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.
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, I guess we know the reason why.
I was 6 when I realised that something was amiss
At 6 years old, I didn’t know 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 used to resent me for looking like my dad.
My grandmother, mother and I
Staying with my grandmother was difficult at first, because I didn’t have a good relationship with her. She treated me differently compared to my siblings. Since my sister looked a lot like my mom, she was her favorite.
On the other hand, I resemble my dad, so we had a mutual dislike for each other when I was younger. However, as time went by, our feelings towards each other gradually changed.
She realised it was unfair to treat me differently because of how I look. Now, I can claim to be the favourite grandchild.
After the divorce, every weekend we would go see my father. We would play video games, watch movies and go out.
I didn’t really care that much about seeing my dad, I remember being more excited about playing video games than seeing him.
This went on for about 3 years.
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.
Sometimes I would have outbursts of anger, and I’d deeply regret it later. I have worked on it since, but it can still happen. It’s still a work in progress.
I also didn’t like how many times my parents went to court. Each time, my dad would go to court not to fight for our custody, but to pick a fight with my mother who was always avoiding him.
He wanted to have some kind of connection with my mother even after the divorce. This evidently affected my mother financially.
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 stuck with providing RM 500 for us until I was 14, but 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 he came back from the UAE, that is when I started hating him. I preferred him in the UAE so that I didn’t have to deal with him.
He would give a lot of stupid reasons for not give us money, even though he was financially stable.
As his child, I didn’t want to have to ask him to — it was his responsibility to provide. Yet, there were months he wouldn’t even give the baseline amount that he was supposed to.
After he returned, he remarried twice and now has 5 other children, excluding me and my siblings. In total he has 8.
Even when my mother was unemployed, my father still refused to provide for us.
In 2016, both my parents lost their jobs, and we lived off my mother’s savings. In 2017, my dad got a job, but he didn’t bother to help us out at all.
I wanted to go to a pilot school but had to give that dream up because of our financial situation. I had to take a student loan and do a different degree.
After 4 years, my mother is still unemployed today. Now, we live off what we have. The financial difficulties still affect me today. We just live within our means.
In 2018, I cut off all ties with my father.
My dad’s life doesn’t play a role in my life anymore. I often do question if I have an emotional connection towards him. Sometimes, it just feels like he was a sperm donor.
He called me on my birthday in 2019. Even recently, he texted me that he wanted to go out, 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. That’s not important to 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. My dad wasn’t good at any of this.
Obviously, if he passes away or something I will be sad. But I am not even upset about not talking to him in years.
I really just think he is an a**hole. If you don’t have the financial and emotional means to not take care of your children why have them?
I always have and will appreciate my mother
I never really depended on my father. 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 has 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.
Looking at it now with the pandemic and all, I guess everything happens for a reason.
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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