catching up

Noticing the cliff edge when it is behind you

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 my 100% disability rating was granted, I got myself out of debt very quickly and squirreled money away to buy 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 looking at homes. The student loan forgiveness program was great for my credit rating. I was tired of renting, and rent in my area is skyrocketing. The housing market had just started into an extreme seller’s market, and interest rates had begun 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 are 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. The loan officer personally worked with my realtor, and she gave me a referral. That made it worth the added stress just to have such an amazing realtor.

My initial preapproval rate was 3.6%, but there were so many buyers and so few sellers it took a while to find an owner 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 lucky with the house I bought. I was the only one bidding, and it is in a modest 10-year-old neighborhood. The owners thought they would save a little money and forego a realtor, so it was barely advertised. That is why I was the only bidder.

They could have sold it for $15-$20k more had they hired a realtor or advertised it better. That is why I lost so many bids. My preapproval limit was $250k, and so many 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. That was before I got 20% of my realtor’s 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 and nice home that is in a very quiet neighborhood. The house needs some upgrades, and a few more things because I really want to make it a real home, and I 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 fun and lovely woman. I really enjoyed going out looking at houses. After a few times out, I noticed that going home, I felt sad and empty inside. I had become 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. I tried to burn out the loneliness again, 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 if I were a normal person.

Things like: take night classes, volunteer, stop being a slacker and get a job. I got 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 and get me back into 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. I 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. Things are now closer 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 avoid being labeled overqualified. This is a problem. A few years ago, I tried getting some simple part-time jobs and was rejected based on 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. I 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, it would need to offer other benefits like a solid dental plan since I would lose dental 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 if I lost my house. 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 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 claiming 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 am looking for and would not be good for me.

I only looked for women, which might have looked odd. In my adult life, all but one of my 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 once in a while. 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 slowly started 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 challenging 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 pen pal 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 pen pal 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 website had people from all over the world. 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…