In the book I’m writing now, someone is ghosted. That’s a newish term (to me, anyway, I’m behind on these things). Ghosting is when all communication is abruptly cut off, ending a relationship. No explanations, no “this isn’t working”…the person is just gone.
This happened to me! It was maybe seven or eight years ago, and in my case, it was a friend. She was an aspiring writer who’d written me a fan letter, and a friendship developed, mostly via email and phone calls. She knew a lot more people in the writing world than I did at that time and was full of information and, occasionally, gossip. We met in person at a conference, hung out.
She had a serious medical condition; in the interest of her privacy, I won’t say what it was, but it was a lot harder for her to get around. I didn’t mind. If we were walking and she had to stop to rest, I’d just chat and wait till she could keep going. I took her to my publisher’s party. She seemed nice and funny, and we continued to stay in close touch, emailing a few times a week, talking on the phone once in a while.
And then…she stopped. Just like that. One day, she didn’t answer her email. I asked if she was okay. Nothing. A couple days later, I emailed again, said I was getting worried. Pictured her with a heart attack, in the hospital. Called her, got her voicemail, left a message. Didn’t hear back. I checked all her online presences—no updates, nothing. Finally, I called once more and left her husband a message, asking him to let me know if something had happened. I was a little terrified that she had died, which, given her state of health, wouldn’t have been a stretch at all.
I never heard back.
After awhile, I saw that she had gone back to blogging. And I saw something else—I had been removed from her list of favorite authors.
So she was alive, and clearly, she no longer wished to be friends. I wrote her one more email, saying I wondered what had happened, and that clearly she felt I had wronged her somehow, though I was unaware of what I might’ve done. Wished her the best. And that was that. I saw her one other time; she said hello in a very pleasant way, and so did I. The end.
Being a writer, I’m an introspective person. Looking back at this friend, I realized that we met at a time when I was of the mind that anyone could be my friend—that, especially in the writers’ world, it can seem that all friendships are already carved in stone, and if you’re new, you can feel pretty lonely, as I did.
The friend who ghosted me was draped in red flags, and I ignored them all—her self-inflicted health issues, the gossip, the anger that bubbled under the surface all the time. “You’re allowed to be discerning,” said a smarter friend when I told her about this. “Being nice doesn’t mean you have to set yourself up for abuse.”
Live and learn.
Still, it makes for good fodder. : )