Loneliness in A Small Town
Loneliness defined: sadness because one has no friends or company.
Synonyms: isolation, friendlessness, lack of friends/companions, forsakenness, abandonment, rejection.
The other day I read an interview with a woman who was explaining how hard it had been for her to assimilate into life here in regional Victoria, Australia in our town of Mansfield.
“She started a little way out of town and didn’t drive. That was a problem right there. Her husband was in town most days and she was alone for eight hours a day with limited TV and internet, zero garden to speak of, and she read a lot of books and hung out with the poor old cat.”
After moving to town, and unpacking she says, “The stress of the previous months, saying goodbye to our treasured 20-year-old cat who had kept me company, and facing a close-knit, small-town completely overwhelmed me. I felt lonely. Isolated.
Meanwhile, My husband had become involved with the golf club, was heavily involved with the SES and had made about a quizzillion new friends”.
She went on to say, “Over the next two years, everything deteriorated. I was lonely, but I didn’t want to join a group or association for the wrong reasons. I only wanted to get involved if I could actually contribute, and wasn’t feeling there was much I could contribute. I was invited to events with my husband’s friends, but didn’t want to go – getting made-up to go out and being sociable seemed too big of a climb. Instead, I’d stay home with a bottle of wine. I had no problem cracking open the wine at 11:00 am. I’d always been a bit of a party girl and remained so long after the days of long work lunches and a couple of nights a week at the pub.”
“Deep down I knew I wasn’t right. I’ve never been a patient person, but I became extremely intolerant. If something frustrated me, I’d pick up whatever was handy and hurl it across the room, right down to a nine-kilo bag of kitty litter once or twice! My poor long-suffering husband”
To cut a long story short she sought professional help and began the long climb out of the alcoholic tunnel and into a new life.
She learned the following: “Things that are my fault, I can change. Things that are not my fault or impossible to change, there’s absolutely no point dwelling on and I have to put them aside. Then I get to work on fixing the things I can.
I tackle my loneliness. Instead of saying no to events with her husband or a night at the pub, I go along. I still don’t have any close friends here, but I’m getting better at meeting people”.
Responsibility / Mindset
It’s all about taking responsibility and changing your mindset.
I noticed her comment early on that she didn’t want to join groups for the wrong reasons. Really? What could be the wrong reason? Oh. OK. She went on and said she didn’t think she had anything to contribute. Mindset again.
We all have something to contribute. New ideas and help are always in demand in community groups.
Couldn't be Bothered
And couldn’t be bothered going out? I’m sorry – but I can’t accept a person saying they are lonely and yet giving up chances to be part of a social occasion. Especially when they are to be accompanied by another trusted person. It is virtually risk-free.
When asked about what she missed in the city she had left behind she cited a bagel shop, and a fish and chip shop. We do have those here but apparently not up to her standard. Again mindset.
I bet she had to VISIT a number of places to find the ones she liked in the city, but expected, it seems, new wondrous delights to just jump out and bite her on the bum.
Big City Illusion
Because of the large number of people, events, shops, bars etc in a big city everything seems so much easier. It is an illusion. YOU must still go out and partake of these things. With an open mind. If not, you will be lonely there too. In fact, research often shows that loneliness is a greater problem in cities – perhaps due to overwhelm.
Be A Joiner
To make your life come alive in a small town, you need to be a joiner. Get out and about. Join any group that will have you. Volunteer to help wherever possible. Councils have whole volunteer departments – meals on wheels and many other opportunities.
Go to pubs and coffee shops, listen to music. Be seen. Soon people will speak to you because you are there. Loneliness is sadness because you have no friends or company. So says the definition with which we started this article. You can’t find friends or company sitting at home behind closed doors.
Learning to drive is a necessity in a country town and a whole lot less stressful and much safer than in a big city. Bite the bullet. Don’t sit on your hands and do nothing and expect anything to change.
Go Out with a book
I began here in town, alone, sitting in a beer garden nursing a single glass of wine, reading a book and soon I found people to talk to.
I started doing things I liked and making them available to people in town. I did things outside my comfort zone. And I have many friends now. Have been invited to birthday parties and other social occasions. I can’t go into the supermarket without being recognised and often stopped to be engaged in a short conversation. It is very nice.
Is this because I’m special? Of course not. It is because I have been SEEN and I have been going stuff in town.
My advice and the point of this article is ‘Get out and about’. Join. Don’t worry about the reason. Mix it up with the other human beings. Perhaps some of them are EXACTLY like you and just need another warm body to talk to.