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By Sandra Beck.

Since my husband left me for a local woman shortly after we moved here, I will be the first to admit I didn’t exactly rush out to make new friends in my neighborhood. It was more like combat when I picked up my kids from school.

Stay mission focused. Don’t make eye contact. Extract the kids and get out of there with a helpful tailwind.

Foolishly I thought my ex had hooked up with the only mean girl in town.

Mean GirlsShe did mean things to me through my kids. She redressed my kid on the first day of school in the parking lot. She told people mean things about me and said she fell in love with my ex because of the cruel way I treated him. Once I got beyond the insult to me, I figured out she must be attracted to the underdog, the victim – she was a rescuer plain and simple. Good for me because she took a 200 pound problem with a bad back off my hands, unintentionally rescuing me in the process. When you get divorced it’s helpful to find the gifts, the positives and to share the negatives so you don’t feel alone. It’s part of the recovery process.

Eventually I ventured out and volunteered with one of the local school programs. Since the topic was something I valued, I donated a website. I thought foolishly that I would make friends with women of similar interests and children. What I experienced was nothing short of a witch hunt that would make the teenagers in Salem, Massachusetts shackle themselves and jump into the nearest pond.

One of the mean girls went so far as to yell profanity at one of the moms at a town soccer game not only in front of her family and friends – but also in front of the entire town, who watched a local merchant drag this modern day Veruka Salt from the field, only no one was singing Willy Wonka’s “I want it Now!”

Are we as women designed to be cruel to each other? Do we sleep with our friend’s husband, then mock and disparage our former friend as a way to justify our bad behavior? Do we openly ignore, exclude and insult a woman, hold secret meetings about her at the local restaurant, and then reduce her to tears at a school event because we can?  Do the rest of us stand by and watch it happen because we don’t want to get involved and it’s not happening to us?  How are we supposed to be leaders of the free world with women who act this way?

My friend from the Middle East, a woman who escaped the domination of men and her culture, told me she held American woman in high regard until she moved here. Women back in her home country, she said, don’t believe her when she tells stories of the how the women behave living here in the United States. These actions by the American women, she believes, are the same of those suffering poverty, famine, cruelty and destruction. However, we are one of the richest, healthiest, safest and fortunate countries on the planet. So what the heck is happening?

Being in a free country with all our freedoms and especially freedom of speech grants us all the above with very few repercussions. These same freedoms allow me to share my opinion, raise my voice and a little cane to get women to stop being their own worst enemy. To cultivate a society where we do no harm to our friends, our neighbors and our sisters, but resolve our differences respectfully and without malice and spite.

Sure, everyone knows who the town B$tches are. You can see them clustered in little groups like hens pecking over feed outside the local schools and markets — only the feed is whatever woman’s head is on the chopping block for the week. One day it will be you. No one is immune to gossip.

I was the source of a lot of gossip with my ex’s flagrant affair and their meeting places all over our small town. They would park their cars in the school parking lot and spend every day talking to each other in clear view of the students, teachers and parents.

I didn’t like gossip then. I don’t like it now when it’s another family in crisis or an “outed” volunteer. Maybe today is the day we finally put our foot down to the cheaters, the gossips, the liars, and the mean girls, and set a new community standard. Maybe today this is the day we say, This is not okay.

When you Bounce with Style, you learn to set your own strong boundaries and stand up for your right to be fairly and respectfully treated…. You stand up together because together we build stronger families, then communities, then nations, and finally the world… and you also become the example of how powerful you become when you do.

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Empowerment is the through-line in of all Sandra Beck’s work. Whether she is coaching a company owner to a million dollar commission goal, training a stay-at-home mom to perform SEO on web sites, or speaking to a group of women who are in recovery, Sandra's message is about what is possible and how to create the circumstances of your choosing.

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