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I've been coping with loneliness & isolation for over 2 decades AMA
19

Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 18:16

I'm now in my late-thirties. I've lived on my own and have been primarily responsible for myself since I was 15. And I have been coping with loneliness and isolation even before then. AMA

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DenholmElliot1 · 05/08/2022 18:20

How come you were living alone aged 15? Where were you living and how did you pay for everything!?

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BlueKaftan · 05/08/2022 18:24

How would you feel about beginning to reach out and finding a friend? Pen pals are great for some as there’s a measure of security. Xx

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 18:33

DenholmElliot1 · 05/08/2022 18:20

How come you were living alone aged 15? Where were you living and how did you pay for everything!?

Dad sent me packing (lived in a developing country at the time) because I had a boyfriend. Nothing sexual, just a boyfriend to escape the chaos at home really. But I think he sent me packing because he was abusive and I was the only one who stood up to him in the house.
My boyfriend's family gave me a small studio to live in till I graduated university at 19, and they took care of my feeding. I survived on the goodwill of people, and my mother continued to give me stipends too but I also lived a life of little needs - food and shelter were the priorities.
Got into first paid work at 20, and have been on my own ever since.

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 18:53

BlueKaftan · 05/08/2022 18:24

How would you feel about beginning to reach out and finding a friend? Pen pals are great for some as there’s a measure of security. Xx

I have just one 'friend'. However, we don't see/talk often anymore as I worked out that I was serving them more than they served me.

On the outside, I don't look alone. I come off as a single hardworking woman who lives alone. But only I know what goes on in my heart and behind my closed doors.

I've been doing lots of reflection over the years, and I've realised I unintentionally rub people the wrong way or push them away which then leads them to despise me. I am too black & white - no grey area; I challenge norms even when everyone is ok to just go with the flow; I'm an empath & a fixer which puts me at people's mercy to be used; and while I'm great at deep talks, I haven't mastered the art of small talks. So, to cope and make sure no one gets hurt, I tend to try not to get too close to people.

I've tried a few online pen pal platforms but I got overwhelmed and quit.

I'm working on myself (as per my reflection) as I do want to make genuine connections and just be a happy human being. In therapy, taking communication lessons, planning to move from the countryside to a city to give myself social chances etc.

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JanieAllen · 05/08/2022 18:55

how could you graduate university at 19? and how come you didn't make any friends at university or at work? Its just odd -my longest friendships come from University and work.

You have to work at making friends. Joining groups but putting the effort in not just for a month but a long time. I've made more friends from crafting groups, interests, politics.

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 19:33

JanieAllen · 05/08/2022 18:55

how could you graduate university at 19? and how come you didn't make any friends at university or at work? Its just odd -my longest friendships come from University and work.

You have to work at making friends. Joining groups but putting the effort in not just for a month but a long time. I've made more friends from crafting groups, interests, politics.

One can graduate at 19 if you have double-promotions during primary and/ or secondary education like I had (at least in the country I grew up in).

You're right, university was the place to make friends and I did make a few but that was over a decade and a half ago. Most of us moved to different countries afterwards, and the friendships fizzled out mostly due to new priorities. All my girlfriends are now married with kids and these haven't happened for me yet. There's a cultural alienation that comes with that, and there's internalised shame on my part.

Thanks for the advice about joining groups and playing my part. I do intend to push myself to be more out there and make an effort with new people that I meet. I have started to try. For example, I reconnected with someone I met online a few years ago. They old me would have insisted they make an equal effort, but I have gotten on the train to meet up with them in London twice this month. Even though, I come back home feeling overwhelmed (because I haven't had intense social interactions in a long time).
So, I do believe I can and will make progress.

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Wildehorses · 05/08/2022 19:44

Have you tried the meet up website ? You can see what group suits you locally, some of my friends swear by it

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SmokedTofu · 05/08/2022 19:49

Do you have any relationship at all with your parents now? What about siblings?

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goldfinchonthelawn · 05/08/2022 19:59

Have you thought about fostering different types of friendship with different levels of intensity to see what suits you?

I used to only be capable of intense one to one relationships but learned to enjoy different levels of friendship as I got older and it's made me really happy.

Casual friendships with fitness groups, choirs etc where you just do something together and then meet once or twice a year socially outside that for drinks

Closer friendships with special interest groups where there's a mental/creative/emotional connection as well as just a share dinterest - something like drama group, creative writing workshop or theatre club where you love chatting about the interest beyond just doing it.

Work friendships and mentoring where you get close to people through respect for each other's professional capability.

Casual friendship with neighbours - seasonal drinks and catch ups, getting together to do communal things.

If you foster all of these without any expectation they will all become super close and intense, you end up with a really rich set of friendships.

If you add dating to this, I think you would find within a year or two (it does take time) your loneliness might have lessened significantly.

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 20:26

Wildehorses · 05/08/2022 19:44

Have you tried the meet up website ? You can see what group suits you locally, some of my friends swear by it

I used to use it when I lived in London years ago. Although I made no close friends, I was in a few groups on there that kept me occupied. I'll explore it for where I now live. Thanks for the heads up. xx

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 20:46

SmokedTofu · 05/08/2022 19:49

Do you have any relationship at all with your parents now? What about siblings?

To an extent, yes. Haven't seen the parents in over a decade but we speak on phone - very surface level.

My relationships with the siblings (all males) are fraught.
One day they let me come around or talk to them (usually for photo-ops when there's a family event/ when they need to use me financially or to babysit/ because someone has marital issues/ mental breakdown etc - as I have the tendency to be a fixer), then afterwards they just cut me off for long periods without notice, claiming I rubbed them the wrong way. And the cycle repeats itself.
They also have ruined my relationships/ friendships in the past by calling my girlfriends behind my back and warning them to steer clear of me, then turning around and making jest of me for being isolated.
Last case was my closest childhood friend who moved to the UK a few months ago. I picked her up from the airport, hosted her for a few days, helped her settle in, drove her to her new city. Only for her to tell me my brothers are ringing are to tell her I'm an awful person and she needed to be careful. Then I noticed she slowly withdrew and eventually she asked me to give her space, particularly stating that my isolation is concerning.
I honestly will no longer try with the siblings. I know I have behavioural issues that I need to work on, but they're highly toxic in ways that intentionally hurt me.

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 20:57

goldfinchonthelawn · 05/08/2022 19:59

Have you thought about fostering different types of friendship with different levels of intensity to see what suits you?

I used to only be capable of intense one to one relationships but learned to enjoy different levels of friendship as I got older and it's made me really happy.

Casual friendships with fitness groups, choirs etc where you just do something together and then meet once or twice a year socially outside that for drinks

Closer friendships with special interest groups where there's a mental/creative/emotional connection as well as just a share dinterest - something like drama group, creative writing workshop or theatre club where you love chatting about the interest beyond just doing it.

Work friendships and mentoring where you get close to people through respect for each other's professional capability.

Casual friendship with neighbours - seasonal drinks and catch ups, getting together to do communal things.

If you foster all of these without any expectation they will all become super close and intense, you end up with a really rich set of friendships.

If you add dating to this, I think you would find within a year or two (it does take time) your loneliness might have lessened significantly.

This is very helpful advice. Thank you.
I screenshot it just so I can read it over and over. I never thought of approaching socialisation this way. I've always focused on the activities, and not the interactions/ friendships that I could foster while doing them. Also, I've always searched for meaning and thought of friendship as either deep or not deep. Sounds like there could be a spectrum and I need to embrace having different ones at different places on that spectrum.
Thank you. Really appreciate this!

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FarFarFarAndAway · 05/08/2022 22:11

OP, you sound great and self-reflective. I think moving to a city is a good idea, I found that whilst people were friendly and nice in smaller towns in my twenties, there just weren't enough other single people of a similar age to connect with, somewhere like London or some of the other bigger cities just opens that up, I started dating having had a complete blank for a few years and found someone quite quickly. There are lots of people in their late-thirties not settled down in the bigger cities and there's just a more dynamic outlook about meeting new people I think (although you could find a good friend anywhere).

The other thing works for me is that I practice being sociable before it really counts, if you see what I mean. So, just being friendly in shops, chatting to someone at the bus stop, walking the dog, whatever. I don't do it all the time, but I find if you are generally sociable when it doesn't count, then it's a lot easier to be friendly and sociable when it does count if that makes sense.

If you have moved away from your home country, and your family continue to be toxic, I think seeking new connections, friends and a social life is the best thing to do, you can always keep low contact if you want to, but it sounds like your family are not your supporters in this situation.

Sometimes people, through a combination of circumstance, and also personal tendencies, just end up not having many friends at a certain time of their lives, I have a fabulous friend I met online who was honest about having more or less no friends at all due to moving about, not knowing neighbours and so on. Over time, they have been in touch with some old friends, chatted with neighbours and made internet friends that have turned into real ones. I do believe this is something you can change over time- does that sound at all familiar to your story?

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FarFarFarAndAway · 05/08/2022 22:12

My question is: are you settled in the UK? Would you ever think of moving elsewhere?

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ChocoButterfly · 05/08/2022 22:17

I know I have behavioural issues that I need to work on

What are they?

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 23:26

FarFarFarAndAway · 05/08/2022 22:11

OP, you sound great and self-reflective. I think moving to a city is a good idea, I found that whilst people were friendly and nice in smaller towns in my twenties, there just weren't enough other single people of a similar age to connect with, somewhere like London or some of the other bigger cities just opens that up, I started dating having had a complete blank for a few years and found someone quite quickly. There are lots of people in their late-thirties not settled down in the bigger cities and there's just a more dynamic outlook about meeting new people I think (although you could find a good friend anywhere).

The other thing works for me is that I practice being sociable before it really counts, if you see what I mean. So, just being friendly in shops, chatting to someone at the bus stop, walking the dog, whatever. I don't do it all the time, but I find if you are generally sociable when it doesn't count, then it's a lot easier to be friendly and sociable when it does count if that makes sense.

If you have moved away from your home country, and your family continue to be toxic, I think seeking new connections, friends and a social life is the best thing to do, you can always keep low contact if you want to, but it sounds like your family are not your supporters in this situation.

Sometimes people, through a combination of circumstance, and also personal tendencies, just end up not having many friends at a certain time of their lives, I have a fabulous friend I met online who was honest about having more or less no friends at all due to moving about, not knowing neighbours and so on. Over time, they have been in touch with some old friends, chatted with neighbours and made internet friends that have turned into real ones. I do believe this is something you can change over time- does that sound at all familiar to your story?

Totally. I plan to move to London. I feel it in my heart that I should go and see what opens up for me.
I like the idea of practicing when it doesn’t matter. I can try to incorporate that into my new ways of being.
And you’re right. I’m in similar situation. I was a social butterfly growing up. Never had a problem making friends. In fact, I used to be the magnet keeping my friends together. But I noticed in my 20s, I began to recluse. Toxicity from the family, being in dysfunctional and abusive relationships, and always moving around have affected me adversely.
Also, being responsible for myself with no support from anywhere has meant that I’ve had to spend most of my time as an adult working on making something of myself because I know I have nothing or no one to fall back on.
I think you make a good point that things can change over time. Hopefully they do.
Thank you for putting things into perspective for me. You've been helpful.

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 23:38

FarFarFarAndAway · 05/08/2022 22:12

My question is: are you settled in the UK? Would you ever think of moving elsewhere?

To my mind, I am settled here and do consider here to be home. Although I was raised elsewhere, I was born here so a part of me feels like I belong here.

I considered moving elsewhere when I was in my 20s and really struggling. But I am now rooted here in some economic ways - have a home; educated to the highest level and career is picking up. I just need to work on my social development.

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Disguisedgift · 05/08/2022 23:59

ChocoButterfly · 05/08/2022 22:17

I know I have behavioural issues that I need to work on

What are they?

I mentioned a few earlier but can expand as honestly as possible-

I'm too black & white - I struggle to be in a grey area;

I challenge norms even when everyone is ok to just go with the flow - can come across as disruptive;

I'm an empath & a fixer which puts me at people's mercy to be used but also means I get burnt out and resent people for using me;

While I'm great at deep talks, I haven't mastered the art of small talks;

I think I might be slightly on the spectrum/ socially awkward- I just can't seem to maintain cordial social relationships as I've gotten older, I don't get sarcasm, my idea of fun is doing something constructive or intellectual - my hobbies are painting, reading, writing, photography, running, cycling bla bla bla (my new friend asked me last week 'what do you enjoy doing that doesn't require much of you?' - I couldn't think of one thing; my jokes are not funny to anyone but myself

I can be pragmatic, critical, and negative (a few people have told me about my blindness to sarcasm, criticality and negativity);

To cope and make sure no one gets hurt, I tend to try not to get too close to people. This can mean that I can push nice people away;

I've been through some messed up things which have made me depressed on and off and I sometimes wear it on my face - I think people can see my pain sometimes;

I struggle to let go of disappointments/ heartbreaks easily;

I can be clingy/ controlling in the off-chance relationships I get into;

I have the ability to cut people off with no notice or giving an explanation that makes sense to me only.

I believe if I could work on some of these things, I'd be 10 pounds lighter.

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JanieAllen · 06/08/2022 14:13

I think you are doing the right things. I do belong to a photo group where I've made a mix of friends and aquaintances. Its a photo group which does alternative processing and using old cameras. Definatley see if you can find a course or something similar in London. One of the members is infact coming for coffee in my garden this afternoon. You CAN make friends when you are older. I met Ali when I was over 50.

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