I truly am ashamed of my parents. Truly.
After many arguments, fights and tears between themselves, acted out in front of all us children to see, without much consideration as to how it affected us all…
Today my dad told me my mum wanted a divorce. He also told me a bit more about the past. Things I wasn’t aware of at the time during my childhood. When I was 8, my maternal grandmother came all the way from Malaysia to take my mum back to Malaysia with her. And us kids? Well it seemed we were not even considered at all. My mum and her family were certainly not bothered. They were prepared to just take her back. Whatever happened to the kids afterwards was clearly just an afterthought.
Then my maternal grandmother went to ask my paternal grandmother if she could take my mum back to Malaysia with her. My maternal grandmother said no. My maternal grandmother went back to Malaysia alone while my mum stayed behind.
Now it’s not clear why my mother decided not to return to Malaysia with her mum. After all, she is a free woman and need not pay heed to my paternal grandmother’s opinion. Either my mother stayed on because she was racked with guilt about trumping her own wish to leave with the thought of us kids being left behind without her and with just my paternal family to look after us; or she decided not to risk losing half of my dad’s assets if she divorced him first. See it does seem the case to me that if the man divorces his wife, and wanted it first, he loses half his assets to her. However if the wife wants the divorce first, then she doesn’t get any.
I hate to say this but knowing my mother, I think she stayed on for the second reason more than the first, though she is not so heartless as to not feel sad about abandoning her children.
But if you asked me if I was happy with her decision to stay put, I’d tell you “Hell, no!”
My mum was a nutcase. She was an absolute horror to live with. She was depressed at the state of her life. She blamed me and she blamed me often for the life she had. Nothing I did was ever good enough for her. My earliest memories of her was she never played with me or spoke to me as a toddler. She would punish me a lot for trivial things. Truth be told, I was always a fighter. Even as a tiny child I was daring and precocious. I had a strong sense of self and I refuse to be punished by her (or anyone else) in every which way. I had my moments of mischief and duly got punished for them, but never without putting up a good fight. My mum was troubled with the state of her marriage, and she started talking to herself by the time I was 8. I think she found me impossible to handle. But it was not my fault. I have always been this way. Perhaps I was spoilt. I know my mum was virtually absent during my first few years of life. I was always in my paternal grandma’s home, and my uncles, aunties and cousin often played with me and showed me lots of affection and care.
In short, my paternal family were always the best to me. They taught me I was worthy of being loved. They showed me what normality was. My mum was a feckless and volatile woman, who seemed confused and contradictory. She seemed uncertain of her purpose in life. Wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mother or not. Had one kid after another. Wasn’t sure if she wanted to work hard at a career or be a stay at home mum. Became a stay home mum but then grudgingly held it against us kids for “forcing” her to live a life she “never wanted to live” – that would be raising a family as a housewife.
You know, her life is such a fucking mess.
It’s not messed up as in, she’s financially destitute. Because finances were why she stayed with dad all this time despite hating him and not speaking nor sleeping in the same room with him for years. My dad earned his keep. He slogged hard at work all his life, took a lot of shit, had reasonable intelligence and luck, earned good money and retired with a nice pay package. But. And this is a big but. He is an asshole. I’ll be honest about it. No illusions. Yes he was an asshole. He was not a very nice person and can be very selfish. He wasn’t a caring husband nor a doting father. He was quite controlling and bigoted. Though abusive, he was not. I was always taught by him that I was free to make whatever decisions I wanted in my life. Only thing was consequences. If I don’t study hard, he would reduce my pocket money. My pocket money was already pathetic peanuts anyway. He was a Scrooge of a dad. No wonder I was itching to finish studying and come out to work. He was disappointed but he couldn’t stop me. Gawd I was glad to have been out of his financial clutches when I started making money for myself. No more having to listen to his endless shitty speeches when I’m trying to do my homework… no more having to listen to him drone on about how my life is going to be doomed if i don’t do things his way. Fuck that! When I gained financial freedom from him, I felt like I was shoving two fingers up at him. Plus I no longer had to stay home. Yeah. Thinking about his fucking endless sarcastic rants at midnight when I was trying to concentrate doing my art diploma – a diploma that he was telling me was worthless and that I am a good for nothing for doing it. What a fucking asshole. Fuck that, dad. You had your chance at being a dad to me and you blew it, you!
My parents have both been at this mean game with each other for so long. I mean I’m 35 now and they’ve been like this since I was as old as I could remember. None of them wants to let up. Oh and you know why? Because of money. My mum wants my dad to divorce her so she gets half his assets. My dad refuses to divorce her because he doesn’t want to give over half his assets. So she makes sure his life is hell and he gives it back as good as he gets.
This is fucking nonsense.
And honestly all I can say is that my mum really should just let it go now. It’s her stupid pride and her insecurities that’s behind all of her actions from the past to the present. For whatever reason, she never made it career wise. She is insecure around people. She lacks confidence. I think living with someone like my dad just made this worse. And because she failed to make a good career for herself, AND she was nasty to her kids when she was raising them, she is fearful of old age. She knows her kids may not want to care for her (to Asian people of her generation and older, having to go to an elderly care home when they can no longer look after themselves is still the stuff of nightmares and horror stories). She knows she hasn’t made enough money of her own to support herself. She needs my dad, financially. And I bet she hates her life, hates her situation, every fucking day.
She’s made her own bed now and she must lie in it.
And what a trail of destruction she’s left behind.
My journey into self recovery from living with her shit has been a long, slow road. Why it was just only 2 days ago when I took yet another step towards healing. I had been researching my career options. At 35, I’m no spring chicken and there are some career paths which I have to admit, although I might have done fairly well enough in if given a chance, will never be open to me again. Like research work, for instance, in science.
But the turning point for me was when I was trying to draft a Personal Statement up for the University UCAS form. Yes I thought maybe I should get back to Uni and study something. Academics are my strong point. Yet I realised actually all the things I’ve had an interest in from young – psychology, theology, archaeology – they were all my early efforts at finding an explanation for my tortured relationship with my mother. More importantly, I was really self-blaming. I blamed myself for my mother’s hatred of me, which was wrong because she is the one to blame for the way she treated her own daughter. She is to blame for not taking responsibility for her actions and life and just blaming it on her children for inconveniencing her.
It’s sad but for so long I really thought that there must be something bad or wrong about me for my mother to act that way towards me. When I realised just how many years of effort I had put in towards trying to understand my mother, all these hours of reading up psych, archaeology, philosophy and theology, just so I could maybe gain some insight as to why she treated me the way she did and how perhaps I was to blame… well I realised it was a futile search. How many hours of thought and study have I put in to try and understand myself and my mum? Just to come to the conclusion that she was just fucked up in the head. Nothing more to it. She did what she did because she was simply fucked up inside and had no certainty about what she wanted to do or where she wanted to go. She was simply feckless. But I took it all along to be something much deeper or profound than that. Nope. I was wrong all along. There was nothing profound or deep about the reasons why she treated me badly. She was simply confused and feckless and just drifting along unwillingly in the current of a stormy emotional sea, and she didn’t give a damn who or what she drags along with her into her own personal hell. I was simply caught up in it, through no fault nor choice of my own.
And with that realization, I finally could let go. 2 days ago, it was. I was simply fed up of it. I am shocked and disgusted at how many years of my life I’ve spent trying to get over my mother’s rejection. Enough is enough. She was fucked up, end of. There was simply no good reason for her to have done what she did to me. None. I am just walking away from her. Walking away from her forever. She doesn’t deserve me. Doesn’t deserve all that time and effort I’ve spent trying to find an excuse for her, giving her the benefit of the doubt. She is screwed up. And she very nearly took me with her to screwed-up-land too.
Now my previous preoccupations don’t seem so interesting to me anymore. I am still interested in the theology bit but I realise it’s just a bit of a dead end lead. Trying to find the meaning in life and why things happen the way they do is futile. For we can never know the real truth… but theology can be like the little lights that brighten up the path along the way with little signposts. They might lead you to nowhere or they might lead you somewhere. It doesn’t matter.
But today, after my father explained some of the past to me, it was the nail in the coffin for me with regards to me and my mum. I am now 100% certain it was never my fault for what my mum did. I cannot to be blamed for the way my mother treated me.
I know my strengths and weaknesses now. And I’m going to pursue my strengths. I was born with them and I’m going to make the best use of them. I’m starting a new life afresh with this new-found awakening.
I miss my paternal grandmother, my supportive paternal family (with the exclusion of my mean ol’ dad). They were the only family members that treated me right, and for that I am eternally grateful. If not for them, I might have lost faith in myself and in humanity. I might have offed myself a long time ago. But they made me strong. They were there for me in my formative years. They taught me self worth and courage. And now my grandmother is dead, I know she is all around me now. I will never be alone.