4th June 2017 is a very special day for me, since it marks one of the most incredible milestones of my life. Today marks 10 years of me leaving my marriage and deciding to stay single. Yes peeps, it has been 10 years, and looking back at all the drama, I think we all agree I have really come a long way. This is definitely not a medical post, but I decided to share my story with my readers and all my friends who are fighting their internal battles.
My life in general has always been full of drama. My childhood was happy, but the adolescent stage was the most challenging with my mother being bedridden sick and dying, my dad being physically, verbally and emotionally abusive and my siblings all scattered. I was thrown out of my family at 18 years of age because I insulted my step mum. I was young, hot-headed, stubborn and psychotically courageous. The version of me now is a hell lot mellowed compared to this period of my life. During this time, I met my ex-husband, and we were in a serious relationship until we were married in 2001. We were given two beautiful girls who are Aina and Bella. Being married during my study years was risky but it was the only outlet I had to get away from all the madness happening at home. My mother died in the year 2000, 10 days prior to my first year final medical exam. I failed horribly. I was numbed by grief and I think most of the papers were unanswered and left blank. Luckily, my lecturers took pity on me, and allowed me to repeat the exam with the others by taking the holiday paper to pass the year. Which I did. With my mum demised, I moved back to my family home to sort out my younger siblings. I was like a young mother inheriting 3 children, but it was okay. I was use to looking after them, it wasn’t a burden, rather a relief to be surrounded by people. Subsequently, starting my second year, I had to move back to my apartment and figure out how to sort out the rent.
Being young and naive, marriage seemed like a good option for a homeless girl like me. But what I didn’t understand then, what I understood now was that not everyone has the same fire ticking inside of them. Not everyone sees the world the way I do. And most people do not even have half the drive I do. It is not because they are lazy, it is just because they were built that way as how I was built this way. Our marriage was really truly based on love, and I admit, I loved my ex husband with all my heart at that time. But love will not put food on the table, nor pay for bills, or secure a future for the offsprings. After 2 years I was feeling drained because I sort of grew up, and he didn’t. He was more like my adolescent son staying in the same home, but all the responsibility burden was on me. I worked more hours, I paid for food, bills, car, home expenses etc. I became frustrated every time I set aside money to sit for an exam, having to postpone taking the exam because I had to pay for something related to the home. I felt stuck. My life was turning into a vicious cycle of mounted debt.
It took 6 years to leave him. The delay was more because of external factors like getting my father’s consent to destroy the marriage, and waiting for his mother to go before I broach the subject. She had end stage breast cancer and it was aggressive. She died in 2005. The last thing she said to me was ‘Thank you’. It was as if she knew I was leaving. But it was a must. Finally on 4th July 2007, he let me go. He had too because he smashed my face and broke my wrist and I’ve opened a battered woman police report and hospital file as evidence. It took 6 months for my wrist to recover, but it was well worth it. The only torture I had to endure was him stealing my babies. Bella was just 7 months old. I only got her back 7 months later. The stupidest thing about our Syariah court system was that 1. It sided the men regardless of what they try portray, 2. Child custody is not settled during the divorce hence the child custody tug and war occurs with the children being the main victims in between to grow up in an unstable environment. After 2 years of court circus, and wasting so much money on lawyers, I pulled out the case and decided to split the children since there was no conclusion. So I took Bella, and Aina went to her dad. Maybe a lot of you would wonder why I agreed to the split. I asked Aina who she wanted to stay with, and she requested to be with her father. She was 7 at that time, and she told me she pitied her dad alone, and so decided to stay with him. I asked her if she was sure it was what she wanted to do and she said yes. But I told her that anytime she wants to come back to me, let me know and there is always room for her in my house. So much for her good intention, her dad remarried a month after I pulled out all the cases from the court. He returned her to me two years later quoting that the kids should not be separated, when the truth was, he just had another child and he did not want to pay for her expenses. Muslim law dictates that the man has to support a daughter until she marries and a son until he is independent, but apparently in this country, that law seems to be forgotten. Technically, he would also have to pay me for looking after his children i.e. like a salary, but that also has been forgotten. Not just in my case, but in most cases of divorce in this country. To pacify my anger, I regarded him as a sperm donor and fully support my two girls until today. However, I teach my girls a very important concept – that God chose me as their mum and therefore I am the best mum for them in this life, and God chose their dad, so no matter how good other dads seem to be he is still the best dad to them in this world. Perhaps someday he will realise this. Therefore, I grant full access to their dad at any time, and there is no dispute whenever he wants to take them until today.
After 4 months of being separated from my babies, the court allowed 6 hours of bonding time without the father.
So with the kids on off here and on off there, I do get more of my me time. Especially in the past 2 years where my girls have allowed me to date and find a partner. It is very considerate of them although I make a point to hide all the men I date from them. Somethings are better left untold and unseen. The initial stage of me being a single woman was a tough one. It wasn’t about money or work or livelihood, but rather the mentality of the society towards you. In my society, when a couple divorces, they always seem to put the blame on the woman.And that wasn’t the worst part, it was also the way men talk and treat you. Just because I was solo again, doesn’t mean that you can simply make sexual remarks and offer yourself to warm my bed. I was celibate for years at a time, and it was fine with me. I was too busy living my life to think about sexual gratification. There was so much more to do. Even the women seem to treat you differently. I had a friend who told me that she didn’t want to be friends with me because I am divorced because I might steal her husband. Although I just laughed at the statement, I felt so insulted till today. It changed our friendship. Nowadays I realise, I do not keep too many friends. Just those who keep me happy and tell me off when I’m about to destroy myself stupid, but you will really have to get to know me better to be able to tell. And that is perhaps the most interesting thing about me, no one really knows how I am besides myself and a few. I guess I’ve built facades of mirrors inside of me that reflects everything a person does to me and they will perceive this as me, but in actual fact, it is a reflection of their own attitude towards me. And perhaps that is how I stayed single for so long. I am still looking. For that one person who is willing to go behind the mirrors and get to know the true me.
I learnt a great deal about people being alone for 10 years. I loved, I lived, I experienced new things, I hurt, I cried, and there were times I felt so detached from the world. I guess the turning point of my life was in year 2015, when I fell in love with this much older Italian man. What made me love him so much was the things that he made me realise about myself. It was a short relationship, serendipity by nature, but memorable. He accepted me as who I was, he was very polite but strict, and he was careful with my feelings because he understood how I was. He was a quiet man, a thinker, extremely intelligent and yet fun at the same time. He would always wipe my tears before we sleep no matter how much we fight and I cry about it, he would never let us end the day fighting. A true gentleman. He had a way of telling me things in a subtle way because he knew I would make changes. I remembered one day he said to me Italian women were very fit. I laughed at it, but I knew he meant that I was putting on weight and I started exercising and controlling my diet and keeping myself within a weight range that was ideal. The simple statement made me become more obsessed about my figure and I thank him for saying it in a very soft manner. I think he would agree with my newer physique. When I looked back at our photos, I wasn’t really in the best of shape but he loved me anyway. Perfect as he may seem, but then the time came to say our goodbyes. I respected his wishes as how he respected mine. He taught me a great lesson on self love and self respect, and he gave me the confidence to do so many things. We keep in touch and respect each others lives. He gave me a great gift of self-respect that no one else did. Funnily in the same year I met another great guy and that took a different twist and taught me something else. Coming out of a relationship where two people mutually respected each others strength and weaknesses, and entering into a completely one sided relationship was a complete nightmare. Despite being treated well on the outside, I literally had no say what so ever and it as really tiring. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great guy but perhaps when you’ve been on your own for too long, you forget relationships involve other people’s feelings and thoughts and say. I guess the worst insult my partner threw to me was telling me he didn’t want me to treat him like a bank. He was lucky we were in Europe and not many people knew I was there. If it had been Asia, I would have just took the first ticket out of there. But I stayed on trying to understand what was really wrong with this terrific guy. I summed up that despite his advanced age, his mind and emotions were still trapped in his post adolescent era of 20s and I guess it happens in single only male child men, growing up in the same town, same environment, same friends hence why his interests were in really young girls 15-20 years younger. Perhaps he felt cheated with me since I do look 10 years younger than my real age but a hell lot more confident than those young things he is use to. After a year of tango, he finally admitted that he was scared of commitment and every time we got close he felt like he was being tied down to me. And at that point I realised that after the one year, he still did not understand how my mind ticks. Minus all the drama, we actually were really good with each other, we both loved food, the outdoors, books, traveling, the beach, the sea, we were both health freaks, hygiene freaks, we both loved cooking, we loved each other’s cooking, beautiful things, writing poetry. But life is about choices, and he chose to not be with me, and I chose to let it be.
I learnt a very important lesson from this bittersweet relationship. It was the importance of being and staying independent regardless whether I am alone or with partner. A lot of women make the mistake of abandoning their careers for the sake of the family and household and unfortunately it would also contribute to your personal unhappiness. Men are quick to forget the sacrifices done by a women because they are really one track minded. They can only focus at one thing at a time, whilst women were born multi-taskers. I have talked to many talented intelligent women who sacrificed their careers for the home, only to regret it years later when the guy does not perform, or strays from the marriage or start treating them as if they are unrefined just because they chose diapers over power suits. With the rates of infidelity and divorce being so high nowadays especially in our country, I think perhaps keeping the career is the wisest thing. Or at least some hidden passive income stash that you created prior to the matrimony. My work and career was what kept me afloat all these years, that fed my mouth and the mouths of my children. Although my kids sometimes complain saying that I care more about my work than them, but I always remind them that it is my work that keeps us comfortable and food on the table. Especially since their father contributes bear minimum amount a month which is only enough for their school money. Whatever his reason for not supporting the girls, it is between him and God, and I always tell my kids, at least there is some effort as compared to none, and hopefully someday he will realise that by fulfilling his responsibilities towards them would bring more benefit to himself rather.
10 years of being a solo independent lady also taught me a lot of things about friends. I use to have groups of girlfriends to attend events together and hang out. Unfortunately, over the course of the years, I have lost many along the way. I find now, I prefer the company of my own solitude and a few friends who accepts me for who I am. I guess it also has something to do with my prayers, as I always ask God to keep the friends who are genuine and good for me near, and those who have any deceit towards me as far as possible. I started praying this way since a few years back, and honestly I have seen so many friends change the way they act towards me, and soon after I would decide to let them go and ignore them completely. Deceit is the worst feeling a person can ever harbour towards another human being because it grows in you like a poison. Hence why jealousy and deceit is regarded as one of the seven deadliest sins. I think one of the hardest challenges I had with friends was being backstabbed by one of my closest friends in 2015. It was painful because I lost a whole group of friends who just ignored me and sided on the girl. Painful, but I told myself, if they are not willing to get your side of the story, they are not really your friends. I thank the ones who messaged me privately asking how I was doing and whether I was okay. It started just because she was jealous because I had an Italian boyfriend and she was single. She was making up weird stories behind my back at that time (because obviously she didn’t have much work to do). I knew, but I was too busy to bother and I just ignored and did my own thing. She provoked argument in our group which led to me being somewhat boycotted. And at that point I snapped. No more little Miss Nice. You can never please the world, so I might as well please myself. I decided to just completely ignore her and my friends who sided on her and live my life. My friendship is precious, and if she thinks it is not important, then let it be. I don’t care anymore. A lot of other people would appreciate the value I bring to their lives. So my whole friendship circle started to change and evolve into its current state now, where I have a lot of close friends that people do not see, and friends who I hang out with that appreciate my presence and talent. Honestly, I am much happier now than I’ve been before. I was overcompensating too much of my own self in the name of friendship, and it just brought me hurt. Nowadays, I stay clear of negative people and energy vampires, and I regard my time too precious to be wasted on people who could not appreciate it. In fact, nowadays I am very selective to go out unlike before where I would shuffle my time to make time for my friend’s needs all the time. If I do not feel up to it, I just politely decline. It is okay to say No, rather than force yourself to do something you were not really willing. A true friend would understand.
This is a super long entry as compared to the others, and is a little bit more personal. To sum it up, this is what I’ve learned after 10 years of going solo:
- In order to be happy, you have to learn to love yourself, respect yourself and understand what you like and do not like. On top of all this, you have to learn to be comfortable with yourself and just yourself.
- If someone wants to borrow money from you, never give more than 10% of your monthly income (average monthly income) because there is a high chance petty borrowers will not return your money. So unless you don’t mind losing the money to the person you lend it too, 10% won’t hurt your livelihood as much as higher percentages would. This also helps you decide whether you can afford to help the person or not. This only apply to personal lending.
- Live below your means (Ideally on half of what you earn a month), but always spare 10% play fund from your earnings for yourself.
- Pay off your debts, even though you have to break it into small monthly instalments over years. Consistent paying will rid the debt in no time, and instill trust in you as a reliable person. It also opens new opportunities to you, since you know you have a paying capability.
- You can negotiate everything and anything as long as you believe you could.
- Invest in yourself – be it in education, skills, talent, beauty, health, food etc. You are your biggest asset.
- It is important to keep your own income stream, be it passive or active, career or home based business because you will never know when your partner starts to go out of line. We are humans after all, everyone changes in time. It is best to be prepared. It could be another woman, a job loss, illness or any disaster that may affect the family, but by being independent, you will always have a say and some buffer for damage control.
- It is okay to be single – It is a choice you make just because you haven’t found someone that makes you want to give up all your freedom. Never compromise your standards for a man, just because you are scared of being lonely. Sometimes being alone is much better than being in a meaningless relationship.
- Never sleep with a guy just for money because you will wake up one day hating yourself for being such a slut. A mutual attraction with perks is perhaps one of the best things.
- What people say about you or think about you is their own opinion. It doesn’t really matter. What really matters is what you think or say about yourself. You are bound to gravitate towards people of similar thoughts and interests and vice versa so be patient with life.
- Great things happen to people who believe.
- Trust God. 101%. If you are in doubt ask God. If you are still in doubt ask again. There will always be an answer if you allow yourself to see it. Sometimes it can be in the most subtle ways.
- Change is inevitable to progress. Unfortunately, you can only change yourself, not anyone else.
- Don’t be upset if people do not see things the way you do.It is either you idea is not clear enough, or their minds are just closed. Improve your presentation and try 3 times, on the last ry if it still doesn’t work then let it be. Some people are not meant to see what you see.
- Never decide big decisions based on emotions. Emotions cloud instincts. Learn to detach yourself from emotions and then you will learn to see much clearly. A lot of things in life are better done without emotion entanglement.
- Travel. See the world. Open your heart to new experiences. Meet new people. Everyone you meet will teach you a valuable lesson to life if you would just take time to think about it.
- Learn a new language every couple of years. It helps to keep the mind active.
- Read, read, read. Be it books, E-books, articles online, blogs etc. Reading expands the mind.
- Be good to your parents. No matter what they did to you in the past or present. Having a parent till an adult age is a privilege that many do not realise until they are gone.
- If you have nothing good to say, say nothing. People only want to hear what they want to hear.
- God will not give you a problem you cannot handle. If you have a problem , there is always a solution. Just be patient and work on it bit by bit.
Full time mummy 2014 – Langkawi airport
The older you are the more you understand that humans are not perfect, and that perhaps is the beauty of being human.These next five years is dedicated to my career and my daughters. After the long break, I realised my passion towards medical aesthetics and lifestyle medicine has not waned but in fact has become much stronger with me learning more stuff to benefit my patients. My passion for travel and writing has also increased. My two lovely daughters are growing and now in their teens, they need me more than before, to guide them while they start to discover the world. In this new digital era, adolescent stress is a real problem with all the social media attention and cyber bullying occurring. The best way is to communicate with your children and be there for them against all odds.
Okay peeps, hope this benefits. Have a good month ahead. Ciao.