During COVID, a lot of us switched to working remotely and/or reduced our social engagements significantly, and while some (mainly introverts) may have thrived under this new norm, for others (mainly extroverts) this level of isolation has proven to be quite unsettling. Tack on the wildcard of how all the changes the last three years have impacted your financial well-being and future prospects, and you truly have the conditions for a perfect storm.
As parents, many of us also struggled to see our kids through this pandemic, which truly took its toll on a lot of children– particularly those in high school that did not get to experience a normal transition into becoming a young adult. There is nothing more heart-breaking than seeing your own children struggle and/or be deprived of certain experiences you took for granted in your own life at their age, including prom, senior week and/or graduation ceremonies and parties.
When you are in the middle of a perfect storm situation, the last thing a person can stomach is making any decisions that will cause further disruption into an already unstable environment. And so it may be that for some couples, even in an incredibly toxic relationship, the choice to leave and further destabilize things isn’t an easy choice. For those watching on the sidelines, it may be hard to comprehend, but trust me when I say that implementing major changes is hard even under the best of circumstances, let alone during the worst of times.
Finding your way to a safe harbor isn’t always so clear cut, but it usually starts with an awakening stage. This is when you realize that you are staying in an unhappy situation for all the wrong reasons, e.g. for the sake of the dog or kids, to maintain a certain lifestyle, or to avoid being alone. Once you start to see this, you will start to ask those around you to weigh in and ask what their thoughts are on certain red flags you’ve tried to overlook for far too long. You will also begin to articulate your doubts out loud, maybe suggest some options for counseling, and with each new bid to connect that is rejected, your resolve to find alternatives to staying together will grow stronger by leaps and bounds. Now we are moving past the awakening stage to formulating an exit strategy.
The path to freedom is clear once you have a clear goal. Certain harsh realities can accelerate this process, like your abuser or addict doesn’t want to change his/her habits, or your current sex life sucks and isn’t going to get any better. When your partner is just adding to your daily burdens, isn’t equally committed to working things out, and is seriously wreaking havoc on your mental well-being, it’s time to go. Line up your own housing, pack up your things and gather all the resources you need to get you to a safe place.
How quickly and gracefully you get out of a shitstorm will definitely vary based on each person’s individual financial situation and the extent of their support network. Some will need more time to build this up, others might just need to make one call to get the wheels in motion. In the end, all that matters is that you find your way out, and focus on happier days ahead surrounded by those that only want the best for you!
By Regina A. DeMeo