So the kids these days have a term called “ghosting,” which is when, for example, you go on a first date with someone and they never call you again. They don’t return your text messages. They defriend you on social media. They just evaporate into thin air. And often it leaves the ghostee a little paranoid as though they must have done something wrong.
This happened to me recently with a really good friend. We hadn’t been friends for a terribly long time. We were coworkers for about six months but she was just one of those people you immediately clicked with. I moved on from that job and she moved on from that job but we spoke on the phone every Sunday afternoon for at least an hour. She had moved to Texas from out of state, and her mother passed away a few years ago, so I don’t know her family and we don’t have a lot of mutual friends.
So when she disappeared on Aug. 25 and did not return until Oct. 9, I had limited options. This girl has had recurring bouts with cancer, even though she’s just 30 years old. She’s engaged to be married to a young man who is in the military, but I don’t know her fiance’s last name, and he’s not on any sort of social media. My phone calls would go to voice mail and my texts would go unanswered. It honestly crossed my mind that she might be hospitalized or even worse. The last time she was in the hospital her fiancé text messaged me to let me know that she’d come out of surgery and was OK. But he texted from her phone, so I didn’t have his number. In fact I’ve never met him.
She works for a very large company, a professional sports team, and travels a lot. I tried to track her down at work. I couldn’t find her name on the website, probably because they have about a million employees. I messaged her through Instagram and LinkedIn. Her Facebook page had been removed. Maybe she’d gotten fired from her job and was embarrassed to talk about it? I considered every scenario.
My feelings ranged from hurt to anger. This is a person who would call me out on Facebook if I didn’t return a text within five minutes. This is a person who I had asked to be a bridesmaid in my wedding.. I just didn’t understand. I still don’t.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got a message.
“I took a little sabbatical from social media, from friends, even from some family. I really just needed to process some things. I had to find my peace. With everything that’s taken place this year – the highs and the obvious lows – I’m finally at a place where I’m centered. It was nothing against you or anyone else. I just had to unplug and feed my spirit …”
That’s great. I’m proud of her for doing that. But you gotta let people know what you’re doing. We need to know you’re not dead. I need to know you’re not mad at me. I need to know you’re OK.
It’s exhausting to continue reaching out to someone who won’t at least just tell you, “I need some time alone.”
I think I need to let some things go and forgive and accept her decision to unplug. But I also think if you want good friends, you have to be a good friend. This isn’t the way to do it.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.