For most people, wealth is a generally sought-after treasure. My grandfather was the one that gifted us such treasure.
At the age of 17, my grandfather dropped out of school to be a bus driver to sustain his widowed mum.
Having his siblings and his mother to care for with a measly RM150 per month was barely enough to sustain his family and himself.
Thus, he ended up accepting odd jobs around a wet market to continue supporting his family financially.
At the age of 21, he became a salesperson for a car company and eventually a well-known German product company.
My grandfather was known for his calm demeanour and charismatic approach to selling his products. Therefore, it earned him his reputation as one of the top dogs for sales in his state.
Eventually, at the age of 25, he established a company that he has always envisioned, and it brought him a great amount of wealth and reputation.
He went on to purchase plenty of properties and cars as soon as he earned his new-found wealth.
My grandfather married his second wife without the first wife’s blessing
In the process, he ended up marrying two wives. My grandmother was his second.
When my grandma found out about his first wife, she threatened to shut down his business if he did not do his duty by her and marry her as well. So he did.
In those days, it was the norm for men to wed a few wives.
But being the second wife had its disadvantages. If my grandmother was upset about something, she couldn’t put her foot down. She could only threaten legal trouble if she was pushed out of ownership in the household.
So in the end, my grandfather’s first family ended up having major shares over the company.
When it came to contesting this, my dad and his siblings had no resolve to fight for their standing — what I believe was their birthright.
Some might say that it is idiotic of me to leave all this wealth behind. Yet, knowing that this wealth has built misconduct and mistrust among my family has only made me doubt the saying “blood is always thicker than water”.
The black sheep of the family
No family will ever be a perfect family, regardless of how perfect it is on paper.
Back then, my mother was a black sheep of the family. She was always mistreated because my grandparents feel like she has a “shallow” mentality.
My grandma would exclude her portion from meals, and she would ask the maids to refrain from doing chores for my mother or help her in any way.
I thought this was unfair.
Eventually, when I was 4, my parents decided to move to KL with me and my brother in order to search for better job opportunities.
But my grandparents refused to let my brother and I go. They were bewildered by the thought of my parents separating themselves from the family.
“If your mom and I did not comply, we would have been exiled from the family forever,” my dad recalled.
In the end, they found a compromise and my parents moved to KL, while my brother and I were left behind in Melaka to stay with my grandparents.
My grandmother favoured me over my brother
In all those years that I live with my grandparents, it started becoming clear that my grandma favours me more than my brother.
[For the author’s 19th birthday, his grandmother cooked yong tau fu for him.]
She treats me better by cooking all the good food for me, and she would never deny my request when I need something.
It’s the other way round for my brother. She would cook plain rice and eggs for him, and scold him for every little thing.
My parents tried to compensate by spoiling my brother. They got him a phone at the age of 13, while I was using all their spoiled phones until the age of 19.
They would ask me to sulk it up and be a better big brother, while they see my brother as the golden child that’s never at fault.
However, I feel like this whole thing was tearing me and my brother apart, so I decided to protect my brother from all the mistreatments because I feel bad for him.
When my grandma doesn’t provide him with meals, I would cook for him. When my grandma scolds him, I would defend him and explain to her that he means differently.
I thought I was being the bigger person, but little by little, I started getting tired of all of this.
My parents had unrealistic expectations for me
Growing up, I was constantly being bombarded with unrealistic expectations from my parents. It was all about “you need to get good grades” and “go out and socialize more”. They wanted me to be someone I’m not.
At first, I complied. I’d go along with the motions, without feeling any real joy in doing them.
Bit by bit, I started losing my motivation towards my studies.
I did whatever it takes to just be alone with my thoughts. I started skipping classes. I’d roam around a park on my own until it was time to go home.
My only other coping mechanism at that time was to play video games, but my parents thought I was addicted.
Whenever I follow them to KL, I’d stay at home with them more because I wanted to spend more time with them.
But instead, they would push me to participate in these “holiday camps” — places where you train leadership and other skills.
I found myself having to perform and compete with others, instead of spending the quality time I so yearned from my parents.
I felt robbed of my childhood because my parents were hardly around while I was living with my grandmother.
Slowly, I started to resent my parents for all of this. Why did they leave me with my grandmother? Why did they play favourites with my brother?
On top of that, the fact that our family wasn’t as well-off because of the way my grandfather treated us, made me sour towards my family in general.
All of these disappointments, layer by layer, had begun to erode my sense of self. Who was I? Why was I doing all of this? What do I really want?
I was going through an identity crisis, and I was lost.
I got into an argument with my parents
Then, precisely on the 7th of December, 2016, the bomb that was ticking inside of me just went off.
I was 16 that year, and I just came back from a holiday camp that afternoon.
My dad was driving us home after dinner, and we were all sitting in silence.
I was deep in thought, and suddenly, like a switch had been flipped, I said to my parents:
“I was just thinking…You were never there for me when I needed you. You threw me into holiday camps where I felt separated from reality.”
My parents were visibly shocked, and they were unsure what to say.
“What do you mean?” My dad said in disbelief.
I was unable to stop myself from blurting out the words I’d kept inside for years.
I told them I had started skipped classes just to roam around the neighbourhood where we lived — just to feel a sense of freedom.
“When I come back from school, I feel like I’m trapped in an unending cycle that’s impossible to escape. When you bring me up to KL, you force me out to “socialise” with others and when I need alone time, I’m somehow the inconsiderate one,” I raged.
Needless to say, this broke them.
They were speechless, and they teared up as I told them what I was going through.
At the end of my outburst, I told them that while I value them as parents, in the end, they should stop pressuring me.
“My decisions are mine to make, and I will be as respectful as I can as long as it doesn’t break my moral code,” I said coldly to them.
The rest of the ride back was tense and silent.
Everything changed for me after that day
That was the day I drew a thick line in the sand. That was the day everything changed.
I might sound like a psychopath or a sociopath, but after experiencing all this, I felt lighter, like a weight was off my chest.
Afterwards, I started questioning people’s motives and actions. I also started having a broader understanding of why people behave the way they do.
I realised everyone has the pressures of society to live up to. But some crumble when the pressure begins to be too much to handle.
When I was still younger, it was like people were playing a game of ping pong with me as the ball.
I was trying too hard to conform and fit in as a person, to the point where I was being batted back and forth like a ball between my parents and grandparents.
But now I feel like I’m playing life as a game of chess, where the first person to make the wrong move will seal his loss.
In this instance, I feel like my grandpa is the one who made the wrong move. He cheated on his wife and it caused a lot of conflict within the family.
This chess move was a disaster that had knock-on effects that are still being felt by my brother and I today.
Despite all that, I don’t hold it against my grandpa and grandma forever for what happened in the past.
I just try to avoid what I have to avoid, being extremely careful of what I say around them.
After the confrontation with my parents, everything felt better.
I knew I was alone, but I didn’t feel lonely.
I knew that I was neglected and mistreated, but it’s no longer a big issue to me.
It took me 3 years to get over the fact that my childhood was riddled with family problems and difficulties.
This is not something that I can completely move on from, but I have made peace with it.
I have forgiven my parents, and we are taking baby steps to rebuild our relationship.
They are trying to be more involved in my life, but they started giving me the space that I need to be my own person as well.
In fact, we have just moved into a new house together in KL, in order to make up for lost time and be close to each other.
My brother is unaware about these and he’s not emotionally invested in the family, so he doesn’t really care about what was happening — but the four of us made a promise with each other to voice out our concerns if any of us have something to say.
Through it all, I have learned that having great social support can benefit someone in many ways. It certainly helped me, knowing I have my family and friends on my side.
Even though nothing will change the past, this has impacted my present and future in a positive way.
I am much more content with my life, knowing now that I’m taking full control of my own destiny.
For more stories like this, read: My Parents Deleted My Social Life and It Ruined Me and 6 Signs You Have Narcissistic Parents.