Being Content When The Military Moves You Far From Home
I moved out of my parents home and away from my hometown when I was 18.5 years old. I couldn’t wait to explore and live somewhere else. I couldn’t wait for that independence. I was so ready and left when I had the chance to go.
When I did that, I didn’t know how far that independence would take me. When I was 26, we moved from Northern California to Kentucky, even further away. When my husband joined the Army, we moved to Germany, an ocean away. We came back to Tennessee and have been here ever since, and where we live now is exactly 1,985.9 miles away from “home.”
There is a part of me that yearns to be back. To be able to live where I used to live, to be able to do the things I used to do on a regular basis (like go to Disneyland once a week,) and to live the life I used to have.
But here is the thing…
Time has moved on, not just for me, but for my hometown. Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but where I grew up is so different in 2018 than when I left in 1997. There is a lot more traffic, less rain, and Disneyland is way more expensive.
I once had a pastor tell me something that still sticks with me to this day. I was telling him about our church back in California and how special that place was. How I wanted to find something like that again.
He told me that while that was amazing, that if we left right then and returned, the church would be a different place. That it is easy to assume everyone from our past is frozen in time, but that isn’t true. People have changed, places have changed, and going back wouldn’t be like stepping right back in right after we left.
So if I were to pack up my family and head back to Southern California, things would be different. And maybe part of that is that I have changed. I am used to life in other places, not so much the life of someone in Southern California. This hit me hard on my last visit there this past summer.
And it isn’t like I couldn’t adjust to life there again, I am sure I could. I am sure that over time, things would be okay. But remembering that I can never go back to 1997 and how things were back then is a comfort to me in a place so far from home.
As military spouses, many of you don’t live near where you grew up.
Some of you might just be a few hours away, others, across the ocean. You could be the type of person who couldn’t wait to leave, or maybe you never thought you would until you married your soldier and you had to go. Living away from home can be difficult, even for those of us who couldn’t wait to move away.
You miss things. You miss birthdays, and weddings, and other events that make you sad to think about. You become the people that other people used to know. You become a part of their history and are no longer apart of their present. And that can be hard to take.
Homesickness can be real. You can feel like you gave up everything and for what? You might wonder if the time away is worth it? If spreading your wings a bit was worth it?
How can you be content when the military moves you far from home?
Here are some ideas:
Embrace your independence
When you leave home, you become more independent just by doing so. There is now a lot more distance between you and your family, between you and what you are used to, between you and your comfort zone. You have to do things you didn’t think you would have to do, and you will grow stronger for it.
Embrace this independence that comes from being far from home. Take a look back at what you have done on your own. Look ahead to the future on what you can accomplish based on these skills you have learned.
Explore your new home
Get out there and see what your current area has to offer. It might be totally different than what you are used to, but that’s okay. This will force you out of your comfort zone, but that can be a good thing.
Look up bucket lists for your new duty station, talk to your neighbors, look for what other people do in their free time. Getting involved in your new community will help you find contentment there, and will lessen the effects of homesickness.
Yes, you moved away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever visit. Now, how often you visit is going to depend on many different factors. You might not be able to afford to do so too often, or maybe you can go home for every holiday. Find a good balance and what will work for you and your family.
If you live close enough, it might be possible to go home every weekend. This might not be the best idea if you want to dive into your new community. Give yourself some time to be where you now live, and not just escape to home whenever you get the chance. If you can figure out a new home that is just a few hours from where you are from, those skills will help you when you move farther away.
Invite your family and maybe even friends to visit your new home. Show them around, show them your new life. Let them see what you are experiencing. Your friends and family want to know you are in a good place and showing them that place first hand can be a wonderful thing.
When the military moves you far away from home, it can be so hard to figure out how to be content. There is a lot to miss about home, and for many, it can feel like your new duty station will never feel that way. Give yourself some time, get out of your comfort zone, and look for the good in your new place.
Where was the first place you lived after moving away from home?