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Q. I’m glad I saw your column. I was a (military) brat for 24 years and wanted to join the military after college but was unable to due to health reasons. I’m 40 and I’m still having issues trying to adjust to civilian life. Home was always where my Dad hung his hat. We moved every two to three years until my father’s last assignment. I attended nine different schools. I look back and realize what a great opportunity I had. I experienced more by the time I was 10 than most people experience in a lifetime.

When my father received his final assignment, I was a freshman in high school. After graduation, all my friends who had lived their lives in the same town were ready to spread their wings and start experiencing life. I, on the other hand, wanted to put down roots, to find a place to call home. I’m still looking for that place. My friends never moved back after college, they all went their separate ways, as they should have.

Last year, I moved back to where we lived my freshman year in high school (took my wife and kids, too). I had kept in touch with a few of my friends there who hadn’t left. I don’t know who I was trying to fool by doing this. Like normal people, they had gone on with their lives. Maybe I thought I could pick up where I left off, but I felt like just as much an outsider as ever.

I long for yesteryear, I feel like there is no place to call home and there is no one I can relate to. Are there others out there like me? How do they deal with this? How do they move on and lead "normal" lives?

— R.J.

A. There are many grown-up brats out there like you and me. How we choose to live our lives and find a place to call home is as individual as we are.

The skills you learned as a military child, which helped you feel at home wherever your family lived, will serve you in adulthood as well.

As you discovered as a military kid, family is the constant in a mobile life. Invest first in your own family and create a safe place for your wife and children to call home.

Friendships come next. If your old friends are there and you still find common ground, rekindle those friendships. If your old friends have moved, make new ones. Either way, think of this as a new adventure rather than trying to relive old ones.

Read on for encouragement from the Spouse Calls blog, posted by another former brat:

I have lived in the same location now almost as long as I was a brat. It is possible to allow deep friendships to form. It is worth the risk!

I remember clearly the day I had to decide how to handle a friendship that was on the fence. For me, it was a conscious decision, and turned out to be another valuable life lesson.

I still go through the "three-year" cycle. I find that if I continue to add new friends to my circle, it easies the urge to create a new routine. I also let my close friends know how valuable they are to me, because so many have come and gone over the first half of life.

— Christie

To read these comments about military childhood and others, as well as find links to related Web sites, go to this thread on the Spouse Calls blog:http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls/brats-different-journeys.

Terri Barnes grew up in the military and is now a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.


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