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PCS and the 6 Month Mark

6 months.

  It is a significant mark in time and am realizing that it means even more to a military spouse.  Here are just a few:
During a pregnancy it is the time when the energetic second trimester is over, and a tiring, grump third begins.
During a deployment (a 9 month or one year), it marks an achievement of everything you have gotten through on your own, but now your ready for your family to be back together.  It is a heavy feeling that you have so much further to go but you fear your motivation may run out.
During reintegration it is the point where things can both return to normal or issues really come out.

But there is a new one that I have learned about personally… it is the 6 month mark after your PCS.  Funny, it can look and feel like the other ones.  I realize that a lot of you have this moving thing down, and if you do- please comment because you have so much to teach the rest of us.  As a natural introvert (one who gains energy from doing activities alone such as reading a book or going for a run), starting over in a new location can be difficult. I love people, don’t get me wrong- I am a counselor and it is my great joy to see people find joy in their life.  But building relationships is something different.  I’m the type of person that makes friends and then wants to build a neighborhood full of them and stay there for the rest of my life.  That’s not exactly a good thing if you are going to thrive as a military spouse.  After struggling at the 6 month mark in the last assignment, I told myself this time, that I would “jump into community” at the new location.  I committed to finding a church, a small group, that I would build relationships quicker in the neighborhood, etc.  And now I find myself at the 6 month mark again.

Part of it is me.  I have worked hard to establish myself in my job here, something I wanted to take advantage of while I could, but Matt held me accountable and pointed out that I keep finding things to do to stay busy.  I love him.  Sometimes I hate hearing what he has to say, but he was right.  That’s when I realized that I fill the void of real relationships with projects.  I could find one to get lost in every day.  I wonder if others of you do that as well.  My projects tend to revolve around helping people but rarely involve real, meaningful relationships.  The only thing that leaves me at the 6 month mark is alone and burned out.  Perhaps there are extroverts that find ways to stay busy with events without building community as well?  Do you over-volunteer for the sake of being around people?

I never want to present something difficult without also providing a solution.  The truth is, PCSing will always be difficult, filled with ups and downs.  There will always be projects, events, and opportunities to volunteer that will be waiting in the wings for us to squeeze it in while sacrificing what was most important to us. A good friend of mine once described building relationships after a PCS like speed-dating.  That is so true.  I after feel like I am trying to show that I am a real, normal person (I like to think so) and not the annoying, needy, neighbor that is in all actuality very much needing connection.  The 6 month mark may always show up, reminding me of what I need most- solid connection with my sweet family and friends to thrive with where we are planted.  So today, I’m going to listen to it’s nagging voice that is telling me I’m missing something important and go read my Mission Statement.  If you don’t have one, write one today. I desperately need to read mine every morning.  It keeps me focused on my priorities and values of what I need most to be happy.  I have one major mission statement and then a list of priorities under it that align with it.  As I re-read it this morning there are several projects I have said “yes” to that don’t align with what I originally said would bring me joy.  So… I’m going to go play Monopoly with my kids, find a place to hang my Mission Statement, say “no” to a few opportunities (and to myself), and then go talk to my neighbor.

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