Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Hi everyone. Sorry I've been M.I.A. for the last month and a half, I was (joyfully) moving my children and myself back to the USA from South Korea.

My husband will be joining us in a few more days, and once that has happened, everything will be right as rain. We had a good run in Korea, I made it the FULL 3.5 years and I am super proud of myself for that--because South Korea is NOT an easy place to live as an expat. But we did it. We succeeded. And the reward was... we got to come home, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Alas, despite all of the dozens of awesome, amazing, and great aspects of our return, being home has forced me to face some of my demons head on. Demons that living 5,000 miles away made easier to ignore. Things like dysfunctional relationships that I'd chosen to ignore for 3.5 years, and the feelings of inadequacy and anxiety that being in close proximity to some of my family inevitably churns up inside of me. And now that I am back "home" in the USA, I am finding myself staring some of these uncomfortable relationships in the face, and it's been an uncomfortable wake up call for me. It was easier to avoid some of these feelings living all the way in Asia. Just saying.

 One particular issue that has come up is this: GHOSTING.

You know, I honestly didn't even know what "ghosting" was until several months ago when a crazy woman (the mother of a young man my daughter ever-so-briefly sort of liked/kind of, almost dated) berated me because my daughter had failed to text her son that day. She'd angrily demanded: "Is she GHOSTING him??" To which I quickly answered: "No! Of course not." Then I quickly googled "ghosting" to figure out what my daughter had just been accused of.

(Spoiler alert: she wasn't ghosting him. She just didn't have the need to talk to him constantly.) Another spoiler alert: my daughter's budding relationship with that young man (and his overly attached and alarmingly highs strung mother) never really took off. Neither did my friendship with the mom. Can't imagine why.

BUT...they did give me some food for thought, and I really appreciated their odd, bullish way of introducing me to a word that until six months ago, I'd experienced before, but never really knew the name for...

 Regardless, I did some significant soul searching, and discovered that I have fallen victim to "ghosting" a time or two, and I've even been the perpetrator of "ghosting!" Sometimes it's been because of something simple. For example, a friend and I just didn't find/make the time to hang out anymore, one of us moved away, we grew apart, and the drift between us just happened.

But a few times, it was (or at least felt) extremely deliberate and antagonizing.

See, I am more of a cut and dry person. If I don't like someone anymore, and I don't want to be in their life any longer, chances are, they know exactly why and when I decided to make the cut. I am not afraid to snip the strings and set someone free if the relationship isn't working. However, there have been times when I have just slipped into the shadows, gone radio silent, and hoped that the other person didn't lose their poop and try to burn my house down. Because sometimes people are weird and scary. For the most part, I think that the times when I've slipped silently into the background until I've faded out of someone's life have been met with gratitude.

I am well aware that I am no walk in the park to hang out with at times, and frankly, if I am annoying and upsetting someone, I imagine they want me out of their life as much as I want out of theirs. So in that case, I don't think "ghosting" was such a bad thing. It was more like the quiet and unassuming process of eliminating a toxic relationship.

But... There was, however, one circumstance where I was ghosted by someone of massive and epic significance to me.... and to put it mildly, it crushed me. Utterly crushed me. In fact, it's been years, and it *still* crushes me. Even now, as I am typing this, I feel sweaty, and my heart is beating out of my chest, and I feel all self-conscious and awkward. Even more awkward than usual, which is saying something.

I had a friend, who also happened to be a cousin, who was, to put it mildly, my kindred spirit. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who devoured the Anne of Green Gables series as a kid.) She was my closest confident in adulthood, knew everything there was to know about me, loved me when others couldn't, called me on my BS, celebrated me when I needed a cheerleader, and was my first text in the morning, and my last text at night. She was, second only to my husband, my very, very best friend. Until suddenly she wasn't anymore. Her life changed. Her job changed. She moved a few times. Changed relationships a few times. And before I knew it, she'd changed, along with everything else in her life.

Our daily, sometimes hourly, phone calls faded away. Our texts eventually became short, curt, and abrupt. Often times we didn't talk for days--but not because I wasn't trying. Because my efforts were falling on deaf ears. Before too long, our communication faded to once every few weeks, usually when she needed something from me, but never, ever to laugh, joke, and lament on life with each other. Those days were gone. Often times my communication with this friend went either unanswered, or answered with a "Can't talk right now, call you right back!" text that would inevitably go unreturned.

 After a couple years of this, the relationship faded to nothing. When we would see each other at the rare family get together that I participated in, she would smile, laugh, and act as if nothing had changed. Our brief moments together were always wrapped up with a promise to text, a vow to get together, and "not disappear again," only to have the obvious happen within minutes of pulling out of the driveway. When I moved abroad, she didn't say goodbye. She didn't call or reach out on most of my summers visiting the USA. Despite my having the same phone number for the last decade, there have been no texts, no calls, nothing. It's been radio silence for years.

There was a time when we didn't make a move without consulting each other, where our lives were so intertwined that it felt uncomfortable to have major life events without including her. I lost a daughter. I lost a hundred pounds. I moved abroad. My son graduated and moved to Chile. I lost my father. To this day (something like 6 years later) I don't know what changed. She just faded into the background of my life, and never came back. And instead of feeling like it was a dysfunctional relationship we both needed to get rid of, I felt sick to my stomach. Rejected. Scorned. And inexplicably sad. Our last communication came within minutes of my father's life ending. In a sad, wracked frenzy, five thousand miles away from home, I texted the one person I wanted above everyone else on earth. I told her that I needed her, that I was angry and sad and raw and hysterical, and that I couldn't get through it alone.

Miraculously she replied, saying to keep texting, that she was there, and would get me through this. So I did. I wrote a long message, pouring my guts out for her to help me sort out, and admitting the guilt I felt that my father had died while he and I were estranged, and how filled with rage I was that he'd been an alcoholic....and so on and so forth. I really laid it out there. I wish I hadn't. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. She never wrote back.

 I waited seven months for her to write back, but she didn't. Then when I traveled to the USA for that summer visit, I waited for her to reach out to me, to ask if we could get together and talk. Hell, my Father had died and she'd ignored me! I honestly thought she would at the very least see me while I was in town. But nope.

 We're not friends anymore. We're cousins, yes, but since I am not close with my family, and she was one of the few relatives I still connected with, I'm not sure that title holds anymore, either. She does not like me, and after all these years, I have finally gotten it. It has sunken in, and I have come to grips with it. I still hurt, and I am still angry, because the one friend I valued above so many others literally ghosted me, even after my father died, BUT... I have made reluctant peace with it.

My current attitude towards the whole situation.....most of the time.

She got married a couple weeks ago. I don't know the man she married, and I was not invited. Frankly, I don't know her, either, but knowing she married without telling me stung. It doesn't mean that I would've gone. Honestly I'm not sure that a wedding would've been the right venue for a heart-to-heart reunion, or if she would've even been open for one, but not being invited or told or.... well, spoken to for the last six years... That's been tricky.

 Ghosting sucks.

Not all the time. Sometimes it's a necessary evil. Sometimes it's a cure for an uncomfortable, unmanageable relationship.

But in certain circumstances, it's a real b*tch. I wish I'd never had this experience. Not a single day of my life has gone by over the last few years where I haven't wished things with that friend had gone differently, and I've spent many a moment crying and praying for a random text that never comes. In the meantime, I remind myself of this:

Thank you, crazy lady whose son my daughter dumped, for teaching me the name of what was done so thoughtlessly to me. At least I know what to call it now.

 xoxo Brooke