Being ghosted sucks. It's emotionally debilitating and disorientating. It's even worse when we've known the person for months or years only to discover they've disappeared without a trace.
I am a successful personal transformation coach, healer and yoga therapist and I was ghosted.
I felt ashamed, confused, depressed and terrified. Feeling this way lead me to subsequently become so disconnected from myself I wound up getting physically injured. I suspected my physical injuries were tied to my emotional upheavals. In my profession I am more than aware the body and emotions are a package deal, effecting the health of one another.
I had my intuitions confirmed when I visited a medical medium who had never met me before. She scanned me with those intuitive eyes, making me feel like I was being read by an MRI machine. “Oh yeah, that neck and into the shoulder looks like you’ve been side swiped. You were really blindsided.”
The medical medium who stood before was spot on when me pointed to the left side of my body. “It’s as if he just side swiped you like a karate chop to the throat chakra and silenced you good.” The medium continued to scan me. Of course, she wasn’t talking about a real physical assault even though my sensitive body and delicate heart took it that way.
If only my intuition (and hers) had given me any hint that the man who professed his love to me for years, who met my family and friends, said he wanted to marry me and to whom I freely gave all of my heart, would one day ghost me. The day he left and revealed his the true nature of his cowardly heart, my heart broke first and months later my body followed. I had been having issues with my entire left side—my feminine energy side—and emotional health ever since.
I used those feelings to sulk for a while before I could take some positive action.
I cried for what seemed like forever. I went back to therapy. Meditated. Spent lots of time alone and with those who really did love me. As I pondered my purpose in life, I also reviewed my part in this toxic relationship that left me so wounded.
Eventually, I tip-toed back into the dating world from a place of wholeness and love. Fear of being hurt again or choosing the wrong person was not an option. I needed to make sure I loved myself enough to make sure being ghosted never happened again.
Three things needed to change to avoid being ghosted a third time. Yes, I was sorta ghosted before, and yes, I know the rule when it comes to repetitive scenarios that cause pain and suffering. First time, blame the universe, the other person or write it off as a fluke. Second or more times, flip that lens inward and take a hard look—it’s time to make a change in yourself.
On another earlier occasion, I had dated a man with kids for only six months with the same deal. Met the kids, he met my family, spent lots of time together, traveled, went on holidays and started to talk about moving in. Moved a few items in and bam! Ghosted (sorta).
This ghoster reemerged after a few weeks (so maybe more of a zombie than a ghost) with a sh*tty explanation I totally tried to accept. Given my high propensity for forgiveness, understanding, learning and my open door policy in dating I allowed him to creep back in. Apologies and authenticity abounded when my boundaries should have been solidified. It was no surprise when round two abruptly ended.
There are three pieces of wisdom I can share after being ghosted while being in a serious long-term relationship:
Both the ghoster and the ghostee are emotionally fractured in different ways.
Personally I have very little empathy for someone who ghosts. Having experienced the intense pain that comes from this doesn't lend me to have much heart for the ghoster. However, an imbalance of personal power in the relationship at the get-go often leads to the painful experience of being ghosted. Which means it takes two to tango when it comes to ghosting, even if one or both of people are doing so unconsciously.
Ghosting is more about an inability to handle and communicate complex feelings. It’s a cowardly, passive-aggressive behavior that seems like an easy or less complicated way out for the person who is doing the ghosting. Statistically-speaking ghosting causes pain for both parties involved but it is important for someone who ghosts to get therapy if they are going to change.
But, not all ghoster's are able to change. I once had a life-coaching client who laughingly bragged about the women he’s ghosted. When I explained the cruelty of his actions, and tried to help him become accountable for what ghosting does psychologically and physically to people he said, “Well, it works for me.”
That’s when I had to end our working relationship and refer him to a psychotherapist I work closely with. Many ghosters are aware of what they do but choose not to be accountable or change, while others are afraid of the confrontation related to breaking up. Some people that ghost could be suffering from an underlying personality disorder besides a lack of empathy. There could be a potentially a more serious disorder like NPD, Borderline or Sociopathy.
When we choose to be a “we” instead of “you and me,” statements like the one above are unacceptable for healthy people looking for healthy loving relationships.
If we’re someone who gets ghosted, we need to realize that accepting this behaviour says more about us and our self-worth than it does about the person who ghosted us. If our partner can’t see this, we need to take this as a warning sign and move on to healthier dating and relationship pastures. Learning how to communicate complicated feelings in relationships is a skill that can and must be learned by all involved if we want our relationships to be healthy, loving and lasting.
If we think ghosting is okay, it’s not. If you think getting ghosted is okay, it’s not. If we think it’s funny, it isn’t.
Personality disorders aside, choose to communicate in the realm of love and relationships with respect toward your friend or partner—even if it’s challenging for us to do so. Ghosting must not be allowed to continue be the new normal. We are better than that.
Author: Heather Dawn
A version of this blog originally appeared in Heather Dawn's column on Elephantjournal.com