Hello world… again.
I am now two years post my military separation.
Notice I didn’t say “military transition”.
One of the instructors in my TGPS class said that military transition is not an event, it’s a process that could take several years.
I’m still here right in the thick of it but I wanted to share some lessons learned.
After all, that’s what the original intent of this blog was; to share my experiences so you know what to expect.
A recurring thought I have is that I am running out of time… constantly.
I felt like this when I was active duty and, like many things, I thought my DD-214 would be the magical cure-all that solved this.
Eventually I realized that it’s not that I’m running out of time, it’s that my timelines didn’t match up. The timeline of my expectations vs the timeline of my reality.
Whether you’re active duty or a veteran, kids get older, family members die, and time marches on overall.
One of my biggest struggles is that I romanticized the idea of going back to “the life I had” back before I joined the military.
I thought of going back home to my little cousins, family parties, my daughter growing up in my hometown.
That life was twelve years ago and my cousins are not so little anymore, the family parties are less frequent, and I hardly even recognize my hometown anymore.
Similarly, even through many of my high school friends are here, we don’t hang out as much as we used to… duh.
Since I had my daughter at 20 years old, much of my adult life has been spent just Mom-ing around.
Now that she’s older and that I don’t spend massive amounts of time underway or otherwise being onboard ship, I don’t feel like I owe her every single minute of my free time anymore.
That massive mom-guilt I’ve talked about before has eased (note: not cured), especially with us being quarantined together for most of 2020-2021… and hey, I’m actually just coming off of COVID leave today so some of 2022 as well.
But now that I feel like I’m able to spend more time with my friends, they’re all just now getting married and starting families of their own.
I’ve always said that the Navy “accelerates your life” in all the wrong ways.
On the flipside, some of my military friends are on their third marriage and eighth baby (exaggerating… kind of.)
And my veteran friends who separated or retired the same time as me went back to their respective hometowns and are having a similar struggle.
So I find myself in my own unique brand of loneliness.
I obviously know I have friends and family who love me but who do I have a beer with on a Friday night?
Maybe you recognize this situation from your own military transition.
Or maybe you’re here looking for answers.
The only advice I have is that, as time continues to march forward so must you.
I had dinner with some friends from work this week.
It was the first time in two years I hung out with any new friends.
And it was the first time in twelve years I’ve even made new friends that were not in the military or had anything to do with the military (we love our mil-spouse friends here!), or friends that my daughter inadvertently picked out for me (her friends’ parents)
I think in one of my first blog posts after I separated I mentioned that I felt like “Jell-o without a mold” because I was lacking the structure in my day that the Navy provided.
What I didn’t take into account was that the Navy provided a lot more than structure, it provided built-in friends. Friends good enough to consider family.
It’s extremely hard to mirror the camaraderie that is found in the military.
I’ve looked everywhere for it. At work, at networking events, at my MMA gym, at my local shooting league…
But as time goes on, you’ll find that you have to find it somewhere. It’s out there, I promise.
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