‘Over-joining’ strategy proves a solution for solitude
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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I’m a recently-divorced guy and was experiencing both relief and soul-destroying loneliness. I finally realized I had to do something, or I’d go nuts. I read in one of your columns about rebuilding your life, and your advice to “over-join” groups and activities at first, and then filter out the ones you don’t like so much.
Frankly, I thought at first it was an over-simplification of coping with an emotional problem, but the only direction I could afford to go at that point was up, or I’d be in serious trouble. Since my only real friends — a married couple — go south for the winter in November, I decided I had to try “over-joining” here at home.
So, after Christmas, I took a deep breath and signed up for two sports in one week, then a singing group and a photography class the next week. Then I thought, “What the heck?” and joined a singles group, with regularly schedule activities. I’m happy to report that six months of over-joining gave me an embarrassment of riches, in terms of new friends with shared interests.
By the way, I threw my first house party last week — a games night with prizes — and lots of my new friends came and had fun, and signed my party list on the wall to come back again. Life is actually fun again, and I never thought it would be.
— Happy Over-Joiner, St. Vital
Dear Happy: It’s interesting you only mention dropping one activity, so far. That shows what an energetic and social person you were meant to be. No wonder you were so depressed, when you were alone and idle! Now you have a big recipe for happiness even if you do find a new love. Over-joining can work for anybody — not just single people. When folks discover they’ve gotten into a slump — even couples — it’s a quick way to find new interests, new friends and increased happiness. The only thing you stand to lose is some join-up fees if an activity doesn’t work, but most experiments are well worth trying.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Every Mother’s Day I remember my mom by going down to the river where she used to like to sit. I go there and commune with her spirit. She is never more present with me than on that spot, sitting in the sunlight. I can still hear her voice.
It’s my quiet, happy way to remember her, as she’s gone now. I’m scared to tell people about it or they’ll think I’m nuts.
— Hearing the Voice of My Mom, West Kildonan
Dear Hearing the Voice: You are lucky to have this experience. Enjoy your visits, and don’t pay any attention to those who might scoff at the idea. There are a lot of things we don’t know for certain about life and death.
On the other hand, if you mention this experience to a spiritually focused friend, they might actually have a custom of their own to share with you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m writing to you on Mother’s Day, as it’s always a sad day for me. I don’t have any kids or a husband. People point out, by way of comforting me, that I have four cats and two dogs. That’s hardly the same, is it?
I don’t know how to respond except to say, “But they’re animals!” Then, their faces fall. What should I say instead of being a grinch?
— Animal “Mom”? Fort Garry
Dear Animal Mom: Instead of discounting down their comments, you might say, “You’re absolutely right. I mother them all. They do love me, and I love them!” Then everybody will feel more comfortable, even you.
Please send your questions and comments to email@example.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.