When I was around 20, my whole life revolved around my friends. I was a social butterfly, to say the least, and my phone would be constantly abuzz with texts about nights out and things that I was doing that evening. My friend Jamillah and I used to joke and say that Tuesday was the new Friday because pretty much every night of the week was an excuse to be out, in the thick of it. I rarely paid to get into a club because I knew all of the door staff, or knew someone who knew someone who’d let us in for free, and there was more than one occasion that I’d go out with no money in my pocket at all, because I knew there’d be plenty of places where our money was no good anyway, and the drinks would still be flowing.
I won’t lie and say I was 100% happy, or that all of it was real, because I was definitely running away from reality and lots of the people I counted as ‘friends’ were nothing more than fellow party-goers, searching for the next buzz. I’m so grateful that I met Husband when I did because I think my burnout would have been far more spectacular, had I not. As it stands I met someone who cared about me a whole lot more than I cared about myself and it gave me the impetus to stop abusing my mind and body.
Skip forward a few years and even the friends who were real, the ones I have almost life-long memories with, are few and far between. I won’t lie to you, dear readers, it’s largely my fault. A heady mix of lack of confidence because of my weight, combined with social anxiety that was exacerbated by PTSD means that I’m flaky at best. I’m great at talking to people on Facebook, but actually mobilising myself and getting to a coffee shop or friends house sends me into a tailspin. Even when I do make plans, more often than not I’ll cop out and cancel at the last minute. For someone who used to thrive on being out and about, it’s quite a turnaround.
I’m lucky in the fact that I have a lot of friends that I’ve met through blogging and social networking, people who I genuinely class as proper friends (like that Mummy Barrow, who spent ages trying to phone round my local hospital when she found out I’d been taken ill last year!). And the immediate gratification of being able to pick up my phone or turn on my laptop at pretty much any time of the day and connect with someone makes it even easier for me to be a shut in.
I’m also lucky in that I’m very happy with my little family. Husband is the best friend I could possibly ask for; we have so much in common and even when we’re both working from home, we find new and interesting things to talk about – we connect really well, even after 8 years of marriage, which is a huge blessing. And then there’s my darling Sausage. She’s an absolute pleasure to spend time with and more often than not, I’d rather go for a hot chocolate with her than do anything else.
I still have this weird feeling of loneliness sometimes. I see old school friends on Facebook going out and having fun and I do get a pang of jealousy. It’s no-ones fault but my own, no-one has stopped me from maintaining my friendships, no-one forces me to be a social failure. Someone asked me last week if I’d had a baby shower yet and I was forced to admit that not only had I not ever had a baby shower, but I probably couldn’t muster up enough friends to even go to one. Same goes for my 30th – having a party would be pointless as it’d be me, standing in a big hall, surrounded by about 20 people, most of whom would be family. I’m not saying I don’t have any friends at all, I do, but I feel totally displaced from just about everyone and it’s all a bit sad, really.
Maybe it’s just me being pregnant and hormonal, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll join a mother and baby group once 2.1 comes along and see if I can find some equally lonely shut-ins, like me. Perhaps I need to just man the hell up and start actually leaving the house for longer than it takes to do the school run or wander round Waitrose.