By the time I was about 10 years old, after an argument between my mother and father about the way he was harshly "disciplining" the children, Dad announced that he was going to wash his hands of it then and wouldn't have anything to do with our discipline. He closed the door to their bedroom, and I barely saw him after that. His interaction with us was minimal, and he no longer wanted to be a part of the decision-making for our lives.
As I grew into my teenage years, and became troubled with the things I faced at that time - there was no one in the family that I could talk to. I could not talk to my mother or my father, confide in them, or rely on their guidance. They were not there for me emotionally. This was particularly difficult for me when I was around the age of 14, because at that time, I had started a new school, my "best friend" had decided to ditch me, and my remaining friendships were superficial. I was fortunate enough to have my sister-in-law to go to, which kept me sane, but did not stop all the stress-related illness I had at that time: migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, gastric reflux. I felt very anxious and depressed.
There have been moments in my life where I have experienced true friendship and support, but overall, I feel like my adult life has been spent surrounded by people, or involved in things where I was serving or giving to others, but not experiencing the kind of friendship or support where I truly felt people were there for me if I needed them.
I am going through something dreadful at this time: I am having enormous trouble in my relationship with my husband, we are separated after 6 months of marriage, and I am 24 weeks pregnant. All my siblings live overseas, but in any case 2/3 have not been in touch to see how I am, even though they know about the situation, and the remaining one I've had minimal contact with and the bare minimum discussion about it beyond my informing him what had happened. My father has been his usual unhelpful self, and my mother telephones me perhaps once a week to see how I am (in usual circumstances she might get in touch with me once every month or so - she usually does not make much of an effort!)
The few friends I do have that "care about me" don't call me to see how I am, don't drop by to see if there is anything they can do - I just arrange to meet up with them every now and then. The new church I joined prior to all of this happening has asked me to step down from leading a group of girls in a church homegroup (not because I was now a 'separated woman' but apparently for my own benefit so that I could concentrate on my marriage and getting over what had happened) and the brand new adult homegroup I had been attending just as a participant where I was hoping to gain friendship and Christian fellowship, has fizzled out - so that I feel no real sense of belonging or support from them. My circumstances (too complicated and mundane to explain) prevent me from joining a different homegroup - and I don't want to have to explain to them the same way as I explained to the last group why I was not attending the group with my husband. I don't want to have to explain to a bunch of strangers about my private life.
I feel abandoned by my family, abandoned by my friends, and abandoned by my church in my time of need. The weekly support I get are all agencies: Al Anon or support groups or counselling. They receive Government funding, or I pay them to give me support - or they are strangers to me. I feel alone as I have always felt alone - except when I had my husband's support - but sometimes even then. I don't have a lot of support in my life. Last time I had a great deal of stress and crises in my life, I became clinically depressed because of the nature of my relationship with my husband (then boyfriend) - he was drinking and had not attended rehab at that time - and did not have any support. Realistically, what has changed?
Why has this not changed for me? It's not for lack of reaching out... Is it that I reach out to the wrong people? And don't reach out to the right people? Is it that it is hard to make friendships when you are in your 30's or in a big city? Is it that I attract the wrong people to become friends with? Or that I put people off somehow? Do people just want to know about the good things happening in my life and not the crappy stuff? Are people not good at being a friend to someone else anymore? Am I not a good friend to others? Why hasn't this situation changed for me?