Thursday, June 28, 2012

Uprooting -- rerooting

In response to a comment on my post about women's intimate conversations, Elaine points out that she has moved away from her group of friends.  I've also moved and, like Elaine, am finding that a daughter is becoming a best friend.  Yet, that is different -- by a generation obviously but qualitatively different also.

Many older women do move from where they've spent the central part of their lives.  Sometimes because of retirement (husband, or themselves), because of empty nest (downsizing), because of divorce or widowhood, because of physical disabilities.  Finding a new group of friends may be very difficult.  Who shares your interests?  Who shares your specific situation (can afford some luxuries, or can't afford to do much that costs  much)?  Who is empathetic to you specific problems?  To what extent can you become involved in  something that interests you?  Can you drive?  If you have a retired husband what amount of free, personal time are you willing to expend with a new group of (potential) friends?  Your life is simpler and yet it's very complicated.
I am happy to have found outlets for my literary and quilting interests.  I found a quilting guild where, in fact, I have not made specific friends because I have not taken full advantage of the possibilities -- largely because it is a hobby and I prefer to spent my time with my primary interest, which is literary.  I found the Academy for Lifelong Learning -- can't remember just how it came to my attention. I enrolled in a writing class and a Shakespeare class.  The latter was delightfully taught by a retired professor who is both erudite and very enthusiastic. The former was not at my level so I decided to offer to teach a class that would offer what I felt that one lacked.  You see I am not timid about sharing what I feel I know.  What a good decision! I've enjoyed both the teaching and the wonderful women I've met.  I've become more involved with the organization so my contacts grow.  Not everyone has such interests or opportunities to pursue their interests.  I am very busy, I know an increasing number of people who share some of my interests, that's all I need for emotional balance. 

I can't write and wouldn't want to write a self-help, how-to book on making new friends once uprooted, by choice or need or chance.  I look at the situation and think of women who have to find the soil for their new roots to thrive in -- they once fit in a community, either or co-workers or socially with husbands and families.  If work and family are gone, and few other interest have taken root, the new situation will be either a time of withering and sadness or of growth as a woman finds interesting outlets, be it church, volunteer, neighbors or family or some combination.  It IS very possible for an uprooted plant to truly thrive and flower and send down deep new roots even if the environment is different.  For the older woman, that often means she alone is responsible now for her own well being, and that can be  new kind of growth, discovering never before tapped abilities.  No, I'm not a Pollyanna, but I've seen it happen.


Bev Sykes said...

There is another side to this story, June. Women whose FRIENDS have all uprooted, women who have lived in the same town for 40 years, but whose good friends have died or moved away or have such changed situations that they no longer have time for you. That's my situation. It's difficult to feel lonely in a town where you used to have lots of friends, where your specific activities have run out of steam, and where your friends are no longer there to invite for a cup of coffee.

June Calender said...

Bev, there are so many things that can happen as we grow older -- I certainly didn't think of all of them.
Going on, looking for new activities as well as looking inward for balance is all I can suggest.

Ladydy5 aka: Diane Yates said...

A long time ago when I was much, much younger my mother would say to "Diane, Pick your friends, don't let them pick you". Didn't quite understand that but has been in my mind now and then. I have a bunch of "Internet" friends mostly with a couple of women here where I live I keep in touch with. But for the most part I am the elder of them all and my interests are not the same, so I have become a little reclusive and I do "pick my friends". I picked you June!!