No Longer A Safe Haven

Gauri Joshi
4 min readJul 16, 2021

There are too many examples of traumatic family experiences, which have been thrown open as the pandemic surges. A new epidemic awaits us — that of failing familial relationships.

If you want to know what matters in life, visit a horoscope site. No, I am not promoting pseudo-science, at least not to those who disbelieve it. But look at the trifurcation in any yearly horoscope forecast — career, health and relationships.

Why do we earn? To eat. Do we like eating alone? No, we share and we feel better. Are we selfish creatures? No, there’s guilt attached to it. It is all our moral conditioning.

Mammals rely on the protection of their parents. They grow up with siblings, and after a point disintegrate to find a mate and start a family.

Even in the clusters of lions, the strongest animals of the jungle, lionesses huddle together and raise the cubs as their own, while the males venture for prey and ferociously protect the family unit. And no, my source isn't The Lion King, but various Discovery documentaries.

Our earliest memories are growing up in the care of mothers, mother figures, fathers and father figures, be it grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends of family or parents of our schoolmates. Our circle expands over time, and as we develop cognitive thinking we begin questioning our elders.

Why do we do that? The question branches into two — should we question at all? If yes, then who? If her, or him, then why not the other? Why can’t we question certain people? There are several reasons, and hierarchy of age, financial power or gender plays a role in the no.

Power exists in all relationships. Be it a dyad — two people, who can be related anyhow, to a group, or institution as a family, there is either gender, or age, or both — that determines who will make the big and small choices for the others. As children, we automatically depend on our parents and guardians as we believe they will think the best for us. Only when we reach financial autonomy, can we question their control, which in some cases is nullified by bringing in guilt, a forced sense of gratitude, or fear of being a delinquent when the society (seemingly) complies with these norms of togetherness. This is why young women and men are married into families and with people, they end up making unhappy, and themselves living in reminiscence, going on to impose the same rules on their children.

Question yourself — did you have a happy childhood? Were all your demands met? Do you have embarrassing memories or those of being shamed? Do they let you sleep? Some of you may relate to these questions, some may not.
But if you are like me, who has sleepless nights thinking of something that still makes meaning to their personality, and a recurring fear of not being enough, you may be affected by the stories of families breaking, in a cathartic way.

All of us know what Britney Spears is going through. All of us read bizarre news of a mother marrying her own prospective son-in-law, or a father raping his own daughter — rest cases don’t even seem that grave.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez changed my life. It broke all of my frothy beliefs about being protected in an environment. Some of you may argue this is one in a million cases but look back at Sheena Bora and Arushi Talwar, and you may see a Gabriel in them.

Am I Gabriel? I cannot say. Who is Gabriel? A family scapegoat.

When a child asks their parent who they love more, the parent says we have two equal eyes, and hence our love for our children is also the same. Families are a palm and members are the finger, removing one will only cause pain and loss.

And yet, we grow around our loss. We do chop off an organ that is endangering our existence.

Maintain relationships, but know that if they don't serve you now, they won’t get better over time — only worse, if left like so, just like a wound. And amends cannot be the responsibility of just one. Expand the onus of self-love to all your relationships, not just of the one your parents told you were distracting bonds — like friendships or puppy love. Seems, for some, they are all they have, a bond without blood.

The royal feud is the biggest example of the same. It is a story told ages after ages, and yet, the catharsis is fresh. At least for someone who just branched out.

Is it possible to live without family? Can a person thrive alone? are some of the questions thrown at those who choose the other way. Left without choice, I seek comfort in the company of virtual friends, and even as some may feel trust lowers with deceit from the closest — mine has grown manifold, because what can you do, if you do not have faith in the one life you have?