What do you know that you didn’t want to know?

The implication behind this one is that it’s about relationships. For me, it’s not romantic relationships that are the issue. It’s friendship. What didn’t I want to know? That most of my friends would abandon me at the slightest chance of a problem.

Seven years ago, an ex-partner started spreading nasty rumors about me. I’m sure many of us have had that experience and those who haven’t are likely to encounter at least one vengeful and vindictive partner. In my case, the rumors were particularly damaging because, as a teacher, I am expected to be a role model. The fact that there was no basis in fact for any of them didn’t make a difference. As is obvious from the popularity of reality television and general tabloid stupidity both in print and online, people are happy to swallow any story as long as it is salacious enough. If it had been about sex, it would probably have been even more willingly accepted by the general public but I don’t think anyone would have given any credibility to a claim of sexual misconduct on my part, given that I am asexual and generally disgusted by the notion of sex — those sexual partners that I have had have had to work long and hard to make it very clear that they desired it and that for continued partnership, I would have to choose between friendship, at which point they would find another partner, or physicality.

It has taken me many years and many mistakes to realize that it is better to have no committed partners if the cost is sexuality. But I didn’t know that then. It’s not particularly relevant to this issue, anyway, given that the rumors weren’t sexual in nature. It wasn’t really all that shocking to me that a person who would suddenly and without notice abandon a long-term relationship would say things that were untrue.

What I was completely unprepared for was that it wasn’t just the general public or my vague acquaintances that were prepared to accept them. I believed, before this happened, that my closest friends would stand by me even if I had done something wrong and that they wouldn’t be prepared to believe nasty things about me, especially without talking to me about them first.

I was wrong. I had a group of people I truly valued and who were a huge portion of my life. They gave me a good portion of my reason to get up and go to work in the morning — I love the teaching but clinical depression and several serious physical health problems make things very difficult even if you love what you do.

Without so much as a conversation, the people I considered my closest friends disappeared from my life. One of them was good enough to write me a letter telling me why but was unprepared to engage in conversation in spite of the fact that I did write back explaining that not only was it false but that I could very easily prove that it was, if my word wasn’t good enough. The others didn’t even do me the courtesy of saying goodbye.

I was distinctly hurt by this, as would be expected, all of these being people with whom I had not only long-term but since-childhood friendships with, often seeing or speaking to them every day. So my illusion of a support network that would stand by and hold me up when things went wrong was crushed in short order. I know now that I simply can’t trust people to know the truth, to be prepared to listen to the truth or to stand by me through the nightmares that everyone’s lives have the potential to present.

I wish I had never found out.