“You’re dead right there,” I replied.
Soon after, I had a huge flashback of what was possibly the most degrading few days of my life: Being ghosted in London back in 2006 when I was just 21 years old.
For those who don’t know what the term ghosted means: it is when a friend or dating partner suddenly cuts off all contact without explanation.
It has become a common phenomenon in the modern dating world. When I mention it to people, they often ask how long did I know the guy? Was it just a few days, a week? My reply always shocks them.
And, sure, I am not one to do it by halves, it couldn’t happen in Cork or Clonakilty, no — one of the biggest cities in the world — London.
In the summer of 2006, I had been working in a bank in Tralee as a teller. The guy I was seeing at the time had made the decision to move to London for work in construction and of course I said, go for it, it was the height of the boom.
I booked a weekend over to go see him in mid-July. He had been gone for five weeks at this stage. It was my first trip ever away on my own and I was the only one of my close friends who had a boyfriend at the time so that made it even a bigger deal.
I had the whole bank told about my romantic break —a proper little show-off. Being honest, with my carry on, I should have just asked them to announce it down in the Dome in Tralee — everyone knew.
Something strange happened though, the Monday before I flew. My boyfriend called me to tell me his phone had been robbed and he needed money to buy a new one. He told me he hadn’t gotten his wages at the time as there was an issue with his documents (when I look back, I just think, how thick could I be?). so I loaned him €500 — he told me he would be paid the Friday I arrived.
I asked him to get a new phone as I didn’t have a number for him nor his address and needed to know Friday’s arrangements. He told me he would.
Tuesday came... I heard nothing. Sure, he may not have the money, I thought..
Wednesday — nothing. I said ‘sure he is busy, he will do so tomorrow’.
Thursday — NOTHING! This is where I start to panic.
I had everyone told about the trip. I reckon the priest in Ballydesmond announced it at mass as I couldn’t stop talking about it.
So there was no way this was gonna happen to me, no way was I going to be humiliated. I said to myself, he will contact me first thing Friday and this is all just a little joke on me.
I recall waking up at 7.30, checking the Nokia 8210 phone and the screen was blank. I had the most awful feeling in my gut that morning.
I looked at my little suitcase and it was packed. My sister was going to be collecting me from Tralee later in the day to take me to Kerry Airport.
I remember looking at my bag and panicking about what to do.
I will never, ever forget the feeling in my stomach.
I kept up appearances at work that day, everyone was so happy for me. I remember my sister driving me to Kerry Airport, again there was no call, nothing — it’s not as if he didn’t know my number, we were going out for three years.
I said to myself, ‘OK — are you going to confess here or what are you doing, woman?’ I can’t begin to describe the devastation.
I contemplated getting a taxi to Killarney and hiding out for the weekend — it would be safer and cheaper. But no, as soon as I saw that Ryanair plane on the runway, I was going for it. I just couldn’t deal with the embarrassment of telling people what was happening to me.
I sat on that one hour journey and I was just like someone in shock.
Foolishly, when I got off at Stansted I thought maybe he would be there and it was all in the plan. Some sick plan.
I strolled through the terminal but there was no sign of anyone, no missed calls. As I was getting on the Stansted Express I looked around — again nothing.
I still had hope — there was Liverpool Street, he had to be there. The nerves on that train — I knew well it was make or break.
If he wasn’t there, it was all over. I got on the platform, looked around and waited for half an hour, and I collapsed with tears.
I couldn’t cope with the overwhelming feeling, so what did I do? I went off for a drink of course.
I remember sitting there so heartbroken and a woman sensed there was something not OK. To make a long story short, she helped me find a Holiday Inn down the road.
I woke up the Saturday morning —it was as if it was all a nightmare. I had missed calls from my parents and friends and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, god I am dead if I tell them the truth’ so I played along.
Just as he played me.
I told them that he was at work at the time and he was great. We had big plans for the weekend and I wouldn’t be on to them too much.
I chose the latter.
I booked into the fanciest of hotels in Kensington, I bought in Selfridges, I paraded around Harrods — if I was going to be humiliated, I said to myself, do it in style.
Of course it was awful. I was going around a city of nine million people feeling like the biggest loser on the planet, but something told me to just try and make the most of a bad situation and in years to come you will laugh at it.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday — there was no call. I knew there never would be.
I could memorise half the tube stops by the time I was done travelling the city to keep my mind occupied.
I had never felt such devastation at the time.
What had I done to him? Why did he do it? Worse again, what would I tell them when I got home?
Sure, I carried on with the story didn’t I? I told my family and friends we had a great time and were as loved up as ever. I couldn’t tell them the truth — I was too proud. These things weren’t supposed to happen to me.
That was early July, 2006.
I got on with my summer, it was a pretty miserable one, but time really is a healer. I kept it a secret for a long time. As soon as I told family and friends, they weren’t impressed with me whatsoever.
I got the “why didn’t you tell us?”
I just couldn’t.
I did get on with my life and all was going great once again.
It took him until October that year — four months later — to call me to explain why he did it?.
Innocent old me, thinking it must have been something I had done or some big trauma happened. His explanation: “I don’t know why I did it.”
That was all I got — to be honest, with such a pathetic excuse, I’m delighted I did get on that plane in Kerry Airport. I’m just sorry I didn’t book into the Ritz.
Fifteen years on, I do look back and tell the story and people are always shocked I went. It wasn’t very wise at the time I admit, but nothing was going to stop me and I learned from it.
They do say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Do I regret getting on that plane to London? Not one bit.
If I was going to be humiliated, I made sure I was going to do it in style.