I ran out of toilet paper. Actually, we didn’t have any toilet paper because we hadn’t even moved in yet. When I came knocking for a spare roll, she was happy to hand me one from her stash.
And then stepped in to help with child care duties when I got a stomach bug I just couldn’t shake.
When I was in the hospital for baby two, she was there again for sleepovers and dog walking.
For almost 18 months, we did everything together. Playdates and morning coffee and life.
Then the PCS orders came for her family, but not mine.
Now, my support squad is on another continent.
When Your Support Squad PCSes, But You Don’t
Military spouses often build support networks with other spouses simply because it works the best in terms of stability. My kids’ school knows to call the emergency contacts right after they call me, just in case their dad is away.
Suddenly, I was adrift without my person. Yes, my spouse was still there with me, but he’s in and out for the most part.
My days were less full after she PCSed. No more morning spur-of-the-moment coffee dates or afternoons spent watching the kids play. I couldn’t run across the street for sugar or to grab dinner with when the guys were gone. She was a world away from me.
It’s OK to Grieve
Military spouses are used to change. It’s practically our middle name! Between deployments and PCSing and weird TDY schedules, our lives are in flux. But no matter where we live, we build our support networks to help keep our sanity.
When your friend PCSes while you stay behind, you’re losing a piece of your life. Things are going to change drastically, even though it seems like everything will be remaining the same.
It’s OK to grieve. Give yourself permission to feel sad, to withdraw or to be upset at the military powers that be.
Rebuild Your Network
I tend to rely on just a few close friends at each duty station. It’s easier for me to manage emotionally than a constantly rotating crew. When one of my besties moves away, there’s a big hole in my social and support networks.
Even though I’m missing my pal, I know that it’s important to keep in touch with the other folks in my circle. They might also be missing your PCSed friend too.
Reach out to your local friends and put some events on your calendars. Getting out there and connecting with friends can help you to feel better! Plus, you’ll remind yourself that your support network does still exist. You’ve got people to turn to where you are, even if you forgot about it for a minute.
If you’re truly flying solo, it’s time to make new connections. One great way to find new friends is to connect through your unit’s family readiness group or social activities. Find a group, like Stroller Warriors or religious study or PTO, to join. You’ll find like-minded individuals who might be looking for their “person” too!
Stay in Touch
Remember, your friend is still out there, even though you’re not co-located anymore. While they can’t handle daycare pickup or meet you for lunch, you can still find support from each other.
Our social media world offers us the chance to connect virtually around the world! Share photos, send messages and video chat as often as you can. You can still share a cup of tea over Skype or gripe about the latest visit from Deployment Murphy.
Old-fashioned snail mail is another great way to stay connected. Build care packages to send for special occasions or just whenever the mood strikes. Fill a box or big envelope with letters, local treats and thoughtful gifts that will bring a smile to your friend’s face.
Whenever possible arrange a visit to their new location. You’ll be able to score some amazing face time and explore a new place at the same time. You could make it a girls weekend and leave the kids at home. Or bring the whole family for a giant reunion!
It’s a Small Military
Depending on your branch of service or your spouse’s job, there is a strong chance that you might end up stationed together again!
Many military families keep rotating between the same few duty stations over the course of a career. While you may be separated now, you could end up just down the street or a town apart after the next move.
Even if you don’t end up neighbors quite so soon, you might find mutual friends after your next move. Building new friendships based on your older ones is a great way to expand your circle.