What happens when you don’t notice the cliff until you are off the edge?
I mentioned in my first real article that I was grateful that I no longer experience loneliness. I wish that were still true and I desperately wish I could kill that feeling again. I just can’t seem to do so. It is not the reason for my long absence from writing but that reason certainly is the cause of my loneliness.
I blame my realtor! Well, not really but buying a home was a bad idea for so many reasons.
After I got my 100% disability rating I got myself out of debt very quickly and squirreled money away to by a house. I also shed my not insubstantial student loans due to the disability discharge program. I literally had $0 in debt when I started and the student loan forgiveness program was great for my credit rating. I was tired of renting and rent in my area is skyrocketing and the housing market had just started into an extreme seller’s market and interest rates were starting to climb. It seemed like it would be now or wait for the inevitable housing market crash in a few years.
I got really lucky in finding a great realtor that was very patient with a jittery first-time house buyer. House buying and anxiety is not a good match. Without her, I seriously doubt I would have made it through. I wasn’t quite so lucky with the lender, a local credit union. They had low rates and very low fees but added so much stress, but the loan officer personally worked with my realtor and she gave me a referral to her so it was worth the added stress to me just to have such an amazing realtor.
My initial pre-approval was 3.6% but there were so many buyers and so few sellers it took a while to find a house that would accept my offer. I even lost a home down the street from where I eventually moved and I was the highest bidder. Old myths about VA loans persist. Spoiler: My house closed 5 weeks before the other one, despite the offer on the house I lost was accepted 3 weeks earlier. I got really lucky in the house I did get. I was the only one bidding and it is in a modest 10-year-old neighborhood. The reason I was the only bidder is that the owners thought they would save a little money on a realtor so it was barely advertised. They could have sold it for $15-$20k more had they hired a realtor. That is why I lost so many bids, my preapproval limit was $250k and so many that were listed $10k-$15k under that went way over my limit. Sadly, interest rates crept up during this time and I locked at 4%, which is more of a psychological difference than a significant money difference, at least monthly payment-wise. After everything was completed, I was out of pocket a little under $1000 to get the keys, and that is before I got 20% of my realtors commission(she really rocks) so I actually made a small profit on the closing costs.
Sounds great? Not really. The house was not really one I was fond of but I would probably still be looking and with the interest rate and listing increases since then, I would be looking at old, poorly maintained homes instead of living in a newer, nice and very quiet neighborhood. The house needed some upgrades and a few more things because I really want to make it a real home and am still improving it which is a problem since I have only ever rented or lived in military housing so I am clueless. It is a problem, but I struggle through it and get things done as I can afford it. It is causing a lot of anxiety. The house buying process took me to my limits and I thought the anxiety would subside but it has not gone down very much. The real problem goes back to my realtor.
She is a very fun and lovely woman. I really enjoyed going out looking at houses. After a few times out, I noticed that going home I felt really sad and empty inside. I became used to being around someone and the cruel beast loneliness crept back. It actually took me a long time to realize what that feeling was. I was terrified when I did figure it out. A few months after closing, when things were stabilizing and I had a new routine I decided to try to meet people because after all that time of trying to burn it out of me I just couldn’t.
The pain of anxiety, depression, and loneliness is too much, even for someone used to decades of constant mental and physical pain. On the plus side, I have read some reports saying that these can significantly reduce my lifespan. I don’t know if I can handle a few more decades like this. What would be the point? Sadly, newer research says it barely affects lifespan.
Do you really need money to make money?
How does an adult with no friends actually make friends? If you have friends, you can meet their friends. It also seems that people in normal friendships and relationships attract more people. It is a cycle that is very difficult to break into.
I asked on my favorite self-help forum and got a lot of good advice for a normal person. Things like: take night classes, volunteer, stop being a slacker and get a job. Lots of warnings about looking online. All good advice but problematic, however not impossible. Night classes are pointless, I have over six years of higher education and have nothing social to show for it. I am very interested in volunteering, it would get me out of the house, get me back to helping people which I enjoy and maybe help me be more social. I watch my granddaughter quite a bit and would have to work around that but it is not impossible. I put in initial applications in a few places, did not hear back but didn’t follow up because of a serious family emergency that has kept me out of town for long stretches but things are more back to normal so it is something that I could look into now.
I am not sure how feasible a job in my field is given my long absence. I do try to keep up on things and am looking at starting a new programming project. Other jobs seem even more out of reach since I have to explain the long absence and try to avoid being labeled overqualified. Which is a problem, a few years ago I tried getting some simple part-time jobs and was rejected on the basis of too much education so I omitted that and ran into the problem of explaining the long unemployment gap. sigh Technically, I am not supposed to work at all given my disability rating so I do risk losing at least part of my rating so I would need a job that pays at least as much as SMC-S does plus offers other benefits like a solid dental plan since I would lose dental benefits at the VA. In reality, I would need more to make up for my loss of various tax exemptions which is not insignificant.
Sounds like lots of excuses and maybe it is. But there is also a lot of reality involved. I am not sure that risking my home in my quest for friends will help with that goal nor will it help my mental health all that much. At least the stress of updating and maintaining it would be gone. Never let it be said that I can not be positive.
My youngest daughter is a social butterfly and seems to know everyone and their mom(and dad) so I thought maybe she could introduce me to people fairly close to my age. She flat-out refused to help, although she was surprised I was even looking. She said it was something I need to do on my own. She is probably right but she definitely doesn’t understand that starting from zero friends makes it a challenge. My daughters have very little memory of me being with their mom and even less of me dating. It might be like watching a fish walk.
I did go against advice and looked online last summer. I tried various dating sites that allowed people to state they were looking for friendship. Zero luck there, although I did get a few messages stating that I am likely not able to find friends based on my profile. It was very generic. A statement of what I am looking for and a list of things I like to do. I guess it was scary? I didn’t post a photo due to extreme ugliness, but maybe I should have? I looked around for sites that catered to finding friendships but they were more of the hookup variety which is not what I was looking for and would not be good for me.
I only looked for women which might have looked odd but in my adult life all but one of my friends, real friends, were women. I am extremely awkward and shy around them but I feel more comfortable with them also. It is a strange contradiction. Both shyness and comfort are probably due to having 7 sisters and my father was out of town working most of my childhood. It just seems to happen that way without even trying. There is one neighbor that will talk to me rarely. The wife talks to me far more than her husband and that feels normal to me.
I had pretty much given up on finding friends and was frustrated that I still couldn’t kill the loneliness when a serious family emergency hit.
About two months into the emergency, things were starting to look up, so my mind wandered back to friendships. Even surrounded by family I still felt very lonely. I enjoy spending time with them, even under difficult circumstances but I really need something else. I found a website that looked perfect and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier. It was a penpal site. Surely, I could find people to talk to on there and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything going past friendships since they are so far away and it is, after all, a penpal site. That was my theory. It did make me sad, being on dating sites made me wish I were datable but virtual friendships can be fun and are certainly better than nothing. The site had people from all over the world and people in my area don’t seem to be interested in me at any level. Plus, I am interested in learning about different cultures and languages. What, if anything, could go wrong?
To be continued…