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Unsupportive friends & family
Sheila · 19/05/2003 13:08
About a year ago I left a very damaging relationship to become a single parent to my (then) 2.5 yo ds. I moved away with him to a new city and started working full time. So far, so foolhardy you might think! The thing that's made this all much more difficult is the lack of support I've had from friends & family during what has been a fairly horrendous time. Friends mostly came to visit me once and now seem to feel they'd done their duty and if I want to see them I've got to go to them. I spoke to one friend in particular last week who has a husband, a nanny and will have a maternity nurse as well for the birth of her 2nd child next month. Whilst telling me about the maternity nurse she comlained that she would have to cook her lunch, so "it's not all a bed of roses"! She didn't once ask me how I'm coping with bringing up my son alone with only a barely adequate nursery for aid. I don't begrudge her her good fortune but it really galls me when she claims she's hard done by, without acknowledging how lucky she is. But she's just the extreme of a common syndrome - even my brothers have barely been in touch since we moved. Oddly, it's the friends and family with kids of their own who are the worst.
I have one friend (single and childless) who has been unvaryingly loyal and a regular visitor. My parents have also gone to considerable trouble to do what they can, although they're in their late 70s and don't live nearby.
This probably sounds like self-pitying drivel, but are my expectations unrealistic? I've been been so lonely that I've been accepting friendship on any terms, but there comes a point when it becosme humiliating to always be the one who makes all the running.
Sorry this is all a abit of a jumble - any comments really gratefully received.
Batters · 19/05/2003 13:26
This reply has been deleted
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
WideWebWitch · 19/05/2003 15:12
Hi Sheila, I know the feeling about leaving a relationship, moving to a new place and family not being particularly supportive. I wasn't working full time though and I did know one person in the new place. However, not long after I moved she cut me off totally for no apparent reason and I was left feeling very alone. My dad was supportive and would ring every day to see how I was and for a chat but I can't say the rest of my family were immensely helpful. None of my friends came to visit either because I was so far away (ranging from 150-400 miles, so they had a point!) and my mum came once when I desperately needed her but that was because I specifically asked her to. If I wanted to see old friends I ended up going to see them mostly. Anyway, I think I maybe know a bit about how you're feeling. I also think you deserve a huge pat on the back for achieving a move, a job, childcare and the end of a bad relationship. Well done, congratulate yourself even if no-one else has.
If I'm reading your post correctly your problems are twofold: loneliness and lack of support from old friends and family. I think with the loneliness thing you maybe just have to accept that you need to make some friends in your new area who can take the place (sort of) of some of your old friends. I'm not saying dump the old ones but maybe if you do need them (in the way that sometimes only an old friend will do) maybe you need to ask for their help. How would they react if you did ask do you think? Sometimes I think I did a good job of appearing to be getting on fine and so maybe people assumed I didn't need any help or support. I didn't always tell people about the despairing moments, it has to be said. The friend with the nanny etc might even understand, if she's a good friend. I honestly don't think people know how hard it is being a single parent, really they don't. And so maybe it looks like you're doing fine (which you are in a lot of ways) and so they assume you don't need anything from them.
Hmm, all very well telling you to make new friends but if you work full time it must be hard. I was a SAHM and I think this made it easier since I was around during the day, so I went to a playgroup etc and volunteered for everything going (clubs, associations etc), just to meet people. Weekends were really hard as a single parent though, everyone seemed to be off doing cosy family things and I felt very left out sometimes. They improved when I met other single parents who were also free to go to the park/supper etc. So what about joining the NCT? Gingerbread? MAMA? A Yoga class? Swimming for both of you? Or going the volunteer route to meet some people - you can always dip out of xyz committee if you don't like it after a while.
The family thing is harder since they'll always be your family but again, what about asking? If your brothers knew you were having a hard time, might they be a bit more supportive? I'd also say hang in there, it does get easier as your child gets older - if you've coped on your own from 2.5-now things can only get better. Good luck. Hope this helps.
outofpractice · 19/05/2003 16:22
Sheila, A year is not very long, when all these changes have happened. I still feel bitter that certain of my friends dropped me (but carried on seeing exp and new girlfriend) when I thought I needed them most, but I have made new friends over time, who like me and my life as things are now. Sometimes I get fed up too, that I feel like I am doing all the running in making friends, but it does not really matter, as long as you end up with new good friends. It does not always mean someone doesn't want to be friends - people all have their own problems, or they may just not be as organised as you at ringing up or suggesting that you meet. If you feel certain friendships are getting humiliating - or even if someone always depresses you whenever you meet them - then maybe you should stop seeing them for a while? Sometimes I think that certain married people are scared of single mothers and avoid us: the men because you represent the possibility that their downtrodden wives might leave them and be happy, and the women because they feel that you might steal their husband, or envious that you are coping alone when they might not be able to do so. As time goes by, you will be able to judge which friends care about you and which don't, esp if you can bring yourself to ask for help when you need it. You will also get to know who you can trust at work after you have been there for a few years. I really hope things will settle down over the next couple of years and you will be happy again.
kaz33 · 19/05/2003 16:40
Shelia - as a full time mum ( albeit one with friends and family close by ) I know how hard it is to meet other people with children when you are at work all day.
You are very brave and dealing with what must be very tough. Strangely enough I was talking to my partner last night about being in a vulnerable position ( which you would appear to be ) he came up with the wise words that you have to stay true to yourself and not go looking for things - people can smell desperation. Put yourself in the position to meet people, but just because you need friendship and support that is no reason to accept less from people. Be honest about your situation but don't compromise.
Sheila · 22/05/2003 14:56
Just caught up with these replies - thanks you so much! What a difference a little recognition can make! I think things are improving on the loneliness front and I'm meeting people now (through my son's nursery and at work)- don't think I quite got to the "reeking of desperation" stage but wasn't far off perhaps. Still have some very LONG weekends tho.
As far as old friends and family are concerned on a good day I can be philisophical about this and it's true that no-one really knows what it's like to be a single parent until they've done it - I certainly didn't.
Anyway thanks again to you all - wish you lived in my town!
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