As I post this blog, my family and I are 3 months away from moving to San Antonio, Texas courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. My husband, Brian, will relinquish command of the squadron he has led for the last two years and we will be off on another adventure.
Two years ago, as they shook hands after Brian’s change of command, I remember the look on the outgoing commander’s face. I thought to myself, “He looks like he is going to cry.” I wonder if he did once he got in the car, and I wonder how Brian will handle it when the time comes. Will he cry? Will he pine for his old job? Will he leap for joy that the pressure of command is off? I suspect all emotions will bubble up at one point or another.
You see, every move we make comes with a little period of grief as we say goodbye to the friends we have made and the life we carved out for ourselves in our temporary home. But it also comes with excitement and adventure – to see new things and immerse ourselves in the new culture. We try to focus on the future and to encourage our children to see all of the wonderful possibilities ahead To do otherwise is damaging to the spirit and downright painful.
According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, changing residence falls in the middle-to-lower half of the scale. But when I add up all of the other items that go along with it (changing schools, church activities, social activities, responsibilities at work, and living conditions, etc.) it adds up to a lot! It can be incredibly stressful for the entire family and though we have done it many times now, each move presents unique challenges and opportunities for each member of our family. Even the dog!
So, how do we deal with major upheaval in our lives? Some will tell you it is about all about your personality type but dealing with stress successfully can be learned - as my colleague Tamera recently taught in her Positivity webinar (click here to access the recording). And, from my own personal experience, cultivating friends and asking for SUPPORT is a major factor. At least, it has been in my life.
Brian and I are embarking on our 10th move in 18 years. For our children, it is their 6th move in 12 years. I know I could not have gotten through it without the support and help of key people in my life: my Mom, of course, and Brian, and the friends I have made along the way. But I have one key person who has pulled me up, shook me off and encouraged me: her name is Ashley. She came into my life a relatively short time ago (6 years) but I think I was blessed to meet her when I did.
Together, we have supported each other through her moves to England and then Germany, my move to Washington D.C., Florida, and now, Texas; her husband’s command tour and my husband command tour (not an easy period for any family); pre-teen angst, aging parents; and the death of beloved pets.
Suffice it to say – we have made it through a lot together in the short time we have been friends. She is my go-to person and I am hers. I can call her and vent and she can do the same with me. Invariably, we end up laughing. She knows exactly what I am going through and she doesn’t judge me or how I handle a given situation. But she will tell me when I have my head in a more “southerly” location and will gently encourage me to change my viewpoint. We all need that, and many of us need to hear it from someone other than our spouse/partner or co-worker.
Friends – especially good friends – can be hard to find and even harder to keep. With our lives being so busy with each of us are trying to keep up with our ‘to do’ lists, it is easy to lose touch and eventually, lose our friendships altogether.
But friends can also be your most important support system, stress relief and mood lifter. I hope you have someone – or a group of people – who act as your support system in life. And, I hope you thank them for their support, love and friendship. We all need a shoulder to lean on from time to time.
I also hope that YOU are the support person for someone as well; that your shoulders prop them up! Being the supporter is a higher calling and deepens our relationship with the person we are comforting and sometimes being the rock for someone else gives us the strength to be the rock for ourselves, too.
I once heard a great quote at a leadership class for military spouses: “Pain shared is pain divided. Joy shared is joy multiplied.” Share both the good and the bad when you are the one “leaning” and be receptive and supportive when you are the “shoulder.”
We need each other! Now, I challenge you to go and tell those special supporters in your life how much you appreciate them!