Thursday, August 21, 2008

When People Talk Behind My Back...

...It's not always a bad thing. Today I was at the grocery store, and I ran into one of my favorite high school English teachers, Mrs. Benjamin. (Isn't it fun to see your teacher at the grocery store?!) She told me that the other day she was at her health club, taking a shower, when she heard some women talking about me.

Now, I have to interrupt this story to tell you that over the last year, there have been a handful of nasty women in my town gossiping about me and my family in a very obnoxious way. Not that gossip is ever NOT obnoxious, but when grown women gossip about a thirteen-year-old girl, I find it particularly pitiful.

So, when Mrs. Benjamin said she overheard people talking about me, I feared the worst. Did my beloved teacher hear a rumor about me? Did these women stoop so low as to talk about me in a locker room? And was Mrs. Benjamin trying to find out the true story right here at the deli counter?

No. No. And no. Phew!

Instead, Mrs. Benjamin told me that the women were talking about my book, JULIA'S KITCHEN, and that one of the women said, "I could never have gotten through my mother's death without that book." Mrs. Benjamin almost jumped out of the shower to say, "I know Brenda Ferber! I was her teacher!" But she decided to finish shampooing instead.

It's weird how the world works. Here I am, struggling with emotions and dramas I haven't experienced since high school--being gossiped about... being judged... feeling misunderstood. And who do I see? A teacher who was like a lifeboat my senior year. Mrs. Benjamin always believed in me. And because of that, I believed in me, too. And because of that, I wrote a novel and didn't stop revising until it was good enough. And because of that, it got published. And because of that, a random woman read it and found something within it to help her deal with a horrible time in her life.

Makes you think, doesn't it? Even when you are in the middle of tough times, there are good people out there rooting for you. The positive energy in life will find its way to you whether it's in a parent, a friend, a teacher, or even a book. You just have to keep your head up and let it in.


Anonymous said...

My daughter had to deal with vicious gossip a year ago. Ugh. People can be so ... well, STUPID. When your own kids get into trouble, I guess it's natural to want to blame their problems on someone else. So anyway, I feel for you.

But the rest of this story gave me goosebumps - the happy kind. How sweet.

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Jill. You're right... these moms think their daughters are perfect, and when they find out they aren't, they are quick to find the "bad influence" rather than deal with the reality of the situation.

Thankfully, my daughter and I are super close, and I am well aware that she is wonderfully imperfect. ;-)