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I Was 'Ghosted' By My Best Friend

What About Your Friends?

There's no telling how much of, a lot of "stuff", we could be spared if we really thought about what words like "relationship" and "friendship" mean.

Relationship: a connection, association, or involvement; connection between persons by blood or marriage; an emotional or other connection between people

Friendship: the state of being a friend; association as friends; a friendly relation or intimacy

I don't know about you, but the words in these definitions that stand out to me most are "connection" and "intimacy". Hmph. After being ghosted by someone I've known for most of my life, I realize that what we were lacking, in a lot of ways, were both of these things.

GIPHY

Ghosting Happens. Even in Friendships.

Ghosting. I know that's a word that's most often given to dating scenarios. It's when you think you've made a real connection with someone, that real intimacy is established. Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, "poof", they're gone—no call, no text, no email. No real rhyme or reason either.

Ghosting is something that I personally don't get—or respect. It's cowardly. It's childish. And it's emotionally harmful. Even if something is not working, running from it rather than discussing it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. That doesn't mean I haven't experienced it, though.

The worst ghosting experience I've ever had was with a female friend, not a guy I've dated. I've literally known her for most of my life so it's impossible to capture our entire "friendship" in one article. I'll just share a bit of what led up to the ghosting.

She was in a toxic marriage and had an affair as a result. Between the pride, lying, and fall out from trying to make her marriage work and still mess around with the other guy, I was working overtime to try and hold her accountable and still be a support system.

Tenor

After about two years, it all started to take its toll. I was coming to realize that I was caring more about her marriage and our friendship than she was. And so, a couple of days before the turn of a new year, I wrote her an email to let her know just how draining the entire…situation had become. How next year, there needed to be more mutuality; that I loved her but I wasn't going to keep doing most of the work.

Her response? Silence. Complete and total silence.

I was floored. At first, I thought she was taking space to get herself together. But as three months turned into six and so on, I realized that "gettin' ghost" is exactly what she did. Wow. How did we go from our families knowing each other, us seeing each other at least every other week, and talking on the phone for hours on end to me not even knowing if she was alive for almost 15 months?

As a writer, something that can be an occupational hazard is that we tend to not only communicate but—overly communicate. With us, people tend to know exactly where we stand. And so, right around the 15th month mark, I wrote her to let her know that it blew my mind that after all we had been through, I didn't even know if she was still married or not, let alone where things stood with us.

For about six more months, there was still silence. Amazing. Ghosted and ignored.

Then one day, she wrote me. She talked about how much she appreciated my support and she was sorry that I couldn't feel "the love" from her (even though she used to tell me quite a bit that she didn't know if she was capable of loving anyone, so…how could I feel it?). That she felt like my email 21 months prior was a shift in our dynamic and so she was being quiet.

Wow again. So, I set boundaries—and that means we're not friends anymore?

I wrote her back to let her know that she was loved and kinda left it at that. But as I thought about how it all played out, it brought me to a particular conclusion:

A Healthy Relationship Has No "Ghosts".

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If you think back to the the times when you've been ghosted (and perhaps even have ghosted someone—SMH), what's usually the common thread that you see in hindsight? It's usually that one person was FAR MORE INVESTED than the other was, right? One was usually feeling the other more. One was usually doing more work than the other. One was usually more committed too. This means that the connection and intimacy was totally imbalanced. And that? That is unhealthy.

Connection: anything that connects; a connecting part; link; bond

Intimacy: a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group; a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.

When both people are bonded, when both people are loving each other, when both people have a detailed knowledge and understanding of one another—how can ghosting ever be an option, let alone actually happen?

For clarity's sake, I'm not saying that sometimes seasons don't change and people outgrow one another. But to not give what was shared the dignity of talking things through and gaining a mutual understanding? That is the ultimate form of disrespect. That makes the relationship anything but a real connection or a truly intimate. Accepting that fact? That is what keeps ghosting from affecting you so much.

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That's why I have no regrets about reaching out to my "friendly ghost". CLEARLY, I wouldn't have gotten the answers I needed and the conclusion I was looking for if I hadn't. And, in doing so, it has caused me to recommend to others that if they ever get ghosted by someone they thought they were in relationship with to:

  1. Get personal clarity if there was a real connection and a healthy level of intimacy.
  2. Accept that if there was, ghosting wouldn't have happened in the first place. Because running away wouldn't be the solution. Ever.

How do I know? Because one definition of ghost is a "semblance", or an assumed or unreal appearance. Ghosting happens when something is assumed to exist—that actually doesn't.

Healthy relationships—friendships included—don't ghost each other.

There is too much realness, mutuality and respect between them to let that happen. And it's that realization that keeps "ghosts" from "haunting" you. Ever.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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