Dear Ghost Soldier,
We barely knew each other, practically strangers, but an algorithm I can’t name said we were compatible. We smiled, flirted, talked, and picked a day and time for coffee. You warned me about your busy week, but I said good morning anyway. I tried to give you space, you told me you might not answer immediately (no double texts and constant babbling from this girl). However, silence wasn’t what I was expecting. What you didn’t know, was that for me, silence is loud. Silence is deafening. Unsure of what else to do, I waited and couldn’t stop myself from wondering.
Had I been ghosted or was I overreacting? Had I said something wrong? Did I move too fast? Did I want to take things too slow? Was there something wrong with me?
Finally, the day before we were supposed to meet, I shot you a short text and prayed you would put me out of the misery that is not knowing.
“Are we still on?”
It took a while, but you answered, with a simple “I’m not sure,” with an explanation about a situation at work. With a deep sigh of disappointment, I tried desperately to suppress jumping to conclusions and taking your uncertainty as a cancellation. Instead, I sent an affirmation of my understanding and a thank you for not leaving me hanging. However, a pessimistic voice in the back of my head kept saying if you wanted to keep a line of communication open, you would have. Logic fought back, you owed me nothing. We hadn’t even met yet, stop acting clingy. Later that night, my inner pessimist was vindicated with your short text.
“Have to cancel-life is too hectic right now”
No asking to re-schedule or apologies, nothing. I was sad and disappointed, but a tiny piece of me (perhaps the little girl that always wants to see the silver lining) was relieved that you told me instead of just standing me up. I hadn’t been ghosted, I’d only been blown off, oh thank heaven! Sadly, I stared down at my phone and spoke my truth as I knew it.
“It’s ok, I figured and I’m pretty sure I know what you mean. Honestly, I’m still very new to dating. All I can do is say be myself and say what I feel, I see that now. I’m naïve and at times awkward. I stumble in the dark and say ‘Good morning’ when I’m not supposed to. There’s no pressure, there never was, just nerves and inexperience. Whatever, you’re looking for, I hope you find it.”
Did I sound like I over thought things? Do you think I’m off the deep end now? Possibly on both counts, but that wasn’t really my concern. Those words were what I needed to say for myself, not necessarily you. No answer was expected; those words would no longer be swirling in my head. A new day came, the silence was over.
Days passed and you were still in my thoughts, you didn’t go ghost, but you haunted me. I don’t imagine boiling rabbits in the kitchen I know I’ll never see, but regardless, our exchanges still played back in my head. Instead of wondering what was wrong with me or my words to being re-typed, something I had said sprang began to pop out to me. Ghost Soldier, you made me realize how, at 28 years old, I was truly inexperienced in the world of men and dating. For everything I confided in you (upon questioning), from my where I saw myself in five years to my submissive tendencies. There was so much else I never told you.
Ghost Soldier, I never confessed that much like you I have a past. Your PTSD came from bullets, mine came from my body being ripped apart. I still believed in fairy tales and knights in shining armor, until three years taught me that not every princess gets rescued. I never quite looked at myself the same way. No, I wasn’t a princess, I was an Aldonza (Man of La Mancha reference).
Those years, and the nightmares and pain that would follow, made me color myself as something far more experienced than what I was.
“I’m no one, I’m nothing. I’m only Aldonza the whore.”
\You made me realize that what I saw myself as, was not really who I was. In fact, there are parts of me that my young life and abusive relationship made me forget. Nothing about who I am at my core has changed, you reminded me that I’m a romantic and a lover. I’m caring and warm, a romantic. In spite of everything, I’m still a Dulcinea.
In the grand scheme of things, I know that we are simply microscopic atoms in what will essentially be the make-up of our lives. None the less, I’m truly grateful for that brief time. You showed me that I’m capable of believing in things that may not necessarily be true, princes and protectors (even if there ghosts). Ghost Soldier, you rescued me when I thought no one would. You set me free. My most sincere hope is that in some way shape or form (for better or for worse) I positively affected you in too, and that one day you find someone who fulfills you and sets you free. So, don’t be so quick to close yourself off, that’s what you taught me.
All the best,