Why is it called ghosting when we're the ones left haunting?
I used to have a pixie cut.
When I got the chop, for the first time in my life I felt like I found the haircut my face and head and body and personality were destined to have.
I swore I'd never grow my hair out again. I had literal nightmares where I'd wake up with hair that had grown to my waist overnight.
The boyfriend (who was never actually my boyfriend because he did not believe in labels) ended our six month relationship by ghosting me. The day after my birthday, he fell off planet earth. He ignored my calls, my texts, my frantic pleading for an explanation. A man I talked to every single day, who I made plans with, envisioned a future with, was just gone.
We call it ghosting because the person in question who abandons you is supposedly like a ghost — poof! Gone.
But the truth is that the people they leave behind ... we're the real specters. Ghosts spend their afterlives trying to get the attention of the living. They bust their see-through asses trying to make a connection and complete their unfinished business.
Anyone who has ever sent a text message to a man she talked about children with and waited weeks for a response that never came knows what it feels like to be a ghost.
After Justin ghosted me, I wasn't the same. I was me, but different. I felt like I didn't know what to do with my hands. Smiling felt weird. Dating felt impossible. More than anything else, I felt this tremendous amount of pressure to prove to the world at large that in spite of the way I had been treated, I was alive, I was real, and I would make an impact on the world.
I was so busy worrying about asserting my own existence, that I didn't realize until just recently that what Justin really took from me was my nascent sense of self-worth.
I dated in a frenzy. I scrambled to make every man I met love me. I thought I was doing this to prove I was real but that was only part of it. I was doing it because the way he treated me had left me feeling like maybe I didn't deserve any better.
I'm in a relationship now that has lasted just about as long as my time with Justin did. It couldn't be more different. That frantic feeling is gone. There is no pressure. I do not worry and pace and panic thinking I am unworthy of love.
I don't think I even realized any of this until I caught my reflection and saw my hair. "I've got to go back to old haircut," I thought. It wasn't just that the hair reminded me of a better time, it was that it reminded me of a version of myself who was confident and happy and sure of her place in the world. The person I was before I was ghosted.
I'm ready to be that girl again. I'm ready to have hair so short that cowlicks are an issue. I'm ready to laugh so loud I snort. I'm ready to be freely myself again.
I'm ready not to be a ghost anymore.