I called a few friends the other day, you know, feeling like I needed to talk - feeling a little down. Of course no one could talk, they were too busy, at friends' houses, at work, not answering their phones. So, I turned on the tv for my two boys, pulled out a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream and sat down to read a book I have been wanting to read about the failing attempts by international aid to alleviate poverty in Africa.
I felt immensely better in under two minutes. It was an easy fix to a potentially lonely event and the possible invitation of self-deprecating or self-pitying thoughts.
I disagree with the common adage that doctors' wives are lonely; I think people in general are often lonely. It's easy not to reach out to people around us. My neighbors never talk to each other. It's crazy. I love talking to my neighbors and knowing what everyone around me is doing. They look so surprised when I walk over to talk with them - just to say hi - while they are out doing yard work.
One way to combat loneliness is to form networks. (This is superior to eating ice cream.) We all know this, but it takes a lot of work to find, create, and/or strengthen these social networks that can meet our needs.
Some of my closest friends - wherever we live - are the moms of the friends of my children. Often these women are drastically different than me and we share little else in common, besides our having children in the same class at school. But I value these friendships so much. Sometimes I think as we stretch ourselves to understand and relate with people that are very different than us, our love and desire to serve them allows us to forge alliances that become wonderful friendships.
But, I also have to admit that it is really, really nice to live near a friend who is exactly where you are (or rather, where your husband is) in the medical training journey. Especially on those nights where you wish you had someone to call but you know - or assume - that everyone else is enjoying time with their families, or, more particularly, their husbands.
Yes, sometimes the medical resident's schedule just stinks.
So, what do you do to combat loneliness? How do you avoid missing your husband like crazy during night calls? I want, or rather, I need answers.