It was like being back in primary school and discovering you hadn’t been invited to your friend’s sleepover, only worse.
“Hi,” the text began. “Just letting you know there’s no Pilates tonight. We’re all going to The Hub to C an indie music jam. SAT! C U next week J.”
I put my phone down and stared numbly around my kitchen. Dirty dishes jammed the sink. My toddler’s banana was smeared all over the fridge door, but I couldn’t gather the energy to wipe it clean.
The monotony of life as a stay-at-home mum was starting to get to me. And while I knew I was lucky to have everything I’d worked for – family, a new apartment, financial stability – I also knew that I had never felt so lonely.
“C U next week.”
I'd joined the Pilates group shortly after we'd moved to the Gold Coast in an effort to meet new people and at first I felt I'd fitted in. The five or six other women who attended were a bit younger than me but we shared an interest in organic markets, the beach and environmental protection. The one thing we didn’t have in common, however, was kids.
I looked out the window at the busy world outside. Cars and trams passing by. People striding down the bustling street.
What was wrong with me? After living in a city of more than half a million people for the past six months, I still hadn’t made any friends. At least, not close ones. Not like the friends I’d left behind in Melbourne. The pre-marriage friends. The pre-baby friends.
Sure, I was 'connected' on social media. But every time I checked my Facebook account to read a pithy update from a high school friend I hadn't spoken to in over a decade, or to see a selfie from a university acquaintance holidaying in some exotic location, I came away feeling surprisingly empty.
As I mashed some pumpkin and peas and settled my daughter in her high chair for lunch, I realised I didn’t have a single real friend in the entire state. (Post continues after gallery.)
A week went by.
The house became messier. The dirty laundry pile expanded. And when I didn’t go to my Pilates class, nobody texted.
I knew I had to do something.
In a precious patch of time, when my daughter was asleep, I picked up my iPhone and googled words like 'moving', 'friends' and 'loneliness', and I discovered that the situation I was in was hardly unique.