So I've been divorced for some time now. And out of a relationship for over a year. Figure my question could be useful for those of us who are alone more and more often, but still looking for that "connection". Although it is kind of hard to describe...
Just had a lovely family Easter dinner. Quarreling relatives were absent from this one. But they are in the picture, especially now that summer is down the road.
In my family - being on my own, I don't fit the easy mold. As it isn't easy being single in so many social situations. And I only have 1 child. I have 3 older sibs, 10 nieces and nephews, and they're all having kids.
There were loads of tales of all the things done together with extended family and friends. But back here at the house out in the boonies, where, frankly, son is only an occasional visitor since he stays with Dad in the city, I recognize the lack of connection we have with others.
Grew up in small town where all connections were instantaneous. Life took me many places, and we both had to follow ex-DH other places in the world. So we don't have the roots that I wish we could have set down. Where I live now is close to my hometown, but it has changed so significantly, it doesn't feel like it, and being small, most have left.
I would like to be a part of something more. Would like to fulfill the need to give, and be out myself more - even though I work, ride, and get around. Just looking for that connection.
Raised Catholic but no longer go to church. My old church has a wackadoodle priest. And from the time of the Oklahoma City bombings, I've found the Church in general lacking in providing emotional support - merely being a place where rote services are conducted.
Have tried volunteering in various organizations, but found them more a place to be seen than really needed. Lots of competition for the plum roles. Not for me. Would just like to roll up my sleeves and do something. But also belong.
Any suggestions (other than the obvious horse ones!) for how to broaden one's universe, and especially in a way that is meaningful? That you've made a difference, even in small ways?
And not complaining about my life at all. Frankly enjoy so much about being on my own. But miss some of the good stuff that comes in larger groups, and helping others.
Share what you do, if you don't mind. Thanks!
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes
I recently found myself feeling similarly. I am an atheist, so the most common suggestion of "church" didn't seem terribly helpful...until I found a Unitarian Universalist church (through a COTH post). Now I have found all the things you identify as what you are looking for, and probably more! Our minister is an atheist, but also an incredibly intelligent, educated, excellent speaker. I have gotten something out of every sermon. The UU Church I attend is all about open mindedness, inclusivity (people of any faith/beliefs are welcomed), and taking action to make the world a better place. Services are never about rote recitation, but rather about topics relevant to the current times and issues facing people locally and internationally. Children receive a very broad spiritual and practical education and there is music and inspiration for everyone. So, that is what I do!
I'm married, but feel the same way. My one daughter lives on the east coast, and is unlikely to move back to the west. My family has all passed away. My husband's family lives locally, but many have pulled away from family to suit their spouses. So we are feeling more isolated each year. If I were in a small town, I might volunteer in the schools, a hospital or library, but living in a city makes volunteers just a cog in the machine. I've been thinking about becoming a foster parent, but DH isn't sure. We're busier in the spring and summer with the horses, race cars, and other hobbies, so maybe I'll check out the UU church next fall. I guess we're all just looking for community to belong to.
Is there a newcomers' club in town? I know it sounds crazy, but they have lots of different interest groups, have restaurant clubs (they go out and try new places once or twice a month), group trips, and other activities. A friend's mother tried this when she moved to a new place where she only knew the few relatives she lived with. That's been over 10 years and she still belongs. And if not that, then something like the Optimist or Rotary clubs can have fun activities, raise money for local charity projects, and are a great way to meet people. And the Red Hat society (women 50 and over wear red hats, purple hats are for women under 50) is fun also.
Ohio: Charter Member - COTH Hockey Clique & COTH Buffy Clique
Sounds very familiar and I don't have any solutions at all. Moved to the small town in the country summer of 2010. Not knowing anyone wasn't a big deal since I wasn't alone then... 6 months later it became a big deal when I was suddenly and unexpectedly on my own. Took in a roommate last summer -- wanna know how that went, read the current WWYD - friend owes you $$ thread. I don't have many visitors because I live 10 miles out of town. I don't go many places because between running the farm and working the horses (which are currently at a boarding barn as I don' thave any non-mudbog places to ride at home), it keeps me busy. Busy to not get out, but not so busy that I don't miss company and companionship. I also most definitely do NOT do church. UU or any other kind. *sigh* Looking forward to ideas in this thread.
"Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."
"Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike
My sister (in SYR) is active in a couple of interesting endeavors. One is On Point for College, which assists inner-city/low income kids get into college, and then actually GET to college (physically - as in driving them there). Another is working with adults who do not speak English - or do not speak/read it well. Neither really provides the "group" atmosphere, but both are doing something good and useful for those in need. (well, the ESL thing can be a bit frustrating, depending on your assignee).
She also belongs to and is active in Folksmarch - which provides the group thing (albeit mostly seasonal in our neck of the woods), but not much on the useful/doing-good-for-others aspect.
Habitat for Humanity?
leheath - thanks for the info on UU. The only experience I have had is that a friend of my mother's was a pastor (?), and when Mom was getting married for the xth time and asked if he would marry them, his response was, "What's wrong with the Episcopal Church? They'll take your money but won't marry you?" It might have been dead-on, but it left a rather poor taste in my [young]adult mouth/ears. Yours sounds like a real find!
I feel the same way, a lot of the time. I've always been single, don't miss the married part of it at all, and I really, really like being on my own. My family is distant, both in relationship and in actual miles. I have a couple of good friends, and I have the animals, but I, too, miss the sense of connection. I've tried volunteering, maybe I just haven't found the volunteer connection that I'm looking for.
Interestingly, I, too, tried UU. Good people, interesting people, but not what I was looking for. I'm really thinking about getting more involved in politics, not as a candidate, heaven forbid, but as a volunteer. Maybe that's a route that might interest you, too. It doesn't have to be on a national or state level. Sometimes I think that politics on the local level is a much more fruitful arena.
I'd like to find more good friends, close to me. You know, people that you can talk to, that think, pretty much, the way you think, and that like at least some of the things that you do. I really miss my next door neighbor. She died a few years ago. The husband is great, and his new girlfriend is a wonderful person, but there's not the sense of connection I always felt with her.
I would give volunteering another chance if you could find the right opportunity: there's something about spending time for folks outside of yourself that ends up feeling pretty good. I have a soup kitchen I volunteer at twice a month and there's something very satisfying about being able to say at the end of a shift that no matter what else is going on in my life, I helped make sure 200 people got breakfast this morning. Is it perfect? Of course not. But over the past few years, it's started to be another place that I feel like I'm able to add value, to give back, and - in its own way - to adjust my perspective. I like this kind of hands-on volunteering more than the galas/benefits/fundraiser type events (which are fun, of course, but less personally rewarding). Someone also suggested Habitat, which can be a great option as well and may end up being more social.
I haven't tried this myself, but some of the "Meetup" groups that I've browsed and have subscribed to sound very intriguing. In particular there is a local group that does walks and hikes with their dogs. They have a designated hike on published dates and rate the length, difficulty, etc. You RSVP if you plan to join and then meet the group at the location with your dog(s) at the day/time. It sounds like a great way to meet people while enjoying your dog at the same time. Of course I am too chicken and introverted to try it myself. I just keep reading the invites and thinking to myself 'that sounds like fun.'
I believe they have meetup groups for many different interest areas. Eating, out, theater, exercise, etc. Maybe google and see if there is something in your location.
I don't know if this is your bag or not but I found a 'family' of friends that really helped me out when I moved up to Maryland on my own, about a 20 hour drive from the majority of my family...
...the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Seriously. "Rennies" are some of the best, most interesting people I've ever met and I'm glad to have met everyone I ever did there. So you know, maybe find one near you and go visit and strike up a conversation with somebody? MDRF also had 'fan' groups that did tailgating so that's how I really got involved, by showing up and introducing myself and offering cookies.
It's a "horsey" thing but if you want to volunteer...why not a horse rescue? That was the other place I got a 'family' of friends up in MD and I keep telling people now that I'm down here in Georgia, if I could stay here but bring all the people I know up in MD...it would be just about perfect, LOL.
I've found the trick with churches is you have to find one that works for you. I've visited several here in GA and I haven't found one that quite clicks yet. But that doesn't mean there isn't one out there and they can definitely be a great support system and a way to get further involved in your community.
And I don't know if you have this where you are, but if you're at all interested in any sort of aspect of theater, maybe you have a community theater you could get involved in? Even if you don't care to act...they always need stage crew and the like. Or heck, locally around here there's a group that does films and always needs extras.
I also used to volunteer as a receptionist/greeter at a local museum and that was a good way to meet people.
Same thing around here, I used to take my dog out to the local dog park but had to stop because she just got stressed by the experience BUT there were lots of nice people there so it could be another way to get out and make connections.
Also, I know there's an organization for our downtown to preserve the historical stuff and generally improve things and I don't know all the details because I'm not involved but someone I met through work is and it sounds pretty cool. So if you've got a historic area like that, you might check into what preservation organizations there are.
Finally, if your area does any sort of festivals, that's the sort of thing that always needs more hands involved and will enable you to meet tons of people.
Do you live near a college or university? Can you volunteer there? Hosting a foreign student or two over the holidays? For Sunday dinners? Attend university events? Join a university "friends" group? The academic crowd is usually pretty fun to hang with, interesting, open minded, learned....
The UU church is a great place to meet very nice people, and if you feel more connected with earth, try a pagan group. My DH was searching for what he called his "family of choice" and found it through the local pagan group and the UU's. Both groups have very nice people, although I don't attend either group's meetings/services/festivals.
My "family of choice" is barn and horse friends. Are there any COTHers in your area that you meet up with occasionally?
Thanks for the ideas. I had tried Habitat for Humanity in the past, once when up in the city, and also down here. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything in progress here for the time being, but will keep an eye out for when projects get started again hopefully.
And I'll probably get out there and try on a couple of churches "for size". Maybe not stray too far from what I've known, but will also check out the UU and other churches here. I never did know what they were all about!
But what's kind of funny, was that the day I bought this place, a half dozen local fellows asked to hunt my land (had been warned several liked to "run" deer ) The one who wouldn't give up was a 6'2" local Bible minister, who later appeared in my door for one final pleading, with his State Trooper wannabee jacket on. My BIL was a State Police investigator. Told him to take a hike. So one has to drive a bit for the kind of minister most are looking for.
Thanks for the other great ideas. I think so many active charities are really operating closer to the cities, but with winter finally over with, I may just head to one once a week.
And glad to know I'm in good company.
I am trying to get together with another COTHer. I am in the middle of the state. Big field in the back. Maybe I should plan a summer gathering!
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes