There are times in people's lives when they wonder things like "is this all my life is going to be?" Most people are too afraid or too content to change things. Some people are not. These are their stories. The people that got to a point in their lives where to only thing they could do, the only way to make life work, was to completely ditch their old life and start fresh. Sometimes it was by moving to a new country, or changing careers, or finding a new mate. The one thing they all had in common was bailing out on everything that came before, including leaving friends and family behind forever.
"I grew up in a small town with two best friends. The three of us were extremely tight from elementary school through our early 20s (with a brief interlude when I left for college), but it completely fell apart about 11 years ago.
One of my friends was engaged to a real psychopath that liked to toy with her, and it made her toxic, insecure, and paranoid. He came over one Sunday to fix my old snowblower and I offered him a drink. He took that as an opening and tried to kiss me and feel me up aggressively. I turned him down pretty harshly, but decided not to tell my friend, who was pregnant at the time and easily upset. WELL, he was ticked off, so he turned around and told her that I tried to seduce HIM!
Long story short she believed him, went into an emotional tailspin, tried to kill herself, did not succeed, and lost the baby in the process. My other friend believed him as well. Word got around my small town pretty quickly and it felt like everyone turned on me in a heartbeat. After all, my two best lifelong friends believed I had tried to seduce one’s fiancé and caused her to lose her baby Even the people who weren’t 100% sure who to believe stayed away. It didn’t matter that he had always been a jerk and a player and their relationship and her emotional state had been on the rocks for ages.
I was ashamed too. I wondered if I had led him on in some way and I was devastated for my friend. I couldn’t hold my head up and started avoiding people. For two years, I was either angry or depressed all the time, I stopped going out, lost 30 pounds that I didn't have to lose, and I cried all the time. It never occurred to me to seek therapy. I also never seriously considered just standing up for myself, and confronting him publicly, laying it all out in the open in one big blow up.
I finally got out because a college friend of mine happened to be road-tripping across country, paid me a visit, and was shocked at how much I changed. He convinced me to go with him. I did. It turns out the only good thing about having depression and never going out to socialize for almost two years (except for work) was that I had a heathy savings account (it’s amazing how little you spend when you stop trying to keep up appearances for others). I told my landlord I was leaving the next day, paid extra two months and left the deposit in exchange for him getting rid of my stuff and having the apartment cleaned. I packed my bags and left with my friend. That road trip helped remind me there was a much bigger and brighter world out there than my crappy little town and all the drama was left behind.
At the end of it, I crashed at his house for three months before I got back on my feet, got my own place, and got a steady job. He and I stayed friends for two more years before we started dating. We’ve been married now for six.
Four or five years into my new life, I reached out to my other friend (not the one who lost her baby) - in part for closure and in part, if we’re honest, due to morbid curiosity. She didn’t want to talk. More than a decade of friendship and she still didn’t want to hear me out. It was really at that moment that I was able to truly leave things behind.
It seems surreal, but I rarely think of that part of my life anymore. My memories of that time aren’t all that sharp - those two years were a blur. Sometimes I wonder what happened to them, if my former friend came out okay, and if he got away from that guy. But it doesn’t keep me up at night. I look at my life now and I’m a happy person, stable, content in my life, secure. I can honestly say now that the whole thing hasn’t left any lasting trauma on me except that I doubt I’ll ever let myself have friendships that went that deep and hurt that much. I have a lot of friends, a few that are closer than others but none super close. Except my husband, of course. I don’t miss it really."
"I had an extremely high paying job in the UK, but was working ridiculous hours when I was at home. Plus I would frequently get late night calls that I needed to be in some random country the next day for an unspecified amount of time. I had a LOT of cash built up, but no social life or friends because I just couldn't maintain them with the way I was working, something had to give.
As a child, my parents had decided to foster two brothers so that I wouldn't grow up as an only child. However, the kids they ended up fostering were clinical psychopaths (formally diagnosed) and ended up in long term secure care. One of them escaped while on a day trip, went to the police claiming to be me, and spun a tale about how my father had been abusing me. Without checking the story, the police arrested my dad, and one of them decided to tell the neighbors what was going on. By time I found out and got it sorted out, the story had spread around the neighborhood and kept growing with the retelling. Eventually my dad moved back to Barbados, which has a US-style health care system (expensive and difficult).
Before his private health insurance could kick in he came down sick and blew through all his savings on medical care. I stepped in and also started blowing through my savings, paying for his treatment, and upgrading his home to be able to support him in a wheelchair.
He eventually died from complications of the treatments and I flew out to Barbados for the last time for his funeral. He had left very strict instructions for his funeral: no fancy coffin, cremation, and remains to return to the UK to be interred along side my mother. However, his family thought differently and kept hounding his partner trying to get a ridiculous gaudy funeral. We eventually compromised and had his ashes interred in the family plot, but even then at the ceremony I had members of the family coming up to me and telling me that other family members, or even his partner were trying to steal all of his money.
When I got back to the UK the whole thing was finally too much for me, so I quit my job and moved to Australia, where I work in a much lower paying job, but don't have any of the stress or workload. I can step out of my office, get on a tram, and go down to the beach any time I want to. Only one person connected to my family knows where I am and even they don't know enough to find me without hiring a PI. And knowing that I am 36 hours of travel time away from the lot of them is quite reassuring."
"I left because I was the black sheep of the family. I'm the middle child of five and, to my parents, the other four sibs were more successful, perfect, smart, and just plain better than me. When I met my successful spouse, they called me a gold digger, but at the same time they were glad I was 'his problem now.' I don't even know what I did, really. I just drew the short straw on kids whose parents can deal with them, I guess. I think my parents only had kids for show, so when teen hormones made me a bit more of a handful than my siblings, they couldn't deal with it and they wrote me off.
My spouse had his own issues within his family. So 20 years ago, we decided to move to another country, far away from all of them. We barely even said goodbye.
Today, we're wildly successful with teen kids of our own. My family back home have been through divorces and misery since then, but not us. We're doing well. We're still in love. Life is great. Truly the best revenge is living well."
"When I was 22 years old, I ghosted my PhD program.
I went straight from undergrad to PhD in computer science at Georgia Tech. I had great grades and test scores but I really had no idea what I wanted to do. Before my, uh, departure I had a 4.0 GPA and a research assistantship. I was absolutely miserable, overworked, struggling to make ends meet, clueless on what I wanted to do, and had no free time whatsoever. Just miserable.
Then one day in database theory class I read a letter from my friend about how if I was really unhappy, that I should just stop. Just get up, wherever I was, and leave. Just do it. So I did. I got up in the middle of database theory class. I walked to the door of the classroom. I dropped the textbook, written by the professor who I thought was a pretty big jerk, into the trash can with a resounding thud.
I left. I cleared out my cubicle and drove home to my apartment. I got a crappy second shift job, so I could go job hunting in the mornings.
I told no one. I sent no email; called no one; returned no calls; explained nothing.
I've not been back to that campus in 25 years.
I was in bad shape at the time, with depression and general anxiety and severe anemia, all without knowing it. But I did make it through. It took about a month to find a great job that I've now been at for the past 25 years. Though it took many years and a trip to the ER I eventually got my depression, general anxiety, and anemia all addressed. It's still a balancing act, I still need help sometimes, but it's generally good. Work paid for me to get my master's degree. I like my job pretty well, and I really like my coworkers and immediate management.
All in all, though it seemed like my life was falling apart at the time, it was honestly one of the best decisions I've ever made."
"I did it TWICE.
The first time was when I was about 24. I moved to China to teach English about a year after I graduated college. I had wanted to do it for ages and everyone knew it. Even so, some people took it personally like I was abandoning them. Even people who were enthusiastic about keeping in touch eventually ghosted on me.
While I was there, I met and married a Chinese man. We worked hard and I got a job working at a prestigious school, making an obscene salary. It required working sixteen hour days six or seven days a week. I have rheumatoid arthritis and this work schedule was murder on that so, I was so tired that I would weep.
My husband started a successful restaurant. In spite of this, we were always broke. He coaxed my salary out of me every month. We were targets for bribes, we had expenses, and there was always something that prevented us from having anything left over in the bank. The cracks started to show. He knew I was coming apart. We were talking about what options we had to make me happy, while still supporting ourselves.
One day it hit me. Early in our marriage, we had gone back to the US for about a year. He couldn't find a job and eventually had said he was going back to China with or without me. I went with him.
At this point, we had been in China for three years since that day in America when we decided to return to China. Now it was my turn.
I told him I was going back to the US. That was the only thing that could make me happy. There wasn't any version of a life in China that was sustainable for me anymore.
I was under contract teaching at my school. It had another 18 months on my contract. There was no way I could finish it out. So I straight up lied. It's my greatest regret to this day, but I had no other choice. I had had some amazing friends, students, colleagues and experiences in China, but I'd also had some really messed up stuff happened. My arthritis was out of control and I suspected I had other illnesses as well.
I told my boss I needed medical leave. He granted it but I think he suspected I was leaving for good. He made me promise to come back. I promised. Then I packed up or sold everything we owned and we left and I never went back.
I learned I had not one but two serious undiagnosed medical conditions. I got treatment and got better. My husband found a good job, but existing problems in our marriage spiraled out of control until finally I left him. He went back to China and cut off contact with me.
Now I'm poor but I have a loving husband who treats me right. I still have nightmares about being sent back to China, but I always wake up back here, where I finally belong."
"It took me exactly one week to destroy my entire life.
I had a manic episode - I didn’t know I was bipolar until then - that caused a bunch of delusions about my husband and basically everyone in my life. I was convinced my husband was abusive, so I took out a restraining order, then when I went to move out without his knowledge, I did it so fast I trashed the house. I also 'no call, no showed' at the best job I’ve ever had and behaved generally bizarrely to all my friends (some of whom I was staying with).
The result was that I lost my marriage, my job and my house, not to mention ending up in the psych ward a few times.
Since then, I’ve mostly just been trying to recover. I live with my parents again and they’ve been really supportive. The biggest hurdle was getting on a bunch of meds I initially didn’t want. They basically knocked me out for two months. Then I spent another couple months trying not to kill myself. I’ve made things right with my ex and dropped the restraining order, as well as making sure anyone I’d told about the delusions knows I’m bipolar. My ex moved on pretty much immediately and is now living with another woman in our same house doing more or less what we used to do together.
But I’m starting a new job tomorrow and I hope to be able to move out soon. Life has felt pretty empty for a long time, so I’m hoping that things will get easier from here. If I had a choice, I don’t think I would do it all again, although I have learned a lot about myself and have become a better, more honest person. In many ways the life I led before was very fake, and I think ultimately my ex and I weren’t right for each other. I feel like I was living in this bubble that was both protective and restrictive and now it’s gone, for better or worse. My goal is to get a car and move out as soon as I can. I basically told myself that this whole year was gonna be crappy and resigned myself to that, but it’s been 9 months since the episode and I’m pretty sure it’s all up from here.
I’m almost 25 and I think it’ll take until I’m 26 or 27 to really recover from this financially and emotionally."
"I was in my mid-30s and my wife passed away. We actually got divorced shortly before she died for financial reasons, but I was very much involved in her life and basically supporting her up until she died. I'm mid-40s now.
I started over with basically nothing except for a fabulous social network of friends and family that I knew I could count on if I fell any further than rock bottom. My career took off with some hard work and a lot of luck, I got a long-term girlfriend and bought a house that we made into a home, and now we travel as often as possible and spoil our growing number of nieces and nephews and God-children as our friends and siblings continue to pop out babies.
I ghosted (I almost hate to use that term, given what happened... but I didn't invent the term so whatever) a lifetime of medical bills, prescription payments we couldn't afford, and an unknowable amount of pain and struggling through the horrors of profound mental illness. I still miss my wife and still love her very dearly, but I don't regret any of the decisions I made to try and help her when she was alive and to honor her memory now that she's gone. I like to think she would love the way my life turned out, even though she couldn't be a part of it anymore.
I will also say that I don't sweat problems so much like I used to. I've faced REAL adversity and watched my love ones struggle against what eventually proved to be insurmountable odds... despite the best of efforts. I understand futility and despair now, and I understand how petty most "problems" are now that I've had a taste of Life or Death decisions. Nothing much rocks my boat except for those things that are forever.
My advice for you younger folks is to enjoy every day you have that's happy, healthy, and easy. The days aren't always going to be, and you might regret the time you spent pretending that your problems were... problems. Travel and experience the opportunities you have to do weird and strange things. You won't always been able to do that thing you so casually dismissed today once you have a spouse, a career, a child, insurance and limited PTO. None of the stuff that seems so important right now will matter AT ALL when circumstances conspire to alter your future forever."
"I felt like everything was going wrong and I had no room to take care of myself.
I was being taken advantage of at my job being a new teacher, so I had to teach in some pretty ridiculous situations with not enough supplies and little or no support. One of my colleagues got fired from their job and I had to pick up the slack. I had to plan and teach two classes simultaneously, running back and forth between classrooms, it was insane.
At the same time, my sister had poor mental health and would call me, always talking about suicide and my parents would call me, crying, to try and fix it. After all of the time and energy I put into trying to help my sister and help my parents, they all neglected any sort of trouble I had, and I felt like they didn’t love me. They just kept asking me to take off work to take care of my sister. Eventually, my sister and I got into a huge fight over all of this, because she blamed me for taking her to the ER when she attempted suicide.
I think I came home crying almost everyday. I lived with my friends, but those relationships slowly deteriorated to the point where I felt shunned for crying all the time and ruining the party vibe they consistently had. It got to the point where I didn’t feel safe coming to my own home anymore. There were times where all I wanted to do was rest after a long week, but then they’d have parties until the early morning hours. I had talked to them all about this as empathetic as I could but they became defensive about and all ganged up on me. I felt like I had no one I could trust.
There were times I’d just go to my car and cry because I had nowhere else to go.
That is when I made the conscious effort that I need to take care of myself and myself only. I left and ghosted most of those people mentioned above. I moved to Vietnam to find my roots and try to start over. I felt happy the first month, but I realized that I just ran away from these problems, and still carried a lot of the pain with me. I started reflecting upon all of the events I mentioned above and struggled with them a lot. I felt like the events made it hard for me to trust people and form new relationships here in this new country.
Seven months later, I still struggle, but as of a couple weeks ago, I found some resolve and I feel stronger. I am finally able to just move on and grow. I finally feel happy to be in this new place I can call a home all my own."
"Let me start out by saying I'm an idiot and it's no wonder my life is what it is now.
I abandoned my great cushy life to join the military. I left a beautiful girl behind, reconnected with another great lady, but left her as well. I left a decent job where I was given a big pay raise and promotion. I left behind wonderful friends and family. Why? 9/11. Seriously.
I was also beginning to find modern life a bit empty and wanted to do something more meaningful.
Then, after a decade in the military, I left that too. I left behind a great career. I was respected, looked up to, and considered a rising star in my field. They even considered me to be in the top 10% of my branch. I had really found what I was looking for, but it was also incredibly stressful and lonely. I was a machine. Just give me coffee and smokes and I'll turn stuff around for you. So why did I leave that behind? Well, it was about a decade in already. Bin Ladin was dead. I decided the job was done, as far as why I joined, and wanted to reconnect with my old life.
So now here I am, completely lost in my place in the world. I still find modern living empty. I'm struggling with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and all other sorts of stuff that kind of just came to life when my workaholic coping mechanism was gone.
I'm just lost and everything seems empty."
"My mother and father disowned me because they are super religious conspiracy nuts and I am...normal. My mom is also a giant drama queen. They did it just as college was starting last year, leaving me basically penniless and too late for loans. I wrote them, saying, more or less 'This is dumb, but okay, you'll never hear or see me again.' I got a new SIM/phone number, pulled the plug on social media, and bailed on where I was living.
I recently changed my name and have a new ID and changed my transcripts to my new name, for when I hopefully make it back to college. I changed my name to something super-generic so searching for me, if they track down my name via my transcript, is going to be super hard.
Why am I doing this? Because I know they are looking for me and while they may not have been serious about disowning me (I think they expected me to crawl home), I was serious about them never seeing me again. I am going to stay disappeared from those people's lives for good, and I am contemplating moving overseas and trying the expat life for a while, but that has a lot of risks too.
My life now basically sucks. I have had to do some pretty hardcore dangerous stuff to survive (and I still do it), and I do miss my cousins and my brother a lot. Christmas was pretty depressing. But I am very hopeful that I will make it through this and have a much better life afterwards, so that keeps me focused on the future.
I did call my brother a couple of times from a pay phone and not say anything and he knew it was me and started talking, but when he told me my parents were actively looking for me, I realized I was being stupid, so I won't make that mistake again. I would definitely rather die in the street than ever see them again."
"I was working highway patrol in my early 20's and pulled over a congressman for going 90 in a 55. He told me who he was and showed me his credentials, but I wrote him a ticket anyway and told him to have a nice day.
My commanding officer chewed me out pretty bad back at the station later that day, and told me not do anything that stupid ever again. I told him to go youknowhwat himself, turned in my badge and my weapon, and walked out of the station, never to return. I started my own landscaping company with my brother-in-law, shortly afterwards.
It's been 8 years since we started it together with just the two of us, and now we have a few dozen commercial contracts that are paying pretty well. We own about 20 trucks and employ around 60 guys year round."