Friends, boyfriends, girlfriends or family members, if you’ve ever been ghosted by anyone, you’ll know that it is TOUGH.
What follows is an absolute whirlwind of emotions and I had 365 days to reflect on my actions when my best friend since secondary school ghosted me for an entire year.
Today I want to share that story and what I’ve learned about friendship along the way.
Friendship heartbreak is a very real thing
It has all the qualities of romantic heartbreak, but in many ways friendship heartbreak is much, much worse.
With romance, heartbreak is deemed as one of the inevitable outcomes. But when your heart is broken by someone you never thought would make you feel that way… well, it hurts like a bi*ch.
This was my first, real experience of friendship heartbreak. I had been friends with this person since I was 15. We were inseparable during school and I was by her side through some of the hardest times of her life. Things that you shouldn’t have to go through full-stop, but especially not at such a young age.
She became, in many ways, like the little sister I’d never had. We were always there for oneanother, she’d come on family holidays with me and my parents, she was like my shadow. Where I went, she went, and vice versa.
When you’ve navigated through secondary school together, growing up, becoming an adult, boys, drinking and social circles, is it so far-fetched, so naive to have thought we’d be friends for life?
After all, this wasn’t just a friend, an associate or even a good friend — she was my best friend. Above all others, she knew everything there was to know about me and I knew everything there was to know about her.
Like a sister, I loved her for who she was, good and bad. I knew all the bad sides of her personality and she knew mine. But I always knew she was fighting battles within herself.
So when she upped and moved to Italy one Summer out of the blue just before I was due to move to university, in some ways it didn’t surprise me.
I knew she lacked direction and needed to get away, somewhere new, away from where we grew up and the people that we knew. But still, I did not see it as a barrier to our friendship. Only an exciting new chapter and a new country to explore.
University, Italy and becoming young adults
With any friendship, when one half moves away for university and the other stays at home or goes elsewhere, it is very trying. It separates those who have faith in the friendship without constant interaction from those who don’t.
There’ll be friends who tell people you “grew apart” because you no longer speak as often, and there’ll be those who you may not see for six months but you know each time you do, nothing will have changed.
Nothing did change, at first. We would text and call one another every few months and have a big catch up when we did. She would tell me about her job, about the boys she’d met and I’d tell her about my first year at university.
The summer after she moved, I went to visit her in Italy. Sure, we weren’t quite as close anymore but fundamentally we still felt like best friends. The company and conversation were the kinds of easy that only come from falling back into a familiar pattern with someone you’ve known all your life.
So imagine my surprise when six months later, I text her a Happy New Year and I was ghosted. For the entire next year.
My year of being ghosted
I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. We’d been friends forever, if she was annoyed with me for some reason, surely she’d have just said, right?
Maybe I hadn’t made enough effort to speak to her. Maybe I had misunderstood the easy, relaxed tone of our friendship and that keeping in touch every few months actually wasn’t okay?
But I couldn’t know, as she wouldn’t speak to me.
I tried calling, I tried texting, I tried email. I tried sending her messages asking, what had I done? That if she was annoyed I hadn’t made enough effort, that I was sorry but that effort was a two-way street?
The year that followed was a whirlwind mix of emotions. I tried to move on and forget. But as she doesn’t have any social media, it honestly felt as though this huge part of my life had died.
It was SO difficult to deal with. I didn’t know where she was, what she was up to, if she was okay or happy. She’s not close with her family, so I didn’t feel I could ask them. There was just this blank, empty space where my best friend used to be. And it really did hurt like hell.
Shortly after came the bitterness and the anger. How is it, that I could be upset like this by someone who knew full well what they were doing?
Someone who had cut me out, without a second thought, and left me feeling like this.
Someone who had been loved and accepted into my family when they weren’t even on speaking terms with their own.
I had just about come to the acceptance side when, on a whim the New Year’s Eve after, through nostalgia or hope or some emotion I can’t comprehend, I decided to text her a Happy New Year and wish her well. Again.
I’ll be honest, I was expecting to be ignored. I had tried to get in touch numerous times early on in the year, to apologise, to seek an explanation, any explanation. All to no avail.
But she replied.
Confronting the ghost
All it was was a similar message back, pleasantries between people who were now strangers. But for me, emotion took hold and it opened the floodgates of all the anger, hurt and betrayal I had felt for the past year.
Was ensued wasn’t pretty. She was cold, at times nasty. I’ll be honest, I was an emotional mess. I just couldn’t see how I cared so much and she so little.
But no amount of tears, nor anger, nor explanation could change the fact that fundamentally each of us were looking upon two situations, that were entirely different and all but the same.
Her general response was that she felt we had “grown apart” and that I “needed to respect that she had her own life now” — like confronting why she had cowardly ghosted me for an entire year rather than just telling me the truth was an unreasonable request.
I’m not trying to say I did nothing wrong in this tale. I’m sure I’ve done many things wrong. But just like relationships, you can’t save a friendship that only one person wants to save.
Why are people so scared of just speaking the truth? Why instead, will they let you sit in miserable reflection late at night wondering what you did so terribly wrong?
The truth will never hurt as much as self-punishment, over-analysing and reflection will.
I know there’s always a risk when you confront your ghoster that it could make you feel worse than you did before. That it could give you some hard truths you don’t want know, that you could have perceived the situation all wrong. But for me, I am so glad I did it.
Ghosters — if you ever had an ounce of respect or love for that person, hell even if you didn’t, don’t be complete coward and give them the explanation they deserve.
Over text, in a letter, in an interpretive bloody dance if you have to. You can’t let people live in the shadow of your shortcomings.
Getting over hurtful situations, in friendship or in love, is incredibly difficult without any closure. And though our last conversation wasn’t pleasant, I had what I had needed all along — closure.
Closure to take that part of my life, all the happy memories, and bundle them into a box in my mind that’s only to be opened in thoughtful, loving and positive reflection on a time that once was, but is no longer.
I will always wish the best for her, but she’s no longer occupying that space in my heart.
I am being haunted no more.
Thanks for reading,