The day I retired last year I got a whopper of a flu bug. It hung on all during the first year of my retirement. I was also nursing a knee injury. I ran (or crawled) from doctor to doctor for one symptom, then another, but of course they found nothing all that terrible.
I, on the other hand, had good reason to feel sorry for myself and spend lots of time on my living room couch, losing contact with former co-workers, just watching movies, reading, and intently following "Political TV" for months and months.
By the end of this past summer, not only was I still under the weather physically, but had a pretty bad anxiety problem that was causing the first panic attacks I had ever experienced in my life.
I blamed current events, all the terrible anger & divisiveness I was witnessing in my country and around the world, for my anxiety and despair.
Until I came to this wonderful website and saw I was not alone, but just one of many retirees suffering from the inability to deal with something we had looked forward to all our lives: all the time in the world and only ourselves to please!
So I began to think about what was actually creating my anxiety and soon realized that it was not the world situation, but me!
I was an unemployed workaholic.
Could there be anything more awful?
I had never truly acknowledged my obsession with work, assuming everyone had work on their minds 24/7, never took a vacation, solved problems, answered emails until midnight every night and all day weekends, arrived at the office 2 hours early every morning, worked holidays, worked at home, etc.
My husband was able to relax as soon as he left the office every night and I thought there was something wrong with him...
Though I had two marriages and a child and other normal events through the years, I was never really mentally anywhere but in whatever job I was working.
I would not allow myself the option of a vacation, or hobbies, or any kind of self-rejuvenating activity. I just worked. And I think I worked to the exclusion of any kind of pleasure because I did not think I deserved pleasure.
I was on earth to achieve, and to do it as perfectly as possible. Anything short of that was unacceptable. And nothing else mattered.
The reason I'm sharing this is to offer the rest of you what I hope might be an insight into your own post-retirement discomfort. Not sure how many of you were/are workaholics. Hopefully few; hopefully you're just suffering from a transitional identity issue, or miss the structure, the satisfaction of producing something tangible, the socializing, and so forth.
But I think for workaholics there are these things but also a deeper issue, one that I am facing now and want you to think about if yours is a similar story.
Think about whether you will allow your own happiness without producing that daily report, that monthly inventory, the dozens of logistical problems you solved every day.
Can you be happy just being you? Just accepting yourself as the lovely human being you are?
I have discovered that this is my issue, I know this is why I worked so hard for so many years--trying to avoid facing the fact that I didn't think I was "OK."
Retirement has brought me face to face with myself and although in lots of pain, I am thankful. Now the real work begins!
If this problem of not caring for yourself sounds like it might be yours, please know you have my love and support as you try to work to fix it.
Please remember: you are a precious human being and just that fact alone means you deserve happiness -- without having to earn it!