By Valentina Petrova
Six months of COVID reality, we feel the need to be closer to others. Instead, we social distance from friendships that provided emotional support and reprieve from daily stress, miss elderly parents, struggle with childcare while working from home, and painfully agitator over details of safety, financial security, and the general, amplified uncertainty of the times.
For people still going to work, the need to earn a living must be reconciled with the danger of exposure to the virus, bringing it home, and passing it to family members. Costly care for the sick, dwindling savings, inadequate insurance, and lost wages all add up to a financial mess exacerbated by fear, grief, and arguments. Single folks feel restless and alone—the elderly, vulnerable. Couples struggle to remain together, forced to share space, and recon with the challenges of their relationship.
To be sure, COVID did not create vulnerable people. It did not break up couples. Instead, this pandemic exposed the weaknesses in our lives and forced us to deal with them.
If you spent every penny before the pandemic, the financial insecurity is killing you now, especially if you can’t work and have a family. Financial disagreements strain relationships as partners prioritize differently and blame each other. Being single and financially strapped can feel like a huge burden beyond your personal shouldering capacity.
If you relied on childcare and schoolteachers to raise your children, now you know what it takes to do it yourself, especially if you and your partner share different attitudes and strategies for parenting. If you went to your friends for happiness, distraction, and connection instead of your significant other, now, forced to spend time together, you are captive to annoy each other.
You may be distraught to learn the political views of your relatives or find yourself in a different category of self-care and concern for the virus. Confused by the politicization of a health emergency, you may be avoiding people to avoid arguments, criticism, or defending yourself, suffering isolation to prevent a fight while feeling angry at people who you used to like and may even rely on.
Now is the time to take an honest look at all your important relationships. Use this pandemic as a catalyst for transformation and lay the foundation of a better future. There will be two kinds of people emerging from this collective experience – the victims of circumstances and those who choose to evolve. Which one are you going to be?
The only way out is through. Through the discomfort of knowing your weaknesses and challenges, and then, through the discomfort of trying to do better. Change your behavior, evaluate your priorities, consider your relationships, and emerge a better person, better equipped for adversity, in better relationships, with better children, and a resilient frame of mind.
Examine every close relationship. Is it savable? Should it be saved? If so, what should it look like? Honestly communicate your needs as you compassionately put yourself in the other’s shoes, discuss what has to change. Speak your truth with a grain of salt. Listen to others with an open mind. Stay flexible. Remain objective. Being critical is easy. Productive discussions are another matter, especially with people who drove you craze these last six months. Seek help. Life coaches like me and mental health professionals are always standing by.
Strong, healthy relationships will help you live through this. The opposite will destroy you.
Valentina Petrova is an independent opinion columnist for Morro Bay Life; she has a Master’s in Psychology and is a certified Life Coach. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.