• Making Friends

When you need an extra push to get out and make friends

Published: December 20, 2013 | By | 19 Replies Continue Reading
A reader asks:  Who can give you an extra push to get out, find friends, and engage in life?

QUESTION

Hi,

I am 47, female, divorced for 23 years, medically retired from the military after 15 years (due to narcolepsy). I’m a mother of two adult children (beautiful independent educated lesbian daughter, and a confused handsome alcoholic ex Marine who will find himself in jail for not complying with the courts demands). I’m not living with my boyfriend anymore but we are still in an exclusive relationship even after he cheated, more then once.

I don’t know what to do with myself. NO friends, not one, no family outside my children. No commitments. I’m overweight but healthy. I want to contribute and be part of something. I have read everything I know what needs to be done, counseling, baby steps…but I can’t—cannot—get out of the house!

I buy everything online, even pay my couple of bills online. I need help to help myself. I get along with people, those that I meet in passing. I love communicating. I love children and I am tired of hearing/reading “just do it!”

Is there someplace I can go to help me integrate into life? Are there people I can hire to give me a kick in my behind and keep the whip cracking during the day until I can be involved in life by myself?

Signed, Leigh

ANSWER

Hi Leigh,

I’m sure you realize that the extra push has to come from within you—and it sounds like you are ready.

I assume you have ruled out the possibility that you have agoraphobia (an anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for you to leave your house) or that your narcolepsy is making you excessively drowsy during the day.

So, to a large extent, the solution will boil down to you finding a satisfying routine that engages you and keeps you going. Here are a few ideas: 

Make a commitment to others

If you volunteer, perhaps with children or at your local library, people will count on you to show up regularly. Would such a commitment be the kick in the pants you need to be responsible to them and yourself?

Put your money where your mouth is

Since you mention that being overweight as an issue and you are otherwise healthy, would you consider investing in a gym membership or personal trainer? Sometimes when people make a financial investment in making a change, they feel compelled to stick with the program.

Find a life coach

Some people find it helpful to hire a life coach. As opposed to a therapist who treats diagnosable conditions, a life coach helps healthy people who are motivated to make lifestyle changes but need help. This prior guest post on the Friendship Blog, Friendship Woes: Whom can you turn to for help?, explains how a life coach works.

Find part-time employment work

Even though you are retired from the military, a part-time job could give you motivation (and some extra cash) to dress up, leave your house each day, and engage with other people.

Count on us 

Will you report back here next month and let us know if you have made progress? 

These are just several ideas. I wonder if other readers have felt as you do and found a helpful strategy that gave them the extra push they needed?

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: MAKING FRIENDS, Where to meet friends

Comments (19)

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  1. marie says:

    Hello Leigh, I can relate to your life.I’m 52 and a mother of 5, all adults. I also have lupus and glaucoma plus other illnesses.I spend a lot of time in my home and get very lonely,although I’m married my husband and I have more then 30yrs but he’s job keeps him away. I love going for walks in the evening but my only friend I once had moved away so I remain at home.I pray I can make friends here.

  2. abby says:

    Wow. you girls seem to have great compassion for each other. This is a great site
    I can’t wait to talk it all out.

  3. Carol says:

    Leigh, Carol here again. I just remembered when I had a big challenge in my life and had to pass a test. It was a popular thing to use affirmations. I remember how helpful they were for me. I wrote each one of my goals to succeed down on a 3×5 card and said them to myself twice a day for a month before the test. Things like, I am smart, I can pass this test. I have all it takes to succeed. etc., I know it the reason I did very well and affirmations do work.

    You might try some and see what happens. Just want you to know I am thinking of you and want you to get out there where you are longing to go.

    Best to you, Carol O.

  4. Carol says:

    Hi Leigh, Changing your path in life, particularly when you thought you wouldn’t have to keep making changes…well it’s plain painful. Sometimes I think about why I entered a relationship with someone and then took on the job of making it all work out. I wanted the other person to make me happy by always being there for me and always, always promising to take care of me. Well, the good news is that such a set-up doesn’t work, but I learned so much for those painful experiences. Now, my heart is open and I am no longer so naive about counting on someone else to get me out the door. My heart is a much like a hound dog, wanting to find more and more of who I truly am. I read people who are so afraid of dying alone, let alone walking out the door into the unknown. For this is what it is outside that door…unknowns. Or is it the surprises, the unexpected “hello” or the person who stops you and says, “Are you new in the neighborhood?” One never knows and maybe if you can let go of having to know what’s out there, but take more of what you are like when you open a gift of some kind. Surprise, exactly what I wanted!

    As to all those who worry about dying alone. The only way any of won’t die alone, if we are lucky enough to die at home in our own world, is to ask someone to be there by your side. Because I spent so much time in my life sitting at the bedside of those dying, it’s comfortable place for me. You have to find someone who is willing and able to be there for you and then make concrete plans in writing, just in case they are needed. I don’t think we can just expect we’ll be taken care of, loved or remembered; it’s up to us to make it happen, up to us to create our own lives.

    Keep visualizing you heading out the door into a wonderful day!

    Courage my friend!

    Carol O.

  5. leigh says:

    I am still finding it hard to get out of the house. I also find my decision to move back in with Jack is not best for my emotional well being. However it will be beneficial financially and I can leave at any time. In the mean time I am going to work on me. I want to leave the house everyday, shower and put make up on everyday, work on completing my on line course. I have done a lot of learning about who I am…I like me, well the me I will soon be. I am friendly and caring and independent and very diverse in my thinking. I have so much I want to do, be and give, I just need to get myself out of the house and I am sure the doors will open……just need to get out! I have thought about seeking a companion to hire on. Anybody have experience with hiring a companion?

  6. hannah says:

    Leigh,

    I find that when I ‘make’ myself walk outside every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes, I feel so much better about everything else- but even knowing this, it’s hard to force myself to do it (especially two inches of ice and two feet of snow out there).

    You’re definitely not the only one who wakes up every day meaning to work out and not doing it 🙂

    Would an accountability partner help, someone you could check in with on a regular basis?

    • Irene says:

      Great suggestions!

    • Leigh says:

      Yes an accountability partner would be great. I honestly know nobody. I don’t know how I would go about finding a person willing to do that. I am thinking about going to a fat camp. It is expensive, but who can put a price on good health and my sanity;-)

  7. GraceW says:

    This may seem unrelated to your immediate problem of needing a kick in the pants to get out of the house, but… have you considered dumping the cheating [email protected]#hole boyfriend? Staying with someone who cheats can be a major drain to self-esteem, and when self-esteem is low, you feel like you don’t matter. That makes it hard to be motivated to do anything that DOES matter – like getting out of the house!

    • Leigh says:

      Yes, I have thought about ending our relationship completely….many times. We don’t do anything together. On,the weekends/holidays he comes over an we literally sit and watch movies and eat. He does work out and has gone to my gym with me a couple of times. He takes me to the stores if I need to go (Narcolepsy prohibits me from driving).but otherwise you are correct he is a huge drain to my self esteem/respect. I believe that as I begin to get into life, he will play less of a roll in mine. He isn’t a people person and I crave interaction with people (obviously or I wouldn’t be on this site). Last week I got out 2 days and it felt good.

      • Carol says:

        Hooray for you Leigh, You know when I worked with kids as a paraprofessional, my teacher loved it when I would make up a chart of some kind where the students’ names were on it and how many “whatevers” they accomplished in a particular time frame. They loved seeing their name up there and how much they had advanced. Sometimes, it motivated them to do more next spelling test or whatever. Maybe you could put a chart up on your wall and create a motivational chart for Leigh. Maybe something like:

        Leigh’s Voyage Out the Door! (R-dressed/ready to go/W-walked out the door and came back/B – walked 10 blocks/S – walked to store.) (C – asked for help.)

        Monday Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun

        R R C B B S R C B

        Or something like this to your own creativity. See your attempts and your accomplishments, no matter how small. Think of those who have an accident and have to learn to walk again. Whatever our challenges are, they deserve our creativity and willingness to help ourselves. Yes others can help us, however, for me making myself responsible for what I want out of life is up to me.

        I see many others have given great suggestions; we all want you to accomplish your journey to enjoying your life.

        Best to you, Carol O.

  8. Great suggestions here. I find it harder to get out though at 66, when it wasn’t a problem before. Getting out feels like a chore. But, last night I went to a local caroling party at the community center and was it ever fun! I even made some new friends there.

    • Carol says:

      Alexandra, Pat yourself on the back. It is harder when we change with age, but you have brought the brave person you are with every step you take to 66, 67, etc. I am 75 and I think I have never felt so good about the person I am because I have met so many challenges and welcom more. Enjoy!

  9. Amy says:

    http://www.volunteermatch.org
    Volunteering is a great way to meet like minded people and contribute to those less fortunate. The above link will help you match your interests with organizations in your area who desperately need people just like you.

    Your local library probably has book discussion groups and other activities that are both free and an opportunity to meet others who share your interests.

    If you have a nearby YMCA you can participate in their activities. They often have gyms and/or exercise classes. If money is an issue, ask about scholarships for low income folks.

    Malls often have walking clubs for people before store hours so even if you start off going by yourself a few times a week, you’d see the same people and would have an opportunity to meet folks.

    Group therapy is also a good avenue to meet others struggling with similar issues.

    Meetup,com has group activities for every interest you can imagine from scrabble to music to writing to sports to political interests.

    Make a commitment to yourself to get out 4 times a week, even if it’s just to walk around the block or to sit in Starbucks and read a magazine.

    Go to al-anon meetings for people with alcoholic friends and family members to help you cope with your son’s problems and to meet others. Members often go for coffee after meetings.

    There are many other people going through the same challenges. You just haven’t met any of them yet. Good luck. I know you can do it.

  10. Carol says:

    Hello, Most likely a whole lot of we human beings can relate. To me that’s the first given, your challenges are not unique nor impossible to begin to understand. Personally, my personal issues go back to family experiences and what, now as an adult, I can see the behaviors I modeled. I can remember specific times in my life and I mean like a spotlight on a moment when I said to myself, “You are not going to be afraid of life as your Mother was.” She spent the last 20 years of her life in the grip of agoraphobia. I believe what helped me the most was getting away from my hometown, going far away where I would be forced to confront my fears and begin to gain self-awareness and self-esteem. At 18 I joined the Navy, forcing myself to grow. And as I ventured out I began to meet people who would for various reasons, stand up for me when I didn’t have the courage and watched and learned from these models. I also got in touch with how angry I was and thought I was a “bad” person until one of those guides let me in on the positive power of anger. I read Women Who Run With the Wolves and literally slept with it in my arms as some people might sleep with the Bible or other powerful source they believe in. Again, as sad as my mother’s life was, she in many ways was my motivator to LIVE my life. She died at age 75, the age I am now. I have spent a great deal of my last 30 years standing up for those who needed a strong woman and leader. I don’t think any of us have the same answer, but we all can find the path we need to get on that will take us where we want to go in life. Now, I am retired and my loves are photography, hiking (usually alone (my choice), art, writing, smiling at babies and kittens and hanging out with those who respect and love me. Most of my time is spent in healing solitude and there is little I am afraid of when I walk out the door of my home. It’s no small thing to survive. So I guess, like me so many years ago, the question you might ask yourself is: What are my fears? How and who can help me face them.
    I wish you a way out that door and great courage too! Carol

    • Leigh says:

      All these suggestions are all helpful. I have heard them all before….even tried volunteering, well at least making the phone to set up an appointment…I was a “no show”. I guess what I need is to kick myself in the behind..easier said then done. I have joined a fitness center. I went maybe 5 times and every day when I wake up I tell myself I am going to go workout today, but I don’t. Yet I want to and need to. I like the idea of going outside daily even if is to go for a walk. I am going to try that. Also I love to read so I am going to see if I can download Women Who Run With Wolves to my Kindle, if not I will get the book ordered. Thanks for the suggestions.

      • Carol says:

        Hi Leigh, I think I have shared that I am two months away from 75. Sometimes I just can’t believe it. It’s been a long journey, and the most important part is how much I have leaned about myself. Also for me, how very similar I am today to when I was a child. I grew up in a working class family, with 6 brothers, Mom, Dad and Grandmother. My grandmother was with our family until she was put in a home at age 90. It was a great disappointment to me that this happened to her. I moved into an apartment across the street from the home and visited her every day. Why? Well, because she must have felt so abandoned by her daughter, my mother. I know that the visits to say hello and give her a hug, sometimes a special surprise in her apron that she still wore each day as she sat in her chair in her room. Sometimes a snowball, a handful of fresh cut grass that smelled like summer and her favorite sweet treat. I haven’t always lived alone and have had several long term relationships. Somehow I learned I was the happiest waking up and creating my own “one more day to live,” attitude in life. There is no closer relationship than the one I have with myself. I don’t want to be like everyone else, I want to be me and still at this age I am finding out more about her. I sought therapy many years ago and the reason I did it was I thought something was wrong with me and I needed “fixing.” Well, what I learned from this person was that I was terribly judgmental and I was my own biggest target. How well do you know your Leigh? I hope you do read the book. Many could not connect with it, but thousands of did. The reason it spoke to me was my needed to be able to feel good about who I was and not find someone else to do that for me. There are many resources available to us in our world; I hope you find the ones that set you free to be yourself. My work in the past has been helping others. I’ve sat at the beside of many, many dying people and it was there I puzzled about life and death. I don’t want to die with bushels of regrets, so this time in my life will be spent doing just as I please. I just don’t have enough time left to do all the things I should have. However, I have enough time to honor my needs, wants, preferences,and limits. Asking yourself questions, talking to yourself as if you are your best friend, what kind of friend is she to you? I know it’s a struggle to believe you have your own answers, but you do.
        Hang on, find the resources that help you work through this time in order to grow your own strengths. Find peace in who you are as I believe you will find someone you only thought you knew. There is always more, believe me. Carol

    • denise says:

      This was such a help to me. Thank you for your heartfelt shared experience. I’ve been having a very hard time getting out and making friends too. After losing a sibling a few years ago I have not been the same. I used to be outgoing, had a bubbly fun personality and just daring and traveled everywhere. I haven’t truly had a friend in seven years. I’m only in my 30’s. As I continue to heal, I’m more aware of how unhealthy isolation is (although unintentional). I just pray this pass. Someday I do want to get married and have children. I can’t seem to get it quite right. I’m so embarrased and sometimes really ashamed. But I still keep peaceful and hopeful.

    • Leigh says:

      I ordered the book you suggested. I wasn’t able to get it on my Kindle. It did arrive earlier this week and I am just finishing up my current book then I will start on it.
      As for any progress I have made….there is nothing to report. My son has once again chose not to show for his urinalysis test, therefore he was put in jail for 35 straight days. It saddens me greatly that this is the way he has chose to live. But believe me I have done everything I can possibly do to help him, and now I know he has to help himself. I need to focus on me! Well I find myself doing nothing still. I get up every morning and watch the news, sleep, eat, get on the web, sleep, eat, house chores, read, sleep, eat, evening news and then to bed. I don’t shower but maybe twice a week. I don’t leave the house. I have no where to go. I moved back in with Tim because, well to be honest I couldn’t find a place I wanted to move into and my current lease was up and not renewable. I hate being here. I am saving money. My household.belongings are in storage, I have a few personal items with me and I sleep in my own room. He comes home in the evenings, works out, fixes dinner, plays his video games then goes to bed. We communicate a little. Oh I love him very much but I don’t trust him, I can’t. I do try but my heart nor mind will allow me to. We don’t argue or fight. He is a home body content the way he is and has absolutely no goals for today, tomorrow or his future. I want to live and learn. I want to meet people and go everywhere! He wants to play his computer games, watch his tv shows and eat. He loves to eat and cooks quite good. But he also exercises twice daily so he is in very good health. I on the other hand wish I could take a pill instead of eat. I want to lose weight and be active. But I can’t do it.I wish I could afford a fat farm..I know if I got out everyday as a routine and exercised I would feel better about myself. I know I just need that jump start, that kick in the ars! I simply need help! I feel so pathetic. But I am not feeling sorry for my self, I just can’t do it alone.

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