Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dear Mary: I am very alone, and I feel that nobody cares about me

Illustration: Tom Halliday
Illustration: Tom Halliday

Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.

Question: Perhaps it is the end of the summer and the winter coming closer that has me in gloom, but it is hard to shake off the feeling I am having  at the moment. Someone  I knew died, and I was, and still remain, sad about that. He would have known my late parents and grandparents. My own family situation now is quite different to when they were alive. They were good people and everyone treated them with respect.

I feel now that no one cares and there is a lack of something in my life - I can't even find the word for it. No one, not even cousins in Ireland, meet up, and the family is fairly broken up since senior members died over the last number of years. It is lonely. No emails, phone calls or texts - they just don't bother. I tried to make contact letting them know how they can contact me. There are no friendships and not much sign that we are related to one another. If I make the effort and send a nice gift or even a good book, nothing is said. It is a clan where nothing is said. I get my sense of self-worth from my own good neighbours where I live and the network I have, but the family situation is one of a lack of bonding.

My experience is I was fostered out and that is why I can be treated as though I don't matter and that is the truth. No-one really cares. Few in my life today know my history. I am actually very alone and when I die I hope to die fast of a heart attack or maybe in a hospice where I can have company around me. I made my will years ago and I have it all organised as to where I want to be buried - I want to be with my kin folk.

Mary replies: When somebody close to us dies, particularly if they are within our own age group, we are not only sad but we usually become more aware of our own mortality. We then are usually grateful for those friends and family who are still around, and this is perhaps why you are feeling so down.

You don't appear to have any family with whom you are in contact, and as a result feel fairly rejected. You have already experienced loss in your life when you were fostered so perhaps the loss of your second family is doubly hard.

I agree with you regarding the weather. It is much more likely that people will feel down when the weather is grey and damp - unlike feelings when the sun is shining and problems don't seem to be quite so big.

There is a condition which people suffer from called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) whereby those who have normal mental health during most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter.

So while this may be a factor you are mainly upset because of the lack of communication within your family. I'm so glad that you have neighbours with whom you have a rapport, and who appreciate you and give you self-esteem.

There is huge satisfaction in all sorts of ways in being part of a voluntary group that in some way helps others and is something you should consider. Lots of organisations need volunteers and it is also a good way of interacting with other people. Why not investigate what is going on in your area and find a cause that you feel drawn towards and offer your services. It may only take a few hours a week but would be well worth it.

Apart from answering you, my reason for printing your letter is to remind people to watch out for each other. Particularly in these winter months it is easy to forget about our neighbours as we don't see them as often as we do in the summer. So if there is a neighbour or a family member who would benefit from hearing from you - even as in this case by a text or email - why not get in touch in the knowledge that both of you will benefit.

Friend wanted oral sex at party

Question: I am 17 years old, and was recently at a birthday party of a close friend. Many of my school friends were there, and a lot of us were drinking. A boy in my year,  let's call him Jack, was quite drunk, as was I at this stage. We were quite friendly before this party, and I would have had a crush on him, despite our platonic relationship. He would have a reputation as a 'player'.

We were chilling in a bedroom with a group of friends, until everyone else drifted away, to get drink refills etc., and we were alone. He then locked the door, and asked me to perform an oral sex act on him. I consented, but one of my best friends, let's call her Chloe, knocked on the door before we 'got down to business' so to speak. She then dragged me away to sing 'happy birthday' to our mutual close friend, and get pictures, as my absence would have been noticed. Chloe then asked what I had been doing with Jack in the bedroom. She knew I had a crush on Jack, and knew his reputation. She realised he was using me. I then became upset, as she was right, he had not kissed me or expressed desire towards me, I was simply a willing object, to release his sexual tension. I am very upset, as it has deeply hurt my confidence in my body and myself. I am angry with myself that I would have given him what he wanted, because I have a crush on him. I mistakenly believed he would think more of me by proving I was 'up for it'.

Towards the end of the party, I confronted him, and gave out to him for his despicable behaviour towards girls. He had bragged early in the night about his sexual conquests, and I berated him for using girls. He responded angrily that I should stop lecturing him. I then apologised, said we should still be friends, and walked off.

Subsequently, Chloe told Jack to apologise to me but I texted him to forget what happened and he agreed. He said he had no recollection of the events. His refusal to acknowledge that it happened has weakened my confidence further. I think he's just brushing it off and saying he doesn't remember so he doesn't have to face up to what he asked me to do. If I do try to talk about it when we're both sober, it could make our friendship very awkward. Please advise as to what I should do. I really value his friendship, but the way he tried to use me makes me sad, angry and upset. I thought better of him. I want to blame the alcohol we had both consumed, but am I avoiding the issue?

Mary replies: The real heroine in all this is Chloe, who looked out for you and took control of the situation. You should use this experience as a learning curve. Everybody's resolve weakens considerably in relation to the amount of alcohol consumed.

For instance, people who are trying to diet find that after a few drinks they will throw caution to the wind and have that dessert they shouldn't have, or a cigarette even though they have given them up. So when you are around guys, particularly a guy that you fancy, limit the amount of alcohol that you consume. It really is possible to have a great evening without being drunk and out of control.

It is a little unrealistic to be angry at Jack. He was trying it on and he almost succeeded were it not for Chloe. You could always have said no, which I feel sure you would have if you had been sober. You are also angry at yourself, but please let it go now and get on with your life. There is no point in beating yourself up and feeling bad. Nothing actually happened that night, so be thankful. If you have 'the conversation' with Jack there is every likelihood that he will continue to plead ignorance as to what happened due to alcohol and you will feel even worse. However, if you want to get some closure on the evening then when you are next speaking with him tell him that no matter what his recollection of the evening is, you remember it all and are very unhappy with those memories. Don't blame him for anything - I don't think you have the right - but explain that you are happy that nothing happened because you are not that sort of girl. Then reiterate that you value his friendship and want to continue being friends with him and leave it at that.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

Sunday Indo Living

Promoted Links

Style Newsletter

Stay on top of the latest fashion, beauty and celeb gossip in our Style newsletter.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in this section