Virus Boundaries with Friends

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Dear Soft Hearts,

This pandemic has killed some of our family members, taken our money, and made friends very ill. Wherever you stand with things, it probably has impacted you in some way. And if you’re like me you’ve had to have some awkward conversations over the past couple of years.

Things that we once did that were rude, can now be life saving. For example, if someone said they didn’t want to go out in public with you but one-on-one hang outs is cool before the pandemic you might feel they were trying to keep you secret. Now it could mean anything. Perhaps they simply don’t do public stuff right now.

I know a couple of people I love have experienced hurt feelings when the longed for companionship that didn’t feel safe to me yet. If you’re working on boundaries, it can be a whole other layer to add this in. I will say taking collective responsibility has been helpful rather than thinking it is just you or just them making the decision. So if someone wants to invite you to do something and they were just exposed, you may have reservations. If they happen to take it personally I recommend hearing them out. We can be love for one another without judging each other. This has often let my loved ones feel more willing to explore what it brought up for them. Did they feel abandoned or less worthy when I declined to go to their gathering? Persian New Year is coming up and we haven’t had a Persian New Year gathering for what will be three years now. No my family will not like my decline, but perhaps a nice dialogue can happen if we approach the conversation with curiosity and give people a little room to be them.

Additionally, I have a different view on vaccinations than one of my best friends. I recently had to tell her I wouldn’t be seeing her in person for a while. Rather than putting it on me or her, I acknowledged how much we miss each other and long for each other’s company, and I noted that neither of us are willing to change our approach with vaccinations. I also offered a virtual hang out and called her. I wonder if connecting right away shows I’m not punishing for our different beliefs. She actually respected that I knew what I wanted and asked more. She came with curiosity too! If she hadn’t have come with the same curiosity I came with I still wouldn’t have felt comfortable meeting in person right now, but her curious openness touched my heart and I couldn’t wait to share this with you all.

While we may have to navigate odd conversations with people, schedule, or reschedule things I think it’s so worth it. Connection is a power greater than all of us. I believe we can put in the effort to stay connected, even when it can feel tiring or hard. I haven’t done this perfectly. I just know we are all working on what this looks like for us. Thanks for joining and read more next week about growth and healing.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

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