I have never felt truly lonely in my life until I retired. Ironically, retirement is supposed to be one of the best times of your life. You’ve run the race and crossed the finish line. Now it is time to celebrate. I must be honest and say the last three months have not felt like a party, a vacation, or a celebration.
Loneliness is not so much the absence of people as it is the feeling that you have been forgotten. It is the sense that everyone who was ever part of your life has moved on and left you behind. Occasionally I find myself sitting around, feeling sorry for myself, and wondering if any other human being ever thinks of me.
I know I have a personality type that has a basic fear of having no identity or personal significance. My personality type often feels different from others but does not really want to be alone. What is my current identity? What is my current significance? As I write these thoughts I am doing the laundry. Is that my new purpose? Who am I and what is my purpose when no one else is around? Who really cares and who really needs me? Everyone seems to be doing fine without me.
Intellectually, I know that most of my struggles since retiring are in large part because of the kind of person I am. It is painful to admit that I am a little needier and insecure than I like to admit. I think I need an audience, attention, feedback, and acknowledgement. I cannot live in my own vacuum. There is not enough air and I am feeling light headed.
Some of you who read these thoughts know me personally and will think, “How can Michael possibly feel like this? He’s such a great guy”! Believe me when I say that I never expected to feel like this either. I know I can’t expect other people to pump me up every day. However, I now realize people did this for me on a regular basis. I used to receive a lot of positive affirmation from a lot of people. When I still worked some people jokingly referred to me as a “legend”. In reality I was a little overrated but I did have a good reputation and I enjoyed a decent level of popularity. Now I feel like I am in exile.
Hopefully, I will work through this sooner or later. I may be impatient with myself. Of course, I do wonder how many of my fears are based on reality or just my own mind punishing me. Our own minds are often our worst enemy. How many of us on a daily basis feel like Jesus in the desert when the devil is tempting him with various questions. I can sometimes hear the voices when they say, “Who told you that you matter to anyone? Who told you that you made a difference in anyone’s life? Who told you that people will care when you are no longer doing something for them?
I am grateful for writing. In recent months much of my writing may have seemed negative. I’m sure some of you expected me to write more about the joys of retirement. In all fairness, there have been some good days and moments. In all truthfulness, it has mostly been a struggle. I write about it because I know that other people have had similar difficulty adjusting to the retired life.
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