Boo to the Bubble

Photo by Lucas Insight

Some bubbles are good bubbles. Like hubba bubba and the types in spas and champagne.

But some bubbles are really, really bad. Like these covid response Australian ‘border bubbles’.

I don’t like these. At all.

I understand the importance…and to be honest it’s reassuring to know my interstate family and friends are safe. But I’m one of those on the outside, wanting to pop them.

The moment border restrictions became a ‘thing’ (I seriously never knew they even served a purpose other than to take my fruit in the Riverland), and then an even more serious ‘thing’ when Victoria went to Stage 4, I cried.

I was triggered and I felt trapped.

It reminded me that I had once been told it was my duty as a wife to leave my home state when I didn’t want to. It reminded me that the move had not been easy. That my marriage was not ideal and I had been isolated from my support people. It reminded me that my sacrifice had not paid off and my family situation had not gone to plan. That I was still outside the border bubble, even though if I’d had the chance, I’d be safely encapsulated inside.

Since leaving my home state, travelling the country roads or taking off into the skies on weekends or school holidays has been my way of finding the rainbow lining.

When I left my home state, my marriage was tough and it deteriorated further after the move. Dreaming of the next getaway to see family or friends, would help me hold on, in the knowledge that I would soon have care and love. I could get help with the children. I could get things done for me. I could be around people that knew me well and could see the situation for what it was without me uttering a word. Travelling interstate kept my head above the murky water.

Another reason getting away was imperative to surviving this difficult season was because there were never any dramas when we were around others, particularly friends. There could be a surface level facade of love, public displays of affection which were otherwise very rare, all the while creating some happy memories with the children. These would later wreak havoc on my perspective of the toxic dynamics that usually occurred, however for this time, they could temporarily be put aside. Holidays with others meant guaranteed safe family interactions.

Following the disintegration of my marriage, travel continued to be an important aspect of my healing. I could hold together my single-woman powers, as long as I knew when I could drop the superhero act and get care from friends and family once every so often. More importantly I could also control my movements with new agency. I could choose where to go and when! I could hit the country roads packed up with kids, luggage and the dog and relish in the achievement of getting this to work from the finances to the planned activities, to the accommodation. I could create authentic, happy family memories. I could be proud of the adventures me and the kids got up to and laugh at the things that didn’t go to plan. Road trips as a divorced, single mother, gave me the temporary illusion of freedom from my circumstances.

I also developed an appetite for flights and weekends away on my own, when I didn’t have my kids and the loneliness hit badly. I relied heavily on this to not feel the sting of being a part-time mother of my children. During these times I morphed into a lady of leisure…with her coat, leather boots, scarf, and cute cabin luggage. I became comfortable at hanging out alone in airport lounges, drinking lattes and reading a book. I would take off for a weekend or week, indulge myself in fun things, then come home to single parent life, content and refreshed. Loneliness crisis suitably averted…for the time being.

Travel has also been a suitable mode of escapism. Marriage break ups are hot gossip especially, and unfortunately, in Christian communities. Divorcee’s are often subject to assumption and judgement, which regrettably often displays a lack of understanding of complex relationship dynamics and the effort that may have gone into overcoming them. Then there are also the accompanying court orders, co-parenting dramas and social intricacies of managing post-divorce acquaintances who may have their proverbial feet soaking in two foot spas. Getting away from the local community, to a place where I could just be me, not the ‘divorcee’, ‘single mother’ or alleged ‘bitter one’ or ‘unforgiving ex’, was a true blessing.

A common trait of post-traumatic stress is the need to have a lifestyle that kind of floats around, like bubbles in a gentle breeze. Those who have been victim to abuse, often have a hard time maintaining deep connections to people and situations. Travel is the perfect antidote for this. They also find incredible hope and confidence in the ability to make their own choices and to have control over what they do, when it has not been an option in the past. Travel can be a healthy way to manage trauma.

So for people like me, for whom travel has been a method of dealing with what life has squirted at me, travel has been a life-saver. The closing of state borders is an unnerving experience. It has forced me to learn a new way to manage the trauma triggers related to my past, by instead finding solace at home and within myself.

I will continue to work at this but I will breathe a huge sigh of relief once the bubbles are burst for good!

Please share a comment if you have experienced any of these feelings in relation to border restrictions.

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