Adjustment Anxiety

I am now over a month past my last day at my job. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time adjusting to things at first. Two days after my last day both of my kids came home for the holidays. We then had Christmas and New Year’s to distract me. My son went back to his house, but my daughter was still home. My afternoons were reserved for watching TV with her. I just had a few hours in the morning to fill and then I was good. She moved back to her apartment Thursday night. Friday I picked books up at the library and drove around dropping late gifts on friends’ porches. Saturday we finally took the tree down and vacuumed. Sunday I cleaned bathrooms and watched the football games. Then came Monday and the first real test of our adjustment to the new reality. Here are some of what I’m struggling with this week.

Inadequacy

My plan for the interim between leaving my job and the eventuality of going back to work was to work on writing. Improve the blog, look for other writing opportunities, and try to see if there is a book in my jail experience. The blogging part is relatively easy. I’ve been doing that. I have a decent amount of readers. I never really expected to make money with it. The other two make me feel inadequate. I have written about 5000 words about working for the state prison system. Most of those over the past two days. I am going back over it today for editing and such and I know I will find that the writing is bad and simplistic and not good enough for more than a series of blog posts. I don’t feel like I’m good enough to even try to do any freelance work or write anything to submit to any sort of real publication or website. It makes me lean toward just trying to get another library job even if I would hate it. At least I know I can do it.

Guilt

I know I can’t fill up the entire day with writing. I start around 8AM or so, sometimes later if I sleep past 7. Even on a good day, I am pretty much done with any productive writing before noon. I eat lunch. I walk the dog. Today I will sweep and mop the kitchen. I still feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. I’m not making money, though technically I have a few more weeks before we reach the end of my vacation pay out so I’m not officially not making money yet. If I take a few minutes to read my book I feel like I’m wasting time and the guilt creeps in. When I get to the point in the afternoon when I feel like I can quit and watch TV until my wife is finished with work I feel like a slacker. If I’m not doing something that I think others will view as productive I get really stressed out and think I should have just stayed at my terrible job. I was miserable, but at least my time was somewhat productive.

Fear

Fear that when I do decide I need to get a job that I will be unable to find one. Fear that my family will see me as a disappointment. Fear that my wife will decide that a “retired” husband is not making her happy. Feat that I will eventually be doing this alone. Fear that I have hurt us more financially than I expected. Fear that I’ve made a terrible mistake and that everyone is judging me harshly for it. Fear that I will never figure things out and I will feel like this forever.

Depression

I spend a lot of time alone now. I wake up early and go downstairs. My wife works upstairs with the door closed. I only interrupt her if it is very important. I don’t talk to another human for 12 hours. Add this alone time to the feelings of guilt, inadequacy and fear and it does not make for happy times.

It is a big adjustment. I judge myself harshly for not being what I think others would consider productive and then assume everyone is is judging me harshly. I need to find some sort of regular volunteer work to do so I get out of the house to do something at least once a week. I spend way too much time alone with my thoughts and it leads to bad places.

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11 thoughts on “Adjustment Anxiety

  1. I think it’s good to share your vulnerability through your blog posts. I also think volunteering at least once a week will do you some good. When I was unemployed for over a year back in 2016/2017, I volunteered at a food pantry. It did me a world of good. I made friends, felt good about contributing to the community, and it eventually led me to employment running a food pantry. Plus, getting out there in the world gives you fodder for your blog…so you should do it!

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  2. You are definitely being too hard on yourself, but that’s sort of to be expected since this is such a recent thing. Do not judge your book on the first 5000 pages! In fact, if you want a second look, get in touch with me. I might be able to talk you down off the ledge if you start thinking it’s not working out. I can help with basic editing suggestions if needed. This used to be what I did for a living. I’ve been trying to write a book (fiction) and haven’t gotten very far because it’s hard! And I have no discipline. If you make a specific time every day that is devoted to the book, then stick with it. Don’t try to impose a word count per day at the beginning. Just sit and make notes, write a bit, reread, and reflect. And finally, being “productive” in the conventional sense you’re used to no longer applies.

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  3. Don’t overthink this. You’re going to be fine. At least you can lick your wife up in a room. I’m on my exercise bike and my husband is five feet away from me on a zoom meeting

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  4. I can relate. I do a lot of freelance work and it is pretty steady but it can be sporadic — as in, I’ll have 2 weeks of being completely overwhelmed with projects & deadlines and I’ll be super stressed and so looking forward to finishing it all and having some free days, in which I tell myself I will work on my own writing and take on some home projects… And then 2 days into “freedom” in between freelance work, I get super restless and borderline depressed. I am really struggling right now and I think it is a combination of pandemic fatigue and winter blues. I haven’t written in my blog for almost 2 years, for a lot of reasons. But one thing that has helped me is joining a local writer’s group. Right now we meet via Zoom. Each week the leaders of the group give us writing prompts and we write for about 15 minutes and then we share. It’s been really therapeutic and a whole new way to write, for me. Anyway — I highly recommend finding some kind of writer’s group!

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