Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

I recently moved to a small village and I'm worried I might become lonely

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 09 June 2017
Hello Patricia Marie,

I have recently moved away from London to a new area, 150 miles from where I have lived my whole life. I now live in a lovely little home in a small village community, as I wanted to get away from the rat race of life. My problem is, I had imagined that once I'd moved in, the neighbours would be popping round, and I would chat to people in the street, and that I would easily make new friends. However the opposite has happened. My nearest neighbour seems a grouchy moaner, who merely stared at me when I tried to introduce myself, the people I meet in the street have no interest in striking up conversation, and not one person has come round to welcome me into the area. In fact I feel I am most unwelcome and an outsider.

I feel very low as I really had expected this move to give me the peace and tranquility I have always desired, but all I now feel is ostracism and unfriendliness. I do not have the money to move again, in fact I am struggling financially, but having to consider that this may be my only option as I am worried how lonely I am going to become if I stay.

Patricia Marie says...

I am not surprised you are feeling lonely living in a new area with no friends or family nearby. However, I do feel you need to give yourself more time to adapt to your new home and surroundings. Of course it's important for everyone to have a good support network, and this will happen - just not overnight. However, you can make some good contacts straight away.

Get out and about, look for groups, clubs or societies in your area where you can become involved in your passions. You could also volunteer for a local charity or church group. Helping is a great way to meet others, to counteract loneliness and to feel connected. If you are able to work, perhaps look for a local job where you could make new friends, and earn some money too. Also, do consider getting a dog, which would not only offer great companionship, but dogs provide a neutral topic for conversation and, therefore, act as social 'ice-breakers.'

Just as you feel the outsider in your neighbourhood, established residents can often feel threatened by newcomers, so why not take the initiative. Be hospitable, perhaps organise a coffee morning, or an evening drinks party. Send invitations to your neighbours, saying you would love to meet them, be able to get to know them properly and look forward to welcoming them into your new home.

Rather than put any pressure on yourself at this moment, give yourself a good year before making any decisions on moving again. I believe during this time you would have made friends and settled in well, and most importantly be enjoying your home which you say you love. Finally, try not to lose sight of the fact that you are at the start of a new adventure in your life and need to cherish the experience whatever the outcome.
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My daughter aged 13, died 6 months ago and now she's no longer here, I feel lonely and abandoned

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on Friday, 26 May 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I don't know what to do, or where to go for help. I keep having panic attacks, and can't go on feeling this way for much longer. My daughter aged 13, died 6 months ago, after suffering a devastating degenerative condition. She gave me the greatest purpose in life, and now she's no longer here, I feel lonely and abandoned. When my daughter was alive, I received much support from my family and friends.

However, since she's been gone, I have hardly any understanding from my close ones. In fact, if I mention my daughter, the conversation soon changes, leaving me feeling frustrated and tearful. I am lucky to have another child, and a caring husband, but he gets annoyed with me for expecting too much from people. I am very close to my mother, but as soon as I mention my daughter, she becomes extremely upset, so I withdraw from opening up about my feelings. Can I please ask you, am I wrong for expecting others to be there for me?

Patricia Marie says...

The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face, and you should not be expected to 'get over' the pain it causes at any stage.
For 13 years you took care of your daughter who was totally dependant on you, and as you so rightly say, gave you a purpose. I make a heartfelt request to you to see that your purpose as a mother still goes on with your living child.

Let me ask you not to see your husband as annoyed, nor your friends as lacking compassion. It's not uncommon for friends to pull away during a grieving period, simply because they often do not know what to say. Have you considered that they could be feeling guilty if they have children who are all alive and well? They may well want to help, but don't know how. Tell them what you need, and don't push your husband away, as he too is having to deal with his own grief, as indeed is your mother who seems to be struggling to come to terms with the loss of her granddaughter. Your quarrel is not with them, but with what life has thrown at you - taking your beautiful daughter from you. Whilst you have every right to feel angry, by expressing it to others, you will only be hurting yourself.

Counselling won't bring your daughter back. Nothing will. But it will allow you to explore the feelings that you are clearly needing and wanting to express. Grief can feel very lonely, even when your loved ones are close. I think you would benefit greatly from attending a bereavement group, as sharing your sorrow with others who are going through similar experiences could be comforting, and will help you to feel understood. And I urge you to see your G.P for help with your panic attacks.

When you are feeling lonely and wanting to feel close to your daughter, perhaps light a candle and enjoy those special memories you have - which can never be taken from you.
Your life is forever changed - but it's not over. You must feel at this moment that you won't ever recover from your loss, but be patient, and allow yourself time to heal. I believe with the right help and support, you may begin to find a way forward that acknowledges and continues to incorporate the love you will always feel for your daughter.

Cruse offer bereavement support groups in most areas: 0844 477 9400 www.cruse.org.uk 
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I'm worried what will happen when I can't look after myself

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on Friday, 19 May 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am 72 years of age, have no children or partner, and becoming increasingly concerned about what will happen when I can no longer look after myself in my own home. My closest friends have pre-deceased me, and I feel so very alone in this life. I do not know how to go about selling my home, sorting through all my possessions and perhaps moving into a care home. The thought of all of this scares me witless. As my health seems to be deteriorating lately this has been a recurrent anxiety for me. Do you know of any organisations who could help guide me through the process?

Patricia Marie says...

I can fully understand the anxiety you have with regards to making future plans, however, what really saddens me is the loneliness you have been suffering. Your friends have sadly passed, but you are very much here, and need to be enjoying your later years.

Age UK, the largest UK's charity, is dedicated to helping those of mature years. They provide information, support and advice to help get through those difficult times the elderly can experience. Whether you're wanting help regarding property matters, have concerns about the possibility of going into a care home, or having trouble sorting benefits, this charity can assist with all your practical worries. Furthermore, they can put you in touch with your local branch, who could organise for you to join in some of their regular social gatherings, where you could meet others who are in a similar situation to yourself, and hopefully you will soon be able to fully embrace the next chapter of your life, with new found friends.

I also recommend The Silver Line. This free help line was established by Esther Rantzen who wrote about loneliness after the death of her husband in 2002. She described loneliness among the elderly as a "creeping enemy which erodes confidence" and wanted to offer a telephone friendship service for the lonely elderly. This charity organisation provides friendship 24 hours a day, and could organise a befriender to call you regularly - so you would always have someone there for you. Please don't distress yourself any further. Make these calls - the help you are desperately seeking is only a phone call away.

Age UK: 0800 169 6565. Available every day from 8am-7pm. (www.ageuk.org.uk)

The Silver Line: 0800 4 70 80 90. Available 24 hours. (www.the silverline.org.uk)
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My boyfriend resents me wanting to spend time with my daughters

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on Friday, 12 May 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have been seeing a man I met on the internet for the last six months.

Everything seems fine, except he resents me wanting to spend any time with my daughters, aged 24 and 26. I made it clear to him from the very start that they were a huge part of my life.

Both of them have left home now and I try to see each of them at least once a week for a day or an evening to catch up on what has been happening in their lives. I miss them an awful lot since they moved out and although we talk on the phone most days, somehow that is not the same as actually seeing them.

However, my boyfriend gets quite irritated if they ring when I am with him, and always tuts and shakes his head if I say I am going to visit one of them. And he never asks how they are, or suggests we visit together. He has no children of his own. He is now 54 years old and I think he wishes he had his own children, and perhaps resents my close relationship with mine.

What can I do, as I can see this becoming a big stumbling block in our relationship?

Patricia Marie says...

This man knew your children were part of the package at the outset, and can't pretend they don't exist just because he would rather have you to himself. He needs to accept how important they are to you, and not make you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with them, or indeed speaking with them on the telephone. You should never be put in a position where you feel you have to choose between your partner and your children.

Your boyfriend is clearly showing signs of jealousy. The trigger for this may well be that he is resentful as he has no children of his own, or alternatively there may be other factors contributing to his irrational behaviour. I suggest you open up to him about your concerns, as this may prompt him to share his feelings with you. Listen to what he has to say, but make it clear that his attitude towards your daughters is having an adverse effect on you, which if left unresolved could spoil your relationship, and may ultimately destroy it.

Instead of you visiting your daughters alone, invite them over to yours for dinner. Tell your partner it would mean so much to you if he could make an effort with them. Include him in the hospitality. Perhaps he could organise some games to help make him feel part of the family. You never know, if he allows himself to get to know your girls, he may actually enjoy their company, and even better, begin to bond with them.
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My daughters are feuding

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on Friday, 05 May 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My daughters, aged 24 and 26, are worrying me lately as there is a distance growing between them. They no longer text each other and seem very unconcerned for the other's happiness. The problem started over one daughter's boyfriend, who can be quite unfriendly and opinionated, and who my elder daughter has taken an extreme dislike to. Her sister obviously wants him to be liked by the family and gets hurt when she is told 'I don't care about him!'. Other seemingly small differences of opinion occurred and these became blown up out of all proportion. Things worsened when the older sister moved away, whilst the younger is still at home with me, as I now feel very much in the middle.

They are very different characters, but have always got on, until now. They each talk to me and tell me they think their sister is at fault, but there are two sides to their arguments, and when I try and placate them I am accused of siding with the other. My efforts to calm the situation do not seem to work and each expects the other to change.

How can I make them see that they must sort this out before it gets even worse?

Patricia Marie says...

Having two adult children who have chosen to feud is undoubtedly worrying for you. However, it is important to separate your wants and needs from theirs. We all have dreams, hopes, and expectations for our children. A mother's wish is for her offspring to get on, and as much as you want to make things right for them, ultimately this is beyond your control. In fact, the more you try to intervene the more your daughters will probably rebel and turn against you.

However, what you can do is let them know how upset you are at their behaviour towards each other, and that you do not want to be drawn into their arguments. Remind them that as adults they need to act responsibly and resolve the situation themselves before it develops into an irreparable state. Instead of acting as a mediator, which is clearly not working, take a step back, and, without your input, they may then realise just how over exaggerated their problems have become.

Often when siblings fall out, it is their immaturity and lack of appreciation for each other that escalates matters. Without taking sides, or being interested in the details of the argument, emphasise to your daughters that life is about compromise. We all need to learn to accept each other's differences. Ask them how they feel life would be without their sibling, and in time they may see sense and move forward to a mutual resolution. Continue to be the warm, caring, mother you clearly are to your girls, and hopefully they will soon understand that whilst you may not always agree with them, or like their behaviour, you will always respect and love them unconditionally. I believe this will inspire them to follow your valuable guidance.
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