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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Am I the Only Lonely?



“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”
C.S. Lewis           




I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on friendship and relationship.  We live in a very busy world.  I know many, many women and I would call many of them friends—in that we are on friendly terms.  I connect with most of the people I know via Facebook.  I keep up with what’s happening in their lives (if they post) and I certainly post a lot about what’s going on in mine, as a way to keep in touch with friends and family all over the country.  I see how busy and active my local “friends” are; there’s lots of posts about going out with the girls, meeting up for play dates, bible studies, workouts and errands with each other.  On the rare occasions when I get together with some of these women, I hear them talking about their previous time spent together.

And then there’s me…why am I so lonely?  

My husband recently came to me in concern and told me he felt I was bored.  He’s noticed the change in my demeanor and my lack of activity outside the home.  He was worried that I don’t feel fulfilled because I’m not working anymore.  He noticed how I've begun to spend more time on Facebook.  I told him, without hesitation, I’m not bored—I’m lonely.  I am very fulfilled in my role as a homemaker.  I LOVE being able to take care of him and the boys; working at the boys’ school; volunteering when needed at church or in the community; and my new part-time job.  But I’m really, really lonely.  Facebook is my only connection to people outside our home--some of my best friends live very far away.  I have no real relationships with anyone outside of our family.  And it’s not for lack of trying.

In the last two years I attended a morning women’s Bible study every Thursday for a year a half—never made a connection with anyone there.  I became very active in serving in our church, through a Wednesday night dinner ministry, serving in a huge community outreach program called I Heart Ashland and then I Heart Rogue Valley.  I attended an AMAZING six month training program and bonded with three fabulous women who live locally but I rarely see them now.  I facilitate a parent support group once a month.  There’s more—I could keep going.  My point is, I’m trying to make friends.  There are even women I call friend and I believe they would do the same but I don’t have much of a relationship with them.  I don’t know why.


Are women my age just satisfied with the relationships they have in their life and don’t have time to add more?  Am I confused about what friendship is?  I would love to have someone--besides my husband--to talk to occasionally, to go out for coffee with and chat, to see a chick flick, to get together for play dates with the kids, to go workout with, to study the bible and pray with—not every day, not all those things at once and not with just one person.  I would love to have a small group of close friends that I get together with individually or as a group a couple times a week.  I would like real relationship with some Christian women.  

I’ve prayed about this a lot.  I’ve second-guessed the reasons for my isolation.  Is it me?  I know I have always been painfully shy but in the last 15 years I have come leaps and bounds.  Though it’s still my natural tendency to be an introvert, I CAN meet people; I CAN make connections.  I just can’t seem to hang on to any of them.  I’ve wondered if my expectations are too high.  I’ve wondered if I’m the only one who is feeling this lonely.  Are there others out there who experience this?  Is there any way to know?  Not without just coming out and asking, which is the reason for this post.

I’ve agonized for months about writing a blog entry about loneliness.  I didn’t know how to do it without sounding pitiful.  This is not a cry for help.  Woe is me—I’m so lonely—please be my friend.  Absolutely not!  This is a cry for understanding.  What am I missing?  How can I be better at being a friend?  How can I maintain a relationship?  I really want to know.  I don’t want pity—who does?  I want meaningful friendships.  I want fulfilling relationships.  Am I the only one who isn’t getting it?  Is there anyone else who struggles with this or is this my own personal struggle?  I’d really like to know.

It is extremely scary to finally put this post out there.  These are private fears and struggles that delve to the very heart of my insecurities.  I don’t have it in me to go to individuals and ask why I’m not included or why I don’t fit in—it could be as simple as people not remembering to include me in their established groups of friends, maybe it seems like I’m too busy/not interested or it could be as terrifying as finding out I’m really not well liked.  In any case, I’d like to know how to fix it. 

 
Feel free to comment below on general responses to relationship, loneliness and friends.  If you have something you’d like to say to me privately, you can send me an e-mail or PM on Facebook.  Again, let me reiterate, this is absolutely not a cry for pity or a way to solicit invitations—I want to understand what I’m missing and if I’m the only one who feels lonely like this.  Any ideas on how to get out there and make friends would be helpful.  Anyone who is struggling with the same feelings, I’d love to know it’s not just me and maybe do some brainstorming.  



  
God created us to be social beings.  Even though I’m an introvert, I still love being with and around people.  I still feel the need to fit in and be accepted.  I still crave relationship with others even though I have very fulfilling relationships with my husband, kids and family.  And I’m absolutely not opposed to changing and improving so that I can achieve those relationships.  I just need to know how.

5 comments:

  1. For me it boils down to busy life, work, kids, the house you get it and the big one lack of planning. I tend to do things last minute, which makes is hard to invite people. I also usually put myself last. I have been getting better at it, but it's still hard. I myself find it easier to go when invited and have a harder time on planning things. This weekend when you invited us up to the snow it was a blast. I have been thinking why don't I plan things more often and invite people to join us instead of waiting to be invited. Honestly a quick text or FB post is all that really needs to be done. It is something that I have decided to work on this year.

    I think this was a great post and I’m sure it was hard and scary to post.

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    1. Thanks, Dawn! I know people are busy--that's what I keep telling myself--but then I see and hear about them hanging out with other people. Not that I expect to instantly be a part of someone's inner circle of friends, but it does let me know that they're not always busy for friends. I'm in the same boat with not inviting enough, I guess. Joe and I do try to invite people over but it seems like the scheduling very rarely works out. I loved our snow trip & I was so glad you guys came. I really wanted to go to the roller rink w/ you guys just to be social and not miss out on the invitation but it just didn't work out.
      Here's hoping the new year brings us better opportunities. :-)

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  2. I have been having many of the same struggles recently. I have always had a hard time making and keeping friends and it is one of the things I will be focusing and working on. I have a lot of self-confidence issues and a lot of issues I need to overcome, which is going to be a struggle itself. Thankfully, Nathan has seen this, like Joe has for you, and he is going to be helping me through this a lot. It was so great to see you this weekend and next time we are down we will need to catch up. Also, if you come near Salem let me know and we can plan to get together. Here is to improving our relationships together and building friendships near and far!!

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  3. Heather- My daughter was diagnosed with PWS at 76 days old. She is now 7 and doing fairly well. I have also struggled in the loneliness/friendship department. It seems like every time I try to plan to do something with a friend they back out at the last minute or one of my two kids ends up sick. My husband is always encouraging me to go out but it has gotten to the point that I don't even try to contact the friends I went to school with and I don't keep my hopes up. I ran into 3 of my friends from school all out shopping together right after Christmas and got really bummed that they didn't even attempt to invite me.

    Things were harder for me when I was a stay-at-home mom as well (after my daughter was born until she was 2 years old). Luckily, I have an amazing mother-in-law and she signed me up for this group call Women of Today. It is a nation-wide volunteer organization that has really helped me grow as a person and make some amazing new friends. Not only that, but we also help out our community. My chapter meets once a month for a meeting and we work the food shelf once a month as well. Beyond that, sometimes we have more things going on such as progressive dinners, beauty days, outings to the comedy club, selling food at our community summer parade, helping other organizations (can-do-canines), and submitting students in the local school for "Young Adult Scholarship" once a year. While being involved in this organization can cost some money, I think it is money well spent. I am shy and not very outgoing until I really get to know a person. This group not only got me out of the house, but they got me standing up at meetings and giving suggestions about certain things where normally I would never have done that. If you would like to hear more about this organization, please feel free to contact me and I can help you find a chapter near you or perhaps even help you start a chapter of your own. My email is mrsalysamiller@gmail.com.

    I hope things get better for you and God Bless. -Alysa

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  4. I could have written this post.

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