Life Event: Single in your 30s ish cont’d

A couple of weeks ago we heard from two people who are single in the 30s.

Here’s another interview.

Agnes B
What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school? Why did you like it?
A hard question, too many to choose from! But one that links the two – when I was in grade 7 I was flicking the channels one Sunday evening and stumbled across a show about a feisty & witty woman with 4 sisters living in the beautiful English countryside. Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, it was the (now) classic BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice TV adaptation. I was sucked in from that moment, and when I found out it was based on a book I knew I had to read it…and so began my love affair with Jane Austen & classic English literature.

I think with the TV show I was attracted by the whole package – the costumes, the scenery, the country houses (who doesn’t fall in love with Pemberley?) but especially the storyline, the characters & the dialogue. It picked up well what I then discovered in the book – Jane Austen is a master in the study of people in all their follies & foibles. And I must admit, I am a bit of a romantic!

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
I’ve been single since the day of birth to my current 33rd year. I’ve never been married, been engaged or had a boyfriend. You could say I’m an expert in singleness, lol.

What’s it like?
I think most of the time it’s pretty good – I’m busy with work that I enjoy, I’ve got friends and family to love and be loved by, my time is mostly my own to choose how I will spend it. Sometimes though it’s hard – I have always desired to get married and have children, and there are times when I’m really sad that that hasn’t happened. Weddings, the birth of babies, Mothers Day – I rejoice in these with friends and family, they are wonderful, but they’re always tinged with a little sadness. But probably the hardest thing with being single is the underlying sense that I’m just that: single. Alone. When I go to church, I go alone.  At gatherings of family or friends sometimes I’m the only single, so all those couples can reinforce that I’m alone. When I have to make decisions, in the end they’re up to me.

What was a helpful thing someone did at that time?
Friends who have invited me over to their normal family dinner & evening hangout in front of the TV.  Friends who invited me to their daughter’s end of year dance concert. The guys I work with coming over one day to clean my gutters and do a few other house maintenance things.

What was an unhelpful thing someone did at that time?
Friends who began dating, or got engaged or married, who suddenly no longer talk to you or include you in their social events. Being asked, “So why aren’t you married?” Church language where family nearly always = nuclear family rather than the body of Christ. Women’s events that are nearly always about being a wife or mother.

What would you want the people around you to know?
Firstly, singleness isn’t something to be rescued from. It’s not a disease to be cured of. Jesus was single and the most fully & truly human ever. Marriage doesn’t make you an adult. Secondly, as with anyone in a different life situation to your own, it’s just about being mindful of the single people around you. Notice them and include them. Older singles can especially fall through the cracks in churches, when most people at that age are in the life situation of marriage and children.

What ways could we love you in your present season?
Say hi to me at church and invite me to sit with you. Ask me if there are things I need help with. Invite me over. Tell me when are good times I can invite you over. Include me in normal family activities.  Don’t let me wallow in self-pity! Remind me that God is always sovereignly good and I am never truly alone.

Life Event: Single in your 30s ish

Sometimes it feels like all of life is structured around school terms. Which don’t really impact the rhythm of my life at all.

Here are reflections of two single friends on what we do badly, and how we can love them more.

Agnes A
What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school? Why did you like it?

In primary school I lived for the TV series Around the Twist. I waited pretty desperately for Saturday 5pm to role around. It seemed a very long time between episodes. I’m not sure why I liked it so much, because I didn’t really like the books. I think it was the theme song that hooked me in. Also it might have been the first Australian television show I enjoyed. My favourite book was The Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Bernard. I loved the wonderful surprise at the end of the story. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I was truly delighted that the central character didn’t have to suffer her awful school forever!

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
I haven’t ever been married. When I had opportunity to meet somebody I wasn’t ready and when I was ready there wasn’t anybody to meet!

What’s it like?
I do well when I can distract myself through activities that make me happy like mountain climbing and planning my next big adventure. I really struggle when I have to work constantly and don’t have time for fun.

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Life Event: Dietary requirements due to chronic health

I recently organised 40 of my mother’s friends to gather for her birthday celebration. There was one person with an allergy, and one who was a vegetarian. If I gathered 40 of my friends our dietary requirements and preferences would be diverse and complicated.

Meet my friend Agnes, who has been learning manage her diet, hospitality, and ensuing social interactions.

What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school?Why did you like it?
I loved to read the Secret Garden. I think I loved that she had a secret world away from everything that she could work on and make beautiful 🙂

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
Having had chronic health issues for more than ten years, twelve months ago I discovered significant intolerances to certain naturally occurring chemicals in food (Salicylates, Amines and Glutamates). This has led to a significant improvement in day to day health; however it has led to a strict diet that means that it is very hard to eat out or eat something someone else has prepared.

What’s it like?
I have really gone through the full extent of the grief cycle. I know it seems crazy to grieve for the food you can’t eat…but I was a foodie! So it has been an emotional year:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. However, I am still on this cycle and still experience all of these feelings at various times. Overall, I try to live in the acceptance camp. But it isn’t easy.  I have been frustrated and tried to figure out any way out of it. How to fix it. Mostly I have been depressed by it. I am trying to recognise that what I eat doesn’t define me. It shouldn’t fill an emotional hole. And that has actually been helpful, although being forced into it has meant that it has been extra frustrating.

What was a helpful thing someone did at that time?
Sat and let me cry about it. Designed a dinner party around foods I could eat without making it seem like it was a burden. Made me biscuits. Made me meals. Happily ate the food that I made and expressed enjoyment.
What was an unhelpful thing someone did at that time? Assumed it was a choice I was making, and tried to convince me not to make this choice.

What would you want the people around you to know?
I don’t want to be a burden, so I won’t ask you to cook for me. However, it is really hard to always be the person eating something different. There is just something about having someone prepare and meal and you all join in together to eat it. It is hard to always be the odd one out.

What ways could we love you in your present season?
Don’t always ask me about what it is like, although this is occasionally ok. I will probably tell you it’s fine and I’m much healthier etc. That is my way of trying to accept this. But if you can occasionally make a meal that I can share with you, or express happiness for me to make a meal for you that I can eat. That will go a long way to helping me not to feel alone.

Life Event: Mum with Chronic Illness

Parenting is a hard gig. What about when your health shakes, rattles and rolls out of control?

Meet Agnes

My favourite book or tv show I enjoyed in Primary school
I cannot remember a favourite book in Primary school as parts of my life are a bit of a blur. My illness has caused a lot of memory loss for me-which saddens me.

Overview of life’s events
Things started to unravel in my life when at high school. Stress, lack of sleep, school pressures, mistreatment at home and depression overwhelmed me. I desperately wanted to scream but was unable to. I struggled through high school but had a major breakdown while at university due to family conflict. I had numerous stays in the psych ward. I was given a poor prognosis. Over the years stays in the psych ward have significantly lessened due to medication, love and support from husband and my boys, friends and mental health physicians.

What is it like?
Days of not being able to tell what is real and unreal. Being overwhelmed and preoccupied with tormenting voices and visions. Being scared of people. Wanting to die to stop the torment. Overwhelming depression.

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Life Event: new baby

Suddenly there is a small human for which you are responsible. The idea seems cute and fun and happy – but interrupted sleep is a torture technique. Hear the stories of two sets of new parents.

Agnes & Bernard A

What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school?  Why did you like it?
A – It’s probably out of print now, but I remember loving An Alien at St Wilfred’s, by Adrian Plass.  It’s a little paperback about an alien that comes to a church in England in the middle of nowhere for a few weeks, and hangs out with a small group of people.  I love the way the characters are all so broken, yet they are able to love and support each other and to grow together.

B – I enjoyed reading the Deltora Quest books by Emily Rodda. I enjoyed the adventure, and the mythology of the books.

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
We had (our first) baby.
What’s it like?
A – Insanely amazing.  The first week (birth, hospital time, coming home) was incredibly intense, but we’ve settled in now and life has a new normal.
B – It’s good. There’s a cuddly little baby who falls asleep on you!
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Life Event: early months of marriage

So it seems that these interviews will be particularly interesting – bring on the conflict… or the quiet.

Agnes & Bernard B
Unfortunately Bernard and I have a very busy few months coming up and are trying to prioritise what is really important to us to get done and practicing saying no to the non essentials. Before we got married we said yes to everything and found it meant we were overcommitted, constantly tired and constantly exhausted. Have been practicing saying no as a way to find time to enjoy with each other in the midst of our busy lives. loving life, less tired and more …happy!

Agnes & Bernard C
We are not dealing with all the life changes at once. It’s taking us a while to cope.

Life Event: Wedding preparation

Weddings – we want to celebrate with our friends, to help prepare. Or we feel obligation to attend and be positive. But what does it feel like in the midst of preparation for the day and for the marriage?

Agnes  A

What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school? Why did you like it?
I enjoyed reading the Artemis Fowl series – about a boy genius who discovers a world beneath the surface of the earth, inhabited by technologically advanced faeries and other mythical creatures. Artemis befriends the faeries and they go about saving the world together. The reason I liked it was because it made me imagine the world I live in differently – Stonehenge suddenly wasn’t a historical and awe-inspiring monument built by humans, but an ancient faerie pizza drive-through.

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
My best friend Bernard and I got married on November 26, 2016.

What’s it like?
Pretty great overall. Confusing, frustrating, fun, silly, amazing.

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Life Event: Unemployed and looking for work

Where is the locus of your identity?
It seems so easy for work to be the centre of your value and satisfaction, especially so for the men in my life. So what happens when you are out of work for a prolonged season?

Bernard A

What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school?
My grandfather, Pop, would come around for dinner each Thursday evening. So that he was not distracting my Mother leading up to dinnertime, Pop would watch “The Cisco Kid” or “Hopalong Cassidy”, american westerns in black and white.
As a seven year old I enjoyed the quiet companionship  and the measured conversation; other times the family would crowd out participation or conversation from the youngest in the room.

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
Being unemployed for what seemed a long time. I didn’t see it coming and had no life skills to assess my new situation.

What’s it like?
No-one around me knew how to respond. They could not ask about work and could not think of other topics to engage in conversation. So the replacement meaningless conversations just reinforced the social dislocation. I invested less.

What was a helpful thing someone did at that time?
At last, someone presumed that I was an intelligent type still and probably had an opinion on political and business topics. So an acquaintance asked challenging questions to which I responded and a conversation evolved. That broke my cycle of sliding into comatose thought because there was no one listening.

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Life Event: Anxiety Reflections

One of the most talented and capable people I know sent a message – “I am having debilitating anxiety, I can’t do anything today.”

What do we learn or notice from these Life Event interviews?  There is a lot going on in the brain of an anxious person.

Anxious Person
Use your coping strategies and be honest in using them.

Tell someone.
Letting someone know when you are struggling, or likely to struggle, means they can support you.
Sharing your experience encourages others to speak about their mental health.

Anxious Person’s Friend
Give space to churn.
Don’t expect them to manage all the emotions and thoughts or be able to unravel their thinking for you.

Be a safe person to tell.
When you know someone is anxious or is anxious in a particular situation, take on that knowledge, be helpful but keep your mouth shut.

Read the Interviews.
Life Event: Anxiety and Life Event: Anxiety cont’d

Life Event: Moving Cities (couples edition)

Brisbane has been my home since 1989. I love my city. The most complicated move I’ve made was three suburbs – and it was annoying. These couples packed up their lives and moved cities.

Agnes and Bernard A

What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school?
A -I loved sailor moon! The adventures they had were awesome, they were a tight group of friends and I loved their hair!
B – Captain planet, not sure, because they had bright colours probably.

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
We have just made the move from City (Brisbane) back to the country (Biloela) for a children’s ministry position. We both grew up in a small town so it’s exciting for us to go back to a rural community.

What’s it like?
Moving is mostly exciting and a little bit scary – it’s exciting because it’s a brand new start, it’s a new place to discover, you can put the best version of you forward again, it’s new people to meet and for us this is what feels like will be our home as we knew Brisbane was just temporary. It’s a little bit scary because we are moving further away from family and good friends so I know we have to make extra effort to get to know people on a deeper level. This takes time but is always worth it.

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