As I sat in my childhood home, immobilized and numbed by my most recent heartbreak, I gazed around the room at my belongings until my eyes fell on an unpacked suitcase from a trip I had taken months before.
I guess life had just gotten busy. I forgot about the suitcase, along with all its contents. Some of my favorite clothes were in that suitcase, along with a plethora of half-used products rotting at the bottom of my bag. I know it’s stupid, but as I continued to stare at this suitcase, I started to feel guilty. I began to fixate on all the things this unpacked suitcase and I had in common.
We both had been forgotten — myself by a guy that used me for a week or two, who lived through me and used me to arrive at whatever destination he was headed, and my suitcase which had been lost in the daily shuffle of life’s day-to-day happenings. I started to cry uncontrollably.
Ghosting is one of the most painful parts of dating as a young adult. Unfortunately, it's wildly accepted and normalized by our generation as an appropriate and acceptable way to end a relationship.
If you've never been ghosted, I will save you the trouble of trying to understand the logic of it, because there's none. That being said, I do understand why it's an appealing route to take.
Truth be told, our generation isn't good at confrontation. And with ghosting, it removes the need for the dreaded, mature-and-civilized conversation.
It's oftentimes seen as the easiest way out. But in my experience, ghosting says a lot more about the person doing it than it does about the person being ghosted. It leaves no room for growth, no space to air your grievances and ultimately, no room to improve upon the things that may have been the problem in the first place.
Endings of any kind can be painful. We can rage against the dying light, race against time to patch holes in our sinking ship but ultimately, we must accept that all good things come to their eventual end.
This isn’t to suggest that all relationships have an expiration date, or even that all relationships must end in Earth-shattering heartbreak. It’s just the fact that when they do, closure is the only thing that can offer us proper healing.
The ability to grieve is one of the most important skills we can possess and it's one that takes years of masterful concentration and lots of practice to understand.
When you've been ghosted, you become haunted by empty promises of what could have been, are left questioning what was and are left to live in limbo between the two.
I used to believe that not all stories deserved an ending, that holding out on someone and refusing to close that chapter of life with them somehow gave me "power." I've uprooted relationships with no warning and rolled over the next day in bed like nothing happened. I was so focused on avoiding my own emotional discomfort that I acted out of cowardice, which said much more about my character than the person I chose to leave behind.
My disregard for the emotions of others was insulting. The lack of closure, I’m sure, was maddening. The silence was deafening, and my ambiguity, offensive.
But I've come to realize that power doesn't come from your ability to turn your emotions on and off at your own discretion, nor does it stem from acting like you are unaffected by the actions of others. Power comes from your ability to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, which requires a level of emotional maturity that most people at this age simply are not capable of.
The real world is a series of hellos and goodbyes. The saying goes that "when one door closes another one opens," but no one tells you that it’s hell in the hallway. And when you're ghosted by someone you truly cared about, it's as if you've been sentenced to life in the hallway, waiting in agony for the next door to open when the last one never fully closed.
Holding the door open for someone may save you a difficult conversation in the short-term. It may keep you standing comfortably in the doorway for a while, away from any responsibility for other’s feelings.
It may even make you feel in control. But in the long run, continuously running away from confrontation creates destructive patterns and ways of thinking that will surely follow you later in adult life. Not to mention that disappearing and leaving someone without an explanation is just incredibly cruel and childish.
I'm not saying the creepy guy from the club who is blowing up your phone deserves a novel and a whole bunch of “it’s-not-you-it’s-me’s." Protecting your heart is a very real and important part of dating.
But no matter how long you try to avoid that confrontation, to go around that breakup, eventually you will have to unpack that suitcase. After all, the longer you wait, the more painful it will become.
Ultimately, there's no escaping your emotions and one day it will catch up to you — no matter where you go, they will always haunt you.
So don't will your sadness or discomfort away — the only real way out of a difficult situation is going through it, and it's that “through” teaches us the most about ourselves along the way.