It’s the inner person that’s important, right? It’s not the roles we play in life or our position in society. It’s not how others judge us and it’snot the amount of worldly goods we possess. Yes, of course, you say. It’s who we are as people that counts.
I’d always known about the difficulties of adjusting to retirement and the loss of professional status. I just didn’t think it would happen to me. I also know that older women are invisible in our society. Again, I was surprised when I moved to Kingston, Canada’s capital of retired persons, to find I was just another older woman. I’d left behind my status as former psychotherapist and director of The Centre For Focusing. I was the older woman who’d moved into the neighbourhood with her dog, Sammy.
So, what is the essence of a person? My spiritual teacher long ago taught me that we were not our roles, our relationships or our jobs. We are Light, she said.
Later I studied various theories of personality. Ego State Theory makes the most sense to me. We are made up of many “selves,” goes the theory. We are not a unified, static whole.Different parts of the personality function in different situations. Like a nation, each of us needs our business people, our farmers, our caregivers and our social beings. These different parts come out as needed. Generally, the more parts we have, the richer our lives. Pity the school teacher, for instance, who doesn’t change roles when she comes home for dinner.
So who am I now that I have no professional life? I’m Grandma Mary, Great Aunt Mary, Aunt Mary, Sister Mary, Frank’s mother, Julie’s mother-in-law and Harvey’s wife, all roles I had before retirement. I have a new identity: the writer and blogger. Is it enough?
I figure I couldn’t be more fortunate. I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me. I wake in the morning to the ever-changing Lake Ontario just outside my window. As I write this, sailboats in this sailing capital of the world are making their way around a buoy in a race.
It’s really a great time in life. I don’t have to turn up at work in the morning. Like a teenager, I get an allowance – from the government. I have all the freedom of a teenager with no parents to boss me around. and, unlike a teenager, I don’t have pimples on my face.
All this is to say I’m closer now to being just the I AM than I’ve ever been. There’s little reason to behave as others expect. I have no professional role, no expectations imposed on me by my roles, except to be a loving elder, ready to give whatever I have to offer to the world around me. Not a bad time of life!