My life is great…but it doesn’t feel great

by Trevor

I retired from the Air Force almost a year ago, after 20 years of service. I was on the fast track to make E-9 until we arrived at my final duty station.

My wife got a job she loves, that paid great and she decided that she no longer wanted to move anymore.

Making Chief would have meant at least one more move, which would mean either she leave her high paying job she loves or I would have to go alone. It seemed like a no-brainer that I retire at 20 then…but it sent me into a depression prior to retiring.

As I approached retirement, I started getting my ducks in a row, finished my degree, and landed what most people (civilians) would call an amazing job. I was feeling much better as I left the service.

I have a great salary, retirement, and VA disability; I never imagined making this much money. My job affords me the freedom to manage my schedule and it’s a well-respected field. We bought a big new house, we travel, and I got my dream truck. Yet, I have never been more depressed.

My life lacks the purpose and meaning it once did. While day to day, my time in the service was stressful, I always knew “the why”. I love my country and feel there is no better purpose than to serve it. Now, I am left feeling like all I do is make money for no reason.

My family is very comfortable, but I’m unhappy. It feels selfish that I can’t be happy when everything should be great. Many would love to have what I have, so I feel guilty for being so unhappy.

I’m growing distant from my wife and am snapping at my kids. This is awful because my wife and kids are amazing. I don’t find joy in the things that should make me happy. My wife is very happy with her life and I have animosity towards her for that, and blame her (irrationally) for me giving up my career, but I try to keep it to myself.

I know I should find a different job that fulfills me and gives me purpose, but I don’t know what that is, and I’m certain it won’t provide for my family as well financially as my current job.

I’m at a loss and feeling stuck. I don’t have any real passions or hobbies, as the service really was all that to me before. I’ve been to counseling and read all the books, and it’s all “find your passion, meditate, work out, etc.”, nothing has worked to give me the same meaning.

Comments for My life is great…but it doesn’t feel great

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"My life lacks the purpose and meaning it once did."
by: Mrs. Link

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."

The pursuit of happiness is a matter of is a positive attitude we choose to express. I feel this way at times and I am reminded that nothing comes before God.

you need purpose and a team
by: Janice/Missouri

I Also retired military and also a fed job doing emergency response. What I craved was the camaraderie.

So, my suggestion, you need purpose and a "team"...look at volunteer firefighting, maybe become an EMT?, maybe volunteer to visit a veterans home on a regular basis, boy scout leader, maybe there is a service dog training facility near you to volunteer, need purpose and your team...and you need to know that you aren't alone.

Take up running, lifting, yoga, to work out you frustrations and quit snapping at your family.

This is not their fault.

Helping others?
by: Anonymous

Hello. Have you thought of helping others? You don't talk anything about a church or that thought.

If you are a Christian try praying and ask God what He wants you to do. Sometimes we aren't really happy when we should be, because its not what God wants us to do.

Look I am 70 years old and in a bad marriage it took me years to see I needed to ask God for help on things. Sure I could see people, go to the doctor and get pills. But in the end there was something missing and I couldn't put my finger on it. Till I started to pray. Gee in this day and time its darn hard to understand things.

Try working in a soup kitchen, work with your church, helping others.

I too have a pickup. And never had one much before or the money to do much with it if I did. But I now I find all kinds of things I can do with the truck. You just got to look around, ask God and listen?

Visit with others. You aren't happy when you start in on the wife or the kids. So you got to try to find a way to be happy in your life.

What kind of a job did you have in the Air Force? Maybe you could get something there or on that order.

God bless and keep you, yours too.

a small suggestion
by: Anonymous

I have been reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and doing Vipassana meditation and walking four miles a day.

I find all very useful at this time. wish you all the best!

It Gets Better
by: GIBill

I'm a 34-year veteran and went through similar issues before and after I retired from the military. About three months before I retired, I realized I was dealing with extreme anxiety and depression. Antidepressant medicine and counseling did help, but it took time.

I don't really have any hobbies and tried things like coaching, playing golf, and working at a food pantry to find purpose in my post-retirement life.

Each of these interests helped in the short-term, but I continued to have bouts of depression and my anxiety got worse at times. I was still searching for something that resembled a meaningful purpose-driven life.

It took me over a year to realize that I had to "rewire" my thinking to accept the fact that my retirement may not be what I thought it would be.
Over the years, I focused too much on the financial aspect of saving for retirement and not enough time with what I thought would make me happy after leaving the military.

I truly believe over time you will find peace in liking your future self/life no matter what that may become.

Leaving the military way of life after 20 years of service is a major adjustment but continue to remind yourself that you have much to be grateful for in your family, financial independence and physical/mental ability to continue to work.

You may never find the same meaning in your life that compares to your time in the military and that is ok. Your new mission (not unlike receiving a military mission) is to find peace of mind and acceptance in your new life.

It will get better.

You can still be of service to others - Don't give up yet!
by: Michael - Sunny and Warm Venice Florida

Thank you for your service. Since you enjoyed working for the military, could you work for a military contractor at your local duty station?

My Dad was in the Navy, and then worked for the FAA. After 50 years of government service, he retired on a Friday and then was employed in the same job with a government contractor starting on the following Monday. He then worked with that contractor for another 5 years until retirement at 67.

Since you finished your degree recently, reach out to the career planning center at your alma mater to see if they offer post-graduate career counseling.

The military may offer a similar service for those who have left the military. Although I had planned to retire at 55, I retired at 51 since my husband decided to retire at 60.

When we are in a relationship, we are part of a team. We make decisions that seem appropriate at the time that make the most sense. You made a sacrifice of a career that you loved so that your wife could finally do something that she would love.

It happens often in military families. The non-military spouse and kids stay put and the military spouse travels the world. In the civilian world, many spouses stay at home base with the kids while the husband or wife travels for work.

It sounds like you still have the opportunity to explore and find a career that will present you with the opportunity to serve others, even if the paycheck doesn't provide for all of the material possessions that some use to measure success.

I would rather be the guy living debt-free and driving a Toyota than many who live in the big house, drive the fancy car, and are in debt up to their eyeballs.

YOU do have the power to find your way. I know you will.

by: Elliott Toronto

You have realized what others have realized. Money and a big house don't bring meaning. Helping others brings purpose and meaning. Many volunteers will say they get more from volunteering than the people they are helping.

Totally get it
by: Gilbertson USA

You’re experiencing what many younger retirees feel especially men whose career is the biggest part of who they are. I’ve been struggling myself since retiring from the newspaper business 7 years ago.

No advice here other than:
Love those in your life and yourself. You sound like a solid guy and I’m confident you’ll find your new path.

Self Awareness
by: Alison NY

The best thing you have going is your self awareness and the fact that you are looking for answers.

There are a lot of miserable people out there who just act on their sad feelings and never take the time to try to change or to figure things out. You will. You have lessons to learn and you will learn them. Give yourself a break and take your time.

This Christmas I lost a very special friend and she is what gave me motivation to get through these holidays without falling apart.

I do believe the hype and pressure of the holidays are way too much. We start focusing on Christmas before it is even Halloween. But I had to think about my friend. She is not here. She will miss this holiday season and I will not. I am very very lucky and in her honor I will make the best of it.

You are lucky too. Remember that and in honor of those you serve, make the best of this life!!

Finding birds of a feather
by: Margaret, Johannesburg

What sort of qualities are needed for a life in the military? How would you assess a new recruit and decide whether s/he has what it takes? Which if thoss qualities do you have?

Now try and "interview" those jobs which provide an outlet for those qualities.

A musician who has spent his or her life traveling across the world giving concerts will not be happy teaching first graders to play the recorder at retirement but s/he might be ok with college students or recording, both of which have some if the buzz of her old life.

Does your country allow for volunteer firefighters or ambulance assistants? Those, to me, have something of an Adrenalin rush along with the protection and care for the citizens of your country.

We too often take on work that is convenient, and if it’s a bad fit it is either boring and pointless, or totally destructive.

I know some DJ Glen mins who would love to have their fatherless boys in a volunteer military Organisation where they learn discipline and to protect others.

It’s there. You just have to find it.

Life is great
by: Sherry/ NC

Be careful your children are watching you and listening. They want you to be happy and don't understand what is happening with you??

Support your wife and put her first now and I promise you will have a happy life.

You can find purpose we all need that. Doing volunteer work is a purpose and that can lead to a job!!

Good luck and Happy New Year!!

Have it all?
by: Dean/Tennessee

Just a thought. You have it all and many others don't. Helping those who need help can be very rewarding. Like I said, just a thought.

Great/not great
by: Anonymous

Keep your eyes peeled sir. Sometimes our spouses and kids don’t really ‘need’ us, and we feel it deeply. But of course you have a deep commitment to them, so of course honor that.

Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for someone honorable on the periphery who may ‘need’ what you have in abundance. References, career and family guidance, bereavement comfort, etc.

Within a year someone honorable, that will not disrupt your family, will come into your peripheral vision. Could be a friend of your children, for example. You sound totally ready and prepared to be the stand up guy they need. Keep in shape, as it could be you will be needed physically.

About a year ago, I lost my retirement fulfilling activity. Suddenly a friend then died. Along with that, suddenly that friend’s grown son is reaching out for support that I can easily and naturally provide. Keep your eyes peeled.

In answer to my life is great
by: USA

I totally understand how you feel. There are no classes for dealing with retirement or aging. We lose our identity, a purpose for getting up in the morning although we didn't always want to do it.

That's why they say getting old is not for the weak. I've been retired for some time but it can still be difficult.

I have had to learn to make my own purpose and reason to get up in the morning. I've had to learn to take this time for myself. To sit in the sun and do "nothing".

I used to yearn for exactly those times when there was nothing but a nine-to-five. I pray it gets better for you.

At this time in my life, it's up to me to put meaning in my life, whatever that is.

My Thoughts
by: Wendy, Retirement Enthusiast/Coach

You do sound miserable. You "have it all" and yet hate it all. Uggg.

If one counselor didn't work, try another. Some will get you, others simply won't. You need the perfect person to bring Gratitude back into your life (and yes, you KNOW you have much to be thankful for). Look for another Veteran who is a counselor.

If you looked at life with gratitude, you'd see the special moments and small things. Those are the things that count in life.

Unfortunately, the opposite happens when you are down, you will remember and gravitate towards every single annoyance (something you'd not normally do). This simply brings you lower.

Last resort, see your doctor and get meds. They do help, after you get the correct one, to move your mood into a better light. Just use them to get past this feeling and to find life again.

You have another transition around the corner, your "real" Retirement -- with no employment to keep you busy. Find your interests now, new interests or revive old interests, before you totally retire, there is much more life to live!

Sending Prayers!

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