The old normal, part 2

Before COVID, I started to develop a few new promising friendships.

Cara was one of those newer friends. She was beautiful, bubbly, and friendly. She was a month older than me. We shared a lot of similar beliefs as far as religion and politics go. We had several mutual interests such as writing, running, and sailing. We seemed to have a lot in common, so it seemed like a good match.

Once COVID hit, Cara became very outspoken regarding her belief in various conspiracy theories. Microchips in vaccines, the works. Now I’m not the most trusting of the government and like to ask a lot of difficult questions. But in my opinion, I think she took things too far. Everything became very extreme. The end of the world is coming. I felt sorry for her because I saw her living in great fear.

This week she posted how we shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is pagan and evil. This really rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of traditions are rooted in non-Christian practices. Is it wrong for kids to have an Easter egg hunt? Sing songs about Santa? Exchange candy and Valentine’s Day cards? I can understand Halloween, but I just feel like my friend went off the deep end. I can’t live that way.

In some ways it was triggering for me. My mom was very dependent on what her friends thought of her. Some years we were allowed to go trick-or-treating in scary costumes and other years we had to hide out in our house in fear of the devil worshippers. I received a lot of conflicting messages and everything was wishy washy. I wish it would’ve been either right or wrong not dependent on who my mom was friends with at the time.

The other thing I remember is one time my brothers and I were out running errands with my mom and she stopped to get us fast food at McDonald’s. This was something we didn’t make a habit of doing often. On the way home we were going to stop at her friend’s house. My mom told us we needed to hide our fast food bags so her friend didn’t see it.

I don’t want to be judged, nor do I ever want to be in a position where I have to pretend I’m someone I’m not to make friends happy. I don’t want to surround myself with fearful people. I am already anxious enough. I worry about my friend’s mental health, but I’m not sure I want to continue the friendship where we left off.

Does that make me a bad friend? Am I being too picky and judgmental? Are my expectations too high? Should I just focus on the things we have in common and let everything else go? Do we pick up where we left off? I feel like we are different people than we used to be. How do we navigate beyond a time that really didn’t bring out the best in people?

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