My husband and I have been drifting apart for a few years now. Four years ago, at 53, he began a totally new career when he was forced to closed down his business. This work takes him to remote communities for 2 to 5 weeks at a time, several times a year. In these communities, he works 12-14 hours days, 7 days a week, and has little access to phones or the internet. While this work is gruelling and takes him away from his family and home, he loves it; he is good at it; it feels like valuable work to him. I am relieved that he has work that pays decently. I am happy that he finds this work fulfilling. But I miss him.
For close to 30 years, Dan has been my best friend; my companion; the other parent in my household. So, now that he is gone for 20 or more weeks a year, I miss him. If the distance between us were only physical, I would not feel so much grief. But there has been an emotional distance growing between us as well. For the last few years, when he has been home, he has been pre-occupied. He has been cranky and taciturn. But he can’t or won’t talk about what’s bothering him. In fact, he has not been talking much at all. I feel like I have been watching our relationship whither and die.
I have tried talking to him, yelling at him, crying with him….but there seemed no way to reach him. He was not ready to talk. He was not ready to speak about the demons that have been haunting him. Until the last month.
Little by little, over the last few weeks, his feelings have been coming into the light. He is worried about our future. He is mad that retirement is nowhere in sight; that he has saved so little money. He is mad at himself for the “failures” in his life that have put us in this financial position. He cannot see how we can afford to retire so he cannot talk about our future.
So there it is, the fears, the anger, the shame and the despair that have been brewing in him ever since his business failed. I get this! Thinking about retirement scares me as well. Moving in and out of government, I see people my age who are retiring with generous pensions. Changing jobs the way I have, working on contracts for non-profit organizations, I have no pension to speak of, and much less in savings than I should. I too have dark nights where I feel scared about the future and mad about the choices I’ve made.
Now that these feelings are out in the open, I feel like I can breath again. We can grieve the future that we will not have; accept the choices we made; celebrate the good that came from those choices; and acknowledge the lessons learned. Then we can start to dream again; about a different type of retirement; one that does not require so much money; one that includes the two of us together. This, I can handle. This, I believe, WE can handle!