Feelings of Isolation When Growing Up in a Military Family

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Feeling alone

It's common to have feelings of isolation when growing up in a military family because it's not easy to adjust to a new home every few years. Every time you leave one place, you have to start all over in another place. After starting over a few times, you may feel like there's no point to making an effort to find new friends since all you'll do is move again and leave all your contacts behind, taking with you only fond memories, email addresses, phone numbers and promises of visits in the future.

Understanding Feelings of Isolation When Growing Up in a Military Family

When you meet new people, you open yourself up to them. You invest time and energy into getting to know them and having them get to know you. Leaving close friends is very sad because they are intricate parts of your life. Leaving them means you are leaving a part of you behind, along with the life you created with those people. Going through this process repeatedly causes emotional strain, and sometimes leads to depression and a lack of optimism, energy, and willingness to allow this hurt the chance to set in again.

This process very often results in an unwillingness to open up to others despite a strong urge to make new friends. Often, because you are lacking this contact from other people, you start to look within yourself for the comfort you once received from other people. Entertaining yourself becomes the norm; you know what you like to do, and do those things. While this strategy can work well on the short term, the long term effects can be detrimental. Day-to-day life may be pleasant enough; however, you may miss out on the long-term friendships and the pleasure they bring to life, not to mention the support they can provide during difficult periods.

The Problems with Isolation

The problem with feelings of isolation when growing up in a military family is that you miss the glorious advantages of having friendships. Friends teach you things you never knew about, especially about yourself. You'll miss out on all of those great sharing moments, laughs and adventures. You won't have anyone to reminisce with and bond with over the years and miles. You will miss the human connection that is so important to people.

Someday, you'll want to make friends, and you may have forgotten how to do it. Remember, you won't always be in a military family. One day, you'll move away from home. If you forget how to socialize, you'll feel lost. You won't understand why you can't seem to connect with anyone, and you'll be sad about it. You may isolate yourself even more then, but this time because you so desperately want something that you don't know how to get.

How to Beat Feelings of Isolation

It's difficult to make friends and then move away. However, think about all of the advantages of meeting so many people from different places. You learn so much from people who have experienced different things because they live in different places. You get the chance to test how strong your bond is with the person when you leave him, because anyone who isn't determined to stay connected with you isn't as special to you as you thought. That's okay though, because you have many chances to meet people who will mean as much to you as you mean to them.

Have fun with the new people you meet. Explore everywhere you go and always be open to different views. You never know what you'll miss if you don't go out and allow yourself to be free.

Depression Due to Isolation

Feelings of isolation can sometimes lead to depression, or they can be a sign of depression. If isolating yourself from others has caused you to feel hopeless and helpless about the future, you don't enjoy things you normally found enjoyable, you're not eating as much or eating significantly more than usual, sleeping more or less than normal, and/or have thoughts of suicide, you may have depression. This can be a serious illness and needs treatment. Contact your medical doctor or contact the family services on base for information on counseling. With anti-depressant medication as well as counseling you can begin to feel better about your situation and be able to deal with the feelings you have about moving away from friends and meeting new ones.

Feelings of Isolation When Growing Up in a Military Family