Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Boundaries

I have talked about friendship quite a bit on this blog.  Mostly because one of the only major perks to deployment is the bonds you form with spouses and girlfriends going through the same thing as you.  They get it, they empathize, they help, and they don't give you the "oh my gosh I could never do that" line.  The "I could never" line is meant as a compliment but sometimes feels like a veiled insult to your lifestyle choices.  I often want to challenge that notion by asking if they would have walked away from their husband if he had been in the military.  I hope (for the sake of their marriage) that the answer to that question would be obvious.  But I guess you never know.

One topic that has come up a few times in the past week is the idea of having a hard time forming friendships because of the military lifestyle.  I have written about the ease in which friendships are formed because of how open we tend to be in previous posts.  But this was a new angle that I hadn't really thought about.  Will I have a hard time making friends in the future because other ladies won't want to make the investment?  Don't want to get "attached" to someone (or encourage their kids to get attached to my kids) when it is 100% certain that we won't be there more than a few years?

Gosh I hope not.

But it is something that a lot of my peers are facing.  Some are feeling like an outcast at the preschool drop off because other moms look at military spouses as gypsies.  Who come and go so frequently that it isn't worth the emotional investment and eventual disappointment of the PCS.  Can you really blame them?  I try to put myself in their shoes and wonder if I would be so open to the comings and goings of my friends if I wasn't coming and going myself?  Or, will I get to the point where I am just so exhausted from the "goodbyes" that I don't want to bother anymore?

So far, after a little over 8 years as a Navy spouse I haven't become apathetic about forming friendships.  Even when we were weeks from leaving our last duty station I was still enjoying being social and meeting new friends.  Interestingly, one of the women who I made a connection with in the last months I was in Maryland, whose husband flies a totally different airplane than mine, and who I thought I would never crossed paths with again - surprisingly (very) - moved to Norfolk.  She lives about 3 miles away from me now.  If I had closed my mind and never chatted her up because of the factors listed above, we wouldn't have each other now.  And that would suck.

How do you feel about this?  Do you tend to put up a wall right before you move?  If you aren't affiliated with the military, would you avoid befriending a military family? 

7 comments:

Lori said...

I never have let the length of our stay anywhere determine whether I put effort into friendships. (Admittedly, I've let OTHER factors, but never length of stay, ha ha!)

Life's too short. Some of my dearest, dearest, dearest friends are friends I met 14 years ago in Pensacola. I knew we were there short-term. I knew we ALL were there short-term. I knew odds were that we would not be back for any lengthy term.

I'd be lost without them! I know some people don't want to open themselves up to the sadness that comes with the 'loss'...but I know for a fact, that the joy that can come from the gain is certainly worth it...and I'd never trade that for anything!
xoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

I've never had being a military spouse impede me from reaching out and making new friends but have been on the other end where people have not gotten as close to me.

We were recently stationed in an area that was decidedly NOT military (we were the only military family in a school of approximately 550 children) and many of the moms at my son's school chose to not get too close to us on the basis that they knew we would be moving shortly. Where we lived people knew each other from birth (literally!), their parents and grandparents had grown up together, so people who are not from the area are not easily accepted.

It was hard on me but thankfully my son and his friends at school were young enough that they simply loved and accepted one another. Now that we've moved however, I'm seeing the results of the shallow friendships. Where as his friends from our duty station previous to the heavily civilian one have stayed and touch and we've visited back and forth, the same can sadly not be said of the friends he left most recently.

It's great that you've not experienced that, it's not a nice feeling. I think the ability to easily, or not so easily, make friends is heavily influenced by the fluidity of the population where you live. In an area such as Hampton Roads you not only have a lot of military families, but also a lot of civilian families who have relocated to the area, so everyone understands the need and desire to reach out and connect. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of everywhere and when you are in an area where people are more likely to have been born, raised and simply stayed, it is much harder to break down the walls to form friendships.

Anonymous said...

Awesome writing, Jill! VERY well put!

~Leighanne

Jen said...

No, I still am social and want to meet new people. However, if I know we are PCS-ing "soon" (less than a year), I will admit I don't go out of my way to meet new people. I do find I work the hardest (and it gets harder and harder to make good friends each move it seems) when we are new to a duty station.

Melanie said...

Let those other Moms feel that way...they are missing out!

Jamie said...

I think making (and keeping!) friends at each place we get stationed is the best part of being a military family! I just found your blog. I am going to start following!
Jamie
www.HandlingWithGrace.blogspot.com

Our Traveling Circus said...

I find myself 'checking out' about 6 months before we PCS. It's sometimes easier to throw yourself into planning for the next place than to be sad about leaving the current people/place.

Here, we live in a completely civilian community among people who have known each other since preschool and it is extremely difficult to "break in" to the groups. They see us as people who will only be around for a little while and it's so much more difficult than I had imagined. I really miss the squadron community, the spouses and even the less exciting mandatory events that I used to bitch about!

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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