I don't remember the first time Ana* read me or sent me my horoscope, but I can remember how the horoscopes she shared with me made me feel: comforted, and at peace with myself.
Ana was the first friend I made at university, and as a very nervous first year who had just moved from California to New York City alone, I was grateful to have met someone who seemed to be on the same wavelength as me, who I felt like I had a deep connection with right off the bat.
Before her, the horoscope blurbs I’d read in the back of teen magazines weren’t enough to convince me astrology was really my thing. But not only did Ana make me understand that astrology was about so much more than predicting where you'll meet your next crush, she also had a way of believing in things that would make anyone else believe in them, too. It's really because of her that I know anything about why my moon sign and rising sign matter, or what a retrograde even is.
After uni, we remained close, to the point of having keys to each other’s flats, to the point that when a bartender once asked if we were celebrating anything with our cocktails, she told him that we just hadn’t seen each other in a long time.
"How long?" he had asked.
"Two weeks," she had replied. "That’s a long time for us."
That night was one of the last times I ever saw her.
We were inseparable, until we weren’t — until nearly six years after we met, and about two months after that night at the bar, when she suddenly ghosted sometime in mid-September.
I suppose we fell apart the way people usually do: gradually, and then all at once. After sensing some distance between us before she had cut me off completely, I reached out to her twice, asking if something was going on, if I had done something. Each time, she reassured me that she had just been busy.
"You didn’t do anything wrong," she said. "I’ve just been busy; I’m trying not to spend money, and I need to take care of my mental health."
Given how open and honest we were with each other, I understood, and trusted that she would open up if she ever felt ready, and if not, that was that. I tried not to take it personally, because, hello, not everything is about me. Still, I couldn’t ignore the gnawing sense that something was wrong, and my gut feeling was confirmed when weeks went by and she seemed to still be in touch with other friends, and then weeks later, when she unfollowed me on Instagram, and proceeded to delete all the photos she had ever posted of me and untag herself from any photos I’d ever posted of her.
So, yeah, I guess you could say I took that kind of personally.
To say that I spiralled would probably be an understatement. I tend to base a lot of my identity on how good of a friend I can be to people, and feeling as if I had become toxic to someone I loved triggered my depression in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. It felt like I had said or done something wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, or even try to make up for it or apologise for it. I spent a long time agonising over what boundaries I could have crossed, what I did or didn’t do or say, and an even longer time thinking of myself in terms of what I lacked or ways in which I was deficient. I felt more lost than when I first arrived in NYC, totally alone.
I spent a long time agonizing over what boundaries I could have crossed, what I did or didn’t do or say, and an even longer time thinking of myself in terms of what I lacked or ways in which I was deficient.
It also didn’t help that ghosting in friendships isn’t something people tend to discuss. If a romantic partner ditches you for seemingly no reason, that's universally recognised as painful, and you have your pick of films and think pieces that validate your struggles. But when it happens with a friend, things are a little less clear cut.
When I confided in well-meaning people, many of them told me, "Well, you have other friends," or, "I wouldn’t obsess about it."
But I was really struggling, and I needed answers. If I wasn't going to get them from Ana, I had to turn to the only other potential source I could find: my horoscope. And oddly enough, the stars seemed to confirm the turn that my life had taken.
"You may have needed more solitude and support," my AstroTwins horoscope for the month of October read. "There was a sense that a greater energy field was at play and that higher forces DID actually have another plan. For once, your struggles couldn't be solved with force and steely Scorpio resolve."
Chani Nicholas’ horoscope reminded me that "not every problem is yours to solve. Not every solution will make itself known in your lifetime. Not everything needs to be figured out in the way that we think it does."
And, as arbitrary and abstract as it sounds, it was incredible how good it felt to have something, anything, affirm what I was going through.
Personally speaking, I’m not great at processing pain. And it was hard to talk about a close friend ghosting me in a way that didn’t sound stupid or feel trivial. So when my horoscope seemed to reflect what I was going through, it was like a note of assurance from the universe that I wasn’t imagining this pain or overreacting; that yes, things might be especially difficult right now, but that maybe they wouldn’t remain that difficult for long. It was a reminder that there was a bigger picture at play.
Through reading my horoscopes, I was finally able to see that I may not get definitive answers ever — but that that's okay. After all, the very nature of being ghosted is that you don’t get the answers to why someone left you. I could, and have, spent ages guessing what I did wrong, what caused things to go down the way they did, but I probably won’t ever know for sure. So all there was left to do was to find healing on my own.
It’s not lost on me that something Ana brought into my life became something I clung to after she left it. Maybe my mind was reaching for one of the only threads that could still connect me to her, and to our friendship. I can’t imagine that it was easy for her to end our six-year friendship (or at least, I hope it wasn’t). I can’t take back anything that might have made my friend ghost me, but I can keep turning to the source of comfort she brought into my life.
After all, my horoscope this month promises that "pushing past your comfort zones will reveal opportunities or perspectives you'd normally miss." And after accepting the end of my friendship, I'm finally ready to do that again.
*Names have been changed.