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DEAR HARRIETTE: I decided to limit the amount of contact that my family is allowed to have with me. Now that I am older, I realize how truly toxic they are. I want to be cordial with them, and I want them to know how much I love them, but cutting off their access to me means protecting my peace. I feel slightly guilty about this, but it’s been months since I’ve spoken to them, and I haven’t had even the slightest bit of drama in my life ever since. Am I doing the right thing? — Family Ties
DEAR FAMILY TIES: Your experiment has shown you that staying connected to your family is not healthy for you, at least not right now. Trust that. You don’t have to write them off completely. But you also do not have to be entangled in their daily lives or whatever drama plagues you when you are in regular contact.
Evaluate what you have been doing with yourself during the time that you have been disconnected from them. How have you spent your time, and with whom? What has your state of mind been each day? To what can you attribute that state of mind? Continue this evaluation for a couple of weeks so that you can assess how you are living.
Next, decide with what frequency you will engage your family at all. For instance, will you call them once a quarter? Will you send them a card? Will you visit? Whatever you decide, observe how that interaction goes. It could be that once you decide you are going to control how much and how you interact with them, you will be able to hold on to your power more solidly and not get rocked when you do contact them. Continue to evaluate what works and how you feel as you establish a rhythm of some kind with them.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I found out that a co-worker of mine was still coming into work even after testing positive for COVID. We work at a restaurant, so it is very dangerous that she was handling other people’s food while ill. When I found out that she was positive, she told me that I needed to be understanding of the fact that she’s a single mother and that if she doesn’t come into work every day to earn her tips, she’ll have nothing. Should I report her? — Working While Sick
DEAR WORKING WHILE SICK: Guess what? Thousands of employees all over the country are doing the same thing that your co-worker is doing — because they need to work. Should you say something? Yes, I think you should, but you may want to approach it from a big-picture view. Suggest to your boss that they give employees rapid tests once a week to ensure their health and the well-being of their customers. Point out that you believe that people have been coming to work who are COVID-19 positive, and it concerns you. Keep it vague if you can, especially since you cannot prove your co-worker’s status. But make the main point that in order to keep the restaurant safe, the management needs to put safeguards in place.