Those first few weeks after a PCS to a new duty station are like living on Mars, and you’re the only Earthling. Everything and everyone is completely different, and you find yourself looking for pockets of familiarity wherever you can find them.
For me, it was pedicures.
Honest, I probably got four pedicures over a three-week span when we moved to our duty station in March. When nothing felt like ‘home’ yet, I knew I could plant myself in a massage chair, open my Kindle app and transport myself somewhere else, if only for an hour. It seems excessive, but it really helped combat those Post-PCS Blues. Never heard of them? I bet you’ve experienced a symptom or two.
Beat Those Post-PCS Blues
Find a Village or Squad. This is always the hardest part for me after moving: Knowing absolutely no on in a town, state or country other than my husband. This is when you start carrying on long conversations with the cashier at the commissary, simply because it’s nice to talk to someone other than your spouse.
For the more introverted military spouses among us, this can be the hardest goal to accomplish when the military plays musical chairs with your life. It takes putting yourself out there, it takes feeling a little out of place, and it means letting your vulnerability show. Just a little.
Make your house a home. Don’t ask me why, but I never feel at home for at least a few months after moving. Regardless of whether we live on base or rent or purchase in town, our new house doesn’t SMELL like us, it doesn’t have OUR memories, and it’s completely unfamiliar. My heart keeps saying, “I want to go home!” and my head rolls its metaphorical eyes, and says, “You ARE home, silly.”
The best way to get that, “Ahhh, I’m home!” feeling is to DIY it. Our current house had an incredibly creepy, scary and unappealing finished basement. As long as I felt that vibe from downstairs, I was never going to feel comfortable. Within two weeks of sanding, priming and painting after the kids went to bed, my husband and I created a relaxing, soothing retreat in colors we chose together and our personal décor placed lovingly around the room. Suddenly, it not only felt like MY house, but it became my favorite room.
Get invested in your new town. The best way to love where you live, is to actually care about it. Buy a t-shirt supporting the local high school football team. Is the town voting on building a new city park? Get registered and join the process. Get a job away from the base that lets you interact with people other than those who are military-affiliated, and learn the culture. You’ll keep missing your last location if you don’t take the time to scope out your new one. Meeting people who have lived there forever is also the best way to learn about the hidden treasures and best-kept secrets about your new home.
Go exploring. You can only learn so much from the internet and Facebook spouse groups. Strap the kids into their seats, get in the car and drive. Make wrong turns—that’s how the best shortcuts are found. Try out a restaurant for lunch on a whim and see if you like it. Find the great parks, interact with people and keep an open mind.
It’s hard, particularly for those military spouses who aren’t fans of change (yes, there are a few of us who suffer through it simply because our spouse was too good to pass up). Despite the fact that I was perfectly content to grow up and grow old in Texas, having never left my hometown, I’m grateful that the military has expanded my comfort levels.
And, even though I find myself in the middle of the Post-PCS Blues every single time we move, I know that a few dozen pedicures and a little courage will pull me out.