Coping with isolation during a relationship breakdown

Posted on: April 1st, 2020

When I was 11, I was sent from my childhood home in Papua New Guinea to a boarding school in Scotland. For me, the four year experience was eye opening, unforgettable and, at times, very difficult.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sleeping in a dorm with seven other people, in a hive of constant chatter, arguments and teenage angst.
  • Listening to the same music, played on a ‘ghetto blaster’. Over. And over. Again. Yes, I do know all the lyrics of every song on Now 23 Party Hits.
  • Getting a pizza takeaway each Friday. Not your fancy ‘Romana’ thin crust. No, I had my pizza folded, deep fried and coated in brown sauce. With a side of chips.
  • Having to tolerate the occupant of the bed next to mine ‘saving’ her pizza on the shared bedside table until the following morning, when she would devour it for breakfast.
  • Sharing one telephone with 50 other people. Don’t forget, this was pre-mobile phone era. Writing desperate Airmail letters to my parents each Sunday. I am not sure if they ever did get them, but if not, it’s probably just as well.

When I left the school aged 15, I started writing articles about how to survive confinement. No one ever knew about those articles. They were my own embarrassing teenage musings. I cannot ever profess to know what it’s like to be truly confined in the manner of a prisoner or a hostage, but I do know what it is like to have some restrictions placed on your freedom and individuality.

At that time, I already knew I had a plan for my future; I wanted to help as many people as I could who were struggling to cope in a situation they did not want to be in. Now I am a family lawyer.

So here I am today writing to you in a time where the world is suffering the biggest pandemic in a century. I never could have imagined writing that last sentence when I was 15.

I know many of you might be deeply worried; not only for the health of yourself and your family, but also for your general wellbeing. We are being told to stay at home. For many, this is a place of security and calm. But for others, it is anything but that. Daily arguments. Humiliation. Financial burdens. Sulking. Silence.

If you were experiencing marriage difficulties in the last few months or years in the lead up to now, you may feel as if someone has just turned the pressure cooker up a couple of million notches.

So know this. You are not alone.

Now is a lesson in resilience. Set routines every day. Include enjoyable time for yourself in a quiet place in the house, if that is possible. Call your friends. Call them again. Watch a funny movie. Eat your favourite food. Cry. Pick yourself up again. And again. And again. Because that is what it means to be human.

And if the situation becomes intolerable and you are struggling to stay in your marriage or you are having arguments with your ex about child arrangements, help is out there.

At Coffin Mew, our understanding, practical and experienced family lawyers can advise you further on the financial implications of a separation or divorce and the long term arrangements in respect of your children. Armed with expert legal knowledge, you will give yourself the power to make informed choices and decisions on your future. In very uncertain times, it’s important to know that you can take control of some situations at least.

For more information, please speak to a member of the Family team or fill in the enquiry form.