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I feel so isolated and lonely when DH isn't here

(18 Posts)
MrBloomsGirl Sun 07-Oct-12 21:47:17

My DH is away at the moment and I realise yet again that I have no friends and nobody that wants to talk to me or spend time with me.

I have spent the weekend trying to entertain my 12-month-old daughter on my own and it has been REALLY hard work. I feel awful for saying that, she is a total joy. Apart from her I've only spoken to DH, my mum and a couple of sales assistants.

I never receive texts, so I'm not sure why I have a mobile. It's actually become something that torments me rather than something to enhance my life. I constantly check it and am constantly unsurprised there's nothing.

We live in a garrison village but are civilian so I struggle to meet people locally. I went to a BFing group and baby swimming in the hope I'd meet other mums and although people were nice it just never got beyond pleasantries. I don't think I act desperate. I try to be amusing and interested in people but they never seem interested in me or ask me about myself. Is this normal? I get so despondent and wonder if I'm coming across as too inquisitive or nosey. I LIKE making conversation but now I wonder if all these years I've actually never been any good at it.

I live far from my family and hometown, and in any case I believe my family do not like me. My mum and I have a relationship that feels more business than pleasure. I have one brother and two female cousins but none of us are close. I think I get on with my in-laws but they might just be putting up with me for my husband's sake. They also live far away.

We have 'couple' friends who are either up north or at a different stage of life to us. My DH is older than me so our couple friends have grown up children and we have only just started! I can already feel them losing interest in us now we can't do the things we used to.

I work full time but it is a male dominated business. Since I returned from mat leave I have been working with another woman who I think i get on with really well - we share the same sense of humour and she says she enjoys having me around but I feel like her court jester. She has a group of 3 friends and they go to do all the things I would love to do, but its obvious she doesn't want me to infiltrate their social group. Again she is at a different point in life with teenage kids.

All my life I had male friends instead of female but that has worked out so wrong. Up til recently I had one friend who I could've called on to go out for a beer and he was a male (work friend). Now he has got a girlfriend and dropped me like a stone. I feel abandoned by him and I feel unreasonably bitter about it.

I love my daughter so much, she is such a sociable little thing and I feel I'm doing her a disservice in not being able to make friends so she can have little pals to play with. I thought having a child I would, as a sort of by-product, make new friends. Why am I finding it so hard! I am so so jealous of other women and their friendships. I've been on mumsnet for 18 months and I haven't even made friends here. I have Facebook friends my own age who seem to be at weddings every weekend. I haven't been to a wedding since my own 5 years ago! I feel jealous of the cashiers in Tesco when I hear them arranging social events.

I like my own company but I also like other people's, yet I'm getting increasingly anxious about social occasions. I can't look people in the face in the street in case they laugh at me. This weekend I took my daughter to the park and I felt anxious about the 5 year olds hanging around ffs. I took her to a new local soft play area and when i walked in it was too busy with older lively kids - they recommended i came back another day. i was secretly relieved that i wouldnt have to deal with any awkward social stuff. i am terrified of making a massive gaff when it comes to 'how my child interacts with other people' type stuff. I'm starting to feel like an alien on this planet. I wonder if I might need help - my DH thinks I do.

Can anyone please help or tell me what you would do if you were me?

denise77 Sun 07-Oct-12 21:53:15

Ah Hun huge hugs. All I can say is I know how you feel I too struggled to make friends after having dd1 I did make friends eventually with mums but only from when she was 3 and found once she started school things got more sociable I hate the baby groups as always felt like an outsider. Maybe as your baby gets older you'll find friends like I did I know it doesn't help now but thought I'd reach out and give you some support xxxx oh another thought have you tried suggesting to your workmates and her mates that you all go somewhere for lunch or after work?

amillionyears Sun 07-Oct-12 21:59:13

Can you explain what a garrison village is please?
And how it works?

Dreadfulspindlykillerfish Sun 07-Oct-12 21:59:29

Aww I know the kind of isolation you feel although I have no children myself. Which county are you in OP?

Whitecherry Sun 07-Oct-12 22:04:24

I feel sorry for civilians in garrison towns and villages. Must be hard.

Boringbitch Sun 07-Oct-12 22:05:49

Hi, I kind of know how you feel OP.
We've recently moved and I've realised that my 'friends' aren't actually friends and I have no-one except my dh and family to speak to sad.
I feel like a total outcast and dread taking my dcs to school/nursery as I don't want to be looked at.
Sorry, I know I haven't helped but you aren't the only one who feels this way.
Whereabouts are you OP? We're near a large garrison town in the north.

HesAwayAgain Sun 07-Oct-12 22:06:14

Hello,
My dh is a full time reserve, who is away around 4 months a year, in trips of a few days up to 2 months at a time. I have 3 primary aged children. It is getting easier! It was very hard in the days when they needed a lot of physical care, as your dd does now, and when they were not company as such! Like you, we had no local family. However, when they were little, it was not uncommon for either my parents or his mother to visit while he was away - company for me and help. Now, my oldest 2 can even make me cups of tea :-).

I think you are not making friends with other mums of young kids because you work full time. Most such friendships come about by attending toddler groups which are during the week. Somehow swimming lessons, etc, at the weekend don't quite have the same effect. I'm not sure how else you can meet similar mums, sorry to be so little help. We moved here when my dd1 was 2, and I found it hard to meet "friends". My 2 best friends - 1 I was lucky enough to meet in the first month through a toddler group - the second was also that way, but much further down the line - my point being it takes time to meet people, and there's an element of luck. Both these friends have husbands who work from home/shifts - which mean that like me they are often available without husband on weekends - which helps as most conventionally working families keep weekends as family time, iyswim. The only other group I can think of that you may not have tried for meeting people, and it's hit or miss, is church, if you'd care to try it.

How long is your dh away? Mine is away for a month at the moment, and even now, when I'm so used to it, I still get very lonely and have days when I feel no one cares. My mum (250 miles away) has been in hospital for 2 of those weeks and I couldn't visit because of kids/11+/interviews etc. I cope now with those lonely days really by trying to pull myself out of it again the next day. And trying to get enough sleep. And constantly messaging dh on FB/e-bluey!

Anyway, I'm trying to say, you're doing the right things, you just have to keep doing them until you're lucky and click with someone, and your daughter gets older. It does get better, if you can stick in there.

TheLightPassenger Sun 07-Oct-12 22:08:05

aw you poor love, it's really common to struggle socially after having a baby, as it can wreak havoc if your friends are more job/social life focussed than you are, but it's hard to make friends with people if all you have in common is having a baby around the same time. Keep on plugging away at group stuff and/or online stuff, as the more people you chat to the more chance you have of finding someone you click with. The whole turning work into outside work friendship friend is quite difficult as well, once you aren't youngsters going out for friday night drinks etc.

I think you may be tipping over into anxiety by what you describe, so it would be worth chatting with a sympathetic HV or GP about how you are feeling.

MrBloomsGirl Sun 07-Oct-12 22:08:24

I'm in Wiltshire. A garrison village is a village with a lot of military quarters (houses) - usually husband serving but sometimes wife. By definition of getting a house they generally have children. So every house in my village has a family in but I don't know a single one! They tend to move on every couple of years. Most social events in my village are only open to military families (take place 'behind the wire') and they all know each other through work, formal military get-togethers etc which we aren't party to.

TheLightPassenger Sun 07-Oct-12 22:09:21

I have a touch of social anxiety (am currently on ads for anxiety disorder), and I don't like being looked at by neighbours/school run people either blush, it's sad that it's not that unusual for people to have these feelings, looking at this thread.

amillionyears Sun 07-Oct-12 22:15:02

I thought it might be something like that.
Another silly question,why did you both choose to live there.
Are the houses cheaper?

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sun 07-Oct-12 22:32:48

Poor you. sad You sound like you are losing your confidence. It's isolating being with a little baby. When my two were pre-school we moved somewhere I knew no-one and it was really hard.

You sound really nice and normal. The fact that you are short of friends is to do with your circumstances not you as a person. It isn't easy having an older husband whose friends are at a different stage in life (mine is 14 years older so I know what it was like).

Someone said that working full time is the main reason you are not connecting with other mums locally and I'm sure that's true. If your work colleague isn't going to include you in her social life you won't get any joy there. Could you scale your hours down? I realise this might not be practical or affordable, but even one day off a week would help.

Also, you have to persevere when your kids are small and it's normal that with a lot of people it doesn't go beyond pleasantries. Try not to get disheartened. It's good meeting other mums but many of them you won't have anything in common with except the little ones.

Two of my best friends from Uni were guys. We were really good mates, and I got dropped when they got married. It's quite normal, men are weak and with my friends it wasn't them, it was their wives who weren't happy with them having a female friend. (Fwiw, I'm friends with both of them again now for really sad reasons - one is getting divorced and has a two year old and the other one's wife died of breast cancer. sad )

Hope things get better for you soon.

MrBloomsGirl Sun 07-Oct-12 22:34:00

Thank you for your messages. They really help in terms of not feeling so alone. I feel so depressed right now yet I know I am SO lucky compared to some others.

We live here because my DH was serving nearby (he is now retired - that makes him sound old but he's in his 40s!) and we wanted to get on the housing ladder. I was young and didn't think it through. In hindsight we should not have bought here but at the time it was 'his' money and I kind of went along with it. I'm not blaming him! Now I feel so trapped. I love my house but I hate where it is. But then I wonder if I'd find it this hard anyway and it's all down to me rather than my circumstances.

I told DH I want to move and he is up for it in principle but just not yet. He likes it here - says he doesn't need friends or people in his life as long as he has us. I sort of want to leave him for a few weekends with DD and see if he still feels the same.

Funnily enough I am planning on visiting a few local churches on my own once DH is back. I am not religious but I want to feel part of a community, you know? I looked into humanism but my nearest meeting is in a different county.

BertieBotts Sun 07-Oct-12 22:36:50

You could have been describing me when DS was younger. I found it so hard to meet people and people I did meet through DS were just acquaintances and nothing more.

I would really recommend finding some kind of group which reflects an interest that you have, for baby related stuff there are buggyfit classes if you enjoy exercise, there are often arts and craft or musical activities on at local sure start centres or churches or even arts/drama organisations sometimes run classes for little ones, nature groups at nature reserves or woodland type places (it can take more digging to find these), a breastfeeding or sling meet group if you're at all into "natural" type parenting etc. Post on your local mumsnet board and see if anyone's free to meet up during the day? I found if there was slightly common ground other than having produced offspring it was easier to talk to people and I made long lasting friendships, although that took some time. Also a class that you book into and pay for can lead to stronger friendship links, as people have made a commitment to that activity and so it's almost guaranteed the same faces every week. Even better if it's something like baby swimming or sing and sign where you can sign up to the next level when you've finished as you'll have something in common when you move up to the next, with the people who moved up with you.

Or it doesn't have to be baby related - you could join a yoga, swimming, exercise or dance class at a local gym if it has a creche, evening activities might be more tricky but if you have the cash there are always babysitting agencies.

Sure start centres are often looking for volunteers and you can take your child with you - if this fits in with work at all.

And then you have to network a bit, with the emphasis on work. Go through the motions to a degree, imagine you're internet dating grin Have a formula. When you meet someone at a group you get on with have some stock questions to ask if you feel awkward, to keep the conversation flowing. Once you feel you've "clicked" with someone, preferably once you've crossed paths twice or more, mention casually "We should meet in the park one day so that our little ones can play together" or "You should come over for a coffee one morning and the babies can play together". If they react positively, ask to swap numbers. If they don't, then you can fall back on your stock questions to avoid nervousness. It might be that they are just shy - you could try again when you know them better, or let them initiate further contact.

Once you've got some numbers or acquaintances and regular activities it becomes easier, if you look about a week ahead and plan out when you're working and one thing for the morning and afternoon each day that you're not. This could be a group or an activity for just you and her or a quiet day at home or leave it spare as a social space, and then aim to fill these spaces, every week. I used to sit down and text a long list of people "Hi, are you free next week? It would be lovely to meet up. x" and from then whoever replied got slotted in somewhere. It filled up, and sometimes you end up getting invited along to other things like a group park meeting or new toddler group (always easier when you go in with someone you already know!) and things build up.

Another thing to remember is to try and remember something ongoing about a person who is in that transition from "acquaintance" to "friend", so if someone mentions that their car is playing up, the next time you see them you can ask if they managed to get it sorted, or mentions their DH just got a new job, you can ask how it's going etc. Or if someone says they're a fan of a programme, try watching it and if you like it, it gives you something to talk about. It shows you're interested in them and have been listening and is more likely to make people receptive to you as a person.

Play the game for a bit, and it will become easier and more natural in time and you won't need to game play any more. It's just a stepping stone so that you don't end up more and more isolated and withdrawn and going into yourself because it's very easy to spiral and then give off that signal of "don't talk to me".

Also, occupy your evenings, evenings are hard when you're on your own. Get into a good box set or a good book, or start a hobby or project. Phone friends who live far away for a catch up chat rather than relying on facebook, etc.

BertieBotts Sun 07-Oct-12 22:40:00

Oh and the other thing I meant to add. If anyone mentions they're a single parent or that their DH works weekends a lot, tell them you're often at a loose end at the weekend and if they want to do something you'd be more than happy to. Weekends are really hard when you're on your own because everyone's doing things with their families, the usual weekday activities like soft play and swimming are much busier and you can get a bit stuck in. If they're in a similar situation they'll jump at the chance of some weekend company.

amillionyears Sun 07-Oct-12 22:40:45

Does your DH go away often?
I think it would be a good idea to leave him on his own.
he may well cope better than you,but he should still get a better understanding of what you are going through.
I dont think what you describe would suit most people tbh.
Hopefully he will speed up the move out of there for you.I think that moving house out of there is the best answer for you.

MrBloomsGirl Sun 07-Oct-12 22:47:06

I think I could cope with living here if it weren't for all the other circumstances in my life that are making it hard iykwim. If I had family nearby, or some 'mum mates', or couply friends, or I worked somewhere with more females, or I had lots of friends here that I'd grown up with etc etc. It's the combination of everything that makes me feel isolated. It's not really about the village itself (which actually has its plus points as a lovely safe semi-rural place even if what I describe sounds like a nightmare to most - I did grow up in a sprawling northern metropolis which I also hated!)

MrBloomsGirl Sun 07-Oct-12 22:52:16

He's not away often at all. He will be back on Wednesday. It's more that when he IS away it makes me realise how I have nobody else in my life other than him and DD.

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