effort to work beyond - and then use it to form some crackerjackass diagnosis for not only me but for MY CHILD -
Oh - I just have NO FUCKING WORDS FOR THAT.
Wait. They are coming.
And then? Then to spread that diagnosis around the mountain like poison oak, because that is what Marla does best....talk....Oh -
I think of the hatred I have carried around for this woman, and now I feel horrible! I can understand why she freaked out if she had believed Marla's backstory.
I don't entirely forgive her for being so fucking superior and ignorant at the same time, but I this whole story is different now.
I think of all the people up here who have looked at me and wondered if her story was true...I want to kill her.
I have not called Marla, I have not shown up at her door (which itself shows incredible restraint since I do know where she lives), I have not exposed her real name, and I have not even sent her a letter insisting that she cease and desist defamation of character.
I don't currently trust myself, so I am giving myself some time to calm down.
Just a little.
So......What would YOU do?