I can't share too many details (or risk losing my anonymity), but a few years ago, a coworker abused access to my personal information and used it to spread some pretty serious allegations about me (apparently I was involved in some "quite deplorable" activities ). I got to work one day, and everyone kept making strange comments to me, even the residents. I was so busy, though, that I didn't think much of it. Someone finally came up to me and started talking to me about all of it, but when they saw the puzzled look on my face, they explained what "happened" to me (as if it were factual rather than rumor). Let's just say that what they told me devastated me. And it was bad enough that coworkers were talking about it; the fact that MY RESIDENTS knew all about it just made me sick.
I was a mess for the rest of the shift, and by the time I got home, I had myself so worked up that I sobbed for hours. I had no idea what to do, was scared, and didn't know who to turn to (I was *so* sure I would need to preemptively hire an attorney because I *knew* I would be going to jail). Someone wise finally said something to me along the lines of "People like that only have the power over your life if you give that power to them" and told me to ignore what was being said. It was hard. Everything in me screamed that I needed to take action of some sort. In short, I went to work the next day, no one remembered it, and nobody has ever brought it up since.
I have no idea why I was so irrational that day. People have made up plenty of rumors about me before, but they were always so ridiculous that I could laugh them off. This time, it was different. I felt then (and even still today) completely trashy, stupid, and guillible for ever believing what was said about me. Looking back, there were such gaping holes in the story that a blind 1st grader could have spotted them (which says something about the intelligence of the person who started the "story" and partly about mine and everyone else's for believing it). People believe what they want to believe, whether it has a basis in reality or not.
If anything, it taught me who my true friends were. Those who jumped on the gossip bandwagon now get little more than a "hello" or "goodbye" from me; those who stood by proved to me how loyal and trustworthy they were. Ever since this occurred, I have tried to keep an even tighter seal on my personal life. The less I put out there, the less there is for people to twist around (but unfortunately, by then they usually make it up from scratch!).