A shelf of a pantry

PCS Withdrawal


I am currently operating in “Pending PCS mode.” It’s that wonderful period of time about one to two months before your spouse is due for orders when you start mentally and physically prepping for the upheaval of your life as you know it. I have noticed that my current “Pending PCS mode” is in much higher gear than normal since we will be moving back to the U.S. from overseas.

I have already started “Operation: Clear the pantry.” I know we all do this! You know where you start eating random meals out of your freezer and pantry instead of grocery shopping for a few weeks. If you don’t do this, please don’t tell my husband. I have assured him it is totally normal to eat grilled chicken breasts and waffles with a side of corn. He thinks I am being a little too premature; I think I am being precautious.

I have also started the obligatory “purging” process. Anything that hasn’t been used this duty station will be exiting our home either via yard sale or donation. I am still scratching my head at how we moved overseas with under 3,000 pounds to our name (the rest is in storage) and somehow have amassed all of this STUFF over the past 2 ½ years. Seriously…how does this happen every, single PCS!?

On top of the usual “Pending PCS” behaviors, I have noticed a pattern. When I know that a PCS is on the horizon, I start to “check out” of our current duty station. It starts with the realization that you probably won’t be around for your favorite annual event or festival next year. Then you realize that all your friends that arrived around the same time as you did are starting to get their PCS orders and moving. This is about the time that I start my own mental “PCS checkout sheet” by not making plans too far in advance (“Sorry friend, I have no idea if we will be at the annual Fourth of July cookout!”), or not committing to anything long term. (“Sorry, I would love to volunteer here, but I can’t commit for long, so I better not.”) You get the idea.

It really hit me the other day when I was meeting up with some new friends. I remember a small voice in the back of my head telling me, “Don’t get too close, you are leaving.” That is when I realized that I have been doing this PCS withdrawal cycle each time we have PCSed. Does this sound familiar to you? My theory is that the less connected we are to our duty station, our friends or our lives, we think it will make leaving “easier.” I am not sure if this theory has merit, but I have talked to other military friends and they have experienced the same thing.

Sometimes it feels like the military controls so much of our lives with regard to deployment schedules, moving and holding down a career for ourselves, that I decided that I no longer want to miss out on that chunk of time trying to make leaving “easier.” We all know that withdrawing early truly doesn’t help when it is time to drive away. Instead, I am going to fill my time with memories, friends and adventures.

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