Retirement 101

65

used to be the default retirement age in the UK, but this has been phased out and most people can now work for as long as they want to. However, 65 is generally what people still consider to be the retirement age.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, retirement is “when you leave your job and stop working, usually because you are old” or “the period in someone’s life after they have stopped working because they reached a particular age”. No matter where I look to research the subject, I am surrounded by images of older people living it large. Yeah, retirement is really associated with age.

Why should this bother me so much? Because this week I had a meeting with my employer that confirmed that they are going to terminate my employment. I knew it was coming and as I told my Head of Service, there is really no other decision available for us. My illness is such that the usual options of redeployment, secondment or adjustment are just not going to work.

So here I am at the grand old age of 38, having to retire on medical grounds!!!

38 vs 65
Doesn’t look so good, does it?

 

 

Being unemployed is not my concern – my parents raised me not to be afraid of work and instilled me with a strong work ethic. No, my problem is finding that I am now unemployable. In other words,

I am now useless for the thing I have spent 23 years learning the skills and training for.

Yeah, that’s the thought that keeps stopping me too.

feels-overwhelming-workplace-ecard-someecards
 
 
In my current state, I will no longer be able to tape posters like this to my work surface because I am no longer able to work.
 
 

 

Work plays such a significant role in our daily lives too. It pays the bills and provides the finance to meet other responsibilities. It takes up whole chunks of our time and thought processes. It puts us into regular contact with other people – granted, not all of these interactions are wanted, but I cannot say that my work days have ever been boring.

career information
Extract from my About page.

It also provides a clearly-defined role and if you work outside of the social work/social care profession, you sometimes get credited and praised for your efforts. [Note to Careers Advisors: You really need to stress this point to all those impressionable young minds coming into the work force]

I have loved all my years in social work. The crazy characters (both service users and work colleagues); the stupid hours (I once spent 2 years working 60-80 hour weeks = leaving home for work and not coming home for 3 days) as well as the mind-bending structures and policies I’ve had to work with. And let’s not forget other people’s perception of what it is I do.

what-a-social-worker-does
 

 

And now Ladies and Gentlemen, I find myself bereft. In March 2013, I shall enter retirement and the thought is too big to handle right now.

Part of the hurt is being gutted that all that I have worked towards and the things I planned to do with it, are no longer possible. Because despite having all this time on my hands, my illness does not allow me to make the most of it.

  1. I am unable to explore all those museums and exhibits that I would like to because I cannot leave the house unaccompanied.
  2. Even when friends and family take time off to accompany me on trips, the frequency and unpredictability of the episodes mean that I am regularly too sick or physically unable to leave the house.
  3. Once I am out of the house, the frequency and unpredictability of the episodes mean that I am regularly in no fit state (sight, hearing, speech and mobility) to perceive the activity let alone enjoy it.
  4. Basically, the frequency and unpredictability of the episodes mean that I don’t know what state I will be in from hour to hour.
  5. And as the last 697 days have shown, this situation could continue indefinitely.

 

 

life on paper
 

I know that this is not the end; it just feels a little like it.

 
 
 
I would insist on holding a minute’s silence to commemorate this grand event if it weren’t for the fact that my sobbing would be too loud to ignore.

Laugh with me peeps, because right now … I feel a little broken.

 
 

This piece was written and submitted as part of WordPress.com’s Weekly Writing Challenge. The writing challenges are designed to “help you to push your writing boundaries, show off your blogging chops, and, hopefully, spark more post ideas”. The posts should be specifically written in response to the challenge set.

This week’s challenge was to “Detail a three to five step story or process, and illustrate each of the steps with something visual”. You can see how other bloggers responded to the challenge, on Image vs. Text.
 
 

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AUTHOR: I am might war. I have a love of music, the written word, travel, Anime, polar bears, people and “sticking and colouring”.

9 thoughts on “Retirement 101

  1. Hi mightwar.

    I obviously relate to this totally…. I fooled myself into thinking that my willpower was so strong that no matter how bad I felt I would still be able to work and I loved work. My life was totally defined by my work for many years, working with homeless people for many years and then the music business – being so fortunate as to earn money basically by having fun, being imaginative and energetic and determined…. That all ended many years ago but I worked for another 15 years, less and less hours, more and more menial jobs. But I worked. I would never have given up but THEY got rid of me, bullied out of a job and discriminated against I lost that lifeline 4 years ago (I left under a Compromise Agreement, gagged about their failure to make reasonable adjustments, something I find has happened to incredible numbers of people. That was the Local Authority). I thought I would find more work of some kind but the descent into despair, isolation, intimidation by the DWP, lack of support and attitudes meant I got sicker and sicker. Maybe I would have anyway, I can’t tell. But now I find myself unemployable too, the unpredictable nature of my health being the main problem but compounded now by having my confidence destroyed. So after 40 years of working, being married, raising my son I find myself pointless, lonely and lost.

    However, the point I wanted to make is that all through my working life 60 was considered the retirement age for women. My generation were led to believe that we would be likely to take early retirement, in our 50s and enjoy life. In fact the retirement age for women has changed twice over the last few years and I will not get my state pension until I am 67 which means I cannot think of my situation positively, as retirement after 40 years work, but have to prove over and over again that I am sick. For another 10 years nearly I will be expected to go through this on a regular basis and the whole thing just makes me sicker than I need to be. Perception is everything. Yes I am too sick to enjoy much of my life. But if I could look at it positively, as an opportunity to feel as well as I can and enjoy it as much as possible it would be so much easier. Instead society has lumped me into the category of ‘skivers’ constantly under suspicion.

    Not working can be wonderful if you are well. Retirement can be an opportunity. It’s all a question of perception – but illness robs you of so much.

    I spent yesterday sobbing like a baby because I am in so much pain I am losing the ability to walk my dog at all. This has been the one thing that has kept me sane and for the first time I realised a day was coming when I would not be able to have a dog for company. Not yet, but it’s coming.

    I am lucky. I had 40 years of work, of being able to enjoy much of my life despite health problems. I pray that you will get the opportunity to do some of the things you want to, that your condition will improve. That you will be well and strong again. Anything is possible. But even as you are you are able to inspire people, to communicate so clearly, to raise spirits…. Keep writing darling and keep believing that things will change, as they always do xxxxxxx

    1. Fiona,
      You raised some points I hadn’t even considered – I guess this thing is still too big to look at as a whole. I’m taking the processing in stages as my brain overheats otherwise.

      I’m very sorry to hear about the dog thing as I know how much you enjoy the activity and I can imagine what a motivator it can be on the days that you are struggling.

      I agree with you that illness affects one’s perception and it certainly taints the idea of retirement being an opportunity. I am at the stage of being peeved at having minimized my life and activities in light of my illness and seeing no improvements in my health for my efforts. I know that if I could dance my frustrations off, I would feel better about my situation. In the meantime, I write to get the frustrations out of my head; because I’m sick of saying “I can’t”.

  2. It’s a shitty feeling to not work, when one is clearly happier working.
    I can relate to your agony of this forced retirement, at some level.
    I worked all my life right after secondary school. I worked my way even during my high school & university and finally after 20 years of working, I quit my job (it is temporary I tell myself) to devote more time for the kids. At 37 years of age, this “retirement” is killing me. I console myself saying kids will grow up soon and I will have all the time in the world to push myself into work the way I so love to do.
    But my point is, it has not even been an year, and now I am so utterly miserable. I miss working. I miss the challenge. But at least I had a choice.

    It saddens me very much that you are given no choice. I pray and hope your health situation gets better and you are able to work soon.

    Kudos for your positive spirit.

    1. Thank you for your prayers amira. It’s funny just how much work plays into our sense of self and purpose, isn’t it? There were many times when work was overwhelming when I thought that I could stand the hours and complications if only I could be guaranteed a certain amount of time of time off regularly (and usually more than the 4 weeks of Annual Leave). Now I’m coming to realise that even if I was given months at a time off, I would still do some form of work – no matter where I was in the world. I rather miss the people time that it gives me.

      I think part of the problem is also feeling stumped at not being able to work towards my goals the way that I am used to. I worked all the way through university too to pay for books and accommodation etc. It’s a hard habit to shake off,

      I don’t know about your work, but is there some element of it that you could do for a few hours a week that would still allow you to have the quality time with your kids? Or maybe now is the time to find a new hobby so that you have an activity that is about stretching you and giving you the stimulation that you need?

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