On Being Excomunicated

“sola” by Alessandro Pinna @

I am trying to understand disappearance. When a person chooses not to communicate, does it mean that person is busy? Could he be on a vacation overseas? Could it have been something that I said, or did I say nothing when I should have said something?

Because here I am walking around thinking everything is right in the world, that every baby born for the last six months has had ten fingers and ten toes. I thought the rain in the forecast meant the grass was growing, that the chill in the air meant fresh fruit, not the end of something.

When a person chooses not to communicate with you, that person holds all the cards, all the power.

There is little for the excommunicated to do but look at the sky but wonder and try to determine how it could be so blue, cry a little – alone, maybe – in the car, but put on a happy face, as if being forgotten does not hurt like a hundred bee stings, or the bloody scratch from the extended claws of a trusted cat.

Could it be that the person has decided that you are not, in fact, worth the effort – and has left you to figure it out? If that is the case, I am slug-slow at “figgering” and would prefer, like a racehorse with a broken leg, to be put out of my misery more cleanly. In this case without a bullet, but perhaps the words, “In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m already gone.”

How have you dealt with the loss of a friendship?

7 thoughts on “On Being Excomunicated

  1. My experience was mostly in middle school but I have experienced it as an adult as well.

    While the middle school (and some adult) versions were rather malicious, not all adult ones are. Sometimes friendships are formed for what a person needs at the moment, what they can have in that moment, and when that moment passes, they move on to another moment, their need for a different kind of friend (see: play dates for children).

    Schedules also change as people do. As adults, we are not forced (as we were as kids) with a certain peer group for decades. Our free time (or lack of it) is precious and family, very close friends, and the many things we must do in that time will often take priority.

    And these days people rarely seem to call or communicate as they used to. Try calling someone, you will get a voice mail. Good luck getting a call back. Everyone texts now, and if you don’t, well, good luck reaching anyone.

    It is one of the things I miss most with the continued development of technically.

    Does it hurt to learn that someone you called close hasn’t found the time to contact you? That they didn’t even tell you why you were no longer in the upper list of priorities? Always.

    But I am not the center of the world and if a friendship cannot be mutual, then there is little point lamenting in what it once was. I learned to let those go before I even hit high school and not dwell on why or what I could have done differently. I learned in that early experience that you cannot wedge or force yourself or even change to make someone like you more. Just be you and eventually, you find those who appreciate you for that person.

    Even it is only with others online, because thankfully, we are no longer defined by our geography.

  2. There may be many reasons for falling out of touch in our hyper-multi-tasked lives. But, for all the benefits of mediated technology, it also makes “ghosting” an easy default for those not respectful, courageous, or empathetic enough to have a brief conversation. It feels like the ultimate cop-out. Depending on the specific circumstances, it can also mean that one “dodged a bullet” in Relationshipland.

  3. You have put this so eloquently, Renee. The not knowing is the worst part. I recently lost touch with someone who is not returning my calls or texts. I suspect something has happened to her as she was having health problems. I don’t know what to wish for, because if she is still alive and well, then she’s not calling me back on purpose. 🙁

  4. I immediately think of “ghosting” because communication is so eaasy these days. Technology depersonalizes but at the same time makes it very easy to touch base. I think people’s lives change, schedules, kids, work, health, beliefs, expectations but that does not over-ride being polite and just saying “I’m really busy,” “I’m away,” “I’ve got work, school, obligations,” or “I’m ticked at you and need time.” Good manners cost noting and show a lot about one’s character. If a person can’t even take the time to text a note then my feeling is that they are really not the person you thought they were or they don’t want/need/feel comfortable with your support. Sometimes distance is a good thing-for you.

  5. First of all, Renee, I want to shoot whoever did this to you. You’re too precious a person to have this happen to you, and you sure don’t need it after all you’ve been through in recent years. Wish I could hold you and comfort you –
    something I’ve wished many times in recent years.

    I can’t really think when I’ve had that happen to me. That may not mean it hasn’t. It may just be because my middle name is “Pollyanna.”

    Chin up, girl. There are plenty of us who love you, and those who are rude to you don’t deserve your friendship.

  6. Hey, Renee, I can certainly sympathize! My husband and I had a friend – a woman we felt especially close to for years, even made her the godmother of our second son – who just dropped out. No return calls or emails. My husband even ran into her when he went back to his old workplace (where she was still working at the time, they used to work together). It was a casual, “Oh, hi, Paul,” as if he were a mere acquaintance, and she moved along. Needless to say, hubby was quite flabbergasted by this. My parents were bothered by it, too. They had developed a relationship with her over the years, seeing her when she’d come over during their holiday visits here, and had kept up with her via email. She stopped responding to them, too, and they asked me why. I had no answer for them.

    We had known for a while that she has some substance abuse recovery issues, and were worried about her, but she moved and didn’t tell anyone where. After a while, we just had to let it go. Years later her mom died, and we went to the service, which is the first time in years that we’d seen her. She appreciated that, and I guess it jolted her out of whatever lackadaisical attitude she had toward us. I’ve cautiously accepted lunch invitations from her, and she and I (and my mom, when she visits) get together every once in a while. She says she reads all my books, and has me sign the latest one on those occasions.

    I’ll never know the real reason she decided to make herself scarce. I didn’t thrash it out with her, just told her that it really stung when she dropped out. She apologized but never explained. I never tried for more than that…it’s like trying to grab a handful of water.

    My takeaway from this: it was never about me. It was all her own issues, and that’s how she decided to handle it. But she knows that our relationship will never be what it was, and I’ll never trust her again. I keep an emotional distance from her now. Not out of spite, but because it just isn’t there anymore.

    So honestly, as much as it hurts, I am willing to bet this is not at all about you, but about her.
    Hang in there, sweetie.

  7. You are so intuitive, my friend! And it is all about acceptance, isn’t it? Whether from others or ourselves. When I came across your monster challenge, it touched me deeply, and as a result of a falling-away from a dear friend, I began my portfolio of the monster in my life. As I painted and illustrated each piece, I began to realize that the monster appeared to me at a very early age, but I pushed her under the water, so to speak, and she didn’t materialize until this friend of mine (ex-friend) began to treat me like I was invisible. I guess the Amish call it “shunning.” The monster came out BIG and RED and ANGRY. Because I’m a “nice” person, I tried the “nice” thing to do… ignore it. But little by little, it really began to hurt and brought up all kinds of other hurts.

    So my journey with the monster continues. Yes, I’m still shunned, but maybe this will pass and maybe it will hurt less each time we are in the same room together. And letting this monster up from the depths that it has lingered for so long is helping to heal the pain and the memory of other invisible-me moments.
    Thank you for your amazing, tender, and honest self!

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