PCS advice: It's OK to want to go home

by Diane Libro
Stripes Europe

Congratulations! Your orders are in, and you have one of the military's coveted "good deals": Hawaii, Germany, Japan. Your friends are jealous as you imagine all kinds of travel, food, and new adventures.

Upon arrival, it seems like a weird, extended vacation as you figure out your new home. You tackle the language with enthusiasm. The food is amazing. And those little cars are so cute!

And then...you find yourself sitting alone during ballet class while the other moms chat in a language that still doesn't even sound like words. You want to make your husband his favorite meal but Italian sausage is nowhere to be found. And you scrape the rental car on the side of the garage because why is everything so tiny?! (All true stories.)

The bubble bursts into a thousand tears and fall into a big glass of wine. So like any person, you call your mom/sister/brother/best friend and declare you want to go home.

God bless them, they inevitably say: "Think about the opportunities!" If they weren't thousands of miles away, you would punch them in the face.

Opportunities! All I want is normal.

You hang up the phone and the next unexpected wave of emotion hits: guilt.

Maybe they are right. I have this great opportunity, why am I so miserable? Should I be more grateful? Am I not cut out for this military life? What's wrong with me?

Nothing.

You are amazing.

From one overseas military spouse to another, I hereby absolve you of all PCS guilt.

All of us seem to feel this, but everyone is afraid to talk about it. So please know, there is no shame in your frustration and even in wanting to go home.

Moving - even in the States - is hard. New house, new friends, new schools. Then throw in language and culture and distance and it's enough to send the most resilient of us to the therapist - if you can find one that speaks English.

It's OK to say Germany/Japan/Hawaii sucks. Because sometimes it does. One of my dear friends regularly says, "There are good German days and bad German days."

Over time, there will be more good than bad. After all, in Europe, ice cream or wine is almost always within walking distance. The church bells still ring every 15 minutes. And your kids will adapt far faster than you.

Sometimes you just need a good cry or a long walk. Talk to your spouse. Find another spouse who has been there. Exercise. Pray or meditate. Find something familiar.

Everyone struggles, but we will come out the other side - stronger and better for the "opportunity."

Diane Libro is a former journalist and Air Force wife, currently living in northwest Germany, where her husband is stationed.

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