Updated: Jul 6
I've talked to you all before about the struggles of being part of a military family. The struggles don't outweigh the benefits, but the struggles are still real. Before marrying into the military, many women have a "crew" of ladies that are their best of friends. These are our go-to ladies. Then we marry and move to a new city leaving our crew behind. We miss out on many moments with our crew and the distance is hard. Once in our new city, we have to start allllll over.
When I first arrived here in Germany, I had planned to stay home with the kids, so that eliminated the opportunity to meet friends at work. I had to start my friend search in the hotel. I remember getting very discouraged early on. I met a woman in the hotel laundry room. We chatted for a while and it seemed that we both liked to get out and explore. I thought for sure we would hang out just based on that fact. While on a walk in the market area down the street from the hotel, I ran into her. It was lunchtime, so I suggested that we do lunch together.
She agreed, without hesitation. We had lunch and that was literally the last time we interacted. Lunch wasn't awkward or anything. I admit that she wasn't my usual "friend-type" (don't act like you don't have one), but I was still open to friending outside my comfort zone. I would run into her during breakfast or at other times in the hotel and it was like she did everything she could to be distant. I couldn't figure it out, but I quickly accepted that she just wasn't my person. So, I spent almost two months living in a hotel and not one lasting friendship was made.
That was a rough time for me, and the effects lingered on even after leaving the hotel. I came to learn that I have anxiety when it comes to making friends. I am always wondering what people are thinking of me, if they really like me, am I (fill in the blank) enough…you name it. In general, I am an extrovert/introvert. I feed off the energy of others, but I also really value doing things alone. I would consider myself a very low-maintenance friend. I do not need to be with my friends all day, every day, but I need friends! I just wish making friends came easy to me.
For longest I really thought I was alone in this struggle. However, just within the last few months, I have been discovering that this is a much more common problem among women in the military community and I am not alone. I have talked with other ladies who have shared how they feel lonely and drained from the friend making process. Still, the topic is somewhat taboo.
I seriously think most of us ladies just talk our husbands' ears off about it. I know my husband must be tired of hearing about my friend problems haha. This is a thing though. We arrive in a new city and don't know a soul. Deep down we are constantly doing mental friend interviews with every person we meet and just hoping to hit it off with someone.
Like other military wives, especially those who work from home, I had to get involved in order to make friends. I started going to church and joined the local MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group. Both have been instrumental for me in building friendships. While I have made some great friends, it has been a process. There are so many factors which impact building friendships, even some that many might not want to admit.
From my experience, the factors that seem to matter are your overall personality, your age, the ages of your kids, where you live, your husbands rank (unfortunately) and even race (another unfortunate one). I could honestly write a whole other post on just race and friendships. It's a BIG factor (from my experience).
Just know that it is a challenge being in a military family and moving every 2-3 years while trying to make friends. I personally get anxiety just thinking about it, and we are likely moving again this summer. The kicker is, for most of us, just as soon as we establish a new set of friends (let's call it our geographical-crew) and get close, it is time to move again. That is the part that sucks the most. For me, it is also a factor that makes it hard to get close to people.
Seriously, it is hard making friends, but for most military wives it is the friendships we make that help us through this life. We force ourselves to get out there and make friends. We become vulnerable and open ourselves up hoping to make at least one friend during our stay in each location. I think all of this is why we really cherish the real friendships we do make. Inside we all know the struggle and it is so rewarding to find others to do life with…even if you have to start all over in a couple years. This is just our life!
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