And Dr. Freud asks:  How does it feel? The six months before I retired……

Retirement Whatever That Is, Susan Leader, One Baby Boomer’s Guide to Retirement

Honestly, I’ve been acting really strangely over the past six months, I say to the bearded Doctor in the chair. “Tell me about your symptoms,” he asks with a kindly smile…And here’s what I would have answered…if I had been on that couch talking to him.

First of all, I’m usually an amazing sleeper. In fact, that’s probably my greatest skill set. And yet, I now wake up at 3 in the morning, stare at the ceiling for a while pondering everything and nothing…and then maybe go back to sleep, or maybe not. That’s just not me and even I know that it has to do with this looming TRANSITION. I mean…next to having your first child, which changes your life forever, this has to be one of life’s most jolting moments. Accept that, my dear, says the Good Doctor, and maybe you’ll go back to your old sleeping habits.

But if you add to that the extra glass of wine that I drink every day….even when dining alone…..is that a problem, I ask? And then I say…well maybe this is all due to Trump-alaise (short for Trump malaise). I mean…I’m in good company with this sleeping/drinking disorder, right? And then I realize that I had this before November 8th…so this is one thing I can’t blame on our new President. And the Doctor assures me that this too will pass…to which I respond, it had better!

And then there’s that heightened sensitivity to anything anyone says to me. I mean I walked by someone in the hall the other day and he didn’t say hello to me and what did I do? No, I didn’t behave normally and just mutter to myself that “you’re just a jerk”…or some other not-so-ladylike noun. No, I go into absolute hysteria mode and after a two glass of wine lunch (NEVER EVER DO THAT AGAIN, PUL-LEASE), I scream at the CEO that this behavior shouldn’t be tolerated in the firm. OMG, you are positively off your rocker! I mean really, I behaved like a two year old who got her face shoved in the mud of the sandbox. And that figurative two year old didn’t just go crying to the teacher, she yelled at the Commissioner of Education who has far bigger and more important things to do than listen to this puerile rant. Oh well, at least the CEO is an empathic guy who just listened and let me vent. (Thanks for that…and so sorry…if you’re reading this)

Now the sensitivity isn’t always that damaging, to be honest. But really, it’s not acceptable to get teary and have a choked-up-voice at least once a day in the office. This is an OFFICE, do you not recognize that???? I mean, if someone walks by and says “I like your hair today and I’m going to miss your good hair days and your bad hair days,” my voice will quiver as I say thank you. And heaven forbid that you say something really nice about me. It’s bad…it’s just bad. I have turned into this emotional marshmallow…and it’s definitely very hard to control her waterworks. This had better stop SOON!!

But the symptoms aren’t all embarrassing and unacceptable, I add. There’s an incredible sense of empowerment…and all my colleagues are really tired of hearing me say this. But when you have nothing to gain from saying something nice and nothing to lose when you make recommendations for change…it’s positively exhilarating. Don’t worry, I say to the Doctor…I promise that I have exerted some self control and I haven’t started trash-mouthing “The Others” and started telling them what I really think of them. (Well…I’m not perfect, I’ve have exhibited a teeny bit of passive-aggressive behavior. And even though I am embarrassed to admit it–this is just that same teeny bit rewarding.)

But on the positive side, isn’t it wonderful to be able to write to someone….

“One bucket list item is being able to say something to a special colleague that you couldn’t say when you worked with them: I have always wanted to tell you that you are at the pinnacle of my admiration-society totem pole! Your brilliance, knowledge, investment insights and warm personal manner put you in a league of your own. And you seem to be an amazing Dad at the same time. Wow! And that’s what I have always thought—but couldn’t say.”

I mean, I had a smile on my face for hours after I sent that at…well…3 am.

And finally, Dear Doctor, I say that in some ways, I’ve just become a nicer person outside the office. I talk to the mail man, I talk much more nicely to that random tourist near my Rockefeller Center office who asks for directions…I just treat people with more respect. “Why is that?” you ask me. Well, I think it’s because the layer of stress that is just at the core of my job has been removed. It’s just gone up in smoke. I’m not worried about the next transaction…or the lack of a transaction and that’s pretty liberating. I don’t think I ever realized how work stress impacts the rest of your life. Sort of like when you stop beating your head against a wall.

And then the hour is up and Doctor Freud explains that these are all very normal symptoms and that I am pretty sane and that this is all part of moving from the plateau of life where you’ve lived for 50 years to that new and unknown plateau. And here’s to the unknown!!

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