The first woman I fell in love with ghosted me. Why? Because I was dumb enough to tell her that I loved her—one month after meeting her! It was an uncomfortable situation for us both :)
I didn’t want to be that crazy in love and she didn’t want me to be either! She politely said “She didn’t feel she was at the same place at the moment” and then… she disappeared, forever. I tried reaching out—to understand the situation and get some sense of reality and if it could ever change. But there was no reply. I tried again, nothing. I waited 3 weeks and then tried again. Nothing… and as each attempt to understand the situation passed, it became more and more consuming of my energy, time, ability to connect, and a lingering dread.
I should have ‘just let go’, obviously! Take the hint and stop trying. I get that. But when you’re genuinely in love with someone 'giving up' feels like a betrayal. It’s absurd but it’s true, that’s how it feels.
You go after the girl you love—you try and do what it takes to reach out to her and prove how much you care. Within reason of course! And that line is a maddening one to walk for everyone involved—deciphering fantasy from reality trapped in your own mind, spurred forward by silence. It’s a hopeless place to find yourself in. And the silence makes it linger in a way that burns it into your very being. You’re not just alone—you’ve been put in a tomb, branded for life-after-death.
After being ghosted, no matter who I talked to, I was always terrified that they would suddenly disappear too. That was the only sensation I was left with after having been ghosted—that the world was slowly dying. Being ghosted paralyzed my ability to connect, to trust and to reach out to other people without crippling fear in my bones. Ghosting is killing our ability to empathize.
Not all ghosting is the same, not all people do it for the same reason. Sometimes it needs to be done. I can understand that. Other times, it’s utterly needless and indescribably damaging to the person who was ghosted. The semantics of when ‘it is’ or ‘isn’t’ called for isn’t the point of the conversation—it’s what happens to US after we’ve been ghosted. That’s the crisis. Because ghosting doesn’t just disappear over time—it lingers, like emotional shadows, haunting us everywhere we go. We carry on as ghosts. We carry our ghosts with us. And slowly and surely this epidemic of lacking compassion is consuming us all.
Covid has made everything worse. Amplifying separation in a time of rampant arguing—forces feeding one another to create vacuums of deeply hurt people. The mental health crisis is accelerating. It’s getting worse every single day. People are reaching out to each other more and more over the internet. And yet, they’re being let down more and more because of it. People on screens aren’t ‘people’… they’re menus. Connections aren’t made anymore… they’re selected. And the effect is as haunting as it is because everywhere we go we’re less and less present—more and more of a ghost.
Politics shapes most of our social conversations but our subtle day to day interactions shapes most of our lives. Nothing is separate. But we experience the pain and hurt of separation all the time. That’s what living life in this very distant way is doing to us. Shadows of people isolated in environments of withering compassion, betrayed by the powers that be. It’s all going wrong at once. We need to talk, not run.
The apocalypse happens in the hearts of people first. The loneliness epidemic is just that. Without community we lose ourselves. Without words of connection we wither and fade. And in a world of ghosts like this one, something as harmless as saying I love you is no longer on the menu.
It all changes one person at a time. Stop the spread. The real epidemic is apathy.