A letter from one woman to another.

Friday, 25 May 2012

In response to you, writer of this post, from the bottomsup blog.

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Dear friend,

First of all, allow me to tell you how much I admire you for taking the first step toward liberation.
I admire you for being strong in the face of adversity.
I admire your resilience in the wake of insurmountable odds.
I admire your courage to stand up for all that matter to you.
I admire your faith and for being able to love explicitly.

I won't claim to know how you are feeling right now, neither will I even attempt to place myself in your shoes. Every relationship is different, and as much as you have poured out your feelings in words, I don't know you personally to be able to stake claim on understanding your decisions.

I will not tell you that time heals, because it doesn't. Perhaps in time we move on... because life has a funny way of moving us forward without us even realising it - but the pain and hurt will always be there. Emotional scars will never heal, once they are there. At times the wound bleeds, but eventually it forms a keloid which ensures that it doesn't hurt as much.

You took him back, time and time again... because you believed that he will change. You gave without asking for much in return, only that perhaps one day he will see the error of his ways and stop leading multiple lives. You gave him a family, and wish that he will find it in his heart to be a tad more responsible. You supported him silently, ignoring your hurt, your pain, and yourself.

That hit too close to my heart.

You wrote that so that your daughters may one day understand. I'm writing this to you because I am a daughter who understands.

***

My mother got married right after she graduated from University with a degree in Economics. She was 25, in love with the very first man who made her feel special, walking down the aisle believing that it was the start to the rest of her life. She was not afraid of where the road leads, because she had him to guide her through. She was blind to his faults, for even though life is wrought with obstacles, they can work everything out together - because they had each other. She felt fortunate that he had chosen her despite having women fall at his feet. She trusted him explicitly.

She tried to create a home, an environment where he was happy to come home to every day. They bought their first black and white TV set, and it was small enough for her to carry it on her lap riding home on his scooter. He didn't allow her to work - because he was a conservative man who believed that he should be able to provide for his family (and to fuel his egotistical nature).
She got pregnant after 3 years and several traditional treatments due to some irregularities.

That was when it all started.

When she was 7 months pregnant with me, there was a newspaper notice which caught my maternal grandfather's eye. A grainy picture of a woman carrying a toddler, with a 'looking for' header, complete with my father's full name. My grandpa didn't tell my mum yet, but he called the number stated on the notice, and spoke to the woman. Apparently my father had been carrying on with her, even through his wedding vows. He left her and his daughter without a word when he found out that my mum was pregnant. 

My Grandfather confronted my father, who admitted his liaison, and swore never to repeat the mistake. He made an oath at the altar - for he said that he only loved my mother and that it was a moment's folly which continued because that woman refused to let him go. My Mum, young and in love - took him back despite my grandparent's objections... buoyed by the fact that he chose to leave that affair because he realised that he wanted a real family with her.

What she didn't realise (nobody did, for that matter) was that he didn't leave that woman to start a brand new family with his wife - it was because there were two other women in the picture. None of them knew the existence of one another... each of them believing in the lies spun by the smooth talker.

They came to the house, one after the other. Unplanned on their part, but suspicions got the better of them. They confronted my mother and made themselves appear to be the victim in all that mess. My mum was then pregnant with my brother... and I can only guess how she must have felt during those moments. She dared not confide in her parents, because they had warned her and she refused to listen.

She still took him back, after he begged, pleaded and cried... spewing empty promises which never materialised. She loved him to the point of ignoring her own self, she needed him to be with her because he was the only life she's ever known. She took him back because her children needed a family... and she didn't know where else to turn. She was entirely dependent on him, and she was afraid to walk away. Perhaps at that time, it was easier to just ignore the affairs, and try to get back a semblance of life as she knows it.

Of course, he never stopped. It could just be in his personality to feel needed - by the more women, the better. He went from one to the next because he can. It didn't bother him that he has a wife and 2 children waiting for him... he took pride in being able to dodge himself out of situations. It fuelled his restless spirit, while constantly reminding him that he's wanted.

We migrated to Singapore from Indonesia when I was 8 and my brother, 4. We couldn't speak a word of English, everything was all brand new to us... and we had to start right at the very beginning. We didn't have relatives here, and we didn't dare to walk to the corner store to buy anything because we were so sheltered.

I went to school and started from scratch. My Mum learnt English with the aid of The Straits Times and a dictionary. My brother played with the neighbour's kids and eased into English much better than any of us did. My father just went on playing the field.

Until one day he left - and never came back, not until the day he passed away (which was exactly 2 years ago from now).

He left my Mum with a mountain of debts, 2 young children and a broken heart. She had never worked a day in her life, and she had creditors knocking at the door daily. She tried to kill herself twice. I managed to save her in time the third time round, perhaps by a stroke of divine intervention, when I came home from school early because I wasn't well. She didn't know where to start - and how to survive. She didn't have the time or energy to wallow in her pain because she had to see to our needs.

She survived. We all did.
Emotionally battered and scarred - but survivors, nevertheless.
My father died a poor man, alone, without any of his women by his side, his death undiscovered for 2 days.

I have never forgiven him.

***

I recount this to you because I know what my mother had gone through. She loved unconditionally, and she lived in the belief that he will change. She did not give herself a chance to grow, because change is never a good thing when one doesn't know where to start.

I know she still loves him, despite everything that he had done to her. Worse than physical abuse, he struck her soul repeatedly, twisting a serrated knife into her heart with a heavy hand and a cruel sneer. She has never remarried, although she has many male friends who offer company in her twilight years. She told me that she will only exchange vows once in her life - and she has stuck to her part of the bargain.

She told me to call my father when I got married, just to let him know. I never did. I didn't feel the need to. He tried calling me numerous times throughout the 25 years apart, but I hung up on him (on landlines, on mobiles, at work). He didn't deserve my mum or his children. He didn't deserve to be called my dad.

Unlike you, she didn't have the courage to walk away. She didn't feel strong enough to carry the burden. She would rather stay in the relationship with both eyes closed. Sometimes I wonder what would life be had he not walked out on us. Would she have come to that breaking point and chosen to divorce him eventually? Or would she have soldered on... disregarding the pain in her heart so that we can live?

I don't know. I suppose I never will.

Your daughters will understand one day. A woman's heart is quite a character. It's easily bruised, but despite the repeated hard knocks... it continues to beat stronger with the passing of time. It is criss crossed with scars, but it doesn't fail. It beats for her children, it beats for herself, and it beats to survive.

Your heart will, too.


Yours truly,
A woman who understands.

***

Originally posted: here.


17 comments :

  1. Such a beautiful letter of support.
    I hope she will read it and be stronger through your words.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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  2. What a great letter and so unjudgmental, a very treasured and precious trait in a friend that I appreciate tremendously. What doesn't break us makes us stronger.

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    1. I don't know how to judge... because I am not perfect :)
      Thanks, Cindy! I'm proud to be your friend, too!

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  3. your mum is a very strong woman..and so are her children who have stood by her all this while. i'm sure your mum had the courage to finally move on because of the love she has for you and your brother. i can only imagine how hard it was for you three when you just moved to Singapore. you guys definitely deserve all the good in your lives right now.

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    1. I think once we become parents - it's no longer about us. Everything we do are for our kids, and ensuring that they are well-equipped for life.

      I think this shaped me to who I am and what I've become now. For every negative experience, I'd like to take away the positive from it, too.

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  4. I think women are strong people. Especially mothers. We are survivors despite any adversity that may befall on us. Women rule!! :p *hugs to you and mom*

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    1. Thanks, Adeline!!

      We're Regal, too :p

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  5. I want to give your mother a big hug!

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    1. She deserved one, Adora... and many many more!

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  6. This post made me tear, Regina. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. We move on... I'd like to think that the experience has made all of us grow as a family, and as individuals, too.

      Thanks for dropping by. :)

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  7. I read it on E's blog and now again here; both times it made me tear and admire the fierce devotion of your mom.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth!

      Thanks for coming by...
      Yes - she's quite a lady with a larger than life personality!

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  8. This touched me deeply the first time I read it, and again now. Big kudos to your mom. But also, I think it is great that you didn't let yourself be scarred by this so much as to avoid marriage yourself. That, in my opinion, is very commendable indeed.

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  9. Inspiring piece! Speechless after I've read. Salute your mom.

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  10. Tears roll down when I was reading this... My mom never spend time with us when we were little, and i always envy others with moms who are constantly with them. You have a great mom:)
    Happy mother's day to her! She really deserve the day!

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