Reports of My Divorce Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
How to deal with rumours as a 30-something
Six months ago, if I were to guess what horrible aspects of teenage life could come back to haunt me in my 30’s, having a nasty rumour spread about me would have been the last thing on that list.
It turns out, rumours have no age-limit. Especially when venturing back to one’s hometown. That hometown is called Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Sylvan is a bustling little tourist town in the heart of Central Alberta.
All and all, it was a blast growing up there as a teenager. There was only one downfall of living in a tight-knit community such as Sylvan, and that was the fact that rumours spread like wildfire. I suspect this happens in all small towns because, really, what else is there to do in tiny towns other than talk shit about people?
My husband and I haven’t lived in Sylvan for five years now. However, this past summer, James was laid off from his job as a train conductor due to the pandemic. He decided to go back to the lake for a few weeks to help out an old employer who owned a couple of restaurants in town and was short-staffed. Not only is James a sexy railman but also a venerated red seal chef. I’m telling you, the guy’s a catch.
So for the month of July, James packed his bags and headed to our hometown for a three-week stay. He’d be working in the kitchens of several of the lakefront bars that lined the Mainstreet of Sylvan, and he was excited to spend some time in his old stomping grounds.
That was until he got there. Then he was immediately hammered with the same question by every person he encountered.
“So, I hear you and Lindsay are getting a divorce?”
The first time it came up, he was a bit dumbstruck. Someone must have seen him in town without me, and the talk started flowing.
I hadn’t accompanied James as I had work obligations to fulfill and couldn’t plan for a three-week leave. He called me a few days after he had gotten to Sylvan, telling me about the hearsay that had sprouted up concerning our marital status all over our former home.
At first, I was indignant. Who the hell are those people to spread rumours about us? What kind of a person comes right out and asks if someone is getting a divorce anyway? It was all so juvenile and, frankly, weird.
Then I realized a few things.
We have no business getting wrapped up in other people’s gossip, even if it’s about us.
In truth, this lesson was a lot easier for me to abide by because I was 3 hours away from the action and didn’t have to deal with the constant parade of questioning that Nosey Nancys were insistent on digging up.
James would find himself in awkward conversations explaining that he was happily married repeatedly to eager co-workers who were trying to set him up.
“That’s not what I heard,” they’d say with sing-song inflection.
Eventually, James would laugh it off because, in the end, it wouldn’t matter how adamantly he argued against the point. No one seemed to want to believe him.
He realized that it didn’t matter how much he pleaded his case. The rumours wouldn’t stop because the gossipers didn’t want it to stop. That’s the nature of rumours — they grow exponentially.
Rumours aren’t only a high school game.
I don’t know why I always thought this to be true, but it clearly isn’t. Rumours have a way of wriggling into our lives, even as 30-somethings. I think this is why hearing about our divorce from people we went to high school with was such a shock.
What? Divorce? Huh, that’s news to me! It took me a few days to get over the idea that James and I were important enough even to have a rumour started about us. I thought that five years ago we moved away from Sylvan Lake and then everyone forgot about us.
Meanwhile, people are still coming up with outrageous fables about the life and times of Lindsay and James Brown (yes, my husband’s name is James Brown). Like, why isn’t anyone talking about that?
Take it as a compliment.
Which brings me to my next point. When discovering that rumours spread about you and your personal life, I think that anyone’s knee jerk reaction is to get defensive. “You don’t know me!” We want to scream at the people who have so rudely misinterpreted us.
But striking back and lashing out in these situations only makes things worse.
A couple of weeks after Jamie had been working in Sylvan, I decided to drive up there as I had the weekend off work. I wanted to surprise my husband. I knew he was having difficulty as his nightly phone calls were becoming more and more depressive in nature. He was missing me, and despite having sent the past two weeks in Sylvan explaining to anyone that asked that he was, in fact, not getting a divorce, the gossip about mine and Jamie’s love life persisted.
I walked into the bar, asked for Jamie, and the server who I had approached looked me up and down and said, “And who are you?”
“Oh, I’m his wife,” I replied cheerfully.
“Oh.” She seemed disappointed as she turned on her heel to retrieve James from the kitchen. Upon seeing me, my husband's eyes lit up. He ran over to me, dipped me right in the middle of the bar and kissed me hard. Best feeling ever.
That night James took me out on the town. We got a little too drunk at all the same bars which had been so invested in our supposed divorce proceedings. We finished our evening by skinny dipping in the lake.
It was deliciously satisfying to see all those people who had been talking about us behind our back, and to our faces, completely mystified as they watched us have a great night out together.
Leave the gossip where it belongs — beneath you.
I can’t blame the Sylvan Lake lifers who started these uncanny rumours about mine and my husband’s failing marriage. The guy is a catch, and sometimes I even wonder how I landed him. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was a wishful thinking type conversation on some pining girl’s part that escalated into an out of control story.
If I were single and saw a hot dude stroll mysteriously back into his hometown without his wife, maybe I’d do the same thing. Probably not, because I’m an adult and I have a conscience, but whatevs, man.
What matters is that we could rise above the talk and move forward with our lives without allowing it to interfere with our relationship. We laughed it off, and instead of more meaningless talk, we showed everyone how strong we really are.
Dealing with hurtful rumours is difficult at any age, but as we grow older and more confident in ourselves, it becomes easier to overlook the noise and have faith in yourself and the life you have built.
In the do as Twain did, and address the gossipers head-on.