I Think I Ghosted My Friend, Again
“Bess” and I met at work when we were in our twenties. After a somewhat rocky start to our professional relationship, we became friends. Good friends.
We came from completely different backgrounds, Bess having grown up in South Africa and me on Long Island. Our childhoods and the education we had received were so very different. Originally, it seemed like we had nothing in common.
Yet, we actually had many shared interests, and once we began to respect and learn from each other, we moved on from being colleagues to true friends. Friends that spent holidays together, friends that visited each other’s childhood homes, that go-to friend to hang out with on the weekends. She was the friend that was just so comfortable to be with, that it didn’t take thought or effort.
In our late twenties, we spent weekends in New York and took road trips to Vermont in the summer. We both ended up going on to graduate programs and since she had no family here in the U.S., I was her cheering section at her graduation.
I really don’t know when or why we drifted apart. Yet, it was clear to me by the time my wedding came around that the gulf between us was even wider than I had realized. I hadn’t even included Bess in my wedding planning at all. Although she was there, she was just one of many guests.
Maybe it was work, maybe it was our other relationships, but something had changed. After my wedding, we rarely spoke and before I knew it, years had gone by and we had lost touch completely.
One day, out of the blue, I got an email from Bess, looking to reconnect. We exchanged cell phone numbers, texted, and spoke a bit. After a few months, we decided to meet for dinner.
In some ways, it was so comfortable as we started to catch each other up on the last years of our lives. She had gotten married, I had two children and she had one. We fell into the routine of meeting every couple of months, talking about work, our children, books. I remembered how much I had enjoyed just talking to her, appreciating her sharp wit and her insightful thoughts. Yet we never really addressed those missing years.
And then my mother died.
I really struggled in the weeks after her funeral and before I was ready to rejoin the world, we went into the covid-19 quarantine. The truth is, quarantine was a relief for me. I had a built-in excuse to hide away and grieve.
Bess reached out multiple times. She called. She texted. I never picked up and rarely responded. Yet she kept trying.
It wasn’t just Bess I was avoiding, but she couldn’t have known that. My social circle had become smaller, very small and COVID made that easy. It took most of my energy to do my work and to be a mom to my children who were now living back at home. I was consumed with the stress of worrying about everyone’s health and fighting off that fog that clung to me, that aching for my daily talks with my mom.
I finally texted Bess back a few months ago. I told her it wasn’t her; it was me. I was depressed, I was working a lot.
I told her I’d call her soon. But I didn’t.
I’ve thought about calling or texting, but ultimately I didn’t. Nor can I explain why. And the longer I’ve waited, the harder it is to pick up the phone. Did I ghost her?
Ghosting is when you stop speaking to someone in an effort to avoid drama and confrontation. Ghosting is when you don’t allow the other person to have closure.
Ghosting is mean and hurtful.
Yes, I did all of those things. While that wasn’t my intent, does it really matter if the result is the same?
I still hope that one day, I’ll find the courage to reach out, knowing that it won’t be an easy conversation. She deserves to know that it really wasn’t her.