Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dealing With Loneliness by Taking Initiative



Single parenting can get verrry lonely. Even when surrounded by children, the lack of interaction with other adults can be so crazy-making! I use a mood tracker and one of the things I track is whether or not I get any substantial adult interaction on a given day. I've noticed a direct correlation between that and my mood -- if I don't get any, I feel melancholy. So obviously that had to become a priority!

Sometimes, however, life gets in the way. Most of my friends are other single moms with young children, who work and/or go to school, so coordinating schedules to spend time together can be a nightmare. Yes, there's Facebook and texting, but that's not quite the same as kicking back with a friend by your side and shooting the shit. Having another person nearby can be so soothing.

On my loneliest days, I've learned to reach out via text just to get some sort of interaction and remind me that I'm real (if that makes sense). Sometimes I'll text 5-6 different people, and sometimes no one texts back. That sucks, but I don't take it personally because people are busy! Especially my people. We are a busy bunch of bees.

Then of course in hindsight I'll think, hmmm, there are at least 5-6 other people I could have texted, but didn't think of it. Hell, I suppose there are about a hundred people I could text. You know how it is; sometimes you're not in the mood to talk to anyone but your very most inner circle -- the ones who know all the details of your current life, who you don't have to fill in with all kinds of shit before you can talk about what you want to talk about. When those folks aren't available, there doesn't seem to be any other option. So I sit. Sometimes I stare. I'm lonely and bored. Don't wanna do anything, even though my to-do list is a mile long and there are a million things I should be doing. I just can't. It's depression is what it is.

At my most recent therapy appointment (through my local domestic abuse network), my therapist asked me what brings me joy (we were talking about self care). At first I said, kind of wryly, "eating food," but then I quickly realized that wasn't real joy, that was an emotional response to the loneliness and discontent I have with my life. So I thought for a minute and then realized it's my people who bring me joy. So I told her, "hanging out with my friends." Once upon a time in my old life, hanging out with my friends, a tight-knit group of other SAHMs, was so frequent that between them and my full house, I didn't even know what loneliness was! It was how I survived. A tiny bit of "misery loves company" if you will. We were thick as thieves back then.

So I was given the assignment by my therapist to make getting together with friends a top priority again. You know how you can mean well, and then things just slip away, seemingly without you knowing it? Well that's what has happened. I know there are things I can do to be more social, but I just don't do them. I'm tired at the end of the day, I'm feeling introverted, no one is available (although I truly haven't asked everyone, it's just my social anxiety talking). And then there's the whole not feeling like it thing that happens when you make tentative plans and the day arrives and you clam up and want to hide. Welp, that attitude of "I don't wanna" has been hurting me.

I'm in a rough phase of my life, rebuilding after divorce (soooo sloooowly, but steadily nevertheless), and I need my people. No one can read my mind, and everyone is busy, so it's my responsibility to reach out and make sure I'm getting the interaction I need to feel like I have a place in this world beyond mother and breadwinner. And that interaction goes beyond a string of desperate text messages. It means interacting in person, or at least a good old fashioned phone call (or video chat!).


So once again I have resolved to be more social, for the sake of my mental wellness. I started by RSVP'ing YES to a party next weekend, and goddammit, I'm going to go!

How do you cope with loneliness? Let me know in the comments!

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