I know that starting a blog with a sad entry can be really depressing, and somewhat reminiscent of the book “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, but I believe that this story needs to be told before anything else.
My parents have been separated for more than 18 years now – and how it happened isn’t exactly what you would have imagined. There were no lawyers involved, no signing of papers and mutual separation in a dignified manner. No split of property or of child’s custody. Read on; it’s a long post BUT I do promise it’ll be… dramatic (to say the least) and unique (for loss of an appropriate word).
Please know this before you go on: that I have forgiven my father and I still have an established relationship with him today. I really care a lot for him. He is my earthly father given to me, and for this reason, I will always love and care for him. I do not intent to shame him with my honest disclosure of the events below. I understand that it may cause you to paint him in an image of a villain, but that is not how I see him today. I have always put the blame on alcohol. He was a different person whenever intoxicated. Relationships heal over time & forgiveness is a powerful emotion – this is the purpose of the story.
It was 1999 when it happened. I was 9 years old. The memory of that day still as clear as crystal in my mind, as if it only happened yesterday.
My father just got back from the casinos at Genting Highlands. He was intoxicated, and he was in a bad mood because he had lost most, if not all, his money. He kicked open the front door, and came barging into the bedroom which my mum and I shared. He & mum argued over what seemed like finances.
It was a Saturday morning and I was still asleep in bed. With the noise he was making, I was soon stirred to full consciousness – but I kept my eyes shut as I willed for it to be a nightmare instead.
“Oh no, not again…” I recall thinking to myself. “This is not happening…” I prayed silently in my heart for my dad to just walk away and leave us alone.
But the screaming got louder, and the situation quickly escalated. My mum was crying by now, and she begged him to come to his senses by reminding him that I was there in the room, still asleep.
I flinched in bed as I heard that dreadful sound… I was afraid to open my eyes for fear of what I may see. But I was old enough then to know what had happened. He had just hit my mum. Her wails got louder, only to confirm my suspicion.
I took that as my cue, and I opened my eyes. I knew he wouldn’t hit her in front of me, so I got up and began to cry, thinking that it would be my “secret weapon” to stop him from further hurting my mum.
“YOU, GO BACK TO SLEEP!” this red faced, hoarse-voiced devil lookalike screamed as he held up a warning finger at me. I was shocked that my plan to remediate situation backfired. “He never screamed at me before…’” I remember thinking to myself. I knew this time was different. This man was not my father.
I watched helplessly at the scene before me. My mother was in tears as she bravely went through the ordeal. She wanted to protect me and so she steered him out into the living room.
Part of my fear gave way to angst, and fueled by adrenaline, I rushed out after them. I was the only sibling in the house at that time, so I felt a duty to protect her. My eldest brother was still in the UK finishing up his studies and my second brother, well, he ran away from home a year or so before that (yep, but let’s leave that story for another post).
I witnessed as the violent acts continued before me… slaps, kicks, spits, vulgar words uttered. I ran towards him and tried to pull him back. With an arm, he shoved me away, but he did stop the hitting and turned to walk towards his room instead.
I went to my mum’s side. In tears still, she told me to quickly escape to my neighbour’s house for my own safety.
“No!” I shook my head in stubbornness. “I won’t leave you alone!”
I heard a sound, and the hairs of my back started to rise as I turned. My father was about to return to the living room.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw him slowly staggering back out towards us in his drunken state. It seemed like his anger had not dispersed and he wanted to continue the session. In the adrenaline of the moment, what etched onto my memory was just the fact of fight or flight. I wanted to protect my mother. I needed to protect her.
My heart thumped quickly as my mind raced to process the scene, but my instincts were telling my body what to do instead.
I ran towards him. There was a small corridor connecting his room to the living room, and I spread my hands across the walls of the corridor to stop him from advancing forward. I screamed at my mum to run and get out of the house immediately. She shook her head, reluctant to leave me behind. I insisted with a new surge of defiance, and she knew she had no choice. She knew he wouldn’t hurt me. Thankfully, my mum chose to flee that day to the safe refuge of our neighbour’s. This act of courage was a symbolism of what happened next. It empowered her to make the tough decision to leave my father and this cocoon for good. This was pivotal, because the thought of surviving as a single mother in her early 40s without any prior savings or a proper career was scary indeed.
Recalling this now almost 18 years later, gosh… it brings me to tears every time. Although I know my dad is not capable of anything too extreme, we never know what can come from someone in a severely intoxicated state. Those of you who have witnessed domestic violence or the violence of a drunkard can attest to this (though I pray no one should ever encounter this fate).
Anything could have happened that day. My dad used to get into drunken fights with others which landed him in the hospital before. Alcohol in excess can make a man do things beyond his right mind. It’s like being possessed by the devil.
So there, that’s off my chest now. That’s how my parents got ‘separated’. My father went to bed, and as he slept, my mum & I went back to pack our things. We loaded her car and left to my grandma’s place, where we would stay for a while as my mother sorted out our new life.
This memory is something that I’ve tried many years, but failed, to erase from my mind. For most parts of my youth life, recalling the scenes above evoked very dark emotions within me. I’m VERY glad I did not venture into drugs or self-torture or alcohol to ease my pain (Praise the Lord!). Now as I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize that these emotions will always be there and there’s nothing I can do to make it go away. The remedy should come not from avoidance, but rather from acceptance.
It will always be my past, and I cannot erase that – but I have control of my future and over how I choose to process these emotions. Being a Christian has helped me fill this void within me with the fullness of Jesus Christ, and I truly believe that this is my testimony to one of the many, many ways having a relationship with God has helped me overcome my dark past.
Do you know of someone who could have gone (or are going) through the same? Or have YOU got a dark past that’s somewhat similar too? You should be proud to wear these scars on your sleeves and show them off! It’s NOT a disability, it’s NOTHING to be ashamed about! YOU are in control over your emotions, and I’m here to tell you that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. You should hold on to the faith, and do what’s right for you and your family. Seek help if you need – don’t underestimate help. Don’t fall victim to your emotions or your abusive past/present. Remember, you can’t change your past, but you can influence your future.
“who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. “ – 2 Corinthians 1:4