By Jaimi Erickson
My military family was making a PCS move. The best option was to live off-base. A two-year wait for on-base housing was projected. With four children — two of which were 6 months old — temporary housing was not an ideal option.
We chose a home in what was the best school district in the area. The home was not too small, considering the typical, affordable home sizes in Southern California. It was a quiet neighborhood, but we could walk to a playground and even walk to the grocery store. Living off-base was going to have its perks.
Our neighbors kept to themselves, though. There were never kids playing outside. We did not even feel like we were military since we did not have a community of support. Then, my husband got assigned to a deployment.
My first instinct was to worry. I felt so alone each day. Going through a deployment without a local support system was scary. I wondered what I would do if I had to take a child to the ER at 2am. Who would help me with the babies if I got sick? What would I do to get recharge time?
When your spouse deploys and you do not have a close circle of friends to rely on, life can feel lonely. Of course, a friend or family member is always a FaceTime session or social media post away. But, when you are lonely at your duty station, it can weigh heavily on your mind.
During times of loneliness in this military lifestyle, I choose to invest in myself. I make a mental list of things I want to learn or do. Then
, I always have a new project to tackle or skill to learn.
Investing in myself has been a great way to grow as a person, during times when I feel lonely as a military spouse.
How to Invest in Yourself
I start with simple goals. During my servicemember’s first deployment after we became parents, my goal was to walk every day, create a scrapbook for our baby, and maintain a regular playgroup schedule to meet other moms.
With these goals in mind, I walked 5-6 miles a day, 4 days a week. Once each week, we attended a base playgroup. Another day of the week, we met a friend for a playdate. And, during my son’s naptime, I worked on a scrapbook recording his milestones for the year.
Sticking to this schedule provided a balance between active time and downtime. I felt like I was productive and used the time to the fullest. Every day felt full enough, despite being a stay-at-home mom in the midst of a year-long deployment.
During our next deployment, the kids were older. Their schedules provided more structure to the days. At that point, I had started blogging. My main goal during that 6-month deployment was to build my blog into a side business. Despite having young kids, our schedule was structured. That allowed me a few hours every night to focus on my blog. My work time happened after the kids went to bed.
Other ideas for using the lonely times to grow and learn are reading books, taking a class, viewing webinars, joining a gym, starting a business from home, or volunteering. They all work to encourage personal growth and learning.
Lonely Seasons Can Be Positive
Every time I am in a season of loneliness in this military life, I remind myself to think of the open time as an invitation to invest in myself. I choose a new hobby or goal, and that becomes the priority of my lonely times.
The lonely seasons of deployments and separations are a prime time to lean into your strengths. They provide time to work through weaknesses and can let you invest in yourself in healthy, meaningful, fulfilling ways. And that kind of time is always worth it.