Excerpt from Retirement and Cocaine

I am in one of those funks over my retirement. I am supposed to be joyous about this situation but I am everything but joyous. Instead of joy it is anxiety and fear that inhabits me these days. Will I be able to make it financially? Will I be too sheltered and see the world close in on me.

It is as if I am dying. Or at least part of me is dying. That part that I so identified with: the teacher. Suddenly she is gone. Or perhaps she is merely shifting classrooms and now her teaching will be somewhere else. Her writing will be her classroom.

I guess what I fear is having nothing to do. I don’t mean literally nothing to do for I could spend my days cleaning my house, cooking, doing yoga , meeting friends for coffee, biking and going for long walks. That would fill up a day, all right. But there would be something missing. Some personal fulfillment not met and this is what I fear the most about my retirement.

I cry a lot these days following my retirement but I associate them more with missing my mother, my father, my sister.

My friend, Sylvie calls and I tell her I can’t stop crying. I am so fragile and sensitive.

Sylvie is a great listener but also a great comforter. She is in a way like a man for when you tell her a problem she has the need to find a solution. Unlike a man though (at least many of the men I have met whose solution is to say not to think about whatever it is I’m thinking about) Sylvie offers solid solutions.
Don’t forget you’ve just retired. You’ve got to mourn that. In all the mourning I’ve been doing this past year and a half mourning a retirement seems so banal. Superficial almost. But maybe she is right. It is another stone on my pile of grief.

The school year has begun and I feel an empty hole in my life. There is lonesomeness for my colleagues and I wonder if I have done the right thing in retiring.

I am truly retired. The fact of being retired is in my face. I am in its early stages and although I am going towards something new and unknown I must go through this passage of grieving my career. I did not think it would leave such an emptiness inside of me. This feeling of loss and being in liminality is how Murray Stein describes this transition between work and retirement.

Liminality refers to “… a threshold between consciousness and unconscious portions of the mind… a person’s sense of identity is hung in suspension. You are no longer fixed to particular mental images and contents of yourself. … the “I” is homeless.”

I love not working. I am so happy that I retired. The greatest gift retirement offers is time. The luxury to do things slowly. To get out of bed when I feel like it. To chart my day as it arises.

My friend, Thelma, friend, writer and life coach sends me an e-mail regarding an update to her website. It’s full of neat ideas for anyone wanting to retire. View her articles here.

4 thoughts on “Excerpt from Retirement and Cocaine

  1. We do lose our job-related identity once we retire. I would say, apart from mourning the loss of what we had, it is useful to recognize the value we got from our careers, what skills we built up, what we learned. Whatever we valued the most (teamwork, teaching others, project design, etc.) can be integrated into the new structure we must build for our lives.

    Retirement CAN be a wonderful stage in our lives but it does take initiative and planning. Unlike the workplace, which set our routine every day, we need to figure this out ourselves.

    I speak not only as a friend but as a life coach and someone who has gone through the “retirement” transition.


    • You’re so right. The days are too short and so we need to be as wise as we can on how we use them and to respect our priorities. Thank you so much for being here. I greatly appreciate it. 🙂


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