What if what brought you together is less of a feature in your relationship and the things they are now choosing bother, or worse, alarm you?
What if you are finding yourself having to gather and steel yourself before engaging, find yourself trying to prepare strategies for getting out of harm's way, finding little excuses to avoid or limit your contact.
What is this like for you?
My guess is that there is a muddy mix of alarm, grief, frustration, avoidance, anger and bewilderment.
It's what i am seeing in clients and in my own life as this world around us swirls and reacts to the mighty changes Covid19 has initiated.
The muddy place of misalignment is somewhere we are navigating more often in this very polarised world and something we who wish to continue to engage in and build community, we who wish to maintain our humaneness in the face of so much dissention, need to get skilled in.
There is a strong element of shadow that rises when we are confronted with people who disagree with us, and an even stronger presence of shadow when we feel threatened by the other, including others that we love.
"How could they do that? How could they pervert things to take this stand? How could they put themselves at risk?"
These questions are applicable on both sides of the growing covid divide.
It's important that we answer them and i am going to suggest we use two views: 1. The conscious response and 2. the shadow response.
The conscious response is about tending to our values and what's important to us about the friendship. It's about weighing up the risk of contact, noting both our own capacity to steer away from the controversial and the hard and their capacity to do the same. It's about deciding on what we need in order to feel like we can stay in good shape, in order that we can flourish and shaping the relationship to do that. Making boundaries on what will fly for you and what will not is important. Personally i have had to say "no more" to a dear friend who sends conspiracy type videos. She may or may not be offended. It's been quiet between us since then. We can still connect on the things that bring us joy and that connected us. The boundaries are around things that disconnect us. I love her and i don't love what she's consuming.
If i had not checked in with my values and had tried instead to focus on smoothing it over, wanting to not upset her etc i would have ended up letting things into the relationship that would have harmed it. I would have been avoidant and resentful.
This is where the shadow lense is important.
I know part of my shadow is the people pleasing, codependent part. Although i have some consciousness about this, the roots are deep and when i am stressed it is likely to leap out and take the steering wheel.
Part of my shadow is the immense rage i feel at the harm being done to wellbeing and communities by disinformation. I need to keep that in check, inadvertently pouring it out onto people i love when i have too much contact with it, even when that contact is in the name of connection, tolerance and niceness.
I have to keep an eye open for shadow, because by its very nature it's hidden and unseen. i have to watch for the big waves of feeling out of proportion to the situation, a sure calling card of shadow and i have to hold myself with care, patience and respect.
So the boundaries i make are both internal, with myself, and external with the relationships and the wider community.
These boundaries ensure my energy isn't leaking out into relationships that feel wonky to me.
These boundaries make sure that i have the capacity and energy to navigate change and be responsive to new information and not find myself becoming more concrete and more defended.
These boundaries make sure i am not engaging in the relational poison of contempt in order that my facade of niceness is maintained.
This, to me is how i can enact my boundaries, how i continue to build clean connection and how my humanity remains intact.
How are you finding this?