Friday, August 21, 2015

Ghosting, Free-Bleeding, and the Beauty of Labels

Words and labels tend to validate our experiences. We know this. Mankind has known it since the dawn of time. And that's why I’m glad 2015 has brought us words and labels to validate two frequent but unrelated experiences in most women's lives: "ghosting" and "free-bleeding."

Ghosting is "the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating but no longer wishes to date . . . Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender but is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills."

Research shows that ghosting can occur among friends as well as lovers, and that sometimes ghosting is even necessary for safety when you're involved with a bona fide psycho. But in most cases, ghosting is basically a cowardly, babyish, and increasingly trendy way of telling someone to fuck off; Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is said to have ghosted none other than the mighty Sean Penn himself.

I have never ghosted anyone. I'm far too neurotic and talkative for that. But I have often been ghosted, in relations romantic, platonic, and everything inbetween; beginning in the fifth grade all the way up to the present day. Indeed, my track record of ghostings has rendered my life a veritable haunted house of horrors to rival anything you might find at a Six Flags amusement park. Being ghosted leaves you frustrated, crying, scratching your head, on anti-depressants, or all of the above.

Though I've never been a ghoster, I've probably broken records as a ghostee. I've even been ghosted, un-ghosted, and then re-ghosted--all by the very same person! 

Does it count as being ghosted when there's a ghosting, a resurrection, and then a re-ghost? Or is this a category unto itself? So like when someone ghosts you, then un-ghosts you, then re-ghosts you--and wreaks complete havoc on your psyche in the process--what is that, exactly? Is it a "poltergeisting?" If so, I've been "poltergeisted" several times. It's only slightly less distressing, I'd imagine, than having an actual poltergeist fling cups and plates around your kitchen.

"Free-bleeding" is the act of allowing yourself to menstruate without the aid of a pad, tampon, or other feminine hygiene product. The practice was recently popularized by Harvard graduate and feminist Kiran Gandhi, who completed the London Marathon while drowning in her period. Purportedly, Ms. Gandhi did this in a show of solidarity with women who lack access to sanitary products and to make a point about patriarchal discomfort with a natural female process.

I can't credit such lofty, academic ideals to my own episodes of free-bleeding, and I'm not even sure if it counts when you free-bleed by accident. But assuming it does, I've done my share of free-bleeding. Like in the middle of the night when you wake up in a pool of your own blood or you're on Metro North and suddenly you feel something in your underwear and you're like, oh shit, why is this happening now? I still have three days to go! The Metro North bathrooms are disgusting! I can't deal with this! I need to throw this underwear away, and it's a pity because I got them on sale at Victoria's Secret. 

Is that free-bleeding? I'm not sure. But I know most women have free-bled at one time or another, and now there's a name for it. 

The next frontier is an amalgam of ghosting and free-bleeding, and it too has a name. It's called "menopause," and it's when your period ghosts you. That might be the only ghosting I'm actually expecting and that won't make me boil over with rage and confusion. It might even ultimately help lower my hormones down to a level where I no longer care that people have ghosted and poltergeisted me left and right during my pre-menopausal days.

Three cheers for menopause!

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