S1E10. How It All Fell Apart

In March of 2019, I was on track to be the next chair of the Chester County (PA) Democratic Committee. Two years later, I’m not even a member of the organization. How did that happen?

More importantly: Why did it happen? The answer to that question makes a big difference.

Up until now, I’ve explored specific mistakes related to specific brain networks such as memory and language. But there are also global effects related to an oncoming dementia that can generate errors on a grander scale.

As our processing speed slows or as specific deficits develop, it takes more effort to attend to business as usual. The effects can be very subtle. We might get frustrated more easily, or feel more fatigued more often. Some of us will lose interest in things we’ve long enjoyed, while others will start to withdraw from social activities.

Now let’s take a look at what happened to me over the course of the past two years.

In March of 2019, I had a falling out with the Chair of the County Democratic Committee and resigned my position on the executive board. This was not planned and it immediately ended any chance I had to be elected County Chair.

Surprisingly, however, I felt relieved. I realized that–for the first time in my life–I had taken on more than I could comfortably handle. In retirement, I was feeling more stressed by my volunteering obligations than I ever had as a full-time employee or business owner!

Two months later, I resigned my seat on the Kennett Square Borough Council. The reason was pretty straight-forward: Sally and I were planning to travel a lot in the second half of the year and I wouldn’t be around to do my job. I thought it only fair to resign so that my fellow Council members could appoint someone to complete the 8 months remaining in my term who would take over my workload.

Again, I felt immediate relief after my resignation, even though relief was not my goal.

(By the way, Sally and I thoroughly enjoyed our trips in the second half of the year!)

At this point, having resigned two positions, I was still Chair of our local Democratic committee, the Kennett Area Democrats, and I was still a committee person responsible for my precinct.

In January of 2020, instead of further lightening the load, I took on a new assignment when I became the campaign chair for our candidate for State Representative. Once again, I was a full-time volunteer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the work, embraced it and learned a great deal from the experience. I was busier than ever, but not feeling the pressure.

My job as campaign chair ended on election day in November.

In December, I resigned my position as the Chair of the Kennett Area Democrats. It had been my intention ever since I was first elected three years earlier to guide the organization through the 2020 election and then step down. And so I did.

Let me pause here for a moment to provide some important context. As I’ve explained in earlier posts, cognitive impairments are defined as declines from previous levels of functioning, so it’s important to know a little something about my history.

Interestingly–or maybe ‘strangely’ is a better word–my life pattern has been to change my career (not just my job) every ten years. It seems my interest and enjoyment have an expiration date assigned to them. My careers as the manager of a performing arts center, as a B&B owner, and as a clinical psychologist all lasted just about 10 years, more or less. 

Each time I shifted, I embraced my new life with all my heart and soul and never looked back, never regretted the change, and lost interest in the old job. Now it appears to be happening again as I transition out of my career as a political activist, which began in October of 2010, a month after the death of my first wife.

The final separation came this past week when I resigned as the committee person for my precinct. During recent Kennett Area Democrats’ monthly ZOOM meetings, I realized I was losing interest in the organization. And then when a motion I offered was defeated, I thought: ‘I don’t need this aggravation and I don’t have the fire in my belly anymore to fight for this stuff. I’m done.’

Other than Sally, writing this blog is now my only passion.

So…what do you think? Does what I’ve described sound reasonable? Or is it a series of rationalizations to mask what’s really happening to me? Am I experiencing signs of cognitive decline on the journey to dementia? Or am I just beginning my 5th career?

Time will tell.

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14 Comments

  1. You entitled this, “How it all fell apart”. I don’t think it fell apart at all. Especially due to brain function. Instead, like an onion, you peeled away the layers to ultimately reach your threshold of 10 years. We all have different clocks in our bodies, and once again, yours struck midnight.

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    1. Tom Houghton says:

      Wayne, I for one want to thank you for all of your past help given to me and our other local candidates! Here’s to good health and happiness to you & Sally!

      Tom Houghton

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re most welcome, Tom…it’s been a hoot!

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  2. Sue says:

    I have another question? Is a decade a long time to remain focused on a project/job? How many of us remain an one profession but change responsibilities/ jobs every decade? I have been a licensed professional nurse since 1968 and have had diverse nursing experiences and been licensed in 5 states. It was a combination of changes within the family that caused the new nursing focus and a need to expand and change my professional focus. After more than 50 years in nursing, I am still excited to find new and challenging ways to use my experience and knowledge ! I don’t consider myself as “falling apart” but expanding “my horizons”!

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    1. I’ve read that the new normal is that we will change careers 3 times in our lives so that we should all be prepared to go back to school several times to re-train ourselves. One career with job changes every 3 years used to be recommended to maximize salary growth. So many roads on the journey!

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  3. Joe Duffy says:

    Dr. Sidney Zentall describes ADD not as attention deficit but as attention bias, whereby one always seeks the higher stimuli.
    Wayne, you could just be moving on to your next adventure. Do not go gentle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. COLLEEN M THORNTON says:

    Oddly, my own career has had similar “sell by” dates, and each shift has provided new opportunities to learn and grow. I am now looking for the next sign post to launch a spectacular retirement. Stikes me that you have not lost any mental acuity, but have gained clarity of perspective and hard won wisdom. Not that you weren’t always wise; it’s one of your strongest characterisitics since I’ve known you. Keep writing! XXX, Colleen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Colleen. Let’s hope I am enjoying Eric Erikson’s 8th stage of development: wisdom. Wishing you success in your next launch!

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  5. Douglas Spencer says:

    Wayne, the clarity and introspection you demonstrate in your writing tells me you are not falling apart. You are rationally thinking through what you want to do. You have been, and continue to be, a beloved member of the community, however “community” might be defined. —Doug
    Spencer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Doug. Your vote has been recorded! 😀

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  6. Wayne, you’ve given so much to so many and lead with sensitivity and passion. I am honored to call you a friend. You have high standards, and I understand what it feels like to try to bring up something important, and to feel unheard. I think finding your own happiness is important and I admire your strong convictions. Local democrats will miss your guidance and kindness, but we’ll just have to find another less organized excuse to get together – that’s all. And most of all, I am so glad you and Sally have more time to enjoy together. You are amazing people and I feel lucky to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Whit. The beat goes on…I just won’t be the one playing the drums. Good luck and we’ll see you on the ballot!

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  7. Carol Catanese says:

    (This is a delayed comment due to trouble trying to comment when first reading this blog – some issue with not recognizing me)
    The ten year cycle works for me, too.
    For us who get to experience the output of one of your ten year cycles, we are all the better for it!
    I am so happy that you and Sally have more time to explore together. Hopefully traveling will open up soon.

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    1. Belated appreciation for your good wishes!

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