To my past self,
You did the best you could with the level of awareness you had. I love you.
- Dr. Nicole LePera
Who decides to write on a topic that is so gray (spoiler alert: it me).
It's not a "one size fits all" subject in any way, yet here I am and here you are.
Before we dive into this letter of sorts that I've written for the few who admit to having been deemed a "ghoster", I want to acknowledge a few things - some points I find extremely important to better grapple with the words that follow.
One: If you've experienced the ache and stood in shock amidst the debris of exile -
if you were ghosted by someone (or some - plural) - my word for you here is more of a corny statement (and who doesn't love those from a rando on the internet?):
sincerely believe and work toward the hope that you are okay, and if you don't feel it, you will eventually. Trust me.
Whatever they did or say or not do or say - does not have permission or room to define how, when or where you move forward and heal.
It does not give life to your inner critics' worst tone and nature - and it certainly does not make you lesser than.
Two: my intention is not to dig the knife deeper into the wound someone left in the back or front of those left behind. Whether someone meant it or not, the pain is valid, and that scar might remain.
Three: this letter is not to over compensate or paint a pretty picture of those who hurt others without a care, or make them feel good about straight up bad behavior.
Four: the tricky one - if we speak of grace, we should keep in mind that in its' definition, it's extended to everyone - including those who ghost.
The main reason I wanted to write about this topic...
I've witnessed mounds of encouragement over the years dedicated to those who have been "ghosted", but never have I ever read or heard someone take on the task of speaking directly to those who did the ever so frowned upon deed - with something other to say than "kick rocks".
I haven't seen that grace we speak of extended to those who left, or at least a public display of it. As if it's something to be ashamed of: to support someone in taking a bold step in what they deem as taking care of themselves, because we as the affected or bystanders can only assume it's by the definition of "douche-baggery".
Have we considered there might be other reasons someone leaves other than the easy conclusion that they suck?
Don't get me wrong - some people really do. For some God-forsaken reason, there are people who roam the earth seeking to inflict pain, manipulate others, and leave at the first site of conflict.
This is not for those who left for reasons other than their own, or the other's person's, pathway to better living.
That's a different bunch who I am not directing my attention to today.
Coming back now to who this is for: the one's who left because that's what they found as the healthiest solution.
The anger, confusion, and sadness on both ends are valid.
Again: both experiences are valid.
People were left behind without an eviction notice.
Someone who was entrusted to stay, left, and that's a kind of pain that can't be easily forgotten or forgiven. And on the other hand - someone didn't feel safe. Someone didn't feel they mattered, and it drained them. A lot.
Another question: Do we consider why someone left? A lot of times, no - because we create a story that there is only one good reason someone would be cruel enough to do this. This isn't something I recommend pondering over for hours on end - but if it's important to us to process this kind of event in a healthy manner, it should be considered, regardless.
And this is where I want to pause and write to you - if you were the one who walked away.
If you left that friend, that lover, that parent.
If you turned away after weeks or years.
If you woke up one day and thought "I'm fine without you".
If you realized what is was that prevented you from being 100% you.
If you chose to do something you believed was for the better - no matter the level of difficulty or ease - this is for you.
To the one who ghosted:
You may not be who we think you are - I mean, we've seen and heard the best and worst of you, right?
You ignored phone calls, left the messages in the chat alone.
You blocked them on social media, unfollowed in most places.
As a result of what you did, we may not consider you to be of tender nature, selfless or that you left trace's of good for anyone else.
The antagonist in every story you walked through before you changed the narrative yourself.
But despite those misguided assumptions, you should know a chunk of us want to see what you did as a solution to a problem, not a match for destruction.
You noticed something for awhile.
Something was off.
Someone was toxic.
Something wasn't right.
What some may have seen as good, healthy, beneficial - you experienced something quite different.
It might as well have been you - not to sound like a rom-com where the guys says "it's not you, it's me". Contrary to the negative message this brings, you did it for good.
Maybe you avoided confrontation for too long and this was how you came to terms of "solving it".
Maybe you didn't recognize yourself, or something like that, and just wanted space.
Maybe you needed to grow in order to see the other person for the simplicity and goodness they bring.
Or it wasn't you, and the person who witnessed a ghost (you) didn't respect the boundaries communicated to them.
Whatever the reason - whomever it was for - it doesn't need to be resurrected, poked and prodded at if not necessary.
I know it might not hold much grit to hear it from some rando on the internet, but I hope you know you are worth it.
I want us to take the phrase "ghosted" and shift it to "bordered".
For the one's who perceive what happened to be locked out, it was the result of someone building boundaries - and those don't necessarily require another's permission - just the one.
Despite what other's call you as a result of what you did - a ghoster, a backstabber, a link licker or coodie queen - you might have acted like one, let's not kid ourselves - you are not defined by that.
You are learning about what you need every day, and that's not easy to admit or acknowledge, especially out loud, and especially when someone else can get hurt.
Maybe it came easy, maybe it was more difficult to handle after the dust settled and you saw what was lost.
It's okay that you put up boundaries. In fact, it should be welcome.
There is grace for those who recognize the need for space.
This doesn't mean, nor should it be expected, that it be given to you by the one the wall was built for (be it forever or for a short period of time).
It most likely won't be for some time.
Would it be great? Absolutely - but to have that expectation, I think adds to the hurt and prevents the process of healing and opportunity to shed grace in the future.
Know that grace itself doesn't have a limit on the outpour - in the multiple outlets we receive it.
There is enough grace out there for both sides.
Whether you built the wall, set the boundary, said goodbye without any words - or you were the one who woke up one day with a door that had new locks and no key provided.
I hope it's made clear that grace doesn't require you to reconnect with whomever you chose to disconnect with.
Grace requires nothing of you, in case you were waiting to find out what it is you have to offer as a down payment.
Now that you know grace isn't reserved for certain parties, here are some things you should be dang proud of in what took place in your situation:
- you set and enforced personal boundaries (boom)
- you validated your own emotions by taking action on them (daaaaang)
- you took responsibility for yourself (who does that?)
- you leaned into and listened to your own intuition (look. at. you. go.)
- you let go of what no longer serves you (so so so so hard)
I know a lot of these will be looked at and considered to be within the camp of "selfishness". That when we take care of ourselves it's a result of narcissism.
As if in order to promote healthy relationships with others and ourselves (whom we're with all the time) we have to silently stay in a zone of toxicity or harsh attitudes.
No thank you, ma'am.
There is a difference between pulling yourself out of toxic situations and being an outright jerk. Did God call us to willingly suffer if not in his names' sake?
Not in the text I've read.
I don't know you - I won't claim to know how deep the cut goes or how shallow you meant to be when you built up the borders you found necessary to build.
We don't know if you regret your decision, or if you've never felt so "free".
Whichever camp you settle in, will you see that what you did was the best you could do with what you knew?
And that you were able to learn more about what you needed in the midst of it all.
Despite the bruises and the risks.
That's a pretty good outcome, I think.