Monday, October 11, 2010

Question of the Week: Where Do You Find New Friends?

The Tortoise and the Hare, illustrated by Milo...Image via Wikipedia
This weekend reminded me, once again, that it's pretty hard to get together with your healthy friends when you live a mostly homebound life because chronic illness.

I've talked before about how my life resembles aspects of the fable The Tortoise and the Hare.

Once again, it hits home for me about how chronic illness has transformed me from a hare into a tortoise. In the fable, the tortoise wins the race. But in real life, I am the loser. My friends are still all hares and they are moving fast. I can't keep up, which means I keep missing out on all the fun.

I'm missing out because:
  • I physically can't drive in traffic 30 to 45 minutes each way to meet up with my friends
  • I'm broke because I live on Social Security Disability
  • I don't do well in the crowded, noisy places where all the fun is at
  • I need to be sitting down all the time--no standing, dancing, walking, bowling, etc.
  • even when I really push myself, I can't last more than a few hours doing any activity
So instead of being disappointed all the time when I'm not invited or plans don't work out, I started thinking maybe I should broaden my social network and befriend some people who are tortoises like me. Only, I have no idea how I would even go about doing this. I mean, where do young, hip, fun tortoises hang out?

So as I pondered this question while sitting down taking my shower, I realized that my real problem was I that I just wasn't old enough yet. Sad to say, I think the real solution to my problem is to wait until I am a senior citizen.

Think about it: there are senior centers all across the country and their sole purpose is to engage older people. These centers offer transportation, meals, activities and opportunities for socializing. When it comes to services designed to get you out of the house and into the community, senior citizens have a huge advantage over younger people living with disabilities.

Which made me sad to envision that my current, middle-aged years living with chronic, disabling conditions were going to be my lonely, homebound years.

But maybe I am wrong.

Maybe you, my readers know something I do not.

So this week I am asking you to share with me your advice on how I can meet new people who are looking for a tortoise for a friend. People who live close to me. People that I can get together with, face-to-face, and go to the movies, get a bite to eat or hang out at a quiet neighborhood coffee shop
every once in a while. People who don't mind slowing down and spending some time with a tortoise...

I am really interested in hearing what you have to say on this subject, either by leaving me a comment here or heading over to the Oh My Aches and Pains Facebook page and joining the discussion there.

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Young Wife said...

I just invite people to come eat at our house. I can cook and prepare foods that meet DH's dietary needs, and he can sit in his ergonomically correct office chair to stay comfortable. This may not work for you, but it's the easiest solution for us. It is hard making and maintaining friends when you're dealing with chronic illness. It gets lonely.

Anonymous said...

I tried this with one of the pain non-profit organizations: I checked to see if they had a chapter anywhere near where I lived. They didn't, but were willing to help me set up a group if I felt so inclined.
Other organizations that deal with your particular health issues might have the same search capability.
Granted, that's not meeting some one new one on one, but I met a woman who became one of my best friends at a Weight Watchers meeting, and it turned out she lived on my block!
I did join a local historical society for a while (meetings were once a month and within walking distance). The people were nice enough, but mostly spent the meeting reminiscing about our town 20 or 30 years ago. Not the kind of group I was looking for.
Sometimes it does turn out that folks you know in the cyberverse leave closer to you than you think. Not to advertise your address, but maybe someone you know through face book/blogging lives in your area.
As to how to make new friends from the general populace, I'm going to keep checking back on your comments to see if someone has a strategy for that.
An excellent question to ask!

Felicia Fibro said...

You sound like a social person at heart, don't feel like you have to be a senior to have fun with friends!

I would suggest looking into local volunteer work you can do. Many of the people who volunteer have wonderful hearts and not all volunteer work is too physical! I'm not sure what organizations are local to you, but I would suggest your local Arthritis Foundation chapter, maybe check with churches to see what groups they work with, check online volunteer boards.

Also look for local meet up on things like www.meetup.com and www.thenest.com. Maybe you could try to meetup with fellow bloggers or join a local support group?

I hope fun with new friends is in your near future!

lupie said...

Another Tortoise would like to be your friend?

{{hugs}} - sillylupie

Defy Gravity said...

I agree on the senior citizen thing, they have it made when it comes to socializing! And people don't judge them for not being able to drive, stand, walk long distances, etc.

Honestly the more I think about it, senior citizens make great friends. They appreciate the company, understand our limitations and relate to a lot of the things we go through. I know the seniors in nursing homes especially get very lonely. I would consider volunteering at your local senior center or nursing home if you can. I think I may give it a try myself during the holiday season.

When you have a chance, check out my blog at: http://defygravity321.blogspot.com/

Rosemary Lee said...

I'm also a Bruin alumni....did I tell you that? I can't remember.... I graduated in 74 and lived in Dykstra Hall.........oh well.........

Friends are tough for me to find.I totally understand your frustration. If you can't keep up with them that's one problem. The other is if they expect constant communication.

The only thing I can say, at least for me, thank goodness for Instant Message and email. This way I can communicate with people I love but without the stress of getting out. As far as the face to face interaction? That will take you getting out.....are you up to that?

Take care and let me know if you think of something. I'd love to be able to do that too.......


Anonymous said...

I've been friends with a group of seniors for years. Join a free class of any type offered in your area. There are free classes for everything from painting to financial planning to card playing and everything in between. Some outdoor classes like bird watching are non-energy draining. Go to the mall or a park mid-morning when all the seniors are out :-) Mall walkers in particular are a friendly bunch as they stop at the coffee shop in the mall when they done walking. Strike up a conversation. Seniors are great friends even if they are decades older than you. And some probably have kids or relatives or whatnot that are more your age.