Most people say retirement is wonderful, the best thing I ever did in my life. I’m busier now than when I was working. Well, guess what? It isn’t so!
Granted my retirement didn’t begin as a clearly defined plan. Mine was more spontaneous. I left work on Friday and on the next Tuesday I started using my sick leave to the end of my work year. This was an opportunity to find out if retirement was what I wanted to do and also to exit a difficult situation gracefully.
Initially there was 1)euphoria of “WOW! This isn’t bad!” That lasted about two weeks. Then I decided, “Well, I should be doing something productive.” So, I cleaned house, sorted through drawers, gave away unwanted furniture, 2)knickknacks and clothing. Another two weeks. Reality began to 3)set in.
Here I am, a middle-aged, single woman, in a 2,000-square foot house. My job is gone, my life is changing at the speed of light and the “retirement” plan hasn’t shown up. Everyone told me, articles described, I 4)envisioned a planned retirement. Wait, I’m supposed to plan it? I think I missed that part or maybe it was just the financial part that was supposed to be planned…I’m not sure.
Alone, lonely, and no plan. This is awful! I hate it! By the third month, I was sinking into a depression that threatened my health and 5)sanity. I began to cry buckets of tears as my friends and acquaintances told me how lucky I was. I wasn’t feeling lucky. I was feeling desperate. My sick leave was 6)draining away so I started making the hard decisions.
First, I 7)filed retirement papers and made it official. In one case, I was retired in 15 minutes—thanks to my 8)paperwork organizational skills. I 9)hyperventilated for 30 minutes with shock. The other situation took 45 minutes; thank goodness, I had time to breathe. Second, I 10)took stock of a guaranteed income for life finding I could at least pay bills and buy groceries.
By month four I knew that I was bored, didn’t have enough hobbies, and so far hated retirement. And I was even more alone, lonely, and isolated. I’d taken a few trips, some alone, others with family, even tried a “casual” relationship. Nothing was working so far.
So, I sat down and listed the positives and negatives of my life and found I had far more positives than negatives. An old friend told me years ago during a time of decline in my life to “11)hitch up my 12)girdle and stop feeling sorry for myself.” Good idea!
I got a part-time job, one that uses my skills and allows me to travel. I’m visiting places I haven’t seen for many years and ones I’ve never been to before. I’m learning to turn the loneliest days of the week into busy ones of housekeeping and laundry; to shop in the middle of the week, and visit my not yet retired friends during their lunch hours. I’m also taking a deep look at what I want for the rest of my life and starting to 13)branch out and discover new opportunities.
Nine months into retirement, I know I have to continue creating “the plan.” I’m getting to understand that I need a strong spiritual life to guide my thoughts and lead me. I know I need friendship and companionship to maintain my emotional and physical health and a means of helping my community. Retirement is getting better and ultimately I do believe that I will find it wonderful, the best thing I’ve ever done, and busy in a satisfying way.