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Chasing Ghosts

photo  © copyright Michael Gold 2023 with permission



After all, the true seeing is within.


― George Eliot, "Middlemarch"



There have been complicated and painful estrangements in my life, but I have never been "ghosted" by a friend until recently. I'm a writer; communication is my middle name. Talking, writing, thinking about what I say or don't say, and how to say it, deep listening when I interview people, maintaining a civil discourse between combative parties using my certificate studies in mediation and conflict resolution—all of these tools have worked for me most of the time. Communication takes practice and it's never perfect; I am never perfect. But shunning a friend, especially an old friend, well, it's just not something I'd do, or even think of doing.  It's a calculated—albeit silent—act unworthy of civilized people.


So, I was perplexed, and also sad, when two women friends ghosted me. As there have been two such painful events, I've had to ask myself whether or not I did anything wrong, hurtful, or foolish. And the answer is: nothing that warrants such callous, hostile behavior. And ghosting is callous, totally unlike anything I have experienced before, contemporary in its provocative intensity, an expression of grievance, hate and rage. Is it possible that my two highly intelligent, well-educated, accomplished friends have caught this disease? That we all went a little insane during the pandemic? Is it possible that our reliance on electronic media to sustain connection during the pandemic has distorted our human connections?  


But then another thought crossed my troubled, feminist mind: Would any of my male friends do this to me? And, I'd have to say, I don't think so, though I'm not sure why not. I know that men ghost women in the online dating universe—so many horror stories, akin to emotional abuse. Are my women friends mirroring this behavior and feeling more powerful? Or, are they experiencing the frustrations and challenges of aging in an agist society and shedding relationships they find, what? Dear Reader, please fill in the blank.


I won't hypothesize further. My ghosting friends have my contact information and know that I will answer all missives and phone calls promptly, should they ever want to talk or write. And though I remain hopeful, and keep my heart open, I don't know how I would feel about a reconnection without apologies, self-examination on both sides,  and a slow renewal of trust—the essence of loving friendships and nations at peace.


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