Quarantining is tough in itself, as humans are social beings who need to interact with fellow humans to preserve their sanity. The need for social connection is in our genes. Our ancestors from the prehistoric times survived by forming groups and unionizing against the common enemy. Lockdowns are especially hard on people who are stuck at dysfunctional households. Having a support system in the form of family members is a privilege indeed. I have curated a list of books that will bring comfort to people who are stuck at houses where the family dynamics are unusual in a toxic way. This can be a difficult conversation, but the first step towards healing is acknowledging the problem and learning how not to distract yourself from the grief and discomfort. And books are a great way of finding solidarity. Read on to know more!
Em and The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
This tale of an Indian family is so much more than just a family drama. In the book, the mother has mental health issues that distort the entire family dynamics. While a person can’t help their mental illness, it’s imperative to process the toll it takes on the children of the family. The father tries to hold the family together, but there’s only so much he can do. The emotional neglect of the children will stay for long. However, the book shows it’s never beyond repair.
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller
Kids who are part of a dysfunctional household generally don’t have their childhood emotional needs met. But when survival becomes the first priority, natural developments of feelings and emotions take a backseat. Repression might be necessary for a child’s survival at some points, but that gets carried to their adult life, as a result of which they try to have their needs met via their spouse, children, clients, etc. This lack of awareness that often ensues from depression (and expressions of grandiosity at times) in turn harms their children. This vicious cycle keeps repeating unless they actively seek therapy. When highly successful people feel a deep sense of emptiness, it’s imperative to revaluate their childhood. This book talks about all of these issues in detail and is really helpful for individuals who are stuck at home and don’t know how to stop themselves from spiraling down in the black hole of depression. The first step towards eradicating a problem is identifying it, and this book works wonders in that context.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This novel is a classic example of an emotionally immature father whose repressed megalomania and religious fanaticism jeopardizes the lives of his family members. This book might be triggering for those stuck with physically or emotionally abusive parents. But in times like this, it’s especially important to stay strong and keep hoping. Because this too shall pass, and just as narrator Kambili and her family found freedom after a long wait, you will too. It always helps to know that whatever we are going through is not just exclusive to us. And if other people can get out of this funk, you can too.
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
This book is a must-read for everyone who often feels overwhelmed with familial expectations. One terrible cultural assumption is that parents are perfect and it’s always on the kids if they fail to meet their family’s expectations. Well alas, that’s an oversimplification and a denial of reality. Owing to their own upbringing styles, the emotional IQ of parents often doesn’t develop beyond a certain stage. This ensues an overly burdened child whose materialistic needs may be fulfilled while their emotional needs are not. This book busts the myth that parents are infallible, thus taking the pressure off their kids. It talks about how to disentangle oneself from the destructive grasp of an emotionally unavailable parent, thus forging the path to building a fulfilling life.