BACKGROUND: When we are angry at someone or feel hurt we often just want to get away from them for a while. Then we cool off and consider returning and talking to the person about what made us upset. Or sometimes we just “get over it” without communicating and life goes on. We are back to some equilibrium and able to reconnect. What happens when we get stuck and cannot get back?
PROBLEM: The term “ghosting” is used these days to describe the behavior of someone who disappears from your life without an explanation and refuses to respond to your attempts at contact. Here is what I think happens in the brain. When we feel threatened our stress level goes up and we move into the RED ZONE of a fight/flight response. We have an urge to act out in anger or run away. Originally this impulse to run or fight was protective and we needed it for survival. Now it is an automatic bodily reaction that can sometimes cause damage. If someone is ghosting, they do not want to express their anger directly. Their heart has turned cold. This causes three problems. First, the victim is in pain and often lost and confused as to what happened. One woman told me that she could not sleep for two days after being ghosted. Second, the ghoster has to live in denial, in a kind of dissociated place, splitting off from their pain, ignoring the issue and carrying the stress of an unsolved problem. Finally, this is a passive-aggressive response. The ghoster refuses to express their anger directly, so they punish the ghosted victim by ignoring their pleas for reconnection. The longer this lasts, the more pain is caused.
SOLUTION: First, the cold heart needs to warm up. When you live in a split-off place you can compartmentalize and have good times but you are not grounded in reality. You have your head in the clouds, even if those clouds play pretty music. To return to reality, you have to return to the body. When you return to awareness of the body, you return to the heart and its coldness will give you a chill. As you breathe into your cold, protective heart, it will warm up. When it warms up you will feel the sadness and anger you have been hiding behind. Cry and scream into a pillow if you wish. Once you express the emotional pain, you may feel some urge to heal the rift by communicating directly to the person you have been ghosting.
At least I hope so.