For most people hearing the words, “orders up” means your food is ready, but for a military spouse your future is dangling within these two little words. To all my civilian peeps…orders dictate where and when your spouse is going to report to their next duty station. From personal experience I can only speak about the submarine world, but for most military spouses orders usually mean moving away from your current duty station every few years. There are those lucky ones that get stationed year after year at the same duty station, but it’s not common. Don’t get me wrong…I knew what I was getting into when I married a submariner, but there really is no way to prepare yourself for uprooting your life every few years.
I grew up in San Diego, CA and swore I would never marry a military man because I would NEVER leave San Diego. Ha, well when you are a smitten kitten the idea of moving every few years changes from an absolute “not gonna happen” to “I have always wanted to travel and explore the world.” You can’t control who you fall in love with and I quickly learned that home is wherever my main squeeze is. We spent 2 years together in San Diego while he was on shore duty (civilian equivalent of working a 9-5), did the whole dating, engaged, then tied the knot thing and were officially set to begin our military journey.
My sweet husband did a phenomenal job of preparing me for what was in store for us once we left San Diego. I knew it was going to be a whirlwind, but again this smitten kitten was ready for the adventure. We married in September 2009, honeymooned in St. Lucia, returned home to pack up the house, and spent three weeks driving across the country to Connecticut where we would call that home for six months. Yes, six short months! The movers arrived and we unpacked our entire house and settled in even though we knew it was only temporary. My hubs always told me that no matter where we live, we will live like it’s our permanent home. I really had no idea what he was talking about until it was time to pack up our house in Connecticut and move to Virginia. In the military world they call this PCSing…Permanent Change of Station. CT was considered a PCS, but uh hello that was six months. Really?!?!? I barely had enough time to locate the nearest Nordstrom and my favorite coffee shop! Just when you feel like you are settled in and can call this place home, you have to move again.
Alright, six months is not that long, but our next PCS to Virginia was for three years. Love it!! That’s such a long time…so I thought. Hmm, it’s now April 1st and the hubs and I have been chatting about orders for the past few weeks. I cannot believe it’s that time again! After working his tail off for the last three years we are hoping that a bone is thrown our way and we get to stay in the same city. We love where we live, have no desire to move yet and after a three year sea tour (this is not a 9-5…it’s a deployments, work ups, work all the time, etc) we are looking forward to finally enjoying time together where we live. Of course, this is totally out of our control and when those “orders are up” we will deal with the hand that has been dealt.
Until then, life goes on and I have learned several “survival techniques” to deal with all of the uncertainty.
- Make your home YOUR home. Don’t live temporary! Unpack, organize and decorate your new home just the way you like whether you are living there for six months or six years.
- Spread your social butterfly wings. There will be some duty stations where you already know a few people and others where you know not a soul. Get out there, meet your spouse’s work crew, join a gym, look for local social clubs or meet ups, check out the military wives clubs, mingle with your co-workers and just put yourself out there. Social isolation is depressing!
- Rid yourself of negativity. It’s inevitable that when you put yourself out there snarky, annoying, self-focused, mean people will surface. Rid yourself of that hot mess and surround yourself with only positive and friendly people. It’s not the quantity of friends; it’s the quality of friends…cliché I know, but so true!
- Explore your new city/town. I meet so many people that say, “I hate living here!” and I really don’t know what to say to them. Life is what you make of it, so if you say you hate where you live everyday then it will suck every day. If you branch out, Google events and things to do in your town and get your butt off the couch then I guarantee you won’t hate your town so much.
- Find a purpose for you. It’s as simple as 1-2-3 for your spouse to check in to their command and its business as usual. What about my career? Spouses give up a lot to move all over with their main squeeze, but that does not mean you have to give up who you are. Follow a passion you have, volunteer, or work a job you have always wanted to try. Find something that makes YOU happy!
- Throw planning out the window until orders arrive. I am such a planner, but I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do until we have orders for our next duty station. There is no use in me contemplating all the different places we could move. I would go certifiably nuts! It’s a waste of time! My focus is on spending time with the amazing friends we have made here, enjoying the home we have now and making the most of the time here.
PCSing is just a part of military life. Look at it as an adventure…exploring the country on the government’s dime. I have to admit, I don’t mind the movers packing up my house for me. Watching them like a hawk is a must, but someone else moving me from point A to point B softens the blow when it happens as often as it does in my military world. Hopefully orders arrive soon and our same city is listed as our next duty station. I’m not ready to say goodbye to our little life here, fabulous friends & dream neighborhood, but if we are dealt a hand that moves us away…such is life. I’ll keep my chin up, learn from the mistakes I have made in the past and enjoy the adventure that lies ahead.
Keep on Keepin’ on
~ Kate ~
Author | Quintessentially Kate