They don't deserve it.
It didn't matter that I paid her mortgage for years, or that I worked 50 - 60 hours a week. It didn't matter that I cleaned her house or sat there and listened to her problems for hours after working a 14 hour day. Never mattered that my sister and I paid her bills, bought groceries and handled her ever increasing instability, when she talked to her friends, other family members or really anyone that would listen, we were horrible creatures.
Being lied about is horrible in itself. But I think what is worse is when someone lies about you to someone in your life and this person believes it without ever coming to you. Recently, this subject has come up with a couple of friends of mine. One woman's reputation was attacked by a supposed "friend" for reasons no one can seem to figure out. In a grown up game of telephone - this "friend" had gone to various mutual friends and spread made up stories. This act in itself was hateful and heartbreaking to my friend. She hadn't done what this woman had claimed, not only was she not the type, but she wasn't even around when she was supposedly doing these things. But there were a few people who believed the stories. They took them at face value and completely allowed it to change their perception of her. She was labeled a troublemaker, a liar and a fraud. She lost friends because of one woman's stories that were nothing but fiction.
Another friend had a similar situation when a co-worker was spreading lies about him at work. This co-worker was upset with my friend and decided that he would get him back by telling anyone who would listen, how much of a jerk he was, how he never stood up for his employees and was awful to work for. People believed him. When it got back to my friend, a guy who pours his heart and soul into his work, who treats his workers like family, he was heartbroken. Not so much at what had been said - but more so because of what had been believed. He was devastated to think that people who knew him - would ever believe such stories.
The gut-punch life lesson I learned at an early age... people will believe horrible things about you because it makes them feel better. It makes them feel superior. Especially if you are a successful, well rounded person. Stop defending yourself to people who didn't give it a second thought when they judged you. They don't deserve it. And they probably won't believe you anyway. If someone is spreading lies about you, telling stories and starting rumors and some people believe them without first coming to you directly - well you don't need them in your life anyway. It is their loss. For not taking the time to see for themselves. For not taking the time to make their own judgements based on their own perceptions and for being so quick to think the worst of you. They weren't really good friends or family for that matter, to begin with.
Never for a moment doubt yourself because of another's dishonesty. Stop spending time defending yourself to people who were so quick to believe the worst and surround yourself with authentic friends who see and love you for who you are. People who have seen you at your worst and at your best, and love you without fail.
It hurts so much when you hear how certain people feel about you. It hurts when someone has formed an erroneous opinion about your character without ever really getting to know you. The real truth of the matter is - it really isn't about you at all. It is more about them, their view of the world, their own lack of self-esteem, and inability to form their own judgements.
Some people in this world will just not like you. So what? Spend time and thoughts on the ones who do. For it is those that will walk beside you throughout life. Focus and believe in those that always believe in you. The rest do not deserve your time, thoughts or energy.
They do not deserve... you.