I am deathly afraid of ghosts.
Not the paranormal kind, mind you (in fact, I enjoy a good horror movie). I’m talking about something – in my mind – a little more sinister.
I’ll give you a quick scenario. You just met someone, maybe at a bar or a restaurant or on the bus and you exchange numbers. You text back and forth for a while, and things seem to be going smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, nothing…you’ve just been ghosted.
“Ghosting”, according to Urban Dictionary, is the act of suddenly and inexplicably ceasing all communication with someone. No phone calls, no texts, no bone threw or hint given. It’s been described as horrible, selfish, and inconsiderate, and I am in agreement with all three. I hate that this word exists in any sort of dictionary, and I hate that it happens to even the best of us.
I’ve been ghosted more than a few times, and my experience with ghosting ranges from mild to utterly heartbreaking. Once, I was texting back and forth over a few days with someone I met in a bar the month before. One day the texting stopped with no explanation. Bummer. Whatever, move on right?
On another occasion, I had already gone on a few dates with my ghoster. Things seemed to be progressing well, dinner was great, and so was the conversation. We planned another meet-up, and were texting up until an hour or so before I was to pick her up. Then the texts stopped. Cool, maybe she’s just getting ready right? “I’ll meet you at Kelsey’s,” I texted before I left the house. If you guessed that this anecdote ends with me eating dinner and tossing back rum and cokes alone in a dimly-lit restaurant, you’re right. I never heard from her again. The food was good, though.
This next time resulted in the most depressive episode I’ve experienced to date, and it took me a long time to be able to even write about it. I had been seeing this person for months, and was on top of the world emotionally. I was feeling confident that hey…maybe I’ve got this whole life thing figured out. While we lived a bit of a distance apart, we made efforts to see each other regularly. We had done the whole “hey let’s post about each other on social media” thing, had a collection of mutual friends, and were even planning to move in together. Needless to say, I was riding high.
One day, things stopped. I didn’t get a “hey babe I’m on my way to work” text, no “Good morning boo thang” snap, no phone call on her drive home. No response to my texts either…strange. Monday night would go by, then Tuesday, then Wednesday – the first night I got any decent amount of sleep (shout out to melatonin). I woke up Thursday and everything from social media was slowly disappearing. I was watching myself be erased from someone’s life, one post, one memory at a time. Eventually, there was nothing left. No photos, nothing. The worst part was that it wasn’t like they ceased to exist as a person: the Snapchat stories, Instagram selfies, Facebook status updates all continued.
Did I dream that all of this had happened? Surely this must not have been real. I was crushed, and would spend the next several months trying to pick myself back up again (a story for another time). If not for a few good friends and some good old-fashioned therapy (I owe you Carolina) mixed with 10 mg of Lexapro daily, I may not have been around at the time of this writing.
See…the problem with ghosting for me isn’t always the act itself, but rather the emotional fallout from being ghosted. I’m not here to demonize people who ghost, but whatever someone’s reasons are for cutting someone else off completely…it’s disrespectful, cruel, and a huge blow to my self-esteem. It can take a huge emotional toll on your best days, and is devastating at it’s worst. I’m not saying I’m a perfect person (I’ve ended relationships in less-than-ideal ways myself – but always openly and honestly), or the perfect lover or friend, I’m saying I deserve better. We deserve better.
I read somewhere once that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. So, in my growing list of fears, you won’t find actual ghosts or zombies or vampires. You’ll find rejection, indifference, and the thought that I could potentially go from meaning everything to someone to meaning nothing at all.