Victoria Marie Page 25.01.17.

What’s worst
Looking jealous or crazy
Jealous n crazy
Or like being walked over lately
I’d rather be jealous and crazy
Jealous and crazy” – Beyonce

Something about being ignored can make us turn into seemingly crazy human beings in the desperate need to be seen, to be heard, or more to the point, to exist. When someone ignores us, they make us disappear, no longer worthy of the faintest recognition of our existence in their lives. Their reality no longer sees us. This is why the silent treatment is so painful. We are being wiped from memories, ceasing to exist, our voices quietened until they are a distant hum in the background.

But it is not only the silent treatment where this happens but also in “ghosting” – when a relationship or dating (of more than a couple of dates) ends in the complete silence and disappearance of the one person. All of a sudden messages are no longer responded to, phone calls not answered and for all intents and purposes the person has dropped off the face of the planet. That person turns into a ghost and you question, did I really imagine everything? Was I completely wrong about them, about us?

There are a number of theories as to why people turn themselves into Casper-the-not-so-friendly-ghost. From narcissistic tendencies to a lack of emotional maturity down to a total disregard for others. And this is apparently increasingly occurring as online dating makes love as throwaway as a £1 Primark t-shirt.

It’s easy to read ghosting as a reflection of ourselves of not being worthy of being seen or being told the truth. We run over in our heads what happened, did we say something, or do something that was too hard for them to face that they had no other option than to throw on their shining armor, jump on their white horses and speed off over the hills? Without an answer, our minds our left to make up whatever excuse fits into our life experiences and narratives. We are not mind readers after all.

Whatever the reasons behind ghosting, the consequences are real, they are pain, confusion, self-doubt and the total disempowerment of the person ghosted from existence. I have just been ghosted. After a couple of months of dating and what I had understood as a mutually connected, interested and developing relationship, the man in question, disappeared. With no more than a message to apologise that he couldn’t meet me at the airport like promised, and a “I’ll explain to you later…” he has taken himself from my life without a word or explanation. It is as if he thought he wasn’t important enough that I wouldn’t notice him not being there. But I do notice, and it hurts. I no longer exist to him, my messages don’t reach him, I am invisible, my voice is silenced and slowly I do not speak another word.

Hard to silence is the gnawing feeling that I need to know. Based on a vacuum of information, I swing from worry to anger to sadness. Maybe something terrible has happened, maybe he is not anything like he seemed, or maybe I am not worthy. These are all the conclusions I swing through daily. Ghosting is emotionally disempowering and can leave one struggling to understand what happened, what went wrong and whether we were completely mistaken. But it’s not about us, it’s not about me, it is about them, about him.

In the search for answers I have spoken to a few friends. I was told to just let it go because I would appear “crazy” if I tried to find an answer from him. The age old “crazy woman”, the “crazy ex-girlfriend”, the verbal disciplining of women to stay in their place, in this case, to stay sat here in non-existence, freeing the person in question from any responsibility out of fear that god forbid, may we as women be labeled “crazy” – and labeled as such, by a ghost. But I refuse to let fear of the crazy woman title influence my decisions, like Beyonce said, I’d rather be crazy than walked all over.

Maybe people become ghosts because they cannot face reality. Whatever the reasons by not being honest with people we do both them and ourselves an injustice. We tell ourselves we do not matter enough to a person’s life to the extent that they wouldn’t notice if we just stopped showing up. But we do matter and we hurt people by ignoring them into non-existence. We also disempower another by not being clear and letting them know how we feel or don’t feel for them, or what’s going on with us. It leaves marks. Cuts and bruises on our hearts, in our chests. These are tender places, wounds that reopen and weep at the sign of a hand coming near – a fear that builds from the pain of the past.

Beyonce showed us recently that she wasn’t going to sit in silence out of fear of appearing crazy. “I am not too perfect to feel worthless”. She did not stay shrinking herself into oblivion but used her pain to heal and to speak. Fear allows us to disappear, but power lets us stand up and been seen.

We can’t force someone to talk, give us an answer or tell the truth. We can only focus on dusting ourselves off, growing and moving on. But we must do so by shedding our skin of disempowerment and recognising our power to not be silenced. Through our own voices we reappear. Others may choose to close their ears, to not see us, but we hear ourselves again and that’s what matters.

Slowly we speak again.


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