I ghosted someone long before “ghosting” was a term.
It is something I have always been ashamed of as the person I ghosted was a mentor that helped set me on my path as a writer and editor.
Always in the back of my mind was this nagging sense that I needed to resolve this missing piece. Reach out. Say hi. Tell him where I am and what I am doing.
I personally think total wellness includes reaching out to those you have wronged or ghosted. They may not accept your apology but that is okay. No one owes you forgiveness. It is a hard reality to swallow in a world dominated by Lifetime movies showing instant forgiveness and that all is well and all is forgotten.
I did reach out to one person I wronged. A teacher. She never responded. I understand. But as painful as it was, I am glad I did so.
I am someone who does not like unfinished stories.
Back to my mentor. At the age of 16 on a lark, I reached out to the editor of a local weekly newspaper. I thought the paper needed more articles geared toward young people. Surprisingly, the editor, Bill*, called me. He liked the idea. For the next two years, I submitted monthly articles for $20 a pop. I covered buying prom dresses at consignment stores, donating hair for charity, and the burgeoning interest in Japanese anime.
But by the time I was a senior in high school I was burned to a crisp. I was taking two Advanced Placement classes, nearly failing trigonometry, working a part-time job, and struggling to maintain interest in extracurriculars. Of course, college was on the horizon and the application process presented yet another obstacle to overcome. Things at home were not great either; my grandmother was now living with us and falling into the depths of senile dementia, forgetting even that her husband had passed away years ago. My mother, her caretaker, was not taking it well and everyone in the house lashed out at each other. Home was a place of yelling and pain; school was not much better either.
Writing an article a month for $20 was just not worth it mentally anymore. Instead of calling Bill and explaining the situation and offering my thanks for the opportunity, I simply stopped submitting articles.
For the next 18 years, I built a career on writing and editing. Yet I never contacted Bill. Not even when LinkedIn and Facebook became a thing.
Then, a funny thing happened. A pandemic hit and I was at home more, alone with my memories and I thought of Bill. Within five minutes, I found him on LinkedIn.
I started to write a message, then stopped.
What if he is angry I ghosted him?
For the next few minutes, I simply sat and breathed. Then I meditated for about five minutes.
I know, right? All this for one short 30-word message on LinkedIn.
In the end, I pushed send.
Minutes later, I received a reply and a request to connect on the platform. Now Bill is a connection and I have also emailed him at his request. So, Lifetime ending?
While I was relieved that my results of my effort to request was positive, I was prepared to receive no response. Ghosting for ghosting, you can call it.
But reconnecting is a risk. The other person has the right not to reconnect. Still, I found myself in a better place after I hit send.
From this brief but meaningful experience in my life, I have learned that breathing helps. Meditation is also good. I can also say that now is as good a time as any to reconnect as we all need connections right now. Both new and old plus connections rekindled and reinvigorated. I feel calmer now.
In some ways, I changed the narrative of my last few years as a teen. My story has an ending.
So, if you excuse me, I have a few other reconnections to make.