It’s been a slow realization. But no less shocking for the gentle way it has hit me.
But I have enemies.
People who don’t like me. People who snipe about me behind my back. People who plot and talk and actively seek opportunities to bring me down.
Some of you may shrug. Some of you may live and work in environments where this is the norm. Some of you may have immured yourself in a den of poisonous vipers so long ago that you now see such acid writhing as part and parcel of normal existence. Living with daggers aimed at your back is as normal as the sunrise.
For me it is a relatively new thing.
Up to a few years ago I considered myself to be someone who operates as peaceably and as harmoniously with my surroundings as possible. I naturally gravitate towards peace and appeasement. I don’t like making waves or being in the midst of stormy seas. Life is too short to contend with such unnecessary stress.
Over the last few years though I have slowly awoken to the fact that I exist alongside those whose methods of behaviour and operation are diametrically opposed to mine; opposed to my sense of right and wrong. This fundamental opposition alone, I suppose, has drawn the line in the sand for me and for them. Mistrust grows fat on itself and is forever hungry and whines its complaints to both sides.
It is not a nice environment to find yourself living in. I don’t relish it. I don’t feed off it as others do.
But I have amazed myself by surviving. By weathering the various storms that my enemies have regularly blown up for me.
And it has had a curious effect. I am no longer scared. No longer scared to stick my head above the parapet. No longer scared to stick with what I think is right even in the face of opposing demands. They have done their worst and I am still here. I am still me.
More than that I have discovered that I have a loyal support network around me to combat these cowardly would-be assassins.
It might shock my enemies to learn that there is no sniping, no bitching, no plotting that they have ever undertaken that I have not known about and not known who the authors were.
People talk. People snipe. But mostly they talk and snipe about those who do the talking and the sniping.
My response is and always will be to carry on as normal. To live to the best of my abilities and to work as professionally as I can. Dignity does not care if we like someone or not or if we are liked or not. It merely demands a certain mode of behaviour.
We sell our dignity down the river at a cost only to ourselves.
To my enemies then, I say this: carry on as you are; smile to me, offer fake camaraderie whilst badmouthing me behind my back. I know who you are and every word that you say.
When I smile back at you it isn’t because I like you or wish to appease you. Not anymore.
It is because you cannot touch me. It is because, really, genuinely, you do not matter.