Author Topic: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?  (Read 5681 times)

RedmondStash

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Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« on: June 06, 2018, 11:21:47 AM »
I've been FIREd for about 6 months, possibly temporarily, depending on how spending and investments play out. The original plan was to work longer, but I ended up leaving a job I had previously really enjoyed because of toxic crap.

And then I started thinking about my 25-year career in tech, and wow, there's been a lot of toxic crap. It seems like I've been decompressing not just from this job or from working but from dealing with the fallout of damaging environments for many years. I sort of feel like a soldier who's come home from war, and instead of relaxing and enjoying life is now having nightmares, insomnia, panic attacks, and other PTSD reactions. (Yeah, I know, therapy -- been there, done that, got the T-shirts. So many T-shirts.)

It's weird because I have genuinely enjoyed a lot of the work I've done, many of the people I've worked with, and a lot of the jobs -- right up until something unexpectedly awful happened and the whole thing soured on me. I'd think it was me, but a lot of my friends in tech have dealt with similar crazy and crazymaking crap.

I don't mean to rain on the whole FIRE-is-great thing so many folks have going, and I am enjoying the peace and quiet, but I just wasn't expecting all this weirdness to come bubbling up. I've taken time off from work before, and this has never happened -- although those times, I've always known I would have to dive back in at some point. This is the first time I've realized I might never have to rejoin the rat race. I think that's encouraging the parts of my brain that were hunkered down and coping with work troubles to emerge into the light.

Is anyone else dealing with stuff like this? Realizing that jobs you thought were mostly okay had actually done you significant damage, and having to deal with the fallout after FIRE?

ysette9

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 11:40:25 AM »
I am not FIRE so I can’t speak specifically to what you are experiencing. However, what you are saying sounds familiar in what I have read in LivingAFI’s blog. He did a lot of detoxing by venting about his work history as a sort of personal therapy. You may check it out just to see how someone else dealt with much of the same stuff you are grappling with.
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RedmondStash

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 11:49:50 AM »
I am not FIRE so I canít speak specifically to what you are experiencing. However, what you are saying sounds familiar in what I have read in LivingAFIís blog. He did a lot of detoxing by venting about his work history as a sort of personal therapy. You may check it out just to see how someone else dealt with much of the same stuff you are grappling with.

Thanks, I'll check it out.

ohmylookatthat

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2018, 12:29:21 PM »
who's livingFA?

diapasoun

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2018, 12:41:32 PM »
I'm also not FIRE, but you're describing a situation I'm very familiar with -- leaving some work realm and finding it very hard to deal with the mental and emotional fallout once you've left. I spent six years in a toxic workplace. I loved the work deeply; it's some of the most fulfilling work I've ever done, and possibly ever will do. At the same time, when I was in that workplace, it was all I could do to just get by. I had to put on armor. It was only once I decided to leave that I could start the hard work of actually dealing with all the damage. Hooboy, there was a lot. There still is a lot, four years later.

If you've done the therapy, then you know what to do. Remind yourself that the things your brain says to you are stories. Let go of the things you can let go of. Work to sit next to all that discomfort and pain and be okay sitting there. It is fucking hard, but it's worth doing.

You are not alone.

RedmondStash

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2018, 12:44:17 PM »
I'm also not FIRE, but you're describing a situation I'm very familiar with -- leaving some work realm and finding it very hard to deal with the mental and emotional fallout once you've left. I spent six years in a toxic workplace. I loved the work deeply; it's some of the most fulfilling work I've ever done, and possibly ever will do. At the same time, when I was in that workplace, it was all I could do to just get by. I had to put on armor. It was only once I decided to leave that I could start the hard work of actually dealing with all the damage. Hooboy, there was a lot. There still is a lot, four years later.

If you've done the therapy, then you know what to do. Remind yourself that the things your brain says to you are stories. Let go of the things you can let go of. Work to sit next to all that discomfort and pain and be okay sitting there. It is fucking hard, but it's worth doing.

You are not alone.

Many thanks.

Vegasgirl

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2018, 12:47:57 PM »
Redmond I agree with ysette9 he's got a lot of great, relevant info check it out: https://livingafi.com/2015/11/06/done-detoxing/

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Maenad

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2018, 01:09:24 PM »
You are not alone.

Definitely. We're not FI yet, but DH left a job without another lined up because it became untenable. He's been house-spousing it for almost 2 months now, but he can tell that the detoxing is only happening very slowly, since he still needs to job hunt and be able to go back to it.

Due to this, we both predict that we're going to have a difficult decompression for a like a year after we RE. I know I'm putting some serious stress on myself as the sole breadwinner right now, even though we're about 80% to FI and even if I lost my job it wouldn't hurt us for like 20 years. :-)

Try to be patient with yourself, if you can. Retiring is a big stressor anyway since it's a big change. Even something we like that makes us happy can be difficult to adapt to!


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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2018, 03:23:04 PM »
I didn't have to deal with unwinding from toxic workplaces.  But I was still in a weird mental headspace for about 6 months.  You've made a radical change.  Trust your natural processes to deal with the challenges that causes.
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reverend

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2018, 09:46:53 PM »
Is anyone else dealing with stuff like this? Realizing that jobs you thought were mostly okay had actually done you significant damage, and having to deal with the fallout after FIRE?

Oh hell yes.  I quit because of a hyper-toxic environment and spent the next few months second-guessing my choice and "I should have stuck it out a bit more" or "it wasn't THAT bad, was it?" and other things.  I think it took about 3-4 months before I started settling down and realizing that it WAS that bad and I made the right choice.

I am still detoxing a bit from it but think that the regularity of a job might actually be something I like, so I am trying to look for a job that I actually ENJOY. I mean, wake up and smile and think "damn, it'll be fun to go in again and get some good work done" sort of job.

I mean, I made another comment where I said that $10/hour might not be worth getting up in the morning for, but maybe that's the old "I need a job to survive" mentality that's messing with my thinking.  I mean, if something is fun enough, I'd probably do it for free, so if I get $10/hour, that's a pretty good bonus.

That's assuming the job is actually fun. haha

Anyway, my point is that it took me a while to start realizing I didn't make a mistake, and now I'm in the mindset of "what should I do now?" which is a whole lot more fun.

kei te pai

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2018, 12:58:08 AM »
Difficult to unravel the combination of a high stress workplace, and the illness and subsequent death of a parent which precipitated FIRE. But I would say it took 2+years to find a new " normal" life. All good now, but it was a quite disorientating process.
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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2018, 02:46:29 AM »
I have been fire'd for 3 years and 2 months and it took me all of 2 years i'd bet before I felt comfortable .  I think the more you leave with the longer it takes. Just imho. Give it some time!
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Malkynn

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2018, 04:18:29 AM »
Not FIRE, but it took me a few years to recover from my doctorate.
It was a toxic, horrible, abusive environment, and only 5 years later am I able to talk about it without getting all riled up and having my heart pound...wait, that might just be due to the beta blockers that Iím on...

25 years is a looooooong time to handle toxic shit day in and day out. Itís normal for it to seem to start bothering you a lot more once you are out of it, because now you can psychologically afford to let it bother you. While you are in it, you have to normalize it in order to swallow it every day. Once youíre out of it, it starts sinking in just how much youíve put up with and that can be very angering/upsetting.

PTSD type response sounds totally normal to me as your brain acclimates to a new reality where itís allowed to process all itís gone through.

misshathaway

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2018, 07:55:44 AM »
I have been fire'd for 3 years and 2 months and it took me all of 2 years i'd bet before I felt comfortable .  I think the more you leave with the longer it takes. Just imho. Give it some time!

That's me down to the time frame. I can't say that my work environment was abusive but it was a very bad fit for me. I hated it, hated the commute, and I was terrible at it. I ended up quitting with no notice in the middle of a crisis. It took me a year to get over the guilt and the I-can't-do-anything-right malaise. Several people who've posted here who didn't exactly quit with a retirement party have had similar adjustment problems and are surprised at how long they last.

Be patient OP.
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jim555

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2018, 08:04:09 AM »
I have been out for more than 3 years from a 30 year tour of work.  I am still adjusting and repairing from the trauma of work. 

Frankies Girl

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2018, 08:45:16 AM »
Oh, I totally, completely understand this stuff.

FIREd in 2015, after working around 20-ish years, extremely high level of toxicity to the point where my supervisor (but not my actual boss until the last year) used to have fun playing the "maybe I'll get you fired" game at least once a year, and was big into the stupid, high school mean girl clique mentality. It was a horrible, terrible place and wasn't helped by being a major pressure cooker of constant project deadlines with required (unpaid or compensated) overtime; 70 hours a week was the average, and you were expected to cancel appointments, vacations, etc., especially if the golden ones decided that they couldn't complete their own projects at the last minute. I had to take work with me when I had to go out of state after my dad had a major heart attack. I was working in his hospital room and ended up getting an average of 2 hours sleep because I was told that the work had to be done or pretty much don't bother coming back...

I went into panic mode for around 6 months to a year after I finally quit. Not having never-ending lists of things to do, the structure, all the pressure suddenly gone - it felt wrong and the anxiety came on full force because I constanly felt like I forgot something and needed to catch up on it before some horrible thing happened. I developed severe depression and PTSD. I think by year two, things started easing back to feeling "normal" but I did have to do counseling and for a time there, over structure my daily schedule (errands, volunteer work, house work, etc) so I felt more in control of my environment.

I'm well into year three at this point and it's still just "okay" not perfect. I'm working hard at some things (exercise/health) in hopes that this will also help down the road. I gained over 100 pounds and had poor exercise habits, so concentrating on getting healthy became my mission the last two years. I may not be able to untangle the mess in my head very well so far, but getting my body figured out has helped. Added bonus is that no one I used to work with would even recognize me now (I've lost 140 pounds and look like a completely different person).

To this day tho, I can't even go visit the place. I get panic feelings just going in the area, so I've avoided it. And I still have nightmares. I am afraid I may always have them, but at least they're starting to fade and I have made progress.

But yeah, if you had a bad work environment, don't expect FIRE/retirement to be an instant cure. It may take years, not months, to get things worked out of your system. Don't be afraid to seek professional help with the untangling process either, because this kind of trauma/drama sometimes has far spreading, deep roots.
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Miss Piggy

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2018, 08:47:46 AM »
This thread is depressing. I'm about a year away from FIRE, although I could see myself quitting FU style in short order. I wouldn't exactly define my workplace as toxic, but lately, I have been losing sleep just trying to mentally process some things that are happening there and the kind of shit that is and isn't valued. The work that truly makes a difference isn't valued; the posturing, pissing contests, and circle jerks over meaningless bullshit are the things that excite the leadership at my company. Gawd, it sucks to see what I just typed. 

I guess what might bother me the most is that as much as I try not to care, it's hard to stop caring about the people I serve...my internal clients who DO value my work, but have no say in whether my work is valued by my higher-ups.

What the hell have we done to ourselves as a society and as human beings?

dude

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2018, 10:25:37 AM »
This thread reminds me of the line from Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," where he says something about it being a particular pleasure to gaze from shore at a ship foundering in wild seas "not because any manís troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive what ills you are free from yourself is pleasant.Ē

:-)

RedmondStash

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2018, 07:34:34 PM »
OP here -- thank you so much, everyone. I'm glad I'm not alone, but I'm sorry I'm not alone in that other folks have been through this kind of crap.

I went into panic mode for around 6 months to a year after I finally quit. Not having never-ending lists of things to do, the structure, all the pressure suddenly gone - it felt wrong and the anxiety came on full force because I constanly felt like I forgot something and needed to catch up on it before some horrible thing happened.

Yeah, this is uncomfortably familiar to me. It's starting to ease up a little, but it seems like every stupid little potential stressor sends me into yet another tailspin. This isn't my first dance with anxiety and panic, and I have solid tools to manage them (mostly), but the intensity and duration have really surprised me. Was not expecting this much post-FIRE drama & fireworks in my brain.

It's not like every second is awful, but the waves just hit hard when they come. They are welcome to stop anytime now, kthxbye.
 
But yeah, if you had a bad work environment, don't expect FIRE/retirement to be an instant cure. It may take years, not months, to get things worked out of your system.

Thanks. This helps me feel like I may not actually be behind the FIRE performance curve, as it were. :) Some things just take longer than you'd like.

25 years is a looooooong time to handle toxic shit day in and day out. Itís normal for it to seem to start bothering you a lot more once you are out of it, because now you can psychologically afford to let it bother you. While you are in it, you have to normalize it in order to swallow it every day. Once youíre out of it, it starts sinking in just how much youíve put up with and that can be very angering/upsetting.

PTSD type response sounds totally normal to me as your brain acclimates to a new reality where itís allowed to process all itís gone through.

Yeah, that's pretty much it in a nutshell.

We once fostered a dog who'd lived his entire life in a puppy mill and had never seen doors, grass, the sky, leashes, etc. before. He was so sweet and affectionate, and at first he seemed to be doing really well -- but then after a few weeks, his old anxiety behaviors started amping up again, and nothing we did helped him calm down. The shelter said that was normal in dogs who've lived in situations like those, because it's finally safe for them to stop being numb.

This thread reminds me of the line from Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," where he says something about it being a particular pleasure to gaze from shore at a ship foundering in wild seas "not because any manís troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive what ills you are free from yourself is pleasant.Ē

Yeah, I get that. Someday I hope to join you on the shore. :)

plantingourpennies

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2018, 08:35:00 PM »
This thread reminds me of the line from Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," where he says something about it being a particular pleasure to gaze from shore at a ship foundering in wild seas "not because any manís troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive what ills you are free from yourself is pleasant.Ē

:-)

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Malkynn

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2018, 04:19:48 AM »
This is exactly why I post often about the risks of living for the future and the unseen psychological damage of choosing to be unhappy just to reach an arbitrary goal. Why itís so important to put a lot of focus on the happiness of now and today and not just pinning everything on a better future when hitting FIRE.

FIRE wonít make anyone happy. Happiness is actually a habit that takes years of hard work to cultivate. Choosing to live for years in conditions that preclude happiness does enormous damage to your psyche and then in FIRE you are left to start from scratch and relearn this happiness habit all while repairing from the damage of decades of toxic habits of putting up with miserable shit and sublimating your own needs.

My career is known for driving people to addiction and suicide. I see the damage building up and taking over my friends and colleagues. The intensity that makes it so amazing and satisfying also makes it brutally, consumingly stressful and can swallow you up over time. I canít do it full time and stay sane. I can love it in small doses if I have ample time to recover, but a work week is too much and a weekend isnít enough recovery time.
After only 3 years, I knew I had to choose between permanently damaging my ability to be happy and mentally healthy or maximizing my career and making a ton of money doing work that I had convinced myself that I loved. Had I stayed at my full time job, I would have FIRED quite young, but my body, mind, and marriage would have been in pretty rough shape and it would have taken years to recover and relearn happiness.

Building a happy and healthy mind is ENORMOUSLY hard work and very similar to building a healthy body. Itís what you do over a lifetime that has the biggest impact, so whatever neglect there has been during your working years, itís going to catch up to you and itís going to make the process harder.

We live in a society that deeply respects -and expects- professional martyrdom, but with total disregard for the profound psychological consequences.

FIRE doesnít make anyone happy, it just creates an environment within which learning to be happy is possible if you havenít been working on it enough along the way.




Salim

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2018, 04:32:18 AM »
My decompression lasted a long time, too. Iím three years out now and itís not so bad anymore.. DH was the opposite... he glided right into retirement and loved it right away.

Be kind to yourself and, as long as the finances are okay, stick with the plan. Be sure to find time to be with other people you enjoy.

You can do this. You can find enjoyable ways to spend time doing fun things. Donít give up. Weíre all rooting for you.

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2018, 05:56:00 AM »
I'm two years out and still redefining my life.  I don't regret quitting for a second, but I've probably asked myself more introspective questions about my life since retirement than any other time.  Doesn't help that I have been fighting chronic pain due to an inflamed gallbladder for the past 6 months, but hopefully that is fixed now and I can continue down my path of reconstruction!

Good to hear others reporting a 2-3 year timeframe for full adjustment.  Just like any other "career" change, no one would expect to be a expert in their new field within a few months.

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2018, 06:08:37 AM »
@RedmondStash - So I'm not FI yet, but my long-time boss recently pulled his own plug at 51.  We both work for a large, regulated, and sometimes backwoods financial institution.   He put it best by saying "Over the course of 10, 15, 20+ years, you don't realize the amount of bullshit you were conditioned to put up with."

He went on to say it just takes time to realize what you put up with and to get past it, there is resentment on allowing yourself to be tortured daily without really knowing it.
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misshathaway

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2018, 06:29:55 AM »
Quote
This helps me feel like I may not actually be behind the FIRE performance curve, as it were. :)

LOL Detach! We are your peer review now and we say that you are doing FIRE fine.
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Salim

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2018, 07:00:19 AM »
I'm two years out and still redefining my life.  I don't regret quitting for a second, but I've probably asked myself more introspective questions about my life since retirement than any other time.  Doesn't help that I have been fighting chronic pain due to an inflamed gallbladder for the past 6 months, but hopefully that is fixed now and I can continue down my path of reconstruction!

Good to hear others reporting a 2-3 year timeframe for full adjustment.  Just like any other "career" change, no one would expect to be a expert in their new field within a few months.

I'm glad you're on the mend. Life will be more fun now.

aperture

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2018, 08:09:10 AM »
Any chance you may be experiencing an existential crisis?  I mention this not because of anything you describe, but rather because it seems logical.  We all spend so much time and effort at "doing" throughout our work life, it can be really really hard after FIRE to switch to just "being". Doing gives meaning, or at least it throws up enough noise that we do not have time to pause and listen to the existential doubts.  Not doing means there may be silence where there was noise and now the emptiness has a voice.   

If this is the case, congratulations!  Facing down your own existential crisis is a rare privilege.   Here are my suggestions: avoid intoxicants, read lots, talk to people about your experience, exercise everyday, and do things you enjoy even if they do not lend meaning to your meaningless insignificant existence.  You may also find that a creative outlet either helps you give voice to your pain, or it gives voice to your pain and is wickedly painful to do. 

You can come out a better person on the other side of an existential crisis.  You can even find meaning, faith, love etc.

Best wishes, aperture.
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markbike528CBX

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2018, 08:19:11 AM »
My actual FIRE time is 4 days in, but I've been on vacation since mid-May.   
I don't THINK my job was stressful enough for PTSD, I fact I mostly liked it.
So I'm mostly PTF, but on the lookout for the potential issues noted by prior posters, before the issues become "permanent".

dude

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2018, 09:13:36 AM »
@RedmondStash - So I'm not FI yet, but my long-time boss recently pulled his own plug at 51.  We both work for a large, regulated, and sometimes backwoods financial institution.   He put it best by saying "Over the course of 10, 15, 20+ years, you don't realize the amount of bullshit you were conditioned to put up with."

He went on to say it just takes time to realize what you put up with and to get past it, there is resentment on allowing yourself to be tortured daily without really knowing it.

Shit, I work a fairly cushy government job with very little stress, and I've had retirees from this job tell me the same thing!

RedmondStash

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2018, 09:30:51 AM »
Any chance you may be experiencing an existential crisis?

It's possible, but this feels more like detox than like life-shift. Still, I guess existential and/or mid-life crisis could be contributing to some extent. I'm about the right age, though I am as yet still unmoved by little red sports cars. I did just get a Nissan Leaf, though, so hmmmm. ;)

BTW, great handle, @aperture. GLaDOS 4ever!

Doops05

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2018, 10:20:40 AM »
Just wanted to chime in - I am about six months in also.  I was planning to work another few years but got laid off and decided that was it.  I'm still thinking about possibly returning to work part-time, but haven't acted on it yet.  I went through a few periods of adjustment that I thought might be helpful to share:

- At first, I was obsessed with "finding my path" -- reading many books about how to find your true calling etc., keeping a journal about it, etc.  This was accompanied by a feeling of guilt and resentment that I had chosen a career I kept at for 20 years that I had stopped enjoying a long time ago, but that paid well.

- At some point I realized that worrying about what I was supposed to be doing with myself wasn't so important, and started to feel more free to just enjoy some things even if it it wasn't the magical "true calling". This included some projects around the house, some very minor furniture restoration, gardening, going for long walks, etc.  The main difference was doing these things and not feeling guilty for not "working".

- Now six months out the main thing I've noticed is my conception of time has completely changed.  Days flow by much more smoothly and there isn't as much emphasis on weekends, or time to go home, or have a drink before dinner, etc.  It's difficult to describe and a strange feeling, but I think for the most part it means I'm adjusting.

I still find myself obsessing about various stressful events at work (some from years ago), and sometimes getting depressed/anxious.  But I think it's worthwhile (at least for me) to give yourself permission to feel these things as the brain's way of processing it.  The more you obsess, the more the brain needs to work it out.  Eventually it starts to fade, hopefully replaced by thinking about a new project you're working on :-)

Just wanted to share - sorry to talk so much about my own experience.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2018, 10:49:55 AM »
Just wanted to share - sorry to talk so much about my own experience.

Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the fourms!  Since the OP specifically asked for others to chime in with their experiences, you have nothing to apologize for!  :)
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smoghat

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #33 on: June 09, 2018, 04:35:50 AM »
Very interesting! I got up early today and wife is still asleep so just sitting here reading, did not want to wake her.

Iíve been talking with a therapist every other week about generalized anxiety. I figured it was due to a psychologically abusivd father and to getting picked on in school. And I think those are issues that at age 50, are still there.

But I wandered into this thread thinking, boy do I feel sorry for the sad sack feeling this way and realized oh wait, thatís me and to top it off, my wife too! Iíve been filling my days with home and landscape improvement projects and while what Iíve done is amazing... I just built a stone wall! I am turning our property into a native plant garden, and more, I am not finding the time I want to read, to exercise, to make the art I want to make, or to just be. Meanwhile my wife is busy all the time with classes she teaches for kids (volunteer). I always am annoyed with her for being on a screen, and now I get why. Its both a problem for her and a reflection of my own issues.

Ok, so some of the home stuff has to continue (the deck needs to be stained as does the whole house... if I can do that it will save me thousands). But on the whole, I need to detox. And I probably do need to admit that two to three cups of coffee causes anxiety, which then leads to too much booze in the evening, which then adds to the anxiety.

Sad to hear about dogs with PTSD issues. I've got a cat that spent two years in the shelter. What a model for us all. She's living life in the minute, just lying there soaking up the sun. No PTSD whatsoever, although man does she hate other cats.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 04:39:53 AM by smoghat »

Trudie

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2018, 08:38:57 AM »
I left a job four months ago after spending over ten years in an environment that had become chaotic and hostile, not to mention a long daily commute.  Yes, I was making more money than I ever had in my life and was getting a kick out of stashing so much for FIRE.  Last summer we hit our low-end FIRE number and I started questioning why I was putting up with it.  Then there was more chaos (people quitting, dumping a shit-ton of work load, crappy boss) and I decided when it started affecting my sleep and mental health that I needed to get out.  SELF PRESERVATION is more important.  Period.  Repeat this to yourself multiple times.

There have been hard days since then and I still get anxiety about what's next.  (I'm talking with a therapist.)  On the other hand, I have no doubt whatsoever that I had nothing to gain by staying at the old job.  Become more anxious, bitter, and sleep-deprived???  No thanks.

Here are some things I've learned:
(1)  It's okay to "revise" your life and update your dreams.  You should not apologize for changing your mind.
(2)  Shift your perspective.  You did not walk out on a failure.  You made a good and tough choice, which shows that you are strong.
(3)  That shit you tell yourself at 3 AM when you can't sleep is just your imagination at work.  Use it for better things.

I've spent my time since then keeping my CPA certificate up-to-date and sometimes questioning if I ever liked the work at all.  But, I'm keeping my credentials up.  I've been volunteering for a few different boards (including one as treasurer, where I get to directly use my professional skills), and even on the worst days I enjoy interacting with other people and doing things for my community.  I was totally detached from my community before.  Just getting out and working on projects or doing fundraising sometimes gives me a little bit of a kick and keeps my chin up.

I took a $10/hour job at a gardening/non-profit and work like one weekend a month, but I absolutely love it.  Gardening is a passion and I like being around others who feel the same.  Yesterday I cleaned up a very public space and put in an ornamental herb container garden.  They were very excited and I thought, "I got paid to do this?"  In sum, it didn't feel like work.

Of course, we can do this because my spouse is still gainfully employed, we have health insurance, and we're still saving about 40%.  It's been an adjustment financially, but at the same time I think I'm learning valuable lessons on how to be flexible, how to economize, and what really makes both of us happy.

For now, my plan is to look for something part-time or flexible for tax season or throughout the year working for a small business or non-profit.  I will make it very clear to the place I've worked over the summer that I've enjoyed it, would like to come back, and would enjoy taking on some additional duties.  I've decided I don't want to be the sole accountant at a business ever again.  The thought of it makes me sick to my stomach and I project all the nights of lost sleep and (frankly) boredom.  If it doesn't bring you contentment, why bother?

Peace.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 11:12:50 AM by Trudie »

MandalayVA

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2018, 09:22:34 AM »
I got laid off/FIRE'd a little over a year ago at 50, and combined that with a pretty significant move. I had all sorts of ambitious plans--get in shape! Volunteer! Write novels! Write blogs! WRITE WRITE WRITE!  I didn't take into consideration that I, you know, just got laid off and moved.  It also didn't help that my husband, although officially retired from one job, wanted to continue to work but had a lot of difficulty finding another job and was constantly after me to help with his job search.  I didn't find my job particularly onerous (my coworkers, though ...), but I still needed to detox from the major life upheaval, and because of all this I couldn't--in fact, there were many times that I found myself more stressed than I'd been when I was working.  I've put my foot down rather firmly, and as a result I've given myself permission to do nothing for a bit.  In short, I hold myself up as an example of what NOT to do after FIREing. 
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radram

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2018, 09:55:24 AM »
I FIRED from a job 3 years ago that I loved when I started, but it became something I hated when I left. I still sort of claim my career left me, not the other way around. I still struggle with that. When things changed, everyone left. 3 days ago I saw someone I used to work with  when the job was great and a lot of fun(it was always a lot of stress, but it was worth it). Hadn't seen him in over 6 years. There was a happiness to see him, but still a bit of a sadness of how it used to be.

The last 5 years were also with great people, but it was very different. I still see them, as I play basketball with them once a week. It just feels different with them. It always will.

With them, as well as with my friends I have never worked with, I still get a bit of guilt when I see them. I know I made my choices and they made theirs, but many of them work much harder than I ever have. I was given great opportunities that I took advantage of, and I still feel guilt about being able to never work again if that is what I want to do.

That said, I would not consider going back to where I left.

iluvzbeach

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2018, 08:26:09 AM »
I find this thread very interesting and want to keep hearing more stories. We are now barebones FI and DH is FIREd, but I still have two years left. Many days at work are brutally stressful and I know itís not good for my mental or physical health. We jokingly call it my ďsentenceĒ, but it occurs to me that I need to stop calling it that and either try to find more positives in my day-to-day or look at changing to something less stressful for the next two years. I am definitely sacrificing less stress and better overall health for the high pay and what it allows us to add to the stash. Iíd love to find a way to allow the detox/decompression to begin now, if at all possible, so that I donít spend the first two years of FIRE dealing with it.
Planning to be FIREd in 2020!

RedmondStash

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2018, 09:45:31 AM »
I find this thread very interesting and want to keep hearing more stories. We are now barebones FI and DH is FIREd, but I still have two years left. Many days at work are brutally stressful and I know itís not good for my mental or physical health. We jokingly call it my ďsentenceĒ, but it occurs to me that I need to stop calling it that and either try to find more positives in my day-to-day or look at changing to something less stressful for the next two years. I am definitely sacrificing less stress and better overall health for the high pay and what it allows us to add to the stash. Iíd love to find a way to allow the detox/decompression to begin now, if at all possible, so that I donít spend the first two years of FIRE dealing with it.

Several years ago, I stopped FT work and moved to PT work in a related field that I wanted to try out, even though there wasn't nearly as much money in it. Absolutely no regrets, either about the PT or about the career change. If you're that close to FIRE, why not try to find a job you enjoy? Maybe work fewer hours for less pay, possibly extend the length of your "sentence" but move from super-max to one of those white-collar prisons with golf and massages and 4k TVs?

My new field did still end up being really toxic, but I got to do some really cool things, and I'm not sorry I tried it. And it's amazing how much more sane you can be when you work PT hours.

Spouse & I have had enough health issues & scares that I really get that there is no guarantee of tomorrow for anyone. I personally believe there's no point in being miserable today. Yes, you need to look out for Future You, but you also have to take care of Present You. Future You is an abstract ideal; Present You is real.

Good luck.

Malkynn

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2018, 09:48:34 AM »
I find this thread very interesting and want to keep hearing more stories. We are now barebones FI and DH is FIREd, but I still have two years left. Many days at work are brutally stressful and I know itís not good for my mental or physical health. We jokingly call it my ďsentenceĒ, but it occurs to me that I need to stop calling it that and either try to find more positives in my day-to-day or look at changing to something less stressful for the next two years. I am definitely sacrificing less stress and better overall health for the high pay and what it allows us to add to the stash. Iíd love to find a way to allow the detox/decompression to begin now, if at all possible, so that I donít spend the first two years of FIRE dealing with it.

Several years ago, I stopped FT work and moved to PT work in a related field that I wanted to try out, even though there wasn't nearly as much money in it. Absolutely no regrets, either about the PT or about the career change. If you're that close to FIRE, why not try to find a job you enjoy? Maybe work fewer hours for less pay, possibly extend the length of your "sentence" but move from super-max to one of those white-collar prisons with golf and massages and 4k TVs?

My new field did still end up being really toxic, but I got to do some really cool things, and I'm not sorry I tried it. And it's amazing how much more sane you can be when you work PT hours.

Spouse & I have had enough health issues & scares that I really get that there is no guarantee of tomorrow for anyone. I personally believe there's no point in being miserable today. Yes, you need to look out for Future You, but you also have to take care of Present You. Future You is an abstract ideal; Present You is real.

Good luck.

Future you also needs present you to be happy and healthy if future you has any hope of being happy and healthy. Money isnít the only thing that future you needs.

FrugalZony

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2018, 05:03:32 PM »
I am in my second year of FIRE and pretty much live my dream FIRE life with a wonderful partner in crime.
I am STILL decompressing!

I did not expect it to take this long at all!

I had a few health issues that I expected to fully go away once the stress is gone, but nope, still dealing with this.

Also, still dream of work frequently, often times nightmares etc.

I had a very unpleasant boss, but mostly nice colleagues, a job I enjoyed and customers that valued my expertise.
I normally would have FIREd around this time this year, but the unpleasant boss had some ridiculous ideas (especially about a relocation) that I did not agree with, so I pulled the plug early.

I love and enjoy my freedom, but I have way more flashbacks, weird dreams and odd things that come up, than I ever expected.

So there's that! You are definitely not alone!
After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.
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markbike528CBX

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #41 on: June 11, 2018, 05:31:55 PM »
RE:  flashbacks

Just FIREd, and still working through issues.

However, I will note that the only scary dreams I've had about college was 10 years later (late for a final sort of thing, even that never happened).

iluvzbeach

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #42 on: June 11, 2018, 06:17:44 PM »
@RedmondStash @Malkynn - thank you for your comments, you are 100% correct and have provided me with some food for thought.
Planning to be FIREd in 2020!

FiveSigmas

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #43 on: June 11, 2018, 07:50:18 PM »
Just wanted to share - sorry to talk so much about my own experience.

Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the fourms!  Since the OP specifically asked for others to chime in with their experiences, you have nothing to apologize for!  :)

+1. Thanks for sharing, Doops!

ks135ks

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2018, 10:39:44 AM »
My transition has been an ongoing process.  We had a lot going when I first FIREd.  Not only did I leave my job, but we also sold my paid for house, bought another one with mortgage (@boarder42 will be so proud) in another state, and DH started a new job in new state. 

If we hadn't moved, I think my decompression would have been much different.  I had lots of activities and community ties where we were that just suddenly were states away.  But I have some ties here as it's where family and childhood friends are, it just isn't quite the same.  I went from riding my bike many many miles regularly to not having been out once since we moved. :-(  The roads here scare me even if we are just across the street from a large park and are not far from a rails to trails path.  So there really isn't any excuse for me not to ride; I just need to do it.  Fitness was a bigger part of my life than it is now (I was a part time personal trainer before we moved) and I can't pinpoint why it's not anymore.  I'm struggling with that too I guess (not riding/training is only a part of the issue).

Since my husband works the M-F job, I try to take care of the house.  It's older so there are lots of projects.  It's a bit smaller than our last house, but we just plain have too much stuff.  I want to get rid of so much of it, but I am not sure DH is on board with that. 

To appease family, I am continuing to search for jobs, but as I wrote in another thread, walking into a cube farm for the interview just lead to a mini panic attack and a realization that I didn't want to be there.  I don't think I could return to that environment and survive.  So if I am going to work FT again, I need to find something else.  I enjoyed the tax season, so I expect to continue to do that each year.

I enjoyed reading @Malkynn's warning to work for happiness and RE to something.  I agree wholeheartedly!  I thought I was ready to RE but maybe I wasn't quite.  The FI part is still working out beautifully.  The RE part needs some TLC.  It's still a process.

Can't really say a whole lot of this outside of these forums. 

RedmondStash

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2018, 11:41:40 AM »
Fitness was a bigger part of my life than it is now (I was a part time personal trainer before we moved) and I can't pinpoint why it's not anymore.  I'm struggling with that too I guess (not riding/training is only a part of the issue).

As with all things, YMMV, of course, but I find that the more stressed out I am, the less I want to be present in the physical world. So I dink around online, I watch TV, etc. Exercising requires a level of presence, and presence requires feeling things that you can no longer anesthetize with distractions. So for me, one of the obstacles to exercising more, which is also a goal of mine, is overcoming the obstacle of not really wanting to be in my body because that means facing a bunch of unpleasant flaming dragons along the way.

I'm trying to make deals with myself, like "just do 5 deep meditative breaths, and then you can stop," or "don't turn on your computer until after lunch." For me, I think it's just not wanting to deal with all the detoxing going on in my brain, which is pretty much lit up like a fireworks display, anxiety-wise, most of the time these days.

I'm taking steps to deal with the anxiety, and I'm also trying to be very patient with myself. Big changes are disorienting, and disorientation is stressful. I do believe that all our coping mechanisms are trying to protect us, even if they seem self-destructive or no longer appropriate now.

Good luck to you.

dude

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #46 on: June 12, 2018, 11:59:49 AM »
RE:  flashbacks

Just FIREd, and still working through issues.

However, I will note that the only scary dreams I've had about college was 10 years later (late for a final sort of thing, even that never happened).

There was a great article in the NY Times a while back about this dream -- it's pretty universal -- which was news to me. I've had the recurring dream that I show up for a college math exam after not having been to any classes all semester, and my graduating is dependent on my passing this exam. Holy shit, it freaks me the fuck out and I wake up with my heart racing every time!

Cassie

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #47 on: June 12, 2018, 12:06:50 PM »
It took me about a year to de-stress.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #48 on: June 12, 2018, 12:17:14 PM »
RE:  flashbacks

Just FIREd, and still working through issues.

However, I will note that the only scary dreams I've had about college was 10 years later (late for a final sort of thing, even that never happened).

There was a great article in the NY Times a while back about this dream -- it's pretty universal -- which was news to me. I've had the recurring dream that I show up for a college math exam after not having been to any classes all semester, and my graduating is dependent on my passing this exam. Holy shit, it freaks me the fuck out and I wake up with my heart racing every time!

Oh man, I've had a very similar dream countless times.  It's the worst!
"Overcoming the inertia of procrastination since tomorrow"

Threshkin

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Re: Difficult FIRE decompression/transition, anyone?
« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2018, 01:20:42 PM »
I posted this to my journal on the 10th.  It applies here.

I have been FIREd for about 20 months now and the transition has had its ups and downs.  I have had (still have) the dreams about work, some depression and feelings of anxiety/inadequacy.

Some friends recently visited from San Jose CA.  They are living the high income, high stress life common in the Bay Area.  "Jane" in particular is working 12+ hour days as an accountant for a big tech company and the stress is really getting to her.

Jane was in awe of our simpler more relaxed lifestyle.  We spend the afternoon sitting on the back deck talking about lifestyle choices and the balance between career and happiness.

I had been in an extended down phase where I had been obsessing over the things I didn't like in my life and ignoring all the good parts.  Jane's perspective and admiration of our lifestyle really brought things back into perspective and improved my mood enormously.

I realized that our life was actually pretty darn good.  I just needed to see it through another person's eyes for a bit.

Even better, our friends liked out life so much they bought a house nearby and plan to move in a few years once their youngest son graduates from high school.  They are anxious to get out of the high income/HCOL rat race and enjoy the tranquility of a more relaxed life.  This really helped confirm that we are on the right track.

Win win for both of us!