As a military wife, you will undoubtedly spend some time alone. While you might still have your kids, friends, and other family members around, there will be times your spouse is gone on deployment or trainings throughout your family’s military experience. You may struggle with being alone sometimes, and that’s okay. You may love it sometimes and hate it others, and that’s okay too. And sometimes, you might feel alone, even when you’re not alone, which can be confusing, but that’s okay! Whatever you’re feeling right now about being alone or lonely is okay. But if you want to clear up some of the confusion and understand how to navigate loneliness, keep reading to learn how to become ok with being alone and avoid becoming a lonely military spouse.
Understanding the Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely
First, I think it’s important to touch on the differences between being alone and lonely. As you may have experienced, you can be around people and still feel lonely. You can also feel not alone–you can feel surrounded and connected–even when you’re physically alone.
Because of this, we realize that it’s not necessarily the presence of people (or the lack thereof) that creates a lonely feeling. So, what is it? To learn how to become ok with being alone, it’s important to realize that loneliness is a mindset rather than a physical, tangible experience. This is why you can love being alone sometimes and hate it other times, even when your situation hasn’t changed.
Understanding Loneliness and Alone-ness as a Mindset You Can Change
To understand how you can feel lonely when you’re physically not alone and vice versa, you have to become aware of your thoughts. To help you become more aware of yours, I’m going to share some of mine. Here are a few thought processes I’ve had during my husband’s deployments that highlight the conflicting emotions around loneliness.
When I’m Physically Alone and Enjoying It, I’m Thinking…
- “Wow, I really needed a break.”
- “I love being able to do exactly what I want to do.”
- “It’s so nice to have some peace and quiet.”
I’m thinking really positive things about the fact that I’m physically alone.
When I’m Physically Alone and Hating It, I’m Thinking…
- “I feel really scared and unsafe.”
- “I don’t have anyone to talk to or confide in.”
- “Nobody is here to help me.”
I’m thinking negatively about my experience of being physically alone without my husband around.
When I’m Physically Not Alone but Feeling Lonely, I’m Thinking…
- “Nobody is here for me.”
- “Nobody cares about me.”
- “I feel disconnected from my friends and family.”
During the times I find myself not liking being alone, I also find myself making it mean something painful about myself or my relationships. I’m thinking things about the people in my life that make me feel lonely, even if they’re physically with me.
When I’m Physically Not Alone and Enjoying It, I’m Thinking…
- “I’m so glad to have my family nearby.”
- “I love spending time with my kids.”
- “I feel so connected to my friends because they get me.”
All these examples show that what creates your experience of being alone and feeling lonely is 100% the way you think about being alone.
How to Become OK with Being Alone by Thinking Non-Lonely Thoughts
It often feels like loneliness and alone-ness are something outside of us. When we’re physically alone and wish we weren’t, we can’t typically change that scenario in the moment. Perhaps your spouse is deployed for 6, 8, or 10 months. You know they can’t just come home because you’re feeling lonely. And you’re focusing on the fact that it’s out of your control, which makes you feel more terrible and more alone. While you can’t change your spouse’s deployment timeline, you can change your experience of being alone by doing three things.
1. Pay Attention When You’re Feeling Lonely
What is happening around you? What are you thinking about? As you become more aware of your thoughts when you’re feeling lonely, you can intentionally choose thoughts to make you feel less alone. Thinking positively about your experience of alone-ness is the first step in overcoming the feelings of being a lonely military wife.
2. Accept, Embrace, and Stop Resisting
As a military spouse, it is essential to become ok with being alone. It is the only way to avoid becoming a sad, lonely military wife. And it’s the only way to thrive during deployments instead of merely survive until your husband returns.
By focusing on the benefits of being alone and reminding yourself that you’re willing to go through the hard parts, you can begin to shift your beliefs about loneliness. And when you stop resisting your reality and embrace it, the pain of being alone starts to subside.
3. Remember that You’re Not Alone in Your Loneliness
When your spouse is deployed, it is so easy to become hyper-focused on being alone. It’s what can cause you to feel like a lonely military wife, even if you have your kids around. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, even in your loneliness. Your spouse is actually dealing with loneliness too. While it might look different, it’s a reality you’re experiencing together.
Interested in diving into more content on this topic? Listen to Summer How-to Series: How to Be OK Being Alone.
Do You Feel Like a Lonely Military Spouse?
Military wife life coaching might be exactly what you need during this time! As a military spouse, you might feel isolated, alone, and like no one understands what you’re going through. But I’m here to tell you that I get it. As a military wife for 15+ years, I understand the unique emotional and physical challenges us wives with military spouses face. And I want to help you navigate your experience. Through coaching sessions, I can help you learn how to become ok with being alone and strategies for communicating and connecting with your spouse, building your support system, and managing the day-to-day challenges of military life. If you’re feeling lonely and isolated, coaching with me might be the best support for you. Schedule a free consultation today to see if we’re a good fit.
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