Retirement: Everyone else is too busy...
I retired last fall at the age of 55 from teaching. I wanted out at the earliest opportunity because my job was going nowhere (although not horrible) and I had decided to start a second career as a novelist.
It was wonderful at first to have so much freedom, but I discovered that it wasn't as easy as I expected.
For one thing, the day goes awfully quickly when you don't have time commitments. While it's great not to have to rush around, one has to accept that putzing around eats up more time than one would expect.
The other thing is that without external deadlines, it's often hard to sit down to work at the computer every day when you're not always feeling inspired.
It's only now--in my 10th month, when my friends are all getting ready to go back to school--that I'm beginning to really feel the loneliness. By nature I'm something of a hermit--with social anxiety to boot--and if anyone had ever told me I'd feel like this I would have laughed my head off. But I can no longer ignore it--I'm getting seriously depressed.
Last December, I "met" online an English teacher from California with similar goals for writing, and we decided to be critique partners. The critiquing part is still developing, but we emailed each other nearly every day after that.
We told each other the most personal things--I've never been so frank with any other person (I've never been married; she's married). We both decided to attend a writers' conference taking place near her home, so we finally met in person, roomed together, and had a wonderful time.
Then I came home and the letdown started. She was excited about having a publisher request to see her manuscript, so she's been working on it non-stop because she has to go back to work next week. She did ask me about 10 days ago if I would read it and give my opinion as a reader--which I answered in the affirmative, of course--but I've heard nothing from her since.
My brain knows she's going crazy, with the manuscript, getting ready for school, the house, the hubby, etc., but my emotions are telling me she's changed her mind about having me read it (because she told me 10 days ago she planned to submit it today), and then I start imagining all sorts of things, like she thinks I'm a loser, etc. (I know better, but that doesn't mean I can stop thinking this way.)
I keep thinking she could at least email me to let me know what's going on, but of course, I could email her too, except I don't want to be a pest. I certainly don't want her to know how upset I am. Then she would really think I'm pathetic.
Of course, this whole incident just emphasized the fact that I really am going to be alone now, since my other friends are going back to school; even the single ones have responsibilities after school too. I can't concentrate on writing or anything, and it is affecting my appetite too (although I need to lose weight anyway).
Intellectually, I know my thinking is all out of whack. I have a decent pension--not enough to move out to California, however--and relatively good health and I should be looking forward to the rest of my life and not picturing a big black emptiness. I have been seeing a counselor for over two years; when I brought this up last week for the first time, she said it's just my negative thinking and to keep working on developing a daily routine.
I don't want to take meds or anything, but I just need some advice on how to get over this. I check my email compulsively and there's never anything. I have been crying all day and trying to watch TV or read, but nothing will wipe out the negative thoughts. I talked to another friend of mine this morning, but she is busy getting ready for school too. I thought about taking off on a road trip at a moment's notice, but couldn't make a decision.
Wendy: I retired at 55 too, and though the world is at your feet -- it's hard to see that in the moment. I am now 2.5 years into retirement and feel totally blessed.
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