I’ve been recently ghosted by a friend and colleague, and I’m not gonna lie—it has really hurt my feelings.
It’s also caused me to dig deep into what my role in all of this might have been. Did I expect too much from her? Was I a disappointment? Did I unintentionally do something that made her feel bad? Bad enough to literally just disappear from my life and erase me from hers?
Maybe the biggest hurdle to overcome with being ghosted is simply the fact that not knowing makes your brain go in all kinds of directions that are likely not at all accurate. And all the directions also only lead to “me.”
- What could I have done to cause this?
- Isn’t she thinking at all about how this is making me feel?
- I would never do this to someone.
- Who does she think she is to do this to me?
- I thought we were friends.
- I don’t understand why she won’t just text me back.
I me I me I me I me I me I me I me I me I me I…
But what if it’s not about me at all? What if I am just collateral damage in some massive personal explosion in her life? Or what if she never really cared about me the way I thought she did, and for reasons I may never know, and that may not be at all dramatic or tragic, she has simply moved on?
I’m really trying to unpack why I’m struggling with this so much. I mean, I did and do really like her, and I find her talent to be astonishing, so I’m missing her in both realms of my life—as a friend and through my work, but she isn’t my best friend. She isn’t my go-to person except for her particular art form. That will likely never be paralleled in my life, and I will always miss that.
I read a book recently (maybe it was Be Fearless by Jean Case?) that said the things that challenge you most about others are often the qualities that you either know you possess or secretly fear you do. Like, I can’t stand loud dramatic people in public because I know I was that person for much of my life—highly dramatic and often in “performance” mode. I dislike them because I’m secretly ashamed that I put others through that when I was younger.
So what about this am I secretly finding in myself? I am not a ghoster. I email and text people back within about 14 seconds and often feel guilty that I didn’t get to it sooner. I meet people head-on and mostly address irritations, disappointments and frustrations as well as accolades and praise face to face. In short, where people are concerned, I try to be conscientious of their time and of their needs. For me, if I don’t respond immediately, whatever I need to do just lives in the front of my brain and disrupts my ability to focus on much else, including even sleep, so it’s best for me to clear out my mental inbox with regularity. And so I struggle to be patient with those who aren’t quite as obsessive with this quality…basically I struggle with almost every single person on the planet in this capacity.
Maybe it’s that I can’t believe she doesn’t want me. Do I have an unconscious “after all I’ve done for her” mindset that she senses and resents? I don’t actively think that way about her, but I also know that I am pretty comfortable being an A+ problem solver and connector; I’m also likely to share with you all that isn’t absolutely going right in your world, whether you asked or not, because, of course, I likely know best. Maybe she doesn’t want or need that. At least not from me.
I definitely also have a savior complex, one that I have tried to recover from much of my adult life. I find people who need mending, assistance, full on mental/spiritual/emotional transplants and take them on…because I’m, you know, so stable and rock solid myself. Maybe she doesn’t want or need to be saved. At least not by me.
I think what’s hardest about all of this is that none of this may be a factor in any size, shape or form for her at all. My brain is playing and replaying conversations we’ve had over and over, looking for that minute clue that can tip me off to what really happened so that I can declare “Eureka!” and close the case. Because closure is phenomenally important to me. I like neat and tidy starts and endings. This relationship feels frayed, like a pair of denim cutoffs, and I don’t like that feeling at all.
I miss my friend; I’ll miss her art for the rest of my life. But maybe at the end of the day, I really miss the control I thought I had over it all. And maybe that’s the hardest thing about her choice–it’s completely out of my control, and I have to simply shut the door on it all.