Do you have Friends in Real Life?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WearyWoman, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    Hi again, everyone - Weary Woman, here . . . and dangerously wondering again! Yes, I'm really curious as to whether you have found yourselves more socially isolated as a family due to having difficult children in your home. Do you have close friends? If so, how are you able to devote yourself to the friendships given the extreme demands of parenting - physically and emotionally?

    Over time, I have found myself more and more isolated from activities and friendships and the community due to the behavioral and parenting issues of our kids (mostly the young one now). We don't volunteer to help at school or get involved in anything, as we simply don't have the ability (or energy) with our work schedules, therapy sessions, doctor appointments, etc., not to mention the fact that we don't have childcare during the evenings or on weekends for our youngest difficult child.

    I don't remember the last time we (my husband, kids and me) even rode in the same vehicle together.

    I can truly say (sadly) that I no longer have any friends - I mean none. We have moved a couple of times, which doesn't help either. But, I miss having female friendships, shopping, movies, and just a girls' night out at a restaurant or something. I have no one except my mom to call and talk with, and we don't even invite our families often due to the disruptive behavior issues.

    In fact, our families don't invite us over either. My sister has my parents over all the time - cooks them a meal and has neighbors and their kids over to swim in their pool, but never us. I know why.

    I recently learned that I have skin cancer, and I'm only in my 30's (never used a tanning booth and not a sun worshiper)! I just miss having a close friend in my life so much.

    I know I'm whining, and it's not helpful to do so.

    I am chronically fatigued and feel anxious every morning when I wake up - wondering if the day will go well or not - whether I'll be able to manage. Significant stress is unavoidable.

    I don't know who I am any more, outside of my role as difficult children' mom. Whoever I used to be has been pushed away and aside because our difficult children need me more than I need anything. Still, I wonder about the long-term toll this is taking on my husband and me.
     
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    No, I definitely do not and everyone ITRW's wonderful advice of "you need to make some" just doesn't seem to be enough to make that happen. First of all, I have always been a single parent so it would be awkward for both married couples and me to "hang out" or go to dinner or whatever. Yet I am not the type of single parent (and never have been) that wanted to continue to live a "single" lifestyle after my son was born. I was in my 30's when he was born and early in a career so I had long since passed the age of wanting to "hang out" with single people- I was fairly settled and family oriented by that point. Then after my son's birth it seemed like taking care of him and a home and working left me with no time or energy to do anything else. I had acquaintances that I'd met at work or thru my son- mothers of his friends- and we would chat on the phone sometimes but never really had much more in common- again, they were all married and had stronger family ties to extended family members. My extended family is VERY dysfunctional and don't live in my state anyway. Then, once my son became a difficult child about age 11yo, parents seem to spend more energy trying to keep their kids away from my son and the only time I hear from them is when they are calling or coming by to tell me what they caught my son doing or to tell me they don't want my son around their kid. (Never mind that their kid was with my kid and just as guilty.) And then I started getting shunned by coworkers because they were all professional and just couldn't get that my son was a difficult child and I had no choice but to miss work to go to court, tdocs, etc. They seemed to be convinced that "if I hadn't gotten myself pregnant he would not be a difficult child". (Well, I didn't get MYSELF pregnant and I am the parent who is taking responsibility- in my humble opinion, they should blame the parent that contributed to the conception then turned his back and walked away.)

    So, a resounding NO, I have no friends ITRW. And now my son wants to say that part of his illegal activity has stemmed from me not having a life. Really?

    Thank you so much for this opportunity to vent about this!!
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  3. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Not really. I have acquaintances, but no close friendships. Part of it is from the years with a difficult child, and part of it is because I don't have a steady job, so there are no "work friends" around. After Hubby and I married ten years ago, I kind of drifted away from the group of single moms I'd been hanging out with, and then life got in the way, and I had difficult child stuff to deal with, and so on...you know the routine.

    I'm a bit envious of those warrior moms who live closely to one another...the nearest mom to me is gcvmom...and she's about four hours away.
     
  4. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I have a couple, but one lives in another state and we only talk a couple times a year (marathon conversations) and see each other even less. I have a good friend who lives locally who I met through my kids. She was my babysitter starting when difficult child was 4 and she is wonderful with difficult child. She is also difficult child 2's mom, so she gets it. We also both have a chronic illness, so that is something else we relate to. While she is a very good friend and we are close, we don't do girl things together (shopping, etc) outside of getting together and talking.

    There are a few people on the board who I haven't met in real life, with the exception of two, but that I talk to off of the board.

    It was a long time before I had a close friend that lived nearby. I moved a lot growing up, then moved again when I was pregnant with difficult child. I would like to have a friendship that has nothing to do with my kids.

    I hate, hate, hate when people ask what my hobbies are. What are hobbies? I am currently trying to figure out who I am outside of my kids and my illness. I recently had the sudden realization that one day my kids are going to be out of the house and I'm not going to know what to do with myself.

    So, yeah, I know where you're coming from. It's very easy to feel isolated. My mom and difficult child are like oil and water, and I dread time with my mom when difficult child is going to be around. I end up hearing it from both of them.
     
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I have one extended family member who really understands our difficult child issues. The rest just kind of ignore it. We are still included in family stuff and they tolerate the difficult child-ness o.k., but that's probably because I have run massive interference for years.

    As for friends, I have sort of a compartmentalized social life. I have lots of friends here on this board, some of whom I've even had the pleasure of meeting in person. I have friends in the community, few of whom truly understand my real life, but that's o.k. with me. They provide me with a different sort of social outlet where I can forget about reality for a while. I have a couple of friends I've known for decades, and they know pretty much everything, even if they don't always understand. And every now and then I pick up a new friend with whom I can share most of our difficult child issues and they truly get it (often because they have their own difficult child somewhere in their life).

    Even if your family doesn't get it, it's important for you to keep reaching out wherever possible. Support can come from the most unlikely places, and it's valuable no matter where you find it.

    NAMI has support groups. CHADD has support groups. There are tons of autism support groups. Those are all great places to find others who are dealing with similar circumstances and whom you can lean on for support and understanding. And maybe just getting involved at your kids' school will connect you with others who don't necessarily need to know what you're dealing with every day, but who might be fun to go out with once in a while.

    I joined a mom's club in my community, and some of them had formed a monthly bunco group, which I joined. That introduced me to new people, and after a few years I ended up leaving that group to join a completely different bunco group. I've been with THAT group 7 or 8 years now and we no longer play bunco, but we still get together every month to have dinner, drinks, and a lot of laughs. Maybe you'd enjoy a women's bowling league. Or some other group activity that just gets you out of the house for some adult conversation. Whatever you decide floats your boat, DO IT. Just meeting people who like to have fun can be uplifting, and can broaden your social horizons in ways you might never have expected.
     
  6. ML

    ML Guest

    I tend to have compartmentalized friendships. Those that I can discuss "things at home" with and those with whom I don't. They just don't get it because they haven't experienced it. And that's ok because we talk about other things and it brings me out of my little world. I have friends at work, one of whom I walk with daily. I have friends from my local mom's groups and we will get together for lunch on occasion. But I will admit it is hard maintaining quality friendships. I tend to be flakey because of the demands of my life and I am working hard at keeping committments no matter what. I agree with others that it is important to keep reaching out. I know you get exhausted but try to keep some balance in your life. It can't be ALL about the kids ALL of the time. It's true, you do lose yourself and that's not good for them either. The oxygen mask goes on you first, remember?

    Hugs of understanding.
     
  7. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Nope.

    So many lame excuses and rationalizations why not too, lol.

    My parents moved me all over and around the world as a kid so I never had those childhood best friends for very long. I am an only child so just got used to being a loner and enjoying my own company.

    On a pesonal note, I do have times of energy and times of lethargy due to mild cycling so it's hard to be consistant with motivation and effort. I can be a flake but have also notice so many other people are as well so connecting those dots gets sketchy.

    I am a stay at home Mom in the middle of farm country so my opportunities are limited. I am also an "import" so getting in the middle of long standing social networks is a little scary and difficult. A lot of drinkers and cheaters and I am too grown for that.

    Biggest problem, I have serious trust issues. My life used to be filled with the wrong kind of friend and it left me pretty jaded. It boiled down to getting done dirty by the people closest to me on a few occasions. My best friend slept with my ex (he was my husband at the time) my and my ex's guy friends would either cover for ex when he was doing dirty deeds or they were up to their own dirty deeds which made them a bad influence. Seems like so many people have an addiction to "taking their pants off" and can't function in healthy, trusting adult friendships. It's like playing cards, long chats over coffee or having a BBQ just won't do anymore.:confused:

    I've been hurt so badly by people I allowed into my heart that I just am not interested in close relationships anymore. I wish I had a girlfriend but it would give me anxiety. I know it is MY issue but if I ever came home from the store and found my gal pal at my house just having an innocent conversation with husband without me there I would lose my bleeping mind. I just can't deal with that kind of emotional test and growth anymore. I have had to rebuild my life too many times...

    Amazingly enough difficult child has had nothing to do with this mess in my life. I'm willing to bet my lack of friendships has hurt him though.:(
     
  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think moving a lot would definitely play a role. I have a few good friends and feel fortunate and blessed. One friend I really only see in the summer months. We're both teachers and she is my "pool" friend although we do even more than just the pool. Once in awhile during the school year we do get together at the health club. I have another good friend I talk with on the phone several times a month. We don't get together as often as we'd like but we both have kids. Her son is my godson. Even though we work in the same city we live about 50 minutes apart.

    I also have work friends but we don't do much out of work, however, a few are real close and really "get" my difficult child.

    I also have two friends from high school that I see once a year. They're good friends and we seem like we pick up right where we left off each year.

    I also belong to a book club that meets once a month during the school year.

    Maintaining the friendships is hard-I get tired so easily and often think, I should just skip the phone calls or the dinners, pool, etc... I am always glad though when I've done it. My difficult child wears me down constantly both physically and mentally. Friends help energize me, give me different perspectives, make me laugh, share good times and bad times.

    I really like how ML put it about needing to reach out and that it can't be ALL about the kids ALL of the time. If it weren't for the friendships here (all of you are very important to me) and "in real life" things would be so much more difficult.
     
  9. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I have two local friends that know everything about me and my life, I mean EVERYTHING. And I know everything about theirs. My one friend and I used to have a standing Saturday morning coffee date at Panera's but in recent months we've sort of let it fall by the wayside due to family obligations, etc. She has 5 kids, I have two, and between all the difficult child-ness in her home and the issues I've had with my own, we understand one another, though have little time to spare. We never talk on the phone, unless we're making plans to meet about once a month.

    My other local friend and I meet about once every other month for a small dinner and to vent about our adult daughters and catch up.

    I have two long distance friends from before I moved from LI to CT. We keep in touch via email and an occasional phone call. I visit with them up in Maine once a year and sometimes one of them will come up around the holidays. These two know all the earliest history with my life!

    On a day to day basis, I don't have that one person to talk to anymore. I had one, but I've decided that my life is less complicated without her in it (she sort of went crazy in a midlife crisis sort of way a couple of years ago and abandoned her kids, all difficult children, and I couldn't bear to be friends with her anymore). So, at times I feel a little lonely or shut out.

    I never really connected with any of the other moms in my daughter's social circles because they were all powerhouse super involved and volunteering. I was always exhausted from working all week and then trying to maintain some calm at home. I did volunteer for the girl scouts while the girls did that, I also attended every sports event. I would chit chat with other moms, but never felt like we were clicking or part of the same psyche, Know what I mean?? I would hear them talk about dinner parties or luncheons, but note that I was never invited. If they needed a chairperson or volunteer or someone to bake, then they'd call me. Otherwise, nothing. I felt very left out. So, I cherished the one or two people who I did click with and tried to nurture those friendships the best I could. And I intermittently went back to school. I cruised the library and did a lot of personal exploration and research. I made myself enjoy the time spent with my H and daughters, even when it was less than perfect, because for the most part, it's all I had for a long time.

    Once my youngest, difficult child, at around 15/16, put us through a hellacious time, I re-dedicated myself to caring more for me than anyone else. I had to - it was self preservation or die for me. I felt like my family had svcked the life out of me and in an act of desperation, I had to figure out how to care for myself better. This site helped me learn how to lovingly detach and care for me first. I started doing little things like go get a manicure or pedicure. Or choose a topic to research and hit the library for 2 hours on a Saturday. Or go to Borders and browse the new books once a month. I immersed myself in my reading, I have to tell you. I eventually realized that it was sort of an escape for me...to the point where I began to shut others out, even my family. Going for a mani/pedi enabled me to have brief superficial conversations with other women that were not necessarily about my kids, which was so refreshing. Meeting someone at the library of Borders and discussing a movie, book or music was so adult and feels so nice!

    Think about the things you enjoyed before having children. Make a list of some of those things and think about them, see if you may still be interested in them and then schedule a time to explore one of them each week or month until you decide if it's worth your time and energy to pursue that one (or two) thing again. Before I had kids I loved drawing and sketching with inks. A couple of years ago, I expressed my desire to check it out some time again and for Christmas he bought me an ink set and some sketch pads. I was thrilled. I'd always wanted to learn how to play piano, so I took lessons for a while. I used to crochet, so easy child bought me lessons for my birthday/Christmas and I took it up again and LOVE it.

    Try to take the time to think about things you enjoyed in the past and see if you can recapture that feeling again. Once you find at least one or two things you can enjoy, you can move closer to caring more for yourself by scheduling time for those things that bring you joy outside of your family. Eventually, perhaps you can find groups who enjoy the same things (or start one of your own) and meet new people with a common interest.

    As an aside about you and your H's involvement with one another. I think it's really important to find a large portion of personal fullfillment on your own - you both need to bring something to the relationship. For so long it's been about your kids. It's time for you both to make it about each other first, then the kids. What are his interests? How can you incorporate his and your interests into something for only the two of you? just a thought. But rememember, think about you first for the time being.

    Hugs, I don't think there is anyone with a difficult child who doesn't understand how you're feeling.
     
  10. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    i have the same, long distance BFF for 35 years whom i speak to regularly and see once or twice a year.

    but otherwise?

    nope.

    cant be bothered, dont have the energy, sick of being scr*wed over or used by some "friend", have never met someone who understands that NO i just cant go for coffee at 5 in the afternoon, and i entertain myself just fine.

    but ita with above...i'm now slowly convinced that attitude massively contributed to difficult child 2's issues and i regret it. i have no real support system and absolutely no "natural respite" for either of my kids. and difficult child 2 has missed out on a boatload of opportunites since i'm not one of "THE moms" and i never know what's going on in my area.

    maybe i'm just a lousy judge of character, but the second someone "wants" something from me, i'm out.

    i'm too old and tired for the social games that need to be played!
     
  11. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I have compartmentalized friends. I've never been a big 'friend' person - lot of trust issues. For many years, I didn't even have that because I was dealing with difficult child issues 48 hours/day. It took a full year of Kanga in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) before I recovered enough to starting living again. In the last year, I have developed some more 'friendly acquaintences' but there is no one in real life that I could possibly share the reality of my life.

    I'm hoping that, eventually, I can make a new friend (how pathetic is that).
     
  12. Bean

    Bean Member

    I have friends and a social circle, but nobody that I can really talk to. Anytime I want to call someone to vent or talk about my life, I rethink it because EVERYONE I know vents to me instead. I might get to talk for 1 minute, but always end up being on the listening side. Sometimes people will ask about how things are going with Daughter Bean, and that is nice, but they don't get it in the same way. I have noticed the more I open up about her, the more I hear from other people about difficult children in their lives. But it isn't the same.

    Having a difficult child has put a damper on my social life, my marriage, and the way we've lived our lives over the past few years. Although I feel somewhat blessed through the struggle, I definitely can say it has also had some very negative consequences on our lives, friendships being one of them. I go to a monthly bookclub (which I love), and for 2 years I would have to fend off phone calls and catastrophes from her (unless she was in jail or tx).
     
  13. joneshockey

    joneshockey Guest

    I have a couple of friends that I have known since middle school (20+ yrs. now). We used to get the kids togther all the time and have endless converstations, but NOW that we have so many issues with- B2, they don't want to come around. They "claim" to have other plans when invited over, make excuses such as "M doesn't want to come over because B2 hit her the last time we were there and you didn't do enough about it" (EXCUSE ME... I gave him a time out and he apologized to her, mind you she is 11 1/2 yrs old and he is 3 1/2!)... sorry I didnt mean to vent! When I do talk to them on the phone and try to explain what is going on with- B2 they just don't get it - they offer medicore advice "You need to be more strict with- him" or "you need to bite him back or flick him in the mouth when he bites", yadda...yadda..yadda (PLEASE, like that will solve anything... especally when he has special needs) I FINALLY have pretty much given up on explaining things to them because they just don't understand... I am sooo glad that I have found all of you that TRUELY do understand what life is like with- a difficult child! When I work during the school year my grade level partner and I talk quit a bit and she is a GREAT listener, but she doesn't have kids of her own, so she doesn't really have advice for me - but at least it is adult conversation and can get my thiought off of B1 & B2 all the time! That about sums it all up, basically all I have is FF1 and thats about it as far as those whom really understands what is going on in our family.
     
  14. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I have 3 people (aside from husband) that I can really, really talk to.

    One - W - used to be my boss years ago at Target. She was one of the few who stuck when XH and I moved to Oklahoma. Recruited me for the job I had up till Friday (new job today).

    Second - E - I trained at Target (sensing a theme here), he stuck by me, too.

    Third - H - who I only really got to know about a year ago - but she's always there for me.

    Problem is, W has her life outside of work, and E & H have their own marital issues, so I end up helping them more than they do me. But - they listen.

    Not as well as all you guys, though!
     
  15. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who has suffered a casualty of friendships along the way on this parenting path, but so sorry for all of you as well, who have lost needed support and companionship. I find that it's just easier to not have any other commitments or things to do, as my life is so consumed by all of this. But, I confess that I am lonely and depressed at times.

    I have tried to meet new people through a bible study, as well as a book club. Neither really panned out, although I couldn't continue with either one - you guessed it - due to home responsibilities.

    In terms of hobbies and interests - I love to read, quilt, bake, and decorate our home. I enjoy running and watching movies too. I don't have much time for any of this now, but it would be great to have even just a little "me" time doing any one of these things, especially if it involves spending time with others. You've inspired me to revisit opportunities and consider options for making the time somehow.

    This forum is a wonderfully helpful, unique little place on the internet, just for us. And it feels SO good to "talk" with all of you. We have finally found a group of people who really "get it" when it comes to the challenges we all face in raising our difficult children.

    Thank you all for so graciously sharing with me about your experiences. I know adversity is supposed to build character, but I'm sure sometimes we all wish we were less "characterized", right?:D
     
  16. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I am very lucky in this department for the most part. I have a handful of good friends and family members who I can vent to when I need to. During my toughest times, my sister was really there for me. I also have a variety of friends who I can turn to for diversion, but I do not discuss difficult child with them in detail because they try too hard to advise me ("Well, I wouldn't stand for that!" right. ). Still, they are good people - they just don't get it.

    difficult child is the one who has lost many friends, and that makes me sad for her. She is her own worst enemy in this department.

    The one person I should be able to talk to but can't is DEX. He is on Planet Denial.

    I've only been here a short time, but I find the folks on these boards to be very understanding and supportive. This is my go-to place for advice.
    Dash
     
  17. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    For years I isolated myself from everyone---Now, however, I have a large circle of friends. I rejoined the world via facebook---today I am happier, healthier, and more active that I have been in years. I spent over 1/2 my life being a wife and mother. My children are grown now---I am separated from my husband and getting a divorce. I am so glad I allowed people into my life again. They have been my lifesavers. My friends are from all walks of life----are all totally different---everything from Dr's wives to single moms---but we all have things in common---and I keep bringing different crowds together---and I love seeing the circle expand. But, I had to give of myself---and for years I felt I had nothing to give. I changes my outlook several years ago---My motto---as most of my friends know---is Life is GRAND!!! And it surely is, if you choose for it to be.
     
  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Like others have mentioned, I have compartmentalized friendships. I have several acquaintances in the neighbourhood, but my close friends are mainly from work. I work in IT, which is heavily populated with Aspies and other quirky people, so my own oddities and those of my children are accepted, even cherished.

    Honestly, having difficult child out of the house has made all the difference in my ability to maintain friendships. I've been able to reconnect with some of the friends who knew me "BG" (Before difficult child) and I've made other friends "AG". But during the worst of the difficult child times, between his needs and my severe situational depression, it was all I could do to get up, go to work, manage difficult child's gfgness, and fall into bed every day. I didn't have the time or the inclination for friends.
     
  19. sjexpress

    sjexpress Guest

    Wow-i cried when i read this post. We too have no more friends because of difficult child's behaviors.We have family but as difficult child got older, we spend less and less time with them. I guess it is better this way because less stress for husband and I worrying when difficult child would have a melt down,not be nice to other kids if they bugged him, etc... I used to frequently have people over and now even when we get invited somewhere, unless it is an obligated family holiday thing, we usually turn it down due to difficult child. I really hate it though!!!
    I made a friend thru my younger ds "mom and me" class we were in together and I do get together with her on occasion for the sake ds to have a playdate but although she knows I have an older son, she knows nothing of all the problems. She has tried to get both our whole families together but I keep making excuses to not.... I want to avoid embarrasment. Not to long ago husband, I and the boys were asked to come to a communion party. We did go because it was important to husband but while other adults and parents were hanging inside talking, I was following difficult child around while he played with all the other kids making sure nothing went wrong....not too much fun.
     
  20. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    O put me on the "friend-less list", too...

    I would LOVE to have some girlfriends to hang out with...but it's so hard to find someone that understands this kind of home-life - and if they do, it's because they are swamped with a difficult child of their own! So making good friends is difficult.
     
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