Confessions of a Retiree: Out of Tune With Retirement

Jul 9th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Fortunate enough to live in an environment where the sun shines 300 days of the year, there are still those  not in touch with the “joys of retirement.”  Persons choose to move to the southwest out of a desire to escape the hazards of severe winter weather in the east and midwest.  But, sunshine is not the only contributor to the “good life.”

Many persons find their reward, satisfaction and use of time invested in golf and other activities.  It seems to work.  But, the fact is there are others who find retirement unsatisfying, unrewarding and down right boring.  A steady routine of doing one thing over and over is not a recipe for retirement.  It may contribute to depression.  If  your previous life did not have the ingredients for day to day satisfaction, it is highly possible that retirement will not offer what you thought you were getting.

When I was a child, an only child for that matter, I had no difficulty entertaining myself.  However, now that “I am a man” I have given up “childish things.”  Circumstances have directed my retirement environment  in directions I did not expect.  The detour of prostate cancer knocked a hole in my own sense of personhood and self confidence.  My own personality shifts have been such that what was once motivation to me is no more. 

There is about retirement a sense of having to refocus your life’s purpose, to ascertain what has value and what is of no value.  There is about retirement the need to find self identity anew.  The loss of companions and friends and the familiar takes its toll emotionally and psychologically.  The need for association with family and others is still strong, but their availability is compromised  because of work, distance and other realities.

When retirement delivers little satisfaction, the possibility of depression looms large. You may say: “ I feel okay.  I sleep well.  My diet is good.  I just don’t have a lot that I care about.  I love my spouse.  I enjoy our grandchildren. I communicate with our son and my mom, who live miles away.  Being with our parents is refreshing, but those things last only fleetingly and I find myself alone and lonely.”

So, how does   he/she who has the luxury of sleeping in, taking the dogs for a walk every day, doing anything you wish, if you can just wish it, is empty and unfulfilled. For those out of tune with retirement  who may have visited with a competent therapist,  still end up feeling without, empty, dissatisfied, what then?  There is just little about which to give a damn.  Compound that with an unsettling sense of little self worth and you end up with an empty vessel.

In such a state of affairs, how does one reclaim a sense that he/she has anything any longer to offer anybody?

The answer to these interrogatives is, of course, an undertaking left to the retiree.  Raising the questions allows for struggling for the answers.  Ignoring the presence of the questions may work for some.  Denial may be a winning strategy, at least for a while.   But the important thing is to be willing to face openly the issues which seem to trouble us as we grow older.  Healthy human beings are made so by being realistic, honest and willing to seek help.  If a person begins to lose the lustre of life, any enthusiasm in day to day living, it is time for an overall evaluation.  This may lead in a variety of directions, seeking a variety of help, reaching out for those whose readiness and insights can help correct the weaknesses that have come to be somewhat overwhelming.  Putting it off, blaming others for your own condition, remaining puzzled and unwilling to engage in examinations can only make matters worse.  Getting back in tune may take a while, but a body and mind, in tune, is far preferable than a rusty old hulk that offers little in ways of joy and satisfaction.



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