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Oh, poor Sean Penn. He was ghosted by Charlize Theron—meaning she broke up with him by disappearing from his life. There was no heart-to-heart, "It's not you, it's me" discussion. Nope. She simply stopped answering his texts and returning his calls. Apparently, this "ghosting" is how people are breaking off relationships these days. As reported in the New York Times, ghosting is a "verb that refers to ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner's attempts to reach out."
I don't feel sorry for Sean Penn. My god, he has two Academy Awards, a net worth of approximately $150 million, and he's had martial sex with Madonna. Also? Two weeks after becoming a ghosting victim, he was dining at French Laundry, one of the most celebrated restaurants in the world, to celebrate Minka Kelly's 35th birthday.
You know where I ate two weeks after I got ghosted? Same place I always did: standing up at my kitchen counter scraping food off my toddler's plate into my mouth. Alone. There was no dignified wine pairing, no starlet to fill the gaping hole in my soul, no paparazzi snapping pics of me from the bushes.
I wasn't ghosted by a hot Hollywood lover. In fact, it wasn't a lover at all, but it still hurt. I was ghosted by a mom friend.
If you've ever been ghosted by a mom friend, you'll know that the burn of shame and humiliation at the hands of another mother you were hoping to spend the summer with is just as bad as getting the shaft from someone you wanted to sleep with.
Maybe she was murdered? Somehow that seemed easier to swallow than being dumped so unceremoniously by a mom friend.
In my case, I was a new mom. I was desperate for someone to meet me at the park or talk to me in full sentences. I didn't have my eyes on anyone special, but if the right one came along, I was ready for a commitment.
She had twins the same age as my baby. We met in the "Mom & Tot" class. She made the first move: she asked me for my number in week three. "Let's meet up at the street festival next weekend," she said, after punching my number into her phone. It was late May. (Does it make me sound psycho if I tell you the exact date? May 28, 2010.)
Boom! A light went on in my lonely mom world. Here was a buddy at last. Someone to walk the lonely road of new motherhood.
We met up at that street festival. The next week we checked out a new splash park. She watched my daughter while I got my hair trimmed; I played with her boys while she ran to Starbucks. We'd seen each other's living rooms and bitched about our husbands.
I thought we would go the distance. Or at least until Labor Day.
But one day, my text went unanswered. No big deal, I thought. I figured I'd see her at the park. A few days went by. Nothing from her. I texted again. Silence on the other end. I took to driving by her house to see if the car was there or there was crime scene tape around her porch. Because maybe she was murdered? Somehow that seemed easier to swallow than being dumped so unceremoniously by a mom friend.
Eventually, I stopped chasing after her. I was left with nothing but my own wild thoughts about what happened. Maybe I was too needy. Maybe she met a cooler mom friend. Maybe she was moving to Iceland and wanted to break it off to spare me the pain.
I saw her at the park a few months later. She was leaving as I was coming in—she barely stopped to say hello.
I didn't have a word for it then, but I do now. She ghosted me. I guess I'm in good company with Sean Penn, but honestly? I would rather have an explanation.