The great separation

I felt a growing sense of dread as we drove home from Newcastle last week. I didn’t want to go back to my normal life. I wanted to break up with it and get a new one.

I’m not alone. Millions of people are reassessing their lives in the wake of the pandemic, ditching everything from their jobs to their partners.

You’ve probably heard about “The Great Resignation” trend that’s upending workplaces, but new research suggests jobs aren’t the only commitments we are leaving. Many Aussies are expected to end their relationships in the next few months, in a movement that’s been dubbed “The Great Separation”.

A survey conducted on behalf of amica, an app designed to guide couples through the separation process, was undertaken in October. It found that one in five couples blame the pandemic for ruining their relationship, while one in 12 have considered separating.

A record 49,625 couples filed for divorce during 2020/21, Federal Circuit Court statistics reveal — an 8% rise in just 12 months.

Oddly enough, I was among those divorce applicants, but it had nothing to do with COVID. As you may recall, my ex was a bit slack on signing the papers, so it took seven years to make it happen.

But there’s a different break up on my mind right now. I want to leave my life. Actually, I probably can’t blame it on the pandemic. I have a history of needing time out from my “real world”.

In 2000 I ran away to Singapore for two years.

In 2007 I ran away to New York for a year.

In 2014 my husband ran away from me (OK, I didn’t choose that one, but it had a similiar effect).

In 2021 I’m desperate to escape again.

It’s a bit freaky writing those dates down and seeing there’s a seven-year pattern.

Every seven years something big happens that allows me escape my normal life for a while. I always feel the most incredible sense of relief when I run away for a while.

But this time I can’t leave.

The youngest needs me to stay put so she can go to the local high school for year 11 and 12.

So I must quell the trapped feeling inside me and ignore the urge to separate from my current reality. I have to focus on all the good things that my life contains.

Swimming in the ocean always helps. When I’m splashing in the waves I become calmer. The youngest and I had a brisk, brilliant dip together on Sunday.

Spending time with DD is equally soothing. The weekdays without him feel too long.

And walks with beloved people are great.

Part of me wonders if its Sydney that’s the problem – do I want to break up with it? Life in the big city is such a big drain. It is relentlessly expensive and busy. I’m not loving the traffic and diary jams since lockdown ended.

I reckon The Great Exodus will be the next trend we hear about – especially with house prices going so nuts.

Has COVID-19 made you want to change anything about your life?

Song of the day: The Animals “We gotta get out of this place”

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