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Releasing the ghost in your heart

Updated: May 30, 2023

I’ve been profoundly ghosted once in my life. It wasn’t by a partner. But it felt just as utterly painful. It was by, who I considered at the time, one of my closest, soul friends. A twin spirit companion who I believed would be in my life forever.

The ending of our friendship was a scrambled egg. I still to this day don’t fully understood what happened, because the nature of ghosting takes all the answers and throws them out to a stormy sea.

First to deshamify ghosting. I have acted as a ghost myself. It is a normal response to having been hurt and not having the capacity to feel those feelings & share them vulnerably with the people involved in a rupture. Whether that is to say goodbye or ask for repair.

Ghosting is a result of a slow drip from an emotional pipe of unacknowledged hurt or distrust that builds over time. When we don’t check in to see if our boundaries are being crossed, needs are being met, or trust is being broken, we bottle these things up, not sharing them, until the pipe bursts and ghosting feels like the only option. It’s an avoidance of all the mess. Usually because we grew up in a home where conflict wasn't safe and our nervous systems can't endure the discomfort of vocalizing our truest feelings.

There’s no shame in it. So many of us are not taught about conscious goodbyes or repair work. But it’s not benign. The burst pipe does cause harm to both parties.

I believe the person who is acting as ghost is haunted by their floating away on some conscious or unconscious level. They never actually receive the thing that they needed, whether it be an apology or the opportunity to share a hurt they experienced. The person who has been ghosted is haunted by the unknowing and robbed of the opportunity to make amends. The confusion and quaking grief that comes with a sudden and shocking death.

For me, as a recovering people pleaser, I internalized this ghosting. I believed I was a horrible person. But a wise soul helped me see the light.

I had my dear friend on a pedestal. I loved her so deeply that in my eyes she could do no wrong. It must have been me that should harbor all the blame, and I punished myself for years. Although I wasn’t sure what I had done “wrong”.

With time, I learned this “perfect” friend, as I saw her, had a hard time being deeply emotional vulnerable and most likely didn't trust me enough to open up. Perhaps I had said or done something that she filed away as unsafe. When I’m really honest with myself, I saw signs of distrust all along. Previous wounds prevented her from letting me know how I had hurt her, walking away from our friendship with dignity, putting things to rest.

Thus, the ghost is born.

Once I had this realization, I popped out of a victim role and could see more clearly it was time to stop abusing myself with self criticism. If someone won’t come to the table to close the circle of a relationship, or seek to engage in repair, it is time to open the windows of your heart, and kindly and compassionately ask that ghost to leave.

If you’re interested in learning alternate ways to say goodbye, need help in asking for an apology, or navigating the confusion of being ghosted, I work with clients to help heal these wounds. We learn to speak to the pain of ghosting (whether acting as ghost or ghosted) when only one party is present. We learn how to honor the endings of relationships and create living ceremonies together to close the circle. And we learn beautiful repair tools, that help proactively heal wounds before the ghosts start to rise.

Goodbyes may be messy but they don’t have to be haunting.

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