During my time as a military spouse, the trials and tribulations I have experienced have brought some of the most precious friendships into my life. I have relationships from our first duty station together that I have cherished for all these years. However, when it comes to playing well with others, I can say I must have had this naive assumption that if I were nice and decent to others, they would treat me the same. Sadly, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I definitely am not perfect, but I do make an effort with everyone to treat them with baseline respect. I believe in this baseline afforded to everyone I cross paths with, simply because of whatever human decency lies at my core. From there on, interactions with that person can drive my respect for them up and up, or can cause it to tank completely.
In perhaps the most difficult and remarkable tour of my husband’s career thus far, I was plagued with a few people that I had little choice but to interact with on a regular basis who were, for lack of a more accurate description, awful, aggressive social predators….much like the female spotted hyena. These were dominant females who became accustomed to running as the leader of their little clans of other females, creating subsets of hyena bitchiness and gossip. It was truly awful. I endured blatant disrespect, embarrassing public social challenges, and gossipy lies. And man, do these bitches cause drama!
Now, I am no Disney princess who is dense enough to believe that everyone will like me and want to be my friend. I’m not perfect. I am high strung, talk really fast, am kinda rigid when I have a plan in my head, and tend to think my ideas are usually pretty great! However, I am kind, loyal, and honest to a fault. I do truly care about how the things I say or do impact others. And I conduct myself in such a way that I think probably does earn some basic level of respect from others. So it came as such a rude awakening to be socially assailed by these awful people, for no apparent reason.
What did I learn from this tour of horror, you might be wondering? Three things:
1. Be VERY cautious who you trust. Social life can sometimes be like the savannah watering hole…a competition to the death. People will jockey for position with those they perceive as more senior or more powerful. They will step all over others whom they do not believe to be helpful or advantageous to their agenda. But you also need to have at least one TRUSTED confidante. Your person. That person who “gets it,” who knows and loves you well enough to tell you if you are wrong, but is familiar enough with the ongoing dynamic that wise advice can be provided. I miss my person so. She was my rock. Sometimes we talked 4 or 5 times in one day, and I am so grateful that she was on my side! Now we are geographically separated.
2. Don’t take it personally. I can admittedly be kinda sensitive, especially to criticism. I internalize and stress about it, doubting myself. But if you are confident that you are doing the right thing, and may even have agreement or support from your network that you are doing the right thing, charge forward in confidence and do it! There will always be naysayers, critics and people who are constantly playing the Devil’s Advocate. There will sometimes be downright bullies telling you how they think you should act. Hard as it is, trust yourself. And if you can’t trust yourself, trust your inner circle of supporters.
3. Let it go. (Cue Idina Menzel). You CAN NOT hold onto the pain, hurt or misunderstanding you may suffer at the hands of these people. The truth is, you may feel deeply hurt, you may feel that people are judging your very morality, you may feel victimized, but you KNOW you! Have faith in yourself. THEY have the issues, not you. And find those shining stars in your world that can pump you full of love when you need it most!
You be you! Stay strong.
Cheers and love,