We moved to the coun­try and I’ve never been so mis­er­able and lonely

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - MARY O’CONOR -

I’m writ­ing to you be­cause I feel so hor­ri­bly lonely and I haven’t got the first idea how to change things. I’m mar­ried to a won­der­ful man. Our re­la­tion­ship is marred only by my on­go­ing sad­ness, which my hus­band some­times feels re­flects badly on him (it doesn’t — he is won­der­ful).

The rea­son I feel sad al­most ev­ery day is be­cause I have no friends and lit­er­ally no life out­side our home. Two years ago, I gave up my ca­reer to move to a ru­ral lo­ca­tion with my hus­band be­cause we could not af­ford to live in the city.

Since then, I have only had ca­sual work be­cause of our iso­lated lo­ca­tion, and the lack of a pro­fes­sional iden­tity is a big­ger prob­lem for me than I thought it would be.

I also have zero so­cial life. A core group of friends were quite good at vis­it­ing us in our first year of ru­ral life, but since then the vis­its have al­most to­tally stopped. Un­less we travel to see them, we no longer see any­one. I rarely re­ceive a call or email from my old friends.

I have al­ways been the kind of per­son who had a small num­ber of very close friends. I am now see­ing the fault lines in those friend­ships, and feel that I put in a lot more than I’m getting out.

Now that I am the one strug­gling to keep it to­gether, those old friends are nowhere to be seen. They don’t seem to care that I feel sad and lonely, and they don’t seem to want to help. This devastates me and I feel aban­doned.

Af­ter two years, I have not suc­ceeded in mak­ing even one new friend where we now live.

I think that is partly be­cause we have no chil­dren. On the rare oc­ca­sion that I’ve fallen into con­ver­sa­tion with any woman in my age group, they al­ways ap­pear to lose in­ter­est when I tell them that we don’t have chil­dren.

I am now at the point where I’m for­get­ting how to so­cialise, how to con­verse on gen­eral top­ics, how to be open with peo­ple.

I won­der if there’s some­thing fun­da­men­tally wrong with me, be­cause no one seems to want to know me.

Af­ter such ex­treme iso­la­tion, I re­gret our de­ci­sion and I long to re­turn to our for­mer life. On a prac­ti­cal level, re­turn­ing to the city is now not a pos­si­bil­ity — even if we could sell our ru­ral home, we would still never be able to af­ford life in the city again. Ev­ery day I’m tor­tured by the thought that I’ve ru­ined my life and that all I’ve done is make both of us mis­er­able.

In the past two or three months, I’ve stopped ex­er­cis­ing, I’ve started eat­ing all sorts of rub­bish, I hardly bother with my ap­pear­ance and if my hus­band’s away with work, I don’t bother to shower.

I put on a front on the rare days that I am go­ing to see peo­ple but most days, I have to con­vince my­self to get out of bed, and have to talk my­self out of drink­ing.

Some­times when I’m driv­ing, I imag­ine let­ting my car swerve into the ditch.

I’m in my mid-30s and I dread feel­ing like this for the rest of my life.

I wish I could say that putting this on pa­per has helped, but it just makes my mis­man­age­ment of my life seem even more pa­thetic.

AWE have dif­fer­ent friends at dif­fer­ent stages of our lives. Some are tran­sient and some last for­ever. Right now you are feel­ing that you have no friends at all which is not true be­cause your long-term friends will al­ways be there, but it is only nat­u­ral that as you have moved to the coun­try they will have learned to live with­out you.

I’m sorry that you feel so aban­doned and I’m sure your friends would be sad to hear you feel like this. In fact as you were the one that aban­doned them by mov­ing they would prob­a­bly ques­tion your way of think­ing.

I was shocked when I got to the end of your email to dis­cover that you are so young — it read like some­body much older had writ­ten it.

You seem to have sunk into a de­pres­sion and if you have not al-ready done so then you should find a GP and get help. You may need med­i­ca­tion for a short pe­riod of time in or­der to feel well enough to get up and go.

It is some­what eas­ier to make friends when one has chil­dren — there are lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties for meet­ing up with other par­ents and form­ing a bond with some of them. But you don’t have chil­dren and so you will have to use other meth­ods to make new friends.

One way could be to in­vite any neigh­bours in the vicin­ity for a drink — a sort of open house. It doesn’t need to be any­thing fancy and for just a cou­ple of hours, but you could drop a note in and say you would like to meet them.

There must be a lo­cal hub no mat­ter how re­mote you and your hus­band are sit­u­ated. This might be the pub, the church, the Satur­day morn­ing mar­ket, the lo­cal Ir­ish Coun­try­women’s As­so­ci­a­tion or a sports cen­tre.

You can find this out by ask­ing lo­cally — if there is a Post Of­fice any­where in the vicin­ity they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Then you need to be­come a pres­ence, ban­ish all thoughts of los­ing your so­cial skills, and start to get in­volved in what­ever takes your fancy. No­body is go­ing to come knock­ing at your door sug­gest­ing you do things. It re­ally will be up to you.

A bit fur­ther on you might like to start a book club, or run a fundrais­ing cof­fee morn­ing for a char­ity that you feel strongly about, and in this way make some friends in the lo­cal­ity. All of this re­quires more en­ergy than you have at present, which is why the visit to your GP is im­por­tant.

This is def­i­nitely a case where you need to stop look­ing back at what might have been. You want to give your hus­band some­thing to look for­ward to when he comes home from work rather than the sad and lonely per­son who you have be­come. I very much hope that things im­prove for you.

Your let­ter should serve as a re­minder to us all to look out for new neigh­bours and wel­come them. I’m sure yours is not an iso­lated oc­cur­rence.

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