Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Need For Authentic Friendships

I have not been myself lately.  The change is apparent to me so I have been wondering what is happening.   Retirement has been a major lifestyle change for me and I don't need to tell my regular readers that it has not been going smoothly.  I have been kind of wandering around without a sense of direction. Some friends have reached out to me with lunch invitations, book suggestions, and even a Zig Ziglar YouTube video.  I am sure other friends are tired of me talking about it but I can't seem to get motivated or over the hump.  I have never been an over-achiever and some would question my assertiveness, so I am struggling over what steps I need to take.  One friend counseled "baby steps".  The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right?  Anyway, I decided to research how I have been feeling since I retired.  I am definitely not in a vacation frame of mind.  I've come to the conclusion that I am depressed.  Here is how I have been feelings for weeks.
  • A depressed mood most of the day (feeling sad, empty, emotional, etc.)
  • A loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed (music, reading)
  • Difficulty sleeping, being tired, waking up throughout the night, etc.
  • Overthinking.
  • Restlessness, anxiety, with occasional feelings of panic.
  • Feeling lost and without direction.
  • Lonely and isolated.
I share this, not to get attention, but to let other people who may feel like me know they are not alone.

These feelings are a new experience for me.  Yes, I have often felt melancholy but I think that is part of my personality, i.e., the Dreamer and Romantic type.  The truth is that I have always been a strong person.  Other people come to me with their problems.  I am almost never the guy with a problem.  

Friends have given me two copies of a book called How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski.  I had started reading it before I retired but never finished it.  Upon receiving a friend's concerned email, and the recommendation of the book, I once again picked it up.  I had left off right before a chapter on the importance of friendship.  I realize now that I have not done a very good job of having the kind of friendships that would be needed in a retired life.  With all due respect, spouses are not always our best friends.  Many spouses are complete opposites and you don't necessarily have a lot in common.  Additionally, many people retire while their spouse or significant other continues to work.  Like many people, most of my friendships were in the workplace and not all of them were true friendships.  Most were acquaintances.  My career was managing other people all day so at the end of a typical workday the last thing I wanted was to be with a bunch of people.  I am not involved in a church or other organization, sports don't interest me, and I do like and need some time alone.  The problem is that now I have too much solitude and no people that make me want to be alone.  It's a new and weird lack of balance in my life  The book says all of us need friendships that aren't work related.  I have few of those and now I realize it.  Going forward I need to work on renewing friendships as well as creating new ones with people I like, who have something in common, and who can help make my new life something to enjoy.

I am deeply appreciative of those of you who have reached out to me with concern or advice in recent weeks.

Next week I have having lunch with two faithful friends and I am even going into the office to meet with my former boss.  Because of the way my career ended on a day with a winter storm and a closed office we never had professional or personal closure.  She wants to "pick my brain".  I am not telling anyone that I am coming in so no one will know unless they read this blog.  We'll see how it goes. 

3 comments:

Tim Bindner said...

I know alot of people but have very few friends. The one's that are have been life long friends. I can totally relate to what you are saying.

Anonymous said...

Good to catch up with you again, Michael, and realize that what some of the rest of us are feeling is what you are feeling too....also an introvert and feeling a little lost and unsettled at times. A little younger than you so looking also for a path forward and taking one step at a time.

Dan Mac said...

It’s a great book!