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Loneliness and isolation

I'm feeling really isolated and lonely atm. I don't really have any friends, and I don't have a close relationship with my family because there's some really messy stuff there. I have a good relationship with my husband and I appreciate that, but I'm struggling with that being the only good relationship in my life. We're together a lot of the time, and have a very joined life, which is great, but it's also complicated because for the most part we already know the things going on in each other's lives, and have big stakes in each other's decisions so make them together more, and share finances and responsibilities for running the house, and are around each other doing our separate things more than friends probably are usually. So I think other friendships might have a higher percentage of time together being just fun, or sharing about what's going on in our lives, or sharing about tricky decisions with someone who cares but doesn't really have anything at stake in them. I'm not dissatisfied with my relationship with my husband, I'm dissatisfied with my other relationships (and obviously a relationship with a significant other isn't supposed to fill all your relational needs, which I can confirm, it's not).

 

I'm sad that it's been a pattern over my life that usually I'm excluded or not accepted. Kinda mad too. And at spending so much time throughout my life assuming it's my fault or I'm doing something wrong, and desperately trying to figure out and copy how to act in a way that will get me accepted, and it consistently not working and just leaving me in states of extreme anxiety. Like why can't people just be nice?Image may contain: text

 

I don't know how to find more people who will accept me, or who are looking for or open to more friends in their life at this point.

 

I've had a couple of good friendships in my life before. Life's meant we've drifted apart. I want friendships again, but at the moment I don't know how to get past the stage of 'my presence is tolerated in some places'. Growing up my mum never really had friends, her world was pretty much just our family. And I don't want that for me for the rest of my life. But I don't know how to avoid it.

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

Hey @hellofriend

 

I'm sorry to hear you're feeling lonely. It never is a nice feeling is it? Smiley Sad And unfortunately it's one that many people experience.

 

You've raised some really valid points about autism. I'm not on the spectrum but I imagine it would be really hard being told "oh you're different, you're socially inept..." from a young age...like that alone would leave you feeling socially inept even if you aren't.  I think it's great that, despite your challenges, you've managed to find a wonderful partner who you get on with. You're obviously very capable of making friends, but I think sometimes it can be hard, for anyone, to make new friends, especially if they aren't working or studying, or if they're working in a place where it's hard to make friends. I find different environments have made a huge difference for me in that regard. Like in my old job, I was a solo receptionist, mostly working with 1 other person (psychologist), and I found it a bit lonely. My new job has many more people in the office at any one time, many the same age as me, and with similar interests, so it's been easier to make friends.
I get what you mean when you say you've drifted from your old friends. That's kind of happened for me too. Like we still keep in touch but it's much more of a conscious effort to keep in touch, like it doesn't come as naturally, and I think that just comes with growing older and having different jobs, interests, or partners, or just having less time! I guess this is where having recreational activities, or working, or studying come in. I've noticed I keep in touch with my uni and work friends the most at the moment, and I think that's because we have huge parts of our lives in common.

 

I'm wondering - what do you do in your spare time? Are you working or studying at the moment? What's your environmental potential [I hope this makes sense] for making friends like at the moment?

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

Thanks @Maddy-RO, yeah it's hard...

 

I didn't know I was autistic until I was an adult so it was a slightly different experience. While not knowing as a kid possibly made things more confusing I think it also meant I dodged a bullet. (TW mentions of ABA and gay conversion therapy under spoiler tag)

 

Spoiler
 I got to avoid the go to 'therapy' for autistic people (ABA, which is basically autistic conversion therapy, like designed by a gay conversion 'therapist' using the same principles, and which has left a lot of autistic people traumatised).

 

But my peers definitely knew there was something different about me and viewed it as wrong Smiley Sad so I was still constantly getting messages of rejection and that I generally wasn't wanted or liked, while aware other peers weren't getting those same messages.

 

I have a casual job in outdoor ed/ rec. I haven't had any work for ages because of corona virus though, but change is starting to seem to be on the horizon? But everyone else who work's for the company except me and my husband live far away, and so they only send extra people to work with us when it's a big program, and then it's often different people and there's not heaps of time for socialising anyway. I've been doing my Cert 3 through work but that's almost entirely online because I live far away. I'm about to go back to uni but again it will be as an external student. I've just joined a hockey team (and have previously been on other sports teams since living here). When it was running (no longer, because corona virus) I went to a monthly gardening club (it might start up again?). I try and piggyback off my husbands friendships and we'll do things like go riding with another couple, or have another couple over for dinner.

 

But even when I am seeing people regularly I usually don't click or find a natural place in a group. The couple of times I've had good friendships it's been a case of an individual accepting me and us forming a connection, I've never really had a group where I'm really welcome and a part of things.

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

I am sorry you had that experience @hellofriend Heart That must have felt very isolating and distressing as a child.. do you find that you still have similar experiences as an adult?

My experience is similar to what Maddy has written - it definitely be hard to make friends. It sounds like you are engaged in a lot of activities, which is a really great step to making friends. Hopefully you are able to socialise more once they start back up. Did you also recently move (I can't remember if I read that somewhere)? What would make you feel welcome and apart of things?

I feel that a good group of friends can be hard to come by as there has to be a common thread strong enough to hold everyone together. Not to mention, finding a suitable time to hang out for everyone. A group dynamic can be different and naturally, people group within the group as well. People can begin to feel left out or start to clash. I know I don't have a group, just multiple individual friends from each different areas of my life.

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

hey @hellofriend
I don't have much advice as honestly im in quite the same position of no friends and very little family too. its tricky isn't it and hard to manage the lonliness when you have no where to turn to.

are there any support groups in your area you could join in with? or any interest groups you may like to try out?
**NEVER be afraid to ask for help because you're WORTH it!**
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Re: Loneliness and isolation

Thanks guys ♥️

 

@Taylor-RO it's subtler as an adult but still there... So people don't yell at me to go away/leave them alone or hit me when I try to join in any more, but they talk over the top of me when I try and say something or don't acknowledge my input at all or give me a look that says they're disgusted with me if I try and join a conversation, or just make no effort to include me and talk about things I won't have a clue about. Occasionally there'll be someone who's very vocal about how they don't like me and say really nasty things to our about me, or people who point out my awkwardness/difference in a way that's not overtly aggressive. I moved about 15 months ago. I would feel welcome and part of things if people smiled at me/acknowledged my presence/invited me into conversations/acknowledged things I said in a similar way as if someone else had said it. With the group thing I mainly just wish I didn't get cold 'we don't want you here' vibes from pretty much any group I approach, as opposed to wishing I had a super tight knit friend group. Although that would be nice (but like you said possibly tricky and complicated). Individual friendships would be really good now too.

 

@scared01 it is hard, I'm sorry you're in the same position ☹️ it's nice knowing this struggle is understood but it really sucks you're experiencing it too. Hope you're ok. I don't know, support groups probably not (I'm in a small town). I do join interest groups, but I don't really fit into groups (I don't know why), so sometimes I enjoy the activity but I just feel super stressed by the interactions and it doesn't leave me feeling more connected

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

I am sorry to hear about your experiences @hellofriend. It sounds like you have been in some very uncomfortable and difficult situations before. Were this experiences ones that you had before moving or once you moved? I think its great that you have been joining some interest groups, but it is a shame that you are feeling stressed out by the interactions. Are you able to swap groups or are the groups you are in now the only ones for your specific interests? Heart
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Re: Loneliness and isolation

Thanks @Sophia-RO. Those are experiences I've always had (before and after moving). I join whatever groups sound like they might be a good fit as the opportunity arises

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

@hellofriend  I am so sorry that you are feeling lonely. Making friends can be difficult especially as an adult. I think it is hard to explain why people are so rude to autistic people there certainly isn’t any genuinely appropriate reason to be rude to anyone. I think maybe other people just haven’t figured out how to interact with autistic people so they get frustrated or confused and just don’t try hard enough. I think also in Australia a lot of the way we relate can be through humor and trying to laugh and joke about stuff and I know that can be tricky for some autistic people to read but idk I always found the autistic people I know to be some of the most loyal and kind and caring people. Like sometimes they may be a little more honest than is called for in a situation but the people I knew always remembered important things other forgot and put in a lot of effort to be friends. I also think sometimes it is a different way to communicate like maybe being more straightforward when talking with autistic people so there aren’t miscommunications but just because the style of communication is slightly different doesn’t make it bad. I just think neurotypical people in general don’t seem to put in a lot of effort to communicate with neurodiverse people. Like if you are going to say that autism is a disability or something that another person is lacking in (I am not saying it is) then I think the responsibility should be on the “normal” people to try and understand the other person. But that is just my opinion and I am not sure I am explaining myself very well today so sorry if this comes off weirdly it is not meant to sound like I am criticizing anyone. 

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Re: Loneliness and isolation

Thanks @Eden1717 ♥️ reading through your response I was just like 'yep. Yep. Yep' to pretty much all of it. I appreciate you articulating all that ☺️

 

My theory on what makes communication/being accepted most difficult for me in particular in neurotypical spaces is it takes me longer to process things (especially auditory things). So someone will say something and it'll take me a little while to figure out what they said, then what it means, then what I think about it, then how to express that. And by that point 4 more people have said something and the conversation will have fully moved on, so in group settings I spend a lot of time just trying to keep up and can't really engage. So then maybe the reason people ignore me or talk over me or shut me down is because if I do find a moment I can contribute something to the discussion it seems very out of the blue, because I haven't been involved in the conversation at all from their perspective until that point so anything I say doesn't really seem worth listening to.

 

I also often don't click with sarcasm and neurotypical humour too though. 

 

I feel like it should at least be a two way street with communication between neurodiverse and neurotypical people. It fits with my experience what you said about usually neurotypical people not putting effort into communicating with neurodivergent people (I've come across a couple of exceptions though), it's pretty frustrating 🙁