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Back to Center: How can I extend forgiveness for all the COVID atrocities when it still hurts so much?

My experience of the height of the pandemic is still with me

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

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Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Life Coach and Writer

Offering perspectives for personal realignment and empowerment.

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November 13, 2022

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01:24 AM

Back to Center: How can I extend forgiveness for all the COVID atrocities when it still hurts so much?

The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in these tyrannical times. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being. Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org. Anonymous and secure. Looking forward to hearing from you!

For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to info@aflds.org.


So, I still have a few relatives and friends who are nervous to be around me in person because I didn't get the COVID vaccine. This, to me, seems crazy. I can't believe they're still so stuck in fear - shouldn't we be past all that by now? I even had COVID and clearly didn't die, but they refuse to see the evidence that's right in front of their faces. It frustrates me to no end. Is there anything I can do or say to convince them that it's safe to be around me?

I hear you - that is extremely frustrating. I want to assure you that you are not alone in what you're experiencing. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people out there believing the propaganda, blaming the “unvaccinated," and harming relationships because of it. They either don't see or choose not to see all the evidence that's coming out about the real COVID story. 

I can hear how much it bothers you that your relatives and friends still consider you a danger, and your desire to find just the right thing to say or piece of information to present to them to change their minds. But I want to suggest something different to you - a mindset, an attitude - that may ultimately help you more. Here it is:

This is not your problem.

Really.

It seems like you feel secure in your decision not to get the shot. You know you did what was right for you. You know you're not a danger to anyone. It's them - they are choosing to believe a story that ultimately has nothing to do with you personally. It's their fear, their confusion, their blindness to reality. This is their problem, not yours. 

And really, there might not be anything you can do or say to change their minds; not at this stage, anyway. If they're still holding onto this fear, they're probably pretty entrenched in the story they've chosen to believe. There are some situations in life where all we can do is patiently stand by and let another person go through their own process with something, and hope that they'll come around eventually to a positive conclusion. 

Please don't misunderstand me - I'm not suggesting a callous “You're the one with a problem!” kind of response. Instead, recognizing that it's not your problem is about releasing the feeling of responsibility or burden that you have something to prove, or that you have to fix the situation. It's a letting go of the illusion that you have any control over what they believe about you or about COVID.

To help you get to this place of letting go more easily, you might ask yourself, “What bothers me most about how these friends and relatives see me?” Is it their inability or refusal to see the truth? Is it the specific way they talk to you or act toward you about the issue? Is it the loss of the way those relationships used to be? Is it just the total exasperation you feel about how this is all still going on? 

Once you know what's really at the heart of what's getting under your skin, you'll have a better idea of what you might need to do to bring some healing to yourself. If you miss these people, maybe you can work on fostering other ways to stay close while you're not together in person. If they're putting pressure on you or saying unkind things, you might decide you need to respond more firmly about how they're treating you and set some boundaries. These are things you can control, and you can choose to release the rest.

Just remember that it's not up to you to change their minds. I believe there will come a time when what has happened over the past few years will become plain as day to everyone. In the meantime, each of us has to go through our own process with it, and give others the space to do the same.

I hope this was helpful. Sending you strength!

****

There's been so much talk recently about “pandemic amnesty” and forgiveness because of the article that came out in the Atlantic. Honestly, every time I hear about it, I feel ill. My experience of the height of the pandemic is still with me, like it was just yesterday - the isolation and pain of the lockdowns, the ostracization I went through as one of the only people among my circle of family and friends who didn't get jabbed, the fear I felt that this was all just going to go on forever…

Now, I'm someone who believes in forgiveness as one of my religious principles, which makes this feel even harder. I don't know how to do it - how can I ever extend forgiveness for all the COVID atrocities when it all still hurts so much? 

Thank you so much for your question. I know what you mean about all those experiences and emotions still feeling so raw, so painful. It really wasn't that long ago that we were in the thick of the “pandemic”; those wounds haven't had much time or space to heal yet.

And forgiveness! It's a tough subject, even if you're someone who believes in the importance of it. There are so many different ideas about what forgiveness is, how and when we should extend it, and who should receive it…not to mention what to do if we feel unwilling or unable to give it.  

The sense I get from your message is you've got some deep trauma from the last few years that needs healing. Because of this, I'm going to share one specific aspect of the forgiveness concept that I think will be most helpful to you where you are.

Let's leave everyone else out of the picture for a moment, and think about forgiveness as a means of releasing the hold that the offender or offense has on you for your benefit. It's perfectly valid to feel all the feelings - the pain, anger, betrayal, fear, and whatever else is coming up for you. We have to feel in order to heal. But if we drag those negative emotions around long enough, they will do nothing but drag us down. We'll be the ones hurting ourselves. 

So, what is it costing you to hold onto those bad feelings? How are they affecting your inner and outer worlds? What positive things might they be keeping you from welcoming into your life? 

I'm not suggesting it's easy; that we can simply - poof! - wish all the wounds away. It takes time and work to heal from trauma. But despite the wrongs others may have done to us, and whatever justice may eventually come about for those people or not, each of us has the power and the responsibility to take charge of our own healing process.

What would that process look like for you? There are many powerful and accessible ways to work through pain. You can express your feelings through writing, art, and music. You can share what you're feeling with a trusted friend or professional. You can express your feelings to the people who hurt you, if you feel you're ready. You can make time for activities that feel especially healing to you - maybe taking walks in nature, spending time with animals, or creating something beautiful. 

However you choose to go about your healing process, the key is to find productive ways to let all the bad feelings out so they're not taking up so much space and energy within you, and having therapeutic activities lined up to soothe you on the other side. 

If forgiveness of some sort is something you want to extend to those who've hurt you, I really encourage you to first work on your own healing, your own letting go of the pain's hold on you. Then you will be in a much better place to sincerely, wholeheartedly forgive. Give yourself time; there's no rush. 

Wishing you peace and wholeness! 

 

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Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org.  Anonymous and secure.

 

Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.

You are invited to book a complimentary coaching call with Sarah! Please visit https://calendly.com/sarahperroncoaching/45min to choose a time that's convenient for you. She looks forward to meeting you!

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