Axel interpreted my very vivid dreams from last night as anxiety dreams. After three weeks at home I’ve come to the realization that this is what forced retirement must be like: one moment you are fully engaged with work and with the world and then, from one day to another, you are not.

My anxiety comes from being completely disconnected from everything I have been involved in over the past two years, or even the past 25 years at MSH. My homecoming was wonderful and sweet but it was also incomplete as there was no re-entry into my former professional world. Vacation is not really a vacation if you don’t know what happens after it is over.

Although I am considered 100% employed (billable we call it), I don’t have a desk, an entry card to the building, or a place to sit and call my own other than what I have at home. At first I thought this was a good thing but now I recognize it is not.

When I went to the last week I parked in one of the parking spaces assigned to my company. For this I had to sign in a book, much like I used to before I left for Kabul. I was told I had to pay 15 dollars if I was going to stay longer than 2 hours. I responded, “I am here for a meeting,” to which our receptionist responded, “but you are an MSH employee, are you not?” Employees have to pay for parking. I realized that I was indeed an employee but I didn’t feel like one, more like a stranger coming in for a visit. That exchange was a turning point.

This feeling of disconnection has only intensified since then. And so this morning I called in and asked for an entrance card and a space to sit. Once I have those I will discipline myself to come in three days every week, like I used to, and re-insert myself physically and psychologically, so I can feel like being part of something again.

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September 2011
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