I am one of those people who processes issues by either writing or talking about them. As I journal or recount, sometimes ad nauseum (apologies to my kids, closest friends, and sister), an issue I’m grappling with, I find clarity.

That was the case this past week when I called my sister and shared with her my thoughts on retirement. As I discussed the possible “whens” and “hows”, she remained quiet. 

I’m not totally insensitive. I noticed her lack of response, her lack of excitement for me. I sensed that she thought that my retiring before the age of 65 — when I would be eligible for Medicare — was unwise, so I rushed to explain why I was even considering this step.

I tried to explain that it’s not “them” — my job, coworkers, etc. — and that it’s “me”. I felt silly, foolish. Even selfish and lazy.

I mean, retiring when I have a good job and work with some great people and am physically and mentally able to continue working? How irresponsible of me to even contemplate the idea! 


And then the words tumbled out. Words I hadn’t even allowed myself to consider. And once I said them, I knew without a doubt that they were true.

I am depleted. 

Depleted not of physical or mental energy but of emotional energy.

Depleted    transitive verb; 1.to empty of a principal substance

As much as I despise psychobabble and self-help book catch phrases, my own “emotional tank” is depleted daily — hourly, in fact — and rarely refilled.

Instead of coming home every day to a husband with whom I can share my day — ups, downs, and just the normal stuff — and share a laugh or get a sympathetic hug, I come home to a dog that wants me to take her out (repeatedly) and feed her. Once her needs are met, Dazey is off to one of her favorite cozy spots. 

No longer am I 1/2 of a partnership in which each partner cherishes the other and makes the other feel loved and special. 

I have friends, but they have jobs, husbands, children, and even grandchildren who occupy their time. And while I’ve shared a bit about my fatigue with two of those friends, it’s not something I want to dwell on in our all-too-rare times together. 

Every other day or so, I call an elderly family member who is lonely and mourning the loss of his own spouse. We talk for anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour at a time, and I am so glad that I am able to do that. The other evening, for the first time in 3+ years of phone calls, when he asked how I was doing, I didn’t respond with “fine”. Instead, I was honest and said, “Well, I’m just having a cruddy time right now.” His response was, “Yeah, I know what you mean” before he went on to talk for 20 minutes about his (house) plumbing issues.

It was funny, and inwardly I was laughing. He’s a guy, a guy from a different generation, and I’ve known him long enough to know that this is just how he reacts to emotional topics. 

At the same time, I wanted to bang my head on my desk. 

My daughter is wonderful. She texts almost daily, and we have great text-chats. She calls — not every day, but every few days. But she also has her own life — a full-time job and two part-time (note to self: buy winning lottery ticket and pay off daughter’s student loans with part of my millions) — an old house she’s remodeling, and her own social life.

I’m not complaining. I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I’m not trying to guilt people into rushing to give me a hug or to spend time with me.

I’m merely stating that I’m tired. I’ve done the “put one foot in front of the other” thing on my own for over 8 years now. 

I’ve gotten up and gone to work and cared about my students and tried to make them care about themselves, their academic success, and their futures as much as I do for over 8 years.

I can do it for 5+ more years, until I’m eligible for Medicaid. 

The question is . . . . at what cost?

I mentioned that I don’t want my daughter to be concerned, feel guilty, etc., about me. She has told me she doesn’t read my blog (she doesn’t like to read {gasp} and doesn’t “get” the whole blogging idea — who writes unless forced to?), so I know it’s safe to share this here. 🙂