A few years ago, I was absolutely terrified of growing older, because I didn’t know how in the world I would make it past a certain age. The thoughts passed as I started concentrating on more pressing matters, and I haven’t really thought about what the future holds until recently.
But now the fears are worse than ever.
I’m 46 years old. Partially because of my intolerance of a high-pressure, competitive work environment and partially because of my complete lack of a background that I can actually do (I have two vocational certificates, both of which are for a line of work that requires standing for hours at a time, something my back will not tolerate anymore) and partially because of my own lack of motivation to make my career my legacy, if I returned to the workforce, I would be doing so at essentially an entry level position, no matter what field I managed to find work in, and would likely not move past that tier of responsibility for some time. (This is all taking into account my own mental health as it stands today. This might improve over time but that remains to be seen.) I can’t afford to go back to school to improve my chances of finding a career, as the student loans would likely not be paid off in my lifetime and I don’t want my daughter to be left paying them off on top of her own substantial education debt, plus by the time I could graduate and find work, I’d likely have 15 years in the workforce before I was forced to retire. Right now, because I’m on disability, our budget is so tight that in the coming weeks there will be less than a dollar of wiggle room in order to be able to pay our bills one pay cycle.
Now tack on the extra expenses of seeing the doctor more often, seeing more doctors, and paying for more procedures and prescriptions, and the future looks very, very bleak indeed.
What little bit we had managed to save for retirement was eaten up in 2012 when we both lost our jobs within three months of one another and couldn’t find work for several months afterwards. (I have yet to return to work, in fact.)
I try not to dwell on thoughts like this. But any time I think of the future I don’t really see a place for me in it. I see myself homeless and alone and not lasting long on the streets.
This is not where I wanted to end up at the end of my life. I wanted there to be enough saved to be able to make ends meet when I retired. Now there’s no chance I’ll ever be able to retire. Either I’ll remain on disability for the rest of my life, or I’ll have to somehow work until I die.
I don’t like talking about money, and I don’t like talking about my fears, because they both depress me greatly. But lately that’s always in the back of my mind.
I don’t know what the future holds. But right now, with things going the way they are, I don’t see a way out of the hole that I’ve spent my life digging for myself.
Do I plan on giving up? No, not yet. There’s still a chance that something could happen that would help turn this around, and I’m hopeful that it will happen.
But I’m not holding my breath.