I came to Vancouver from the states 2 years ago, leaving a broken marriage and a dozen friendships behind, as well as a life of 10 years I had built. It was a struggle in many ways. And I lost touch with people, even though I tried to connect any way I could. There were too many that were less willing to do the work a good friendship requires. I was pretty devastated.
When I moved here, I tried to repeat my friendship making skills (they’re pretty lacking, but I did my best). I connected with Vancouver’s karaoke scene, since that’s where all my Utah friends were made. I spent almost a year going out to karaoke one or two nights a week, but not gaining as much socially as I’d hoped. And my parenting was suffering, my sleep was suffering, it seemed like a lost cause. I was also using Facebook, as many of us do, to connect with people who might get it - this autism-parenting life. That was a tough place too, cause it seemed like everyone already knew each other, and I was so new to Vancouver, to BC, even to Canada. So I had less in common, just parenting and autism to rely on. And those can be so different.
I was very lonely, until I started to make connections in other ways. I had to use my interests to connect in a different way with people, and use my time wisely. I know how hard it can be to hang out with friends, especially as a single mom with almost no babysitters, and no respite services. And I don’t really know anyone except family. It’s still tough. But I ended up joining a choir to connect through music in a way that wouldn’t interfere with my sleep. And I talked with people on Facebook about MORE than autism and parenting, and found some other common interests, or goals. And I made friends with my kids’ therapists. It’s just a start, but it’s better than where I was, wallowing in loneliness, and feeling discouraged most of the time.
And I keep finding new ways, like my kid’s elementary school has a parent coffee club once a week, so I hang out at the school for an hour after drop off, and talk to adults about non-kid stuff. It’s nice.
Having a social life and friend time is part of self care and it’s just as important as getting alone time. But it’s also too easy to justify not making it a priority. If you feel like you have no time for friends, or no time for a real social life, it might be time to adjust. Tweak your expectations. We can’t have the social life we had before we were parents. Not gonna happen. And our time is even shorter with special needs kids.
So make the most of your 10 minutes of Facebook time, or whenever you get a few minutes. Find new ways to connect with people who DON’T have kids with special needs, just for a change, and talk about something besides kids. And if you just need someone to listen to you vent, there are so many AWESOME Facebook groups to do just that. Find your people. Find new ways to connect.