5 Tips for Coping with an Unwanted PCS

A sad woman sitting on a bridge over a marsh

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Wow, is it really that time of year again? PCS season means that many of us are about to receive those orders moving us on to a new adventure.

While it's natural to feel overwhelmed and maybe even a little resentful about preparing to make yet another PCS move, I’m here to remind you that it’s going to be okay and that it’s possible to have a positive outlook, even during those moments you want to pull out your hair!

My husband and I have moved four times in three years and, wait for it, we’re about to move again at the end of May. Now I won't pretend that I don't get frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed because that would be entirely dishonest. But I will say that I manage it better with each move we make and, even though it doesn't make those heartbreaking goodbyes any less sad, it does make it easier to focus on why a PCS can be a good thing.

If you’re feeling ambivalent as you start the emotional process of relocating, I want to remind you of some things that may help make this move a little more mentally and emotionally doable for you.

1) Focus on why you're doing it.

When I find myself resenting the military lifestyle and the frequent moves, I focus on why I’m doing it. First and foremost, I love my husband. I married him knowing that it meant marrying the military (even though I didn't realize the moving would be quite so frequent in these early years!).

And in doing so, I made a commitment to support him knowing that I would: not live near family, say many goodbyes, work harder to maintain friendships back home, and fight to find jobs along the way. The bottom line is I made my spouse and our family a priority when I married him and in order to fulfill the promise I made, I don't let just another move get me down.

2) Remember it's temporary.

Whether you have orders for six months or three years, your time at your next duty station is temporary. If you want to look at the even bigger picture, this whole lifestyle is temporary! At some point, your spouse will retire and that will be the end of it.

Until then, you are going to like some places more than others. I already have a couple of places that I would really not like to live again. But none of these duty stations, even the ones you love, are going to be your forever home.

3) Realize that goodbyes are much easier than they once were.

I hate goodbyes. I hate the tears. I hate not knowing when I will see a dear friend again. As much as I hate saying that one word, there are a couple of things that console me and make saying goodbye a little bit easier.

First, we have smartphones and social media now. Our current technology allows us to stay in contact with the people we love. FaceTime allows us to see family and friends and for them to be part of our lives, regardless of how far away we live.

Secondly, we will often see old friends at a new assignment. The military is small. Sometimes it feels large, but actually the U.S. military is only 1% of our nation’s population. In our short time with the Marine Corps, we have been reunited with several friends, and my hope is that will carry forward as we continue moving. I know our orders this spring will reunite us with friends we haven't seen since our first duty station. These two facts alone make that tearful goodbye just a little easier to say.

4) Embrace your adventurous side.

How many of your friends get to travel around the world without depleting their bank accounts? Every time we PCS, we have the opportunity to explore a new area and experience different cultures.

Whether it's stateside or overseas, chances are it's unexplored territory for you. You can choose to think of it as a long-term vacation.

5) Realize that all the moving allows you to ‘try out’ your dream home!

It's certainly trial and error, but we have the opportunity to take years deciding which features in a home we can and cannot live without! For example, after both having and not having one, I cannot settle into my forever home without a deep garden tub, and I must have a large garage/shed for my husband to delve into his hobbies. Those are now non-negotiables in my book, and I’m sure you've got a list of your own. I wouldn't have known how important these amenities are to me if we hadn't been forced to move house to house and for that, I’m thankful.

No one is pretending that moving is easy or not at all frustrating but in the midst of those frustrations, you can choose to move forward with a positive attitude or a negative one. Hopefully, as you forge ahead with your move, you can choose to focus on your own PCS positives.

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