Family, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Relationship and marriage, Writing

Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friends, or friendliness in general. I guess a lot of people have, given the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns across the globe. Locking humans inside homes breaks down their ability to build and sustain meaningful friendships.

In my 20s, my bones ached with loneliness. In the confines of a fundamental religious organisation, where one is supposed to experience connections, I felt disconnected. An outsider. Sent by the hierarchy into a small country town to run a church with no familial supports nearby and few options for building friendships, I struggled. I made up for the lack of meaningful social connections by dabbling in what the church would call sinful behaviours, mistakenly thinking that the pleasure of sexual connections could fill the void (and yes, I know that’s a clever pun!) It was also a transitory life, with the mostly male leaders moving ministers every two years. I had no voice, no power, few opportunities.

I left, disillusioned, and built a new life. One that I am happy with. And I’m proud of myself for leaving. Too often, people within this organisation stay within its structures, unable to leave. There’s many reasons for this, and if my book is ever published, buy it and you’ll find out more.

These days, am beginning to feel similarly to that time in my 20s. Yes, I have my family and I’m busy doing all things ‘mum’ and Hubster is a wonderful support to go through life with. However, women who I relied on for female companionship and caught up with regularly, pre-covid, are increasingly difficult to tie down for chats and gossip now. Who knows, it might have been the case anyway. Kids are growing up, ties to school mums are loosening as lives spread wide and in vastly different directions. But my experience is real, and my feelings cannot be overlooked.

Hubster and I also watched, gobsmacked, as our neighbours packed up on the weekend and moved, without so much as a glance or a wave to say goodbye. This couple, younger than us, have lived here for about four or five years, and have been very friendly. Not in your face, but always up for a quick chat when we saw them outside. They’ve had two babies in that period of time, and we’ve always taken a neighbourly interest in their sons. Spending time talking about leaves and garbage collectors when we see them out and about with their parents. Over the past two months, though, the chats became clipped and cool, short, with minimal eye-contact. Given my ability to ‘read the room’, I stopped engaging. But to leave without even waving? Well, that’s just odd. But hugely indicative, too, of the toll caused by lockdowns, and the fear, the economical damage and stress society is left to deal with.

Many of us are struggling, I believe. And it makes me wonder, how much more damage can COVID do to people’s lives. The research arising from this pandemic states that we’ll feel the emotional and social damage for years. Many years to come.

Now, more than ever, we need to stick together.

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

12 thoughts on “Friends”

  1. I felt alone with my abusive first husband. He was an alcoholic, and didn’t touch me until the day he put a knife to my throat, and said that he would kill me if I took our daughter away from him. Thankfully I met Len, and took care of his health for 40+ years. These past 2 months have been the loneliness that I couldn’t have imagined. I pray that your husband will be around for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a horrific experience to live through. I’m so glad you found the inner strength to leave your first husband and met Len. Sorry to hear you’re lonely, too, but not surprised. Loneliness is the new pandemic! Thanks for commenting so honestly about your marriage ❤❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am concerned Linda that the mental health ramifications of COVID-19 will not be fully realised for many years, possibly decades.
    I’m currently going through a season of self-focus. It’s deliberate. I’ve realised after nearly a couple of decades away from church, I’ve forgotten a lot of what I once knew. I read the book of Genesis this weekend and have started on Exodus. I am currently experiencing a hunger and thirst for reading which I have lacked for years. Spending a lot of time alone doesn’t bother me at the moment. I expect this will change though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, regarding the mental health ramifications, Gary. Society is already seeing people hold back in fear from others, and I think this will worsen, along with an overall sense of mistrust.
      I remember you’ve reawakened to Christianity, and glad you’re feeling it’s worthwhile for you. For me, my sense of self and happiness increased exponentially once I left the church/God, and for this reason, I doubt I will ever darken the door of a church again. But each to his own, and so pleased God is working out for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like, Linda, that we are able to share our experiences here with respect for each other. I deeply appreciate this and I deeply appreciate you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve noticed a change in the past few months. At the beginning friends would call or email to see how I was but after a while it just stopped. I think covid has taken a toll on everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 😦 😦 You wrote, “how much more damage can COVID do to people’s lives.” Absolutely right, only I would amend that to, “How much more damage can COVID lockdowns do to people’s lives?” As devastating as the disease may have been, no one can ever convince me that the supposed “mitigation measures” actually helped society in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, exactly my view too. I am livid, furious that Victoria is in lockdown again. My kids are missing school and sport and their friends, all because the state government can’t do their job. 50 cases?? Shit, let’s shut everyone in their homes like they’re prisoners. It’s universal punishment for singular incompetence.

      Like

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