Handling the Trail & Loneliness

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Saddle Sore and Weary? Sunburned and Afraid?

Fear not. 

When you are a trailing spouse, having no friends and loads of solitude can be one of the most demoralizing or debilitating consequences of relocating.  It can be easy to fall into sheer desperation and depression, or worse.  But with a little effort and investment in your mental health, relocating can be turned into a rewarding time for personal growth.

Volunteer or Join a Club

It is imperative that you find somewhere you can meet people and become acquainted with your community. Many people utilize church for this purpose.  For those of us who do not attend church, finding a group of people to befriend is more challenging. If you have children, you could perhaps meet other parents at school or day care, or ask the school counselor if there are parents’ clubs or groups that are part of the school, such as an International Club or a parents’ book club.  Be creative as well as honest about your interests and then find a group of people to be with.  Not only will you learn about your new town but you may learn new facts.  And you might make a friend!

It is ok if you decide to leave the group if isn’t a good fit.  Find another organization or group and become involved in their activities.  Meetup.com is a great resource for finding like-minded individuals….if you are feeling really extroverted, you could facilitate your own meet up.

The point of all this is to ensure that you don’t end up watching TV all day on the couch.  It may be a long time before you’re able to find a job or make a new circle of friends, and until then you are going to need to have people you can interact with.  I made the mistake when we moved to Wichita of never leaving the house for two months because I thought I needed to find a job right away.  I now know it is more important to find something to do to break up the long hours of the day.  I can’t look for a job all day after all, and some of my job leads only came AFTER I started working with individuals who knew about a position and then served as a reference.

Exercise

Moving is stressful. Period.  Exercise has such positive benefits for your mental and physical health.  If you join a class at a local YMCA or gym, you not only are exercising but socializing.  Win!

I ended up eating lots of desserts and sweets due to stress when we moved and gained a lot of weight.  Try not to pig out on carbs because it starts a vicious cycle of self-loating, eating, sadness, self-loathing.  Just exercise a little (or a lot). You’ll feel better, I promise!

Explore.

It is easier, I imagine, when you have children to go out and find things in the community to do.  If you are like me and have no kids, justifying leaving the house to find something to do is harder.  But you must.  You must try to find interesting or unique things about your new town because: 1) you need to learn your way around; 2) you won’t find the best deals if you only shop at the same store; 3) you will like your new town more if you find out why it is special; and 4) this is a new phase in your life and with this comes a new identity and self-awareness.  You may find new things about yourself during this process of re-identification.

When we moved to Wichita, I had a lot of (negative) stereotypes about Kansas to overcome.  Through exploring the community, I learned a lot about the prairie ecosystem, colonization of the Great Plains, and the introduction of cattle and wheat.  I now have a better understanding of why the ecology here in Kansas specifically is conducive to agriculture, why aviation has its roots here, and why change is slow to this part of the country. It has given me a rooted appreciation for the diversity within the United States, as well as, the regional specializations that contribute to our national economy.

With an curious mind and an open heart, any place you go can become a place ripe for new experiences.  Through these experiences you will be come to a different understanding of yourself and your place in the world.  If you keep your mind stimulated, you’ll banish feelings of loneliness. And people will be drawn to your interest and sincerity about the place you all call HOME!

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2 thoughts on “Handling the Trail & Loneliness

  1. As an Army brat, I can relate to this. But growing up this way left me with a love of new places, and I have found myself in a new and different situation – as a “staying” spouse, if you will – because I came to Wichita, Kansas, met my husband, got married, and never left. I had no idea that I could live in one place for so long (20 years) and still find new things to like about it.

    Your tips are great, and I would add one more: take pictures! You never know how much you’ll miss a place until you have moved again. When my family moved overseas, I hated it. It was lonely being in a place where my neighbors spoke a different language, eat different food, and even had different television shows. After we left, I realized how many opportunities I’d had to experience new cultures, and that lesson stayed with me. I’m sure it’s one reason I learned to look at Wichita like you do – with the idea that it is a unique place with its own special place in this world and in my personal history.

    • I couldn’t agree more! In fact, just today I was downtown taking pictures of things I love: the statues, the fountains, unusual signs. I am preparing a “cool things about Wichita” post so if you have something to suggest–since you’ve been here much longer than me–I would be very interested in hearing about your favorite places.

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I truly hope to see you here again. Stop by any time–your experiences will help others! Thanks!

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