Sunday, February 18, 2018

Some Thoughts On My Retirement

This past Friday I had lunch with a former co-worker.  In the course of our conversation she told me that another co-worker remarked that my absence from the workplace felt like a death.  Someone I was very close to would stand up to talk to me over the wall that separated us and then realize I wasn't there.  It almost made me cry to hear this.  I told my friend that my retirement kind of felt like a death on my end too.  Tomorrow I begin my sixth week of retirement and I must admit I am starting to struggle with it to the point of having some anxiety over it.  I do think I needed to get away from the work environment.  If I had my way I would not have left it completely.  I would have just reduced the number of hours I spent at work.  I was burned out after so many years of being a leader.  Although there were good things about the work environment there was also a lot of pettiness and what I call corporate BS.  However, I am starting to realize how much the social aspect of working in an office contributed to my well-being.  I was a well liked and popular person.  Even if some aspects of the work experience were driving me crazy, most of my co-workers enjoyed my presence.  I apparently did not realize how much I enjoyed their presence or how important the social aspect of work was to me.

I must admit that I am feeling lonely, a little forgotten, and completely lacking in purpose.  There was once a movie I really liked with Bruce Willis called "The Sixth Sense".  It was basically the story of a man who dies but he didn't realize it for a long time.  He thought he was living but was actually invisible to everyone else.  They were simply going about their lives and he was no longer a part of those lives.  Without sounding too dramatic I am starting to feel like this man.  All my former co-workers, and even my own family, are still living the lives they were living before I retired.  I, on the other hand, feel like the invisible man.  Even when I go to the park or to a store I feel like no one sees me.  I am completely alone a great deal of the time.  As an extreme introvert it is difficult for me to join groups and make new friends.  I have never been much of a group person and always preferred more one on one relationships.

I need to make some changes but am not yet sure what these changes need to be.  I need a reason to get out of bed besides taking my wife to work.

Admittedly, it is not all doom and gloom.  I do love my early mornings at home when I can have some quality alone time.  The struggles seem to begin with what we used to call in the monastery the "noonday devil".  I may feel bored and a little sorry for myself.  Then I start thinking too much and these thoughts often turn to anxiety when I wonder, "Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life"?

Since my life seems to have come to a screeching halt, I do have a better understanding of other people's sadness and why many old people get tired of living.  Whether you work or not, you need other human relationships, a sense of purpose, and something to do that makes you happy.  I need to restore some balance in my life.  It has gotten lopsided.           

1 comment:

Sherran Mattingly said...

Michael I have no doubt you will find your purpose! You still have a lot to offer my friend. Perhaps you are in "the gap" between where you were and where you are heading next. This is your rest and catch your breath time. Your next adventure in life may be on your doorstep. Maybe Gethsemani is beckoning you! And by the way ....... you are anything but forgotten at Humana, there are 17 team mates that are a little lost without you. In the words of a wise man ... Be still, Breathe, Awaken.