Up from Forced Retirement
(Santa Barbara, CA)
I was forced into early retirement at age 57, after 32 years as a director at a university.
Parallel to this, I am a musician (that was my education and background). I took an admin job originally “while waiting for something musical to present itself.” That job grew into a position that was as much or more than most faculty positions. And the golden handcuffs kept me there for 32 years, even though I kept the vague dream of “jumping off to music” in the back of my mind that whole time. (This is not a plausible option now, due to the nature of the profession and passage of time.)
My position at one time had been prestigious and rewarding. It had faded tremendously in the past 5 years or so, but I still had hope it would return to its former luster. Besides, I was building a pension.
The job situation became precarious. Following broken promises and a highly acrimonious layoff, I am left to wonder what I am to do at this point.
Fortunately, I have a pension, which while adequate, it’s not what it would have been if I had been allowed to work three more years, retiring as I intended (at age 60).
But, I am mired in nonstop anger and depression. Each and every day. I even dream about the conflict(s) when sleeping! I don’t miss the job as it was at the end, but I miss what it once was, and that is gone forever.
I’m told to “move on,” but I don’t see anything to “move on” to… I could take another job I suppose, but it's not work I miss, it's the type of position I once had, and that's gone. Now I suppose I am free to pursue dreams, but what?
And that leads to a major issue I am dealing with now:
All my life I held many things in the “future dreams” category. Someday I’ll concertize. Someday I’ll paint. Someday I’ll finish that opera. Someday… etc.
Work and its associated time commitments successfully protected me from actually ever having to come good on any of these tentative future plans.
I could push all these dreams to the future, not worrying about having to bring about any of the dreams — because I was busy with work!
But now I’m not busy with work, and I am faced with either trying to make these dreams come true, or realizing that they were nothing but illusions all along. And that is depressing.
The validity of one’s life is tied up in all this, and if these future dreams/plans are in fact illusory, so too is one’s life. And suddenly you wonder what the whole point of anything is…