opinion

"I'm bored and unfathomably lonely." I'm an Aussie living in London during the pandemic.

Last week, on Mamamia Out Loud, Mia, Jessie and Holly spoke about loneliness

This is me and my loneliness. Massive disclaimer – my loneliness is clothed in ridiculous amounts of privilege, of and for which, I’m acutely aware and grateful. 

I’m Australian. I’m 47. I have two kids aged nine and seven. I have a very hard working, MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) husband. I adore them all and vice versa. 

Bear with me, the next few details are relevant, I promise. Until this year I have worked and earned money all my adult life – actually from when I was 15, working part-time throughout school and all through university – relishing in a fantastic education and parents who thought I could do anything, always told me I was clever, and valued hard work.

Watch: Monz on her loneliness bench. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

As of early February 2020, we have lived in London. Prior to that we lived in Singapore for three years. Prior to that, we lived in Melbourne for six years (where child number two was born), and before that we lived in Brisbane – me for six years, my husband for 16. Our first child was born there. 

My husband is from Tassie and I’m from Victoria. Before I met him (I was 31, he was 30) I had been a lawyer and then a corporate communications professional. We’d each travelled, studied, worked, lived. 

Immediately after we had our first child we moved from Brisbane to Melbourne for my husband’s job. 

Needless to say, I couldn’t keep my job. And so began my ongoing reinvention of what work I do and what my role is within my marriage and family. 

My job has taken second place since then, which was a team decision. When we moved to Melbourne from Brisbane, I also left behind the best friends I had ever made. 

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I made more, and I continue to make them, wherever we live. But I crave the deep, honest, unconditional, no-holes-barred love and commitment of my handful of Brisbane girlfriends, whom I’ve been away from now for 10 years; longer than the time we spent glued to one another in our early, childless thirties. And I miss the love I have for them, and bestowing it upon them on a constant basis.

I lost my dad to oesophageal cancer two and a half years ago – in fact it was this week three years ago he rang me to tell me he had cancer. 

He was a difficult man, but we had a connection closer to one another than either of us had/have to my mum and sister. My mum and sister live in Geelong and Melbourne. 

No-one is getting any younger. My mum is making some big life changes at the end of the year. She’s 73 and has lived on her own through a global pandemic. 

I feel guilty for, and sad about, being so far away. I miss her. I miss my dad.

I don’t have a paying job right now. This is immensely frustrating for me and makes me feel rudderless, and fearful of never having one again. 

I feel more and more irrelevant every single day. I also feel like I should have time to do all those projects I’ve always wanted to do. 

But – I am managing my family, our insurance, our tax, the groceries, the cooking, the cleaning, the homeschooling and after school activities, the holidays, the life logistics, the playdates, the kids’ emotions (COVID and non-COVID related), a special need here and there, the washing (but not any ironing) - you know, the whole 'mental load'. 

I’m trying to study online. I’m trying to write.

I’m bored, and I’m unfathomably lonely. I count David Tennant, Olivia Coleman and, to be honest, the whole cast of Broadchurch as my friends.

I can’t stand the school pick up chit chat that never gets any deeper. Our street WhatsApp group is entertaining. 

There are a few peeps I click with, but there are a lot of challenging lives also. And someone stole my rubbish bin. 

I know it takes two years to settle in a new place and make new friends. 

Lord knows I’ve done it often enough. We’re only nine months and a shedload of iso-time into it. But I just don’t feel like we’ll integrate here. 

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And it’s started to get cold – bone-chillingly cold. 

I miss my girlfriends, I miss my family and my husband’s family. I miss my non-negotiable run around Mt. Cootha on a Sunday night at 5pm with Anna Havill. 

I miss cycling 40kms at 5:30am with WaWa who couldn’t talk for the first 30kms ‘cause she was still waking up. I miss our Famous Five monthly dinner club. I miss adventure racing.   

Maybe I miss being young, but I don’t think it’s just that. 

We chose an expat life – to travel, to show our kids the world, to teach them tolerance and acceptance of others, to broaden their minds. 

We’ve seen a lot of Asia. Our kids have seen the smattering of England and France that COVID has allowed; but, my husband works a lot of hours a day and cycles for at least two hours on a Saturday, sometimes more – today was eight. 

We’ve had amazing experiences and our group of four is tight. 

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

But we miss cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles. I worry my kids will miss those long-term friendships that form in primary school, and continue through high school and indeed life. 

I miss having my own home that I can do whatever I want with. Since I left home at 18, I’ve lived an average of two years in any single house! 

I flew from Australia to Singapore 48 hours before my dad died and wasn’t there to hold his hand as cancer’s weariness stole him. 

I made sure I was with my 101-year old grandma when she died 12 months ago – mercifully before COVID hit her aged care facility. 

I can’t help my mum move, and I can’t go for a drink or a girls’ weekend with the friends I count as my besties. 

Yes, my besties live in Brisbane and I barely speak with them. I have to Zoom or FaceTime at odd hours to stay relevant in their lives. I’ve not met one of my friend’s two sons.

This is not a tale of woe. It’s just some facts about my life and how, when we make choices, we don’t always think about what those choices will omit from our lives. 

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We know there’ll be consequences, but how we’ll feel and live them and what impact they’ll have on who we become and how we relate to others is certainly not something I thought about. 

I’m so used to loneliness now that I often withdraw and prefer to be on my own. It seems more comfortable. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to exercise the companionship muscle even though I know it’s good for me and will make me feel better and bring good things to my life. 

And, it even means that, those people to whom I feel closest I also sometimes forget to call. Is it because it will be too painful? Or is the timeframe simply a challenge within our busy lives? 

I feel I’ve painted a glum picture of my life. This is only the loneliness. It’s not the whole story. 

There are a hell of a lot of upsides. But I wanted to acknowledge the loneliness. I know it’s a very specific set of circumstances. And I know it results from choices I’ve actively and intelligently made. 

We all have our loneliness. This is simply mine.

Feature Image: Getty. 

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