A few nights ago, in the darkness of my bedroom at the witching hour, I was visited by a ghost. One that was familiar and foreign to me all at once. With them, they brought the shackles of unfinished business and the repulsive electricity of purposefully forgotten memories. I was scared; not of being faced with the unknown, but because I felt that I didn’t know the person I was in their presence. I was drowning in scenarios that could have been, in realities of their existence I had expertly ignored.
I woke up crying.
Ghosts are real, and this is my proof. While it may not be in the light-flickering, demonic archetype we expect, it’s true that ghosts inhabit the cobwebbed corners of our mind, emerging in our weakest moments. They haunt the living as the shell of a person we once knew, stuck in your personal purgatory of unfinished business. They act as a reminder of what you chose to forget. Perhaps their worst characteristic is that they in no way resemble their living counterparts. That projection of a person who lives in the way you read a book or hear a song will never match the one who now goes to college and plays with their dogs.
The appearance of my ghost in my dream came after a long period of ignoring it, or maybe it was just mindful forgetting. Having someone who left an emotional scar on me invade something as personal as a dream left me confused and nearly disgusted with myself. How could I, after years of keeping them out, have suddenly let their toxic memory back in? I spent the day on edge, wondering why my mind would torture me with something so hurtful. To be honest, I didn’t know what to think of it, so I tried resuming my state of ignorant “bliss.”
Unfinished business is something you can consciously file away, but your subconscious won’t forget it, even after four years of tirelessly sweeping it under the rug. I realized that although I may never get an answer as to why my ghost even became one in the first place, maybe it’s time to stop searching for an answer or wondering when I’ll get to take action. After all, I am that person that runs through every possible situation in which I could encounter them and plans the exact dramatic monologue I will perform. Having my memory play something so raw in such a vulnerable place forced me to face the truth: I will not get an answer to everything in life.
Can I bring myself to forgive myself and forgive them? Most likely the former, perhaps not the latter yet. Now is the time for recognizing that I will not get an answer, and that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever. I think that’s where our ghosts get their power from: the belief we hold that people are meant to be introduced into our lives stage right, stay under the lights for the duration of the performance, and exit stage left when they’re told to. Not everyone reads your script, and it’s the suspense of not knowing that haunts you. Perhaps it was written in the stage direction that you were never meant to know; everyone loves dramatic irony.
From now on, my ghost is no longer allowed to go bump in the night. I’ve allowed them that privilege for too long. Our so-called unfinished business turned out to be finished after all.
Goodbye, Ghost, and goodbye to the girl you used to haunt.