Yesterday, my husband and I completed his retirement paperwork. He’s been in a “disability” status since his TBI 19 years ago (this coming November). I had no idea this was going to be such a big deal. I mean, seriously, 19 years ago he essentially retired” due to the serious nature of his head injury. However, apparently, this final passage from disability to retirement is an important one and I want to honor it for what it is – closure.
As we walked into the corporate headquarters building where he used to work (that’s where we had to go to complete the paperwork), I felt tears coming to my eyes and pain in my heart. I said aloud to my husband Michael, “After all this time, it is still difficult for me to walk into this building.” He replied back to me, “I feel the same way.” In that moment, it was comforting to know we were on the same page, even though the truth is in spirit we always have been. And it was about so much more than that.
Through the years, I’ve super-glued myself to a place of control and tolerance regarding our financial “situation” the degree to which I really didn’t get until this past month when the retirement process began. I won’t go into all the details, but all the yuck of “control” came out into the open to be seen. In a sense, I hit the wall with it. I broke down. It took me by surprise and forced me to another level of letting go. For the first time I chose to really listen to financial advisors and close friends who have been there with us all along.
You see, through the years I’ve only shared carefully crafted slivers of our financial life with these folks. I was arrogant and thought I knew how to handle it. “They don’t understand what we’re going through” was a common refrain in my head. As much as I hate to admit it – I was playing the victim and the thought of admitting our situation out loud to someone was humiliating; I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid – I would have to face this demon of my own creation. It was going to be painful for me to admit that I couldn’t do this and didn’t know how to manage the situation — but I did it anyway. It was simply time to let this one go.
The result of being completely, gut-honest was, in a word, liberating. As I stepped out from the protective curtain I had erected and told the truth, the grasping for control slipped away. In doing this, I opened up to the ever-present compassionate support of these thoughtful professionals and friends. They were right there (where they always had been), non-judgmental and on it with me. Probably, for the first time, I really listened, considered all the options and most importantly respected their wisdom. The result is that now we’re all on the same page. We’ve made the very best choice for retirement that will benefit us now and in the future.
Now the tears I am experiencing are simply the remnants of letting go of control. It’s just what my body does. So, I let the tears come and realize it is all good. And for those of you who are facing a similar situation – my biggest piece of advice is to trust those people who have been there with you all along. Utilize the skill and knowledge of those professionals – that’s what they get paid to do. Trust your friends who have always been in your corner. Go to them for advice when you know you don’t “know how.” Most importantly, feel grateful for them – feel grateful for the lessons. And…if there are tears, let there be tears. For along with tears there is more love than you can ever possibly imagine. It’s just how the Universe works.