Daily Prompt: When’s the last time you followed your instinct despite not being sure it was the right thing to do? Did it end up being the right call?
The most significant “gut instinct” call I’ve ever made was the decision to retire. I had been hoping and praying to make it onto the retirement offer list, knowing I would take the offer. When the time came that I qualified, I took it readily, knowing that I’d thought about it long before it happened.
But retiring after 40 years of straight working is no small potatoes. It’s a leap of faith into a black hole. How will I live without an income? What will I do with my life? What will happen to my health? How will I survive without work to drive a social life, me being the hardcore introvert I am.
It’s been 2 1/2 years since that moment. I’ve gone through 2 bouts of percocet addiction and withdrawal, including the constant diarrhea due to laxatives you have to take when you’re on percocet. At one point I must have been taking at least 10 pills a day for pain, depression, hot flashes, sleep — various forms of the stuff psychiatrists love to prescribe without thinking too much about how it all interacts. I’ve been through countless ER visits, MRI, CAT, PET scans, blood tests, endoscopies, colonoscopies, etc.
For the life of me, I couldn’t get in a day without my head spinning with all of the drugs I had in me. When I was going through withdrawal, I wanted to drive my car off a bridge or gas myself in the garage. I threatened to kill hubby for not being there for me. I spent a week in bed, bundled up under my covers, freezing, hungry and sick when we lost electricity in one winter storm.
I had always pictured that if I could retire, I would spend my days writing, walking through the woods, and meditating. The evolving process was not at all as smooth as that.
When you’re used to the structure of working for 40 years, retirement is a hard transition. You get up every morning and think you have to be somewhere. Something’s wrong, because you don’t have to be anywhere. What do you do with your day? You’ve identified yourself with your profession your whole life. Your whole life you’ve known that there are other things you’d love to be doing instead, but working is a no-brainer. You’re raised to believe you need to earn an income and money to retire on. It’s our culture and it’s the truth.
The problem I began having with this mentality after my cancer was that when I get sick or old enough that I’m forced to quit or get laid off, it’s too late for me to have the physical resources to rebuild a new life. I didn’t want to wait until my cancer was back, now at stage 4, before I gave myself a shot at a new life.
Now, after 2 1/2 years, I’m finally doing more fun photography, writing, screwing around with my weed, which so far has given me no negative side effects. I’m keeping myself in shape and thinking about maybe one day building my decrepit body up to actual running. My goal is to just be. Be. Be. Be happy with the now, settle in and be content but keep my eyes open to see the world around me, listen to the silence, and smell the fresh air and the earth.