We Are Untethered

What happened to the ties that bound us?

Kerala Taylor
6 min readFeb 28


Photo by Jupiterimages/Photo Images

It sounds dreamy, in a way, to be untethered. To roam at will, answering to no one, doing what I damn please.

At this stage in my life, I am rarely untethered — that is, in the liberating sense of the word. I have children and a partner. I roam with pattering feet in tow, answering to everyone, doing what I need to do to get through another day.

Becoming a parent is, in fact, a process of tethering, of binding us to other people’s incessant demands, to a perennially overflowing pool of needs that are not our own.

I find it both comforting and overwhelming. Comforting because there are always people bearing witness to my life, even if they aren’t always paying close attention. Comforting because there is always someone to hug, always someone to snuggle up with on the couch. Comforting because human beings like to feel needed. I would venture to say we even need to feel needed.

Overwhelming because outside of our small unit, there is a void. Our parents and siblings live in other states. Our neighbors and coworkers keep vague tabs on our lives. Parents of our children’s friends only occasionally invite them to playdates and parties. And our friends? The few we have make only occasional appearances, too.

I am bound to others, but our family is, has become, untethered. So, it seems, has everyone else. Untethered people, untethered couples, untethered families. We are hurtling alone through space and time.

It wasn’t always this way. America’s obsession with rugged individualism is nothing new, but even cowboys weren’t the lone rangers that dominate our mythology.

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when we reached out more, when we showed up more, when we made an effort to incorporate other people into our lives. Whether or not we particularly liked them was sometimes beside the point.

There is lots of chatter these days about the “friendship recession” (one of my favorite writers, Addie Page, has written about this poignantly), but it seems to me that we’re suffering from a social recession that extends beyond friendship. It’s a recession of kinship, of shared human bonds. The ties that once united us are fraying and…



Kerala Taylor

Award-winning writer. Interrupting notions of what it means to be a mother, woman, worker, and wife. Subscribe: https://keralataylor.substack.com