I spoke to her today. It wasn’t as unthinkable as I imagined, over a year ago. She told me the email I sent her a fortnight ago sounded like I did not want to hear from her. I said that was probably true.
“When things happen, I deal with them in a certain way. I go into a shell. In time, I am ready to look. But not be looked that. That takes a little longer.”
She said she would need some time to understand that. And that’s okay.
This would probably have happened in some way or the other. As it turns out, how it happened was that a common friend told me that I was being to her, how someone else is being to me at this moment. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about ghosting and gaslighting. These are things that we do, while also universally acknowledging that they are horrible actions. But maybe we do these because we really can’t do anything else at that time.
Match this with our super egoistic belief that everything that happens to us is our fault (because we have to feel like we can control everything, right?) But this is not true. Sometimes people are not thinking about us when they treat us badly. Sometimes they are not even seeing us, blinded by their own lives. Maybe this is nothing more than a bus running over tiny creatures in its path, its riders not intending to hurt but not really seeing or even being able to care about the casualties of their journey.
Last month I spotted another ex-friend who had ghosted me. After dozens of conversations about life, love, work and existential angst and wine, she didn’t bother to invite me to her wedding. I found out about it when a stranger contacted me asking if I was still in touch with her. I passed right by and sat down at the table next to her for half an hour before I noticed who was next to me. It was awkward for a while but maybe that’s just me. Perhaps I am dead to her for reasons I will never know. Perhaps I never existed in her world. Maybe people can achieve complete erasures.
But I think that’s only possible when your mind is so crammed with so many things that you block out the view of what is right in front of you. Well, that’s okay too. I love airy, wide spaces but I live in a city that thrives on cramped quarters. Each to their own space. And mindspace.
I attended a funeral today. This was not someone that I was close to but they died of unnatural causes and very young. So I’ve had a chance to mull over a profound experience without being overrun by it. Maybe life is kind in ways we can’t quite see.
I’ve always abhorred the living’s reactions. Loud, emotional scenes scare me. They make pain and grief into larger-than-life monsters. I dealt with the first death in my adult life (my grandfather’s) by being efficient. I saw to visitors, I answered questions, I made people eat and drink water, I tended to the cleaning and putting away of things. I was punished over and over with accusations of being cold and uncaring by the very same people whom I was helping. I stayed angry for a long time over it. The same people playing that wretched game of ‘My sad is sadder than yours’ do not live with the heavy burden of feeling like they haven’t done enough. I do. They have the luxury of theatrics, holding the world to ransom with their tears and shrieks because someone else is willing to pay the price – the price of holding the world together while they bash away against it.
I realised today that this is my way of coping just as the theatrics are some (weak, selfish) people’s way of coping. Being efficient makes me feel like I can control something. Death, no matter how distant, shakes our foundations and reminds us of how little we have control. What does this have to do in a post about ghosting? It is all about the sudden shock of distance, isn’t it? And what’s more shocking and distant than death?
Someone who discarded me two years ago is waving furtively to me with likes on social media. I am not ready to go there. Well, actually I don’t want to. But what if I don’t have a choice? If people will go away without my being able to control it, maybe I also have no control over people coming back. It’s a horrid thought that life at large has no concept of consent. I hate that the future is not a clean, straight line but may involve zigging and zagging and backtracking and U-turns and whatnot.
I am feeling my age a lot these days. 38 sounds like a very large age to be. But another part of me is relieved that The Thirty Diaries are drawing to a close. I think I will not do a Forty Diaries, counting off the milestones when my life map is so chaotic.
Maybe all we all need is time. If nothing else, time allows runaway emotions and stray ideas to settle. Time lets us reflect and clean our minds if we so choose. And time gives us perspective and clarity. And then, it’s up to us to choose what to do with a brand new day – a new possibility or even one that we thought we lost awhile ago. I wish us all the stillness that comes after we’ve regained peaceful breaths.