So, here we are in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic continues in the Seacoast and across the world. While the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter, especially with the new CDC guidelines, I’ve had my moments along the way when I was simply not okay. By this point, I’ve read so many articles recommending the best ways to get through the pandemic – especially if you have kids. Heck, I’ve even written some of those posts myself! But one thing I haven’t seen anyone writing is how relationships during the pandemic have taken a beating. Covid often creates a dramatic divide between families and friends.
Pandemic relationships – it’s all about being socially distant, right? Particularly from those who take it less seriously than we do.
In my experience during this pandemic, most of the time my extended family and friends fall into one of two groups. On one hand, we have the people who are taking the pandemic extremely seriously: people who always wear masks, severely limit their social circle, and stay closer to home. On the other hand, there are those who are less concerned with COVID-19. Many live their lives as if it were still 2019. They take some precautions, of course. But overall, their lives haven’t changed all that much.
And if you happen to be in one group and have loved ones who fall into the other (like I do), things can get really, really hairy. Unfortunately.
In my household, we’ve been taking the pandemic pretty seriously. We’ve been taking it seriously because we want to keep our kids safe, and we want to keep our elderly parents and grandparents safe. We want to keep YOUR loved ones safe. To us, listening to science and taking precautions seems like the right thing to do.
I feel lucky to have extremely close family and equally close friendships. But there have been times over this past year when I have wanted to pull my hair out with frustration. I have wanted to jump up and down screaming over the debates that take place. It’s maddening to repeatedly have feelings hurt over not seeing eye to eye regarding this pandemic.
There have been times when I literally have felt crazy for asking a relative to put on a mask. Or requesting that a friend not hug my kids. Times when my words of explanation and defense of my actions have fallen on such deaf ears, it’s as if I’m speaking from another planet. I’ve felt like the enemy for suggesting that having a house party with multiple families and elderly parents might not be the best idea given the state of the world.
Tensions have been at an all-time high between those taking the pandemic seriously and those who are not.
It all feels so personal, when really, I know we’re all just trying to navigate this impossible situation. This divide increases during a time when we really should be sticking together and trying to be as close as we can – while still apart. I’m sad that we’re missing each other’s moments and I’m tired of feeling guilty about it.
I’m sick of it. Really, really sick of it. It’s like the sour icing on a cake made out of already really bad things – sickness, unemployment, and loss of life to name just a few. I’m so exhausted that sometimes I want to throw my hands up and hibernate until 2022.
I’ve pondered this divide again and again, trying to come up with ways to make it better for the remainder of the pandemic. And sadly, I’m not sure I have any good answers. Sure, it’s important to respect each other and be understanding. We don’t all have the exact same viewpoints and we probably never will.
Will we ever see those on the opposite side of this divide in the same way we did before the pandemic began?
I’m hopeful, but maybe we won’t. Will the fundamental differences the divide has forced out of the shadows ever fade away? I’m not really sure.
And what happens when the pandemic is behind us, yet we’re left with lingering tensions between close family and friends? I find myself wondering if the damage the divide has caused will be permanent, and if so, is it worth it? The pandemic is already doing so many terrible things, should I really be adding that to the list?
The truth is, relationships during the pandemic may never recover.
At the end of the day, standing my ground is important to me. I’m doing what I feel is right for my family and those around me. I’m willing to risk the potentially damaged relationships, as sad as that sounds. It’s THAT important to me. I hold onto that when moments are the most stressful.
The end of the pandemic is creeping closer – but it’s not here yet. Until that time comes, remember we’re all trying to do what we think is best.
And maybe that’s the best we can do given given the circumstances.