One of the questions I’m hearing quite a bit is “how do I deal with leaving for boot camp?”, as it applies to leaving your family and friends. On the one hand, leaving for basic training- or hell, leaving home at all for any indetermined stretch of time- without some sense of certainty can really suck.

Wives lose their husbands, husbands may lose their wives, girls lose their boyfriends, etc. to some uncertain, though occassionally promising fate. In some cases, getting out of dodge comes not a moment too soon, and you roll out without a second look.

Other times, it’s not all that simple.

Since we’re social creatures, we have a strong tendency to develop, cultivate, and even the basest, most uneducated of us build these things called relationships, albeit that they take on a multitude of different forms. Some of these relationships are hard as hell to “walk away” from, although in many cases, it’s for a cause that you’re pursuing with the best intentions.

There are two sides to any separation, and both of them have the potential to bring with them a considerable amount of grief, frustration, argumentation, etc as the day of departure approaches. Very often the day of departure is devoid of these arguments, and is often characterized by the sobering realization that “it’s actually happening.”

Naturally, everyone experiences manifestations of anxiety in different ways. Most guys I know just ignore it, but make the mistake of allowing is to affect their relationships in ways the could be prevented by the acknowledgement of its existence. That said, I’ll cover what I understand of anxiety, leaving for boot camp/deployment, and a bit about the complexity of the phenomenon.

As the one packing up and leaving, you’re pretty well acquainted with what you’re experiencing, be it anxiety, excitement, dread, or whatever. If you’re sensitive to these kinds of emotions, then relax, you’re normal. If you don’t experience these emotions as the day to leave for boot camp approaches, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not normal. We all have differing levels of sensitivity, so if you’re stoically watching the days on the calendar get marked off, don’t sweat it. Looking back, I remember being mildly excited when I thought about all the uncertainty, but not enough to make me bounce off the walls. To be fair, though, I was very young, single, and didn’t have kids to think about.

On the flip side, there are circumstances where you may not feel anxious about the day, but your interaction with people may be changing. Specifically you may be:

-Detaching from your social groups

-Irritated with petty matters

-Unmotivated and unproductive

-Mildly depressed

-Experiencing loss of appetite

-Scatterbrained, and have trouble focusing


In my opinion, separation anxiety, even without the transparency of feeling anxious, is your unconsciousness acknowledging an upcoming, significant change. In addition to being social, we tend also to be creatures of habit. In habits, we find a sense of security and safety. When the routine is threatened, both the subconscious and consciousness are effected, and they don’t always respond simultaneously.

Anyway this is getting a bit lofty, so I’ll get back to the point.

Both sides-the one leaving or the one staying behind- may experience any or all of the above symptoms, and being conscious to the fact that things are about to change may offset some of the rawness that accompanies pending separation. Beyond being aware of it, it almost goes without saying that being open and frank about (I hate saying this) feelings goes a long way at making the last few days/weeks/months more fulfilling, as well as preserving the integrity of those relationships once the separation is underway.

I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days, but I’ve recently experienced the whole separation thing myself, so I’m compelled to elaborate before I actually do any of the work involved in writing at length about it.



(Photo by Russell Sellers)

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