It happened from both sides, the disconnection from others once we settled into oilfield life. At some point I looked up and realized that we didn’t have as many friends as we used to. We didn’t get the plethora of invites to holiday parties like we once did in our pre-oilfield days. Sometimes I feel isolated and disconnected from those around me.
When Oilman first started in oil, I attempted to continue things the way they were before. I still went to the big parties and the couples’ dinners, just on my own and without my husband. Over time though, I just stopped going and the invites stopped coming in. Truth be told, I can be fun and witty at parties, but I’m the boring one compared to Oilman. He makes me seem shy and I’m one who received negative marks in school for excessive talking. Going by myself to parties always makes me a little sad and lonely because I miss my husband, so I don’t really go to them anymore. I think this year I went to one.
Then there is the whole out of sight, out of mind thing. It is something that Oilman has experienced more than me because I’m home. He is gone so much and hard to get a hold of on the phone during a hitch. Sooner or later, people just kind of forget about you and move on with their lives. The few friends who have made the effort to spend time and be there for Oilman really do mean a lot. He still needs friends and support, even though he is hard to get in touch with sometimes. He is hard to get in touch with because of the job, not because he doesn’t care.
Just the logistics of trying to fit time in with friends can be difficult. Since Oilman is a designated night guy right now, days off typically entail a few days of him being off and wonky as he adjusts back to days. Next week he will be off for a week. The first two days will be him catching up on sleep and lounging at the house. His last night/day home he is getting ready for his next hitch and prepping meals, etc. We will have a date night or two. We will have dinner with at least one set of our parents. That leaves one night to hang with friends. It doesn’t leave much availability to meet new people or even spend time with our longtime friends. Last year, clients of mine wanted to meet Oilman and do a couples’ dinner. I knew our next few sets of days off were already filled with trips, family obligations, and continuing education. We literally couldn’t do a couples’ dinner with them until four months later. I’m sure they thought it was a brush off, but that wasn’t the case. Want do dinner with us? How does 2017 look? That kind of thing just screams, “Let’s be friends!”
We are also a pain in the butt to try to schedule things to do with. I don’t always know when my husband is going to be home. Sometimes he is on a schedule and sometimes he isn’t. Sometimes he has scheduled days off, but every seasoned oilfield wife knows that things change on a dime and you have to expect the unexpected. Oilman’s relief hasn’t come back on time on numerous occasions and for multiple reasons. Things change on site that require him to stay or go back early. I have had to learn to be more flexible with things over the past few years.
All of this can lead to feeling very disconnected from others and leaves friends in short supply. We simply don’t have a lot of time to spend with people and they are busy with their own lives as well. For the friends we do have who are flexible when we need to do things last minute and are patient when cancel plans unexpectedly, thank you. I’ve come to learn that a little bit of disconnection with others is all just part of an oilfield job.