Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
People say 2020 was crazy, but 2007 was the craziest year for me.
2007 was the year my dad cheated on my mom. When she found out, she took my younger siblings and I to our grandma’s. I was 6.
In 2007, my mother started noticing that something was amiss.
Once, when my dad went on a business trip to Jakarta, he brought all of us along with him.
He left in the morning for his work while we were in the hotel and didn’t come back until really late at night. My mother started getting suspicious so she told me to lock the door, so that my dad would not be able to come in.
As a young confused boy, I was thinking, “Why shouldn’t I let my dad come in? He is outside.”
Later, he came home and my mother asked him where he went. He deflected and said something like “I was out drinking with my buddies,” but she didn’t look convinced.
Another example of my dad disappearing was when I was in a football league for children under 7.
My dad and I had shared a love for football. We used to bond over that, we’d always go out to watch football games. He used to buy me football-related things, like my first football boots.
He was supposed to send me to games and training on the weekend, but there were times I had to skip it because he was not home and was busy.
Now, we know the reason why.
At 6 years old, I didn’t understand what ‘divorce’ meant.
Until I was 9 or 10, I just saw it as two parents living separately.
One of the first hints was during sports day. Neither of my parents showed up. Instead, my grandfather from my dad’s side, and my grandmother from my mom’s side came to watch.
I remember asking them where my parents were, and my grandfather responded something along the lines of, “Your mom went looking for your dad,” with a stony look on his face.
That was when I realised that everything was not right anymore.
After the divorce, I didn’t see my dad for a few months. Understandably, my mom was devastated and would not let us.
The first time we went to see him was over lunch. He explained to us what was going on, and why they weren’t living anymore.
Eventually, my mom knew she had to give us a reason, and that’s when she broke the news of his infidelity to us.
My grandmother, mother and I
I don’t think the divorce affected me much when I was younger. When I saw parents picking up their children from school, I didn’t feel a twinge of jealousy like others do.
That said, I think it definitely caused me to have trust and anger issues towards everyone I met. I used to get boiled up very easily and had a bad temper — I tend to keep things to myself, so it builds up in me.
My mother just wanted to move on from the divorce, but each time, my dad would go to court not to fight for our custody, but to pick a fight with my mother.
Outside of court, she was always avoiding him, but he kept calling her and telling her what to do. My mother was affected both emotionally and financially by this.
I started to resent my father for choosing not to support us financially.
After a while, my father moved to UAE for work, and I didn’t see him much. At that time, he provided a little more financially, because his company would pay for our tuition fees.
He would give RM 500 for each child’s expenses each month, which wasn’t much. Every year, it was supposed to increase by a certain percentage, but it never did.
He would give a lot of selfish reasons not to give us money, even though he was financially stable. There were even months he wouldn’t even give the baseline amount. As his child, I didn’t want to have to ask him to — it was his responsibility to provide.
I started resenting a lot more around this time. If you don’t have the financial and emotional means to take care of your children, why have them?
At that point my mom became financially steady, so she just gave up and stopped fighting for it.
From then on, my mother paid for everything.
When my mother lost her job in 2016, my dad didn’t bother to help us out at all.
In 2018, I cut off all ties with my father.
After he returned, he remarried twice and now has 5 other children. My dad’s life doesn’t play a role in my life anymore. Sometimes, it just feels like he was a sperm donor.
He called me on my birthday in 2019, but I just ghosted him. I just feel like, if he is not doing his role as a father, why should I do my role as a son?
A father isn’t supposed to be playing a catch up game with me. I have friends to ask me “How are you?” or “What’s going on in your life?” He is supposed to be there for you emotionally and physically, while providing financially. Obviously, if he passes away or something I will be sad. But I am not even upset about not talking to him in years.
My mother faced the pressure to be a father and mother
To me, it was always just my mother. I always saw her as an independent woman, because she never waited around nor begged for my father’s help.
She was there for me throughout everything.
For her to send us to private or international schools our whole life, feed all of us and just make a comfortable life for us, is not easy but she did it. She never really made me feel like I missed out on anything.
Yes, there were times she couldn’t fulfill her promises to us. Like the fact that I was not being able to go pilot school, which was very hard for me to get over.
But you know when someone relies on you so much, and you just can’t make ends meet or fulfill their needs, so you feel guilty? I know she feels that.
When that happens, I feel bad for my mother, because she has 3 children just fully relying on her and she has to carry the burden all by herself.
She faced that pressure to be a father and a mother to all 3 of us. I can tell she has a lot on her plate, but she suppresses them in front of us, for our sake.
I still do believe in love in marriage
Usually, when you grow up in these family dynamics, you tend to be a pessimist when it comes to love but I do think it can last forever. Despite my parents’ marriage not working, I have seen healthy relationships around me that do make me believe in love.
I do wonder though, if my partner cheats on me how would I react? Would I feel like it’s just another day since I have seen it happening around me or would I be furious about it?
I think you should make sure you are emotionally and financially ready before you make a commitment.
For more stories like this, read:I Am a Wife but Also (Sort Of) Single with a Baby. Here’s How I Cope and Cool Things about Being a Single Mom that You Didn’t Know About
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