Milspouse Life Can Be Lonely
Over the course of my nearly 12 years as a military spouse, I’ve struggled with loneliness more often than I care to think about. A cycle developed – we’d move to a new duty station, I’d spend my days alone until my husband came home for at least 6 months to a year, I’d finally meet a good friend (after weeding my way through several crazies), and once we got close, it would be time to move again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
From duty station to duty station, I’d spent more days alone wishing I had a friend than I had spent actually having a friend. I filled my lonely days with college coursework. I had 4 kids – they filled my days with love and laughter. And I finally accepted that as long as I lived this lifestyle as a military spouse, this was how my social life would remain. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Strength in Numbers
Chances are, if you’re a military spouse, you’ve been where I’ve been. So why don’t we welcome our new neighbor when they move into housing? Why don’t we invite new moms who lack a support system to our morning playdates? Why do we notice the new family and keep moving instead of taking 5 minutes to introduce ourselves and offer some encouraging words about their new home? Why do we do this to each other? You need the new girl as much as she needs you. Opportunities to connect abound but we continue to isolate ourselves from one another and perpetuate the cycle of loneliness. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Take a Chance – Put Yourself Out There.
It’s hard making new friends as a military spouse. It requires us to be vulnerable and open and to some degree, trusting, to complete and total strangers. Ask us to do it once and we could probably muster up the courage to venture outside of our comfort zone – ask us to do it constantly, and it’s draining. You can only sustain the cycle for so long before you get burnt out from striking out or from constant and guaranteed loss. Some of us haven’t been able to find that connection. Others of us are left thinking, What’s the point?.
But that spouse you never reached out to is dying for some interaction with someone who gets them – someone who knows exactly what they’re enduring – and you are, too. That spouse you never reached out to has lost contact with a lot of their friends back home because they don’t understand or can’t relate – and you’re in the same position. You’re not the only one bearing the burden of a lonely lifestyle alone.
It Starts with You.
We live such a unique lifestyle – we have so many of the same interests, priorities, challenges, and sentiments – so, it’s time we lifted each other up and supported one another. It’s time we found the courage to be vulnerable and say, “hi”. Say, “hi” to the young teen military spouse who recently got thrown into this world of uncertainty. Say, “hi” to the veteran military spouse with a house full of kids and a husband who is deployed (for the 8th time). Say, “hi” to the rare male spouse who isn’t sure where he fits into a predominantly female spouse circle.
We’re In This Together.
We have to remember that we’re all in this together – and no part of this journey is easy. I empathize with your struggle, your loneliness, your exhaustion – but I encourage you to never give up. Some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life are the friends that I’ve acquired by putting myself out there. I’ve loved them dearly and have had to say goodbye to them more times than my heart can handle, but I would do it over again in an instant to get to have that kind of sisterhood, that kind of connection.
Say hello to that new family that just moved in this week. Introduce yourself to the new mom at the grocery store who is juggling her little ones with the grocery list. Invite the rare military spouse with no children over for girls’ night. Wash, rinse, repeat.