Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Truth About Retirement

A long time Facebook friend wrote that her husband was about to retire. It took everything I had to not shout "Tell him not to do it!" Since I started working at the age of 14 retirement has been held out to me as the be all and end all of our lives. It would be a time when you could finally do the things you'd dreamed of. TV shows us retired people living in beautiful private communities, golfing, going on cruises or traveling around the world. These commercials of course, never mention you need money to do any of these things.

I was raised by a child of the depression who often told me what life was like before social security. There were no fall backs like unemployment, welfare or social security. Families doubled and tripled up in tiny apartments. There were nights when there simply was no food and that was that. You couldn't say a bad word around my mother about Franklin Roosevelt, the father of social security I think. Between social security and a pension, she said, I would be set for life. When I vested my time with my State job I had no idea what it actually meant or why people were so happy for me. It was still a time of "set for life" jobs. Being a State employee was considered so powerful that you could walk into a car showroom and buy a car purely on the power of being a State employee. Those really were the good old days.

I left my job as an appointee of Governor George Pataki (see blog history) courtesy of Eliot Spitzer sending me a letter saying I had two weeks to get out of my office. What goes around comes around doesn't it? Anyway I decided to start my own grants business but quickly learned that the old timers who said things like "At least you've got your health" weren't kidding. I had to close the business but what I learned quickly was how hard it is for a Type A personality to operate in a world that has little patience for retired people without titles. I still miss water cooler Mondays where you stand around and talk about what you did over the weekend. I actually miss meetings because what I didn't realize is they're a form of social networking too especially if you actually achieve something. I can honestly say I miss almost everything about work. OK on snowy winter days I'm delighted that I don't have to clear the snow off my car or drive on scary slippery streets. I've been retired for going on four years now and have been miserable every step of the way which maybe why my health has been so bad. But something shifted inside me in the last few months.

No miracles but perhaps a quiet acceptance of change. My husband said he's looking forward to retiring one day because it will mean the end of doing things he doesn't want to do and his statement really clicked with me. Yes I'm aware that this could also mean the Prozac and Wellbutrin are finally working. I can only say something turned over inside me, something changed. Maybe its having to sleep in the living room (more about that in the next entry) or just finally understanding what feng shui means. Either way I can honestly say I think I feel better and if you've been following my blog you know this is an earth shattering statement for me. However my health still sucks so I continue to have something to complain about...LOL!