Double trouble, empty nest and recent retirement.
by Michael Peterson
Just starting to write this helps me some. I retired 4 days after turning 55, this is a good age to leave the fire department, my saying the last couple of years has been "that no one wants a senior citizen fireman". It is a young persons job.
Any way I officially retired on October 1 2012, I felt on top of the world, I went backpacking solo in Yosemite and could not believe how good I felt.
Coincidentally my oldest son left home to go to school at University of Oregon, 800 miles away. I have visited with him 3 times since September, mostly for football games and every time I leave him it hurts more and more. I cry just thinking about it.
I still have a child at home, he is 15 and in High School, he is a great kid but he misses his brother too.
Both kids have told me they regret,(somewhat) me leaving the fire department. It was a bit of a status thing for them too, and I feel guilty for that.
I am healthy and active so working a few more years would not have been that bad but I thought I could better enjoy my life away from work as a younger person.
Since about mid November the anxiety has taken control of my life, I have to take a Xanax in the afternoon just to feel 'normal'. I have talked to a therapist and my doctor who both assure me that this will pass. I have also talked to recent retirees from the fire department, that does help.
I feel now, that everything that seemed so important before retirement, (skiing, hiking and travel) are not important.
I just want to be with my 15 year old to enjoy the time. I feel angry that the time has gone by so fast. I realize that this is normal, kids grow up and leave home. I treasure my memories of them growing up, but I miss those days (young children) so much.
I am forcing myself to stay active, go to the gym every day and I am volunteering at the student store at the high school, I know that this will help me in the long run but it is all so difficult right now.
My wife is still working and our relationship seems better, I try to communicate my feelings every day.
If I knew that I would feel this bad I would have stayed at work, I just want to feel normal again.
Wendy: THIS IS SO TOTALLY NORMAL. Believe that...
A few folks can walk away and never think about it again.... lucky them.
Many more get depressed or anxious. You do lose your identity. You don't have work to fill your days with any more... this is a huge retirement transition to live through.
I hope your wife really does understand as many simply do not.. too busy with still being employed, and they wonder just WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG?
Finally, I also retired at 55 from local government service. I retired in April 2010, and at some point I wrote about "losing 2011". I didn't REALLY lose it, I did something every day -- but nothing I could point to as an accomplishment. That bothered me. Now, I use a calendar (too simple) to attempt to force action each day -- sometimes it works, other times, not so much.
However, I gotta say LIFE IS GOOD. RETIREMENT IS WONDERFUL!
Just take your time to figure out who you are now... and what you want to do with the rest of your life!
P.S. Contact me (bottom left corner) if you'd like some help...
P.S.S. Pleeeeeeeeeeease don't let the kids make you feel guilty. They just MAY be saying they wished you still worked, saying what you want to hear, maybe thinking you'd feel better? When they realize you are now there for them, even more, and can support and help them, they'll tell you the truth -- they are glad you retired.
By the way, Not all retirees "retire"... you might be the type, or because of your young age, that shouldn't quite yet. It simply means you find something else you love to do!