She finds it difficult to make friends
My sister has been friendless for most of her life and we are now in our 60s. She was bullied at school and never socialised with anyone throughout her teenage years and working life. She has been on antidepressants for years. When she divorced 20 years ago, friends took her ex-husband’s side. She goes to various activities, but was outraged when some of the people who also go to them went out together at Christmas and did not invite her. Her only social life is with my husband, son, daughter and grandchildren who all live nearby. I have tried to explain that because these people are not her best friends, it doesn’t mean that they are her enemies. However, she says that she is a figure of loathing and dismisses counselling as a waste of time. Tragically, the problem started at school when your sister was bullied. The resulting belief that people don’t like her has stayed with her all her life. I expect that deep down she hates herself and this makes it hard for her to believe that other people could like or love her. Because she feels like this, she pushes people away even if they try to be her friend – so they give up. It is hard to say without knowing more about her, but it is possible that she is on the autistic spectrum. It might be why she finds making friends difficult and it is worth investigating. Tell her gently that a lot of people think that counselling is a waste of time until they try it, but that it would mean a lot to you if she went. You can also suggest the University of the Third Age (thirdageireland.ie) so that she can pursue interesting courses and meet new people.