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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Was it Sabotage?

I know I am pretty dense about some stuff ... but I think I am actually now RETIRED!

Yep!  I have looked all around me, in all the rooms, in the closets, under the furniture and  through my calendar ...  and I can’t escape the fact that there are no obligations or commitments hiding anywhere.  I am completely and totally retired!

Imagine that!

I suspect this is kind of an odd statement to make considering I haven’t held a paying job since 2007.  But as we near the end of this month, January 2022, I realize that after 15 years of stepping away from formal paid employment, I am retired. It took years to get here, but here I am!!

What happened?  Why did it take so long and did I sabotage myself?

When I left my last employment in 2007 they gave me a “retirement party.”  And there was no need to correct that assumption, because that was what I was doing.  Retiring!  I was only 59.  But my underlying reason for stopping work so early was my mom.  She was living with us and it was very hard for me to hold down a full time job and help her out all the other hours.   Turns out my mom became a 24/7 commitment as she was developing dementia. It wasn’t retirement for me. But it wasn’t exactly sabotage, because she needed help and I was able and happy to give it.

When she died in December 2014, I thought now I will officially retire.  My commitment to mom taxed all of me more than anything else in my life.  I needed a break.  I just needed to close down her estate - and then I was done, done, done. But did I retire? Nope.

With mom gone, it became overwhelmingly apparent that my increasingly visually impaired husband was at serious risk of falling on our stairs - and in a townhouse, there are a lot of stairs.  So from 2015 to 2016 I began the downsizing, taking on tasks my husband could no longer do because of his vision problems, “shopping” for a new and safer place to live, orchestrating the sale of our townhouse, organizing the move, and purchasing our current condo - not to mention the unpacking and settling in a new place and location.   I was 69 at the time of that move, and I used up every last ounce of myself.  Did I somehow sabotage myself over that year and half?  I don’t see how.  Now the person needing help was my husband - we needed to move and I had no choice but to take the lead.  

In August of 2016 we moved into this condo.  I remember thinking “all I need to do is get us unpacked and settled and I will be retired.”  The list of obligations and commitments were at 0!  One day in January 2017 I was walking my daughter’s dog enjoying the feeling of lightness and I was approached by a resident with a measuring tape.  He asked me to help him by holding the measuring tape while he took measurements of a community project.  Ha!  I was thrilled to help, to make a friend of a neighbor, to become part of a community!!  Within 15 minutes he invited me to attend an informal meeting of the board happening in a few days.  He started talking ... you should join the board, you’d be great at it!!  God knows what he saw in me.  Was it my sparkling personality, or the way in which I competently held the measuring tape or .... was I just a warm body without 2 heads, and they needed a 5th board member - and there I was!!  Of course, I didn’t recognize any of that at the time - and I started thinking “Oh yes, this might be fun.”  (In that moment, the “Oh yes” moment,  I began to sabotage my retirement dreams!) Like a magnet I attended that meeting, got involved in community activities - crescendoing in a spell as a board member that ate up hours and hours (... and HOURS) of time every single week.  And this volunteer job felt very much like work without the benefit of a salary!   January 3 of this year, I stepped out of that board position and ... for the first time in forever - I didn’t sabotage myself.  I keep looking over my shoulder, but there are no other hangers-on to hijack my new status! 

I’ll admit, it's a little disorienting, but I think I am finally retired.  

But then the thought dawned on me.  Despite all the past demands on my life, I have been lucky enough to reached this point with good health and independence.  And now finally, my time belongs to me - to do what I want.  Some folks never reach this point.

While I know life can change in a moment I have taken a precaution to prevent self sabotage  - there is no room in my life for measuring tapes!!  I am hoping that will be enough.  Today I am retired!


Leigh said...

Congratulations! You have enough things to enjoy in your life without other commitments. :)

Marie Smith said...

Yay! Congratulations! Happy retirement. Enjoy!

Wendy said...

Nice to know you finally got there. I "retired" as in I left paid work some time ago and I've managed to steer clear of any community commitments but of course now I have 6 grandchildren there are always claims on my time. But they're the sort of claims I'm happy to have.

Josna said...

Congratulations and well done!
As you say, those earlier commitments weren't self-sabotage at all, just life, It sounds as if you fulfilled them honorably. The board stint probably was (self-sabotage), at least to some extent. Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say. But how did you get your To Do list down to zero? No wonder they wanted you on the board!
Enjoy your well-earned retirement.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Yeah to you for finally having time for yourself. My husband and I have been retired for over 20 years as we started earlier than others for different reasons. For myself it was downsizing and for him, enough years as a firefighter. For awhile we were also involved in various community and other activities, but now our time is ours😀. You have done so much for family and others and now can enjoy “you” time.

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A :-) said...

Not sabotage at all IMHO. I think that getting involved in volunteer activities is really normal initially after retirement. I have also recently stepped back from all volunteer activities as I re-evaluate how I want my life to look going forward after my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. I have plans to volunteer at my local cancer support center, but that won't happen until things are safer with stupid COVID. And I think that when I do volunteer again, I will be much more cognizant of not getting sucked in to more than I actually want to do. I wish you great joy as you begin to truly explore your retirement. I LOVE not working (and I had a great job for most of the time I was there!), and I hope you will love it, too. :-)

Cat said...

Oh, my, can I relate a bit. When Covid struck, I had to stop doing a lot of the activities I'd been thinking were important in some way. Now, pretty much only one do I miss. I am in the midst of caring for elders on both sides, so commiting to anything right now, at least, is an easy no. But at least I am smart enough to figure out now how to take care of myself! May you be able to, as well!!

Becki said...

I do wonder if women have a tougher time retiring than men do as we move into the care of others pretty naturally. I realize that's a generalization, but I suspect it's more true than not. As for myself I have found retirement to be most satisfying when I was working caring for an elderly lady with dementia (which is kind of funny to say since it was paid work, so I guess I wasn't exactly retired). I know, though, if I had found myself caring for a family member with dementia, the work would have been difficult. It would be constant and relentless. I hope you're enjoying this time. You have a great attitude. And you've most recently provided a great example of how to say "no" to something that simply isn't satisfying, or necessary to expend oneself on.

Unknown said...

I totally get this!! Congrats!!

Susan said...

Congratulations on your retirement (finally)! I am still in denial, although it is dawning on me that it's true.

Sandy said...

Congrats on your "real" retirement. I've heard many retired people say they're so busy in retirement, they don't know how they had time to work. I think the reality is, we all do what it takes at the time. Enjoy your retirement.