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living In Oz and feelings of not fitting in

PommyinOz
Community Member
in Oz for a year with Aussie OH & my 10 year old (from a previous relationship). I can't seem to find my way. Ive confidence issues & body dismorphia which can cause crippling fear & neediness. I'm not the type to instigate conversation with strangers & people never really instigate conversation with me unless introduced,once I feel comfortable I can be very funny & Ive been told I can light up a room with my personality but I can get over excited & become loud,over opinionated, sarcastic, I'm 45 & well aware of my flaws I do try to tone it down, but my personality is what it is. Ive had the odd close friend over the years & I would walk over hot coals for any of them,they learn to understand my good & bad points & love me regardless. Ive had times of extreme isolation & although I have my daughter & OH I am feeling really isolated & alone, I have no friends here, its getting me down, I look at women sat in cafes having coffee sat in pubs all laughing & I'm so jealous because Ive never really had that. I thought I would be enveloped by a new family here my OH has two sisters with children the same age as mine, I hoped we would do some babysitting trade offs that his family would embrace me & my daughter but that hasn't happened. They don't seem to like me they are reserved, diplomatic and respectful, there is very little small talk or laughing it is all very serious,they think I'm pilling too much strain and stress on my OH with my "issues" & that I need to sort my life out, that my child is not the responsibility of my OH as she isn't his & If I need a babysitter then I have to find one & pay for one, but I can't afford it & I don't know anyone with kids let alone a teenager who would like to earn some cash. my daughter is very quiet,spends a lot of time on her own, she is always polite but then they made a huge point about her not saying "thankyou for having me" when she left their home, which I said was nit-picking, now this issue is creating problems with my OH because I feel they are trying to get rid of me.I had a job where I worked alone cooking for tradies & truck drivers, conversation was at a minimum so no friendships to be had there. I barely go out socially & if I have spoken to someone its never gone anywhere. I pick my daughter up from school Ive met no mums & my daughter hasn't been invited to birthday parties, she didn't want to have one herself, I think she is embarrassed of me. I really don't know what to do & I'm always crying about it
8 Replies 8

White_Rose
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Pommy

Hello and welcome to the forum. Also a warm welcome to Australia from a fellow Pommie. I have lived here for 48 years so have become used to the place. However I found it difficult to fit in at first though this may have been because we went straight to the country where my husband had a job. By the way, am I missing something? What does OH stand for? It's got me puzzled as I can usually work out what initials stand for.

I had to read up about body dysmorphia as I do not know much about it. It sounds quite unpleasant and I am sure it adds to your difficulty meeting people. Do your husband's family come from a different culture to you? I am surprised that an Aussie family would be so unwelcoming. My experience with Aussies in general is that they are friendly and open. Please believe I am in no way belittling you. I am very sad for you if this has been your experience of Aussies.

Knowing no one and having difficulty taking the first step to meet others is very hard. We went to live in Biloela when we arrived and our accommodation was quite sparse. No neighbours so I can understand how lonely you must feel. I'm not sure how I began to talk to people. I doubt it was my engaging personality as I was very shy and found it hard to have casual chats. I had also been told that Aussies were wary of Poms because we were seen as 'stuck up'. So I walked a fine line of being friendly but not pushy and it was difficult. Things got a little easier when my first baby was born and I met other moms at the baby clinic.

From my brief research on body dysmorphia I understand this condition is usually treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist. Do you see anyone? Actually I suppose I meant did you see anyone in the UK? It sounds as if it would be helpful to 'sign up' with a local GP and get to know him/her with a view to talking about your difficulties. What do you think? Australia has good doctors in general and they will be able to talk to you easily about anything.

You will need a Medicare card to be able to access the medical system. I expect your husband has a card but probably has not thought to tell you how to go about this. There should be a Medicare office where you live. Write down the details on your husband's card as it will help applying for your own. Talk about whether you will have a joint card or separate. Your daughter will also need to be registered, usually on mom's card.

Whoa, out of word allowance.

Mary

Hi, OH (other half and his family are Aussies) ....My body dismorphia was a diagnosis by a professional, Ive learnt to live with it and have been like it since a child, I barely ever look in a mirror,I scrutinise everything and get stressed out, If photos are taken if I can't vet them I'm not happy, I zoom in and check every flaw before I will post on social media and I do message people and ask them to remove photos of me off their social media if I am not happy with what I see because it eats me up until I start to feel like I'm having a mental breakdown, this frustrates my OH because he thinks its odd behaviour. Ive always felt like I was on the sidelines when it came to friendships, never the must have friend, always the last resort and now when I meet people I will sometimes friend request them on facebook and then that is as far as it goes or they don't even accept my request which for me is heartbreaking, everyone just seems to busy for new friendships, I'm reverting back into my insular self more and more here in Oz and yes Ive had some grief for being English and even more so for having a thick North Yorkshire accent, people saying they can't understand me, its possibly all the colloquialisms I use which is hard to stop. Ive tried going to counselling and it doesn't work for me, I walk out feeling worse about my life and this annoys my OH's family even more because they swear by it and think I shouldn't burden their son/brother with my issues, he feels stuck in the middle because he loves his family. Before we moved to Oz he told me his family were generous loving people and would embrace us, but I don't see that, I see cold people with old fashioned views, they don't think he should have the financial restraints of a child that isn't his, he doesn't anyway and resents the fact her father doesn't pay child support. when we lived in the UK we never had any of these problems, we barely argued, I could get a babysitter, we had a social life,I had work collegues, a job I enjoyed and one good friend, I was on a happy even keel in my state of mind and now I have nothing. I do feel that my age doesn't help, its a bit of a limbo age and the street I live on is mainly Greek Pensioners who barely acknowledge us. I think that Australia is very different to the UK, I am a cook but may have to change what I do as my food is "too pommy". I don't want to have to go back to the UK, if I did it would be without my OH. How long does it take to adjust?

Hello Pommy

Thank you for clearing up my misunderstandings. It's always easier when we are both on the same page. I love the various English accents. It was interesting about my accent. I lived in Birmingham and never gave a thought to the way I speak. Somewhere between the UK and Oz I lost any accent I had. Most people picked me as a Pom but had no idea where I can from. Some accents are hard to understand. My son-in-law comes from Glasgow and for years my daughter had to 'translate' much of what he said. Now either he has largely lost his accent or I have become more skilled at understanding. Conversations could be very frustrating.

One of the ways I got to know others was by joining a group that met for a purpose. I went to a meditation group after I was invited. I go to church because that's who I am but the then current priest suggest I join the meditation group. I was invited from there to join a book club. Everyone was friendly and gave me a warm welcome. In the meditation group I made a comment at the end of the meditation and someone commented it was the first time I had joined in the conversation. I had been going there for 18 months.

How do you feel about doing these sorts of activities? Not those two specifically, just attending a group which meets for a specific purpose such as books, craft, exercise, the list could go on. Most of these types of groups have no cost and you can attend during the day while your daughter is at school. What are you interested in? I like being in my garden, writing on BB, embroidery, family history research all things I do at home. I need to get out so I go to church, do some volunteer pastoral care, go to meditation, and a number of other activities.

It has taken a while to settle down and I missed the UK for a long time. Caring for a young family kept me busy as you can imagine. This led to working in the school tuck shop once my children started primary school.

How do you see yourself with meeting other people this way. You do not have to speak or do anything with these groups except be there. Do you think you can make the effort to look around for activities of this nature? Try your local library as the staff get to know what's on in town.

Mary

I do get out socially once every two months, I go to see bands or we go for a meal and a few drinks at a pub on the weekend, I take my daughter so I am preoccupied with her to really be "out there" socially and when I have gone out without her just with my OH we tend to be together and we haven't met new people together. I do netball, its forty minutes a week, a bit of a conveyor belt, you go in play your match and leave. I seem to have got it in to my head that if I had a social network away from just having my OH, it would be the answer to everything and because of a horrible first year here, I am finding it hard to see any way out of this rut, my OH is getting tired of me and frustrated, he is enjoying his life here and wants me to love the place as much as he does, he comes home from work fulfilled with life has his social pleasures, his music, martial arts, yoga, and then he has seen how the light has gone from my eyes and how unhappy I am and he is angry at me and sad that I can't find my place, he says my personal hang ups are making life hard for everyone......... I think if I had a friend I would be more inclined to go and do new things, just having that support would make it easier, there is no fun sitting in a café alone or going to the cinema alone or joining a gym, having someone who actually likes me to do these things with would be wonderful, I haven't made a new friend in six years and now that person is 11,000 miles away and can't help me, she has heard my pain in voice messages Ive sent and so has my mum, it must be hard for them and I need to find my way for these people to aswell as my daughter and OH

Terry73
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Pommie,

Firstly, even though you may not have experienced this much yet, I wish to welcome you to Australia, you do matter to us, and we do care.

I can slightly feel what you are going through, I am 100% aussie, but I had much a sheltered life so the social side of life took me a while to learn myself. However, I did find ways to start to develop a social life and also a care for everyone, and that was through interests. I am sure you have already thought of that, but I just want to confirm that it does work.

Maybe I read your words wrong, but it seems you like cooking, maybe go out and try do some cooking classes to start off, find anything that you enjoy, and see if you can get into it via courses. Sport is another way, but then you already said the downside to that is you can just go, participate then leave, where as with courses, you do need to communicate, but you are doing so in a way which is focused on what you are doing, for example with the cooking, you may need to work with someone to make a recipe, so you and the person start working out how to do it, so what starts out as a common interest often leads to a friendship.

I maybe look back to how you and your friend met (the one in the UK), or how you met your OH, and see if you could adapt that style to the australian culture (of course not in a romantic/intimate sense as you would have with your OH)?

No matter what you may think, we are here to help, and be friends for you, even if only online, at least we might provide that small social outlet you need until you can develop something more local, and even when you do have something local, we are still here regardless.

I just hope this all helps you, and I really do hope you give us all a chance to know you and for you to know us, and regardless who you may meet Australia, you have people here who will always want to make you feel welcome, I would count myself as one of them if I could

Terry

Hello

You sound a little brighter than in your first post. I hope so and that it is a good sign you are enjoying talking to us. Terry's post is lovely and has expressed what I believe we all feel here on beyondblue.

May I ask how old your daughter is? Just wondering how much 'baby sitting' she needs. I realise you would not like to leave her alone. Has she made any friends at school? If they are old enough school friends will have sleepovers at each others home. Just a thought.

I found it good for me to have separate activities to my husband as it meant we had our own interests to talk about. I think it's good to have a some independence in this area. Does your netball team have practice times? My girls played netball and went to practice as well as playing the matches. You may get into conversations with the other players.

As I mentioned above, your local library usually has information about various organisations. May be worth a visit. Do you have any particular interests? Years ago I joined my local Toastmasters club. It was good for me but may be too 'public' for you. It certainly helped with my confidence and I met and made friends there. Yoga sounds good and a common interest with your OH even if you attend at different times. I have to say yoga has never interested me but I know many people who gain great benefit from this. Horses for courses I think.

Volunteering is another area where you can help others and gain some self confidence. Again talking to others and helping you feel less alienated from other people around you. I also did some study online. I went to uni as a mature age student (in my fifties) and attended part time. I had a ball when I got over my nervousness. It took me five years to complete my degree and when I graduated I really missed the rush to get to lectures, writing assignments and rushing to get them in one time. These days students either email them to their tutor or download them. Much easier.

I would love to continue chatting, especially if this is helpful for you.

Mary

Terry73
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Mary, and please forgive me Pommie for making this response on your post,

I just wanted to say that I can clearly see why you have the title of community champion, you really are an inspiration to us all, so I just wanted to thank you for that, please keep up the great work

Terry

Hello Terry

Thank you so much for this post. It's lovely to get such great feedback.

Mary