US researchers found that out of 218 studies, people who were lonely had a 50% increase risk of early death, compared to 30% increase risk with obesity. Further, loneliness is just as dangerous as smoking. But loneliness isn’t talked about, especially among mothers.
As a child of the 80s, I often daydreamed of what my adult life would be like. Lots of kids and married to my best friend for life. And that’s what happened. I have 6 amazing kids and I’m married to my only and best friend. My marriage and certainly the birth of my eldest in 2000 changed the dynamics of my friendships. I moved from what was familiar in Florida in 1999 to Virginia. Starting over wasn’t hard, but I had a hard time finding my groove again.
We moved from Virginia to South Carolina in 2001. Then back to Virginia in 2006. My youngest son was just a few weeks old when my husband deployed. Then I got pregnant and had our 5th child, 3 months before my husband returned from another deployment. Then pregnant again with our 6th and final child. My husband deployed for part of that pregnancy as well.
We had decided after failed attempts at me getting a job (no one was hiring a pregnant, military wife). It was certainly cheaper for me to stay at home, rather than get a job and bring home a paycheck. BTDT and it was a disaster. All my income and part of my husband’s income went to childcare. So, I quit. It wasn’t worth the cost of losing money. I tried contributing financially through offering in-home childcare. That didn’t work out either. I lost money my first year and the financial “gains” that were supposedly guaranteed were not there. I also tried many direct sale companies. Hoping something would allow me time out of the house, while providing a small income to contribute to the family. But this too was not meant to be.
I reached out and found babysitters for the kids, enrolled them in scouts, and did my best to stay busy volunteering. But this busyness was at a cost. It meant that my personal life was at a standstill. That my connections to others were only what I consider surface relationships. Nothing too intense, because we were frequently moving.
When we tell our young daughters that motherhood is a joyful and happy time in their life. That they will feel blessed. The truth is, while loving on our children is wonderful, our essence as humans is missing a key component; friendship. Relying on the goodness of others. Leaning on friends and family during times of need.
It can become difficult when you can’t rely of friends or family. We lived too far from anyone for their continued support. And the support we did get was strained because the relationship was not strong enough to begin with.
Loneliness wasn’t a choice I anticipated when I became a mom. But it’s something I have endured for many years. Going online and looking for friends helped a bit, but it’s not the same as a 1-1 connection you have with someone that you see regularly.
Therefore, take time to really go inward and learn about who you are and what you want in life. So much has changed and you may find that your dreams and desires have changed as well. Be ready to release anything that is holding your back from truly loving yourself.
Self-love is more than just taking a shower alone. It’s understanding and honoring your heart and soul. To allow yourself to have the freedom to pursue those things that interest you. That inspire your core.
It’s not enough to be active, but to be active in something that inspires you and lifts your spirit. Reach out to community events, volunteer roles, and find time to let go of your feelings of inadequacy. You are not alone in your feelings. Be honest, and if someone rejects your honesty, move on. There are so many people out there that want a friend, and maybe that friend is you.
Join me next week when I dive into how to go inward and learning how to love yourself.