Ghosting is when you cut off contact with someone because you don’t want them around anymore. It started out specific to dating, but it’s beginning to apply to friendships, too.
Only sometimes, the “ghoster” doesn’t want to lose the people in their life. They’re withdrawing for some other reason.
At least, that’s what happened with me.
As my OCD got worse, I withdrew from a lot of my relationships. I had a lot of intrusive thoughts that scared me. I worried that if I put myself in situations where it was possible to carry out those thoughts, I wouldn’t be able to control myself. My solution? Become as hermit-like as possible.
Of course, it didn’t work. Withdrawing just made my OCD brain search around and settle on new things to fear. It turned into an ugly cycle.
Now that I’ve doing much better for a while now, I’m trying to decide what to do. I had a couple of friends who kept pushing me to stay in touch and maintain our friendships, and I am so, so grateful for them. I don’t know if I would have done the same in their place.
Most of my other friends have drifted away, and I don’t blame them. I’m the one who vanished, after all. Push people away long enough, and you can’t blame them for leaving. In most cases, we’ve gone in different directions in life, and I’m not sure there’s much basis for a friendship anymore.
Do I want to reach out and try to restore those friendships? Or do I feel grateful for the friends who stuck around and make room for new people in my life?
It will probably be a combination of both. Some of my former friendships I still really value, even though we haven’t spoken for years. I’m willing to risk rejection for the chance of fixing things. And I’ll treasure the friends who stuck around and didn’t give up on me even when I was awful.
I will treat this as a learning experience, though. Now I know that when things get bad in my head, withdrawing doesn’t help. It makes things worse, and it’ll keep making things worse down the road.