Friday, October 15, 2010

Loneliness Hinders Progress

Hi Ladies. It's me. Y'know, Sue.

I can't remember the last time I did a post. I've mostly just been blog stalking. Nearly every new challenge, I start fresh with counting my calories and tracking my points, but after about 3 or 4 days, I run out of steam and decide that I just don't care. I've been fairly consistent with my exercise, mostly because it has morphed into an essential mental health outlet, but my motivation to have discipline and order in my eating and my life are severely lacking.

I think what it boils down to is that I'm lonely. My husband was gone for 3 months doing job training and he has been home less than 10 days since he's been back from Houston. He heads out for a month-long hitch on a new oil rig tomorrow. When he got home about a week ago after a week-long hitch, we were spooning and he was saying how nice it was to be home. I just broke out crying, much to Dan's discomfort, and said, "It's nice to feel like I matter to someone. Someone my own age."

I feel much like Samantha in this post. I just haven't developed a really close friendship with anyone here in Cokeville. My friendship with Zoe, who died 6 weeks ago, seemed to have the potential to go in that direction. I could call her to come hang out whenever I was feeling lonely but didn't want to drag my kids out and didn't want other people to see my messy house. But Zoe is gone now.

Zoe's death has brought a lot of insecurity and hurt feelings to me by way of recognizing what my relationship to the Nate family really is. For those of you who don't read my regular blog, the Nates are sort of our adopted family here in Cokeville. My husband was mission companions with Brian Nate, they are best friends, and Brian and his wife Becca were the main reason we moved to Cokeville. When we moved here Brian's parents (who we rent our house from) told us that they considered us one of the family and that's just how it was going to be. We eat Sunday dinner with them at least once a month, go to all the family birthday parties, celebrate all of our family birthdays with them, and we spend a fair amount of time hanging out.

It has been somewhat disappointing since we moved here because I really thought that Becca and I would spend nearly everyday together, in and out of each other's houses (we're next door neighbors) all the time. For awhile, in the first year, we shared a lot of meals together and I would go over there a lot just to chat. But several little things have just caused us not to spend as much time together. I often feel chained to my house because I feel guilty leaving it messy and yet instead of cleaning it I often just avoid it and take a nap. Becca is a homebody, she doesn't really like to get out much and sometimes I just want someone to come see me so I don't have to drag my kids anywhere or feel like I'm imposing. Our younger kids are at the age where they don't have the social skills to play well together for very long so when I go over to her house it often ends with our kids fighting and me feeling like I just need to leave.

Anyway, when Zoe died, I was in Houston visiting Dan and wasn't able to get home until 3 days after she died. I was so anxious to be with other people who loved her and to share in the family grieving process. But by the time I got back, everyone was kind of talked out and I really missed out on a lot of the conversations and special moments together. As preparations for the funeral were made, I felt excluded, but had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't family and it wasn't really my place to get as involved as I wanted to be. I was trying so hard to be sensitive and understanding of everyone's feelings, really needing to talk but understanding that everyone else was spent. So I just kind of bawled on my own and talked on the phone with my sister Becky and my BFF Lori. Then I started to feel really hurt about the fact that none of the Nates were trying to comfort me. That none of them acknowledged that Zoe was important to me, too. That I was feeling empty and lonely without her. All this time Dan was gone and I really didn't have a shoulder to cry on. Then I started to feel just mad, mad that the Nates said we were family, but really, we're not. That has been shown to me in the aftermath of Zoe's death. Yes, they care about us, but we are not really part of their inner circle.

Katie, Brian's sister, was Zoe's best friend. They saw each other every day and apart from Zoe's husband and 2 children, Katie has felt the emptiness of Zoe's absence more than anyone else. At first I tried to call or stop in every day to see how she was doing, but it soon turned into something that was just as much for me as it was for her. We would sometimes exercise together or I'd go find her at her mom's house and we'd chat, or we'd watch a movie with Zoe's sisters and mom who were here from England for 3 weeks following the funeral. I started feeling better and feeling like I had someone who was my everyday friend.

But in the last 10 days or so I stopped going over to Katie's every day because I was working on some newspaper articles and Dan was home for a couple of days, so I was pretty home bound. This week I finished all of that, but had to catch up on my housework because I'd been ignoring it for too long. So by today I was ready to get back in the swing of things. I went for a run while Dan was home to watch the kids and I stopped by Katie's. It was brief and I was hoping to spend some more time with her this afternoon, but another one of the Nate siblings, Lori, came to town for a visit, so they just kind of did their own thing.

Crap. This isn't just about Katie. It's about the realization I had tonight that all of the friendships I have in Cokeville seem to be all initiated by me. I'm sure I'm exaggerating and being a drama queen. But right now it feels like if I ever want to spend time with anyone, I have to initiate it. Rarely does anyone just stop by my house, I go to theirs. No one calls me for company. Most of the phone calls I get are usually just when someone needs something. People are just too busy with their families.

To be fair, I'm not as outgoing as I could be. I go through spurts where I try to get out a lot, go to the library and get involved with town activities, but other times I can be holed up in my house for days at a time. If I'm being honest, I still struggle with my depression, even though my meds are regulated pretty well. It's still just hard to force myself to keep moving sometimes, to keep doing, to think less and busy myself so I don't become melancholy. But a lot of the time I just want to escape to a long nap. And that is not a great tool for relieving loneliness.

I've definitely been overly sensitive about not being included in everyday activities with Katie and the rest of the Nates. The fact is that I didn't spend every day with them before Zoe died, so I shouldn't be offended about that same pattern continuing now. I guess I just have a more accute need for their company right now.

I just want to feel like someone needs me. I want to have a friend who just stops by unannounced and stays for 2 hours. Zoe had started doing that. I want someone to call me just to chat. I want someone to bring their kids over and make sugar cookies. I want someone to say, "Let's get a babysitter and drive to Montpelier or Logan." I want to feel welcome enough to take my loud, sometimes pain-in-the-butt kids to my friend's house and not feel like they're wondering when we're gonna leave. I want someone to do crafts with. I want someone to be excited about painting furniture with me. I want a friend I can go over and sweep the kitchen floor for while she washes dishes. I wish I had a house big enough to invite my friend and her kids over for a sleepover and stay up late eating junk and watching movies or playing games.

I wish I could put all of you in a genie bottle, keep it on my desk and rub on it whenever I need some company.


  1. #*&@#!!!!!!! Now I am regretting inviting 3 wards of Relief Society sisters to come to an all-day Craft Group this Saturday (just hang out and shoot the breeze,) otherwise I'd be on your doorstep tomorrow night!! Your ward is having a Relief Society Super Saturday this Saturday, right? I hope that you get to go and have some fun.

    Poop, you know I'm that friend who could do all that stuff with you, probably be in your hair more than you want, since I've gotten a lot of my act together since my year-long depression. Why hasn't Heavenly Father conspired to put us in the same town at a time we could really help each other? I guess he just has other things in store for us.
    So irritating!

    In many relationships, there is always someone who is the initiator. With your naturally outgoing personality, you are going to be the initiator more often than not. It's just one of your best gifts and talents, drawing out people who are withdrawn, shy, or kind of bumps-on-the-log like your sister (I'm talking about me, for those of you who don't know that Sue is my sister.) It just sucks right now that you are in a place where you need the world to start giving back to you and filling up your tank again, so you can operate at the outgoing/sparkling level you usually do.

    I will be praying for you, and trying to think of ways I can help fill your tank.

    I love you so much, so, so much. Hugs and kisses!
    Love, Becky

  2. Ah man, Sue! I have really missed your posts! I'm so sorry you're having such a rough time. I'll be thinking of you and hoping things start to get better!

  3. I have been meaning to put a shout out to you since you have been on my mind so much lately. I wish you could see what an amazing person you are. You are what brought me to this blog!
    I find myself feeling this same way at times and realize as long as I am hoping for someone to be the friend I want, I will forever be disappointed. It is hard to feel like you are always the one who has to reach out BUT if we want friends like that we have to be that kind of friend too! For me, when I am lonely everything seems worse. Your days will get better my friend and please remember that we would all be at your doorstep if we could!!!
    YOU CAN DO THIS :) Have a good day today!

  4. Sue, you've been in my thoughts and prayers of late. It's so nice to have a friend who is geographically close. It softens all the hard edges of motherhood and husbands gone and the like. But, virtual friends can encourage you too. We're here to say "The Lord has great plans for you!" Maybe this time of loneliness is a time of growth for you in some way you will only be able to see looking back, later in life.

    Continue to be the kind of friend you would like to have and know that you are touching other women's lives every time you give of yourself. I know I truly appreciate your gifts of wisdom, humor and eloquent insight!

  5. Sue - Since you referenced my post, I have to chime in. Here are my two pieces of advice:

    1. Recognize that you have life long friends you can call and chat with at anytime. (me, duh) Don't feel guilty about sitting and talking on the phone to one of them. But if you call me, I'm going to challenge you and I both to do one household task while we talk! :)

    2. Start actively praying for a friend to come into your life who can meet your needs and you theirs. It is a righteous desire. Cokeville is a small town, but you're a sassy, fun, interesting, sincere gal who has a lot to offer in the way of friendship and I know there is someone there who you can be besties with.

    Cheer up! YOu are loved and adored.

  6. Sue, I hope you can feel how much we all love you and care for you. You need an "Audrey". She is so good to stop by my house when I am feeling down. I know she is in tune with the spirit and is acting as an instrument in Heavenly Fathers hands every time she stops by. I really like Sams advice to pray for a friend. That is such a good idea. I will also pray for you. Hang in there.

  7. Sue, you have consumed my thoughts since I read your post the other day. I wake up in the night and think of you and your heartache. I can't even imagine how hard this must all be. I've felt similar things, with my husband travelling etc. But I have been so fortunate to have not lost anyone close to me in my life, except my grandpa three years ago, and that was very hard.
    I have a few ideas to help you be happier, that I've applied in my life, and they've helped me. I figure since you posted your feelings here, that you are open for a few ideas.
    First of all, I've heard a few ladies say that they feel like they are always the ones to initiate social things. I think those ladies, like you, who initiate 'play' for the rest of us are angels, or else we would all never get together. Audrey is our little angel here in Virginia. I'm going to miss her so much when I move to California next month.
    Next, I think you need to find a way to love yourself unconditionally. We all suffer from a lack of self esteem sometimes, but I've learned that the only real cheer leader you can rely on is yourself. If something makes you happy, most of the time, you have to be the one to make it happen. If you expect too much of others, they will usually let you down. It's sad, but true. Even the people we admire and love the most will sometimes let us down. I've learned to expect a little less of people, that way, when they do something nice, or actually follow through, you will be overjoyed. I know it sounds cynical, but really it's the fairest way to treat people in your life. Sometimes they simply can't live up to our expectations.
    You have to walk around town thinking "I LOVE ME!, take it or leave it folks. This girl is doing things, you can either be a part of it or not." It's sassy, but fun. You'll find if you like being with you, then others will too. (I'm not saying be conceited and proud, just be the best YOU possible).
    The last thing that comes to mind is that we only have a few years with our kids before they are off and gone. I used to get annoyed when bath time came around, or the kids and I had endless hours together because my husband was out of town. I would think "oh here we go again" or "well, what am I supposed to do now". I have 3 kids ages 12, 9 and 6, and we have learned to LIVE Life, not just suffer through, but we have a BLAST! (whether Dad's home or not). I've had to love myself, believe in myself and I have seen that my kids respect and love themselves because of this. I really believe my kids are well adjusted and happy, because I make them believe I am. (heehee).
    Life is not easy, life is not fair. Sometimes it just stinks, really, really bad. But we learned in Sunday school today while studying Isaih that the Lord has us engraven on the palm of His hand. He will not forget us, and will not forsake us. I truly believe that He is aware of your needs and loves you. He will give you what you need. I'm not sure why he took Zoe from you, seems like a mean trick, but I think as time goes on, you will see a purpose in all of this heartache and be better for it.
    Like all the rest of us here on the Blog, I believe in you and know that you will overcome this sad chapter in your life. Remember, it's just a chapter in your story, there will be happier times.