I think our relationships with our father have deteriorated lately, more so lately. By ours, I mean my siblings and mom and a cousin who still lives with us.
What seems to be the problem? Is it ours or is it his? Can I hate him whilst still living under his roof? Is that why I have been desperately struggling for my way out? Is it Mom whom I am worried about? Children may get out but the wife… that seems to be the trap of wedding vows. What if I get out but my siblings get stuck? Do I encourage them to get out too? Or should I be selfish and be happy as someone is there to bite the bullet?
So why is it so hard? What seems to be unbearable? After years of analysing… I have to put part of the blame on my grandfather. My father didn’t grow up having fatherly acknowledgement as my grandpa had 2 families. I think my Dad struggled for his whole life to be acknowledged by someone, anyone.
Why would I say that – grandpa used to be mean to Dad yet Dad took good care of him, despite grandpa openly expressed his hatred for him in front of his children of the other wife. Grandpa didn’t like or appreciate anything that Dad did for him. Dad even shouldered some responsibilities that grandpa should have, like taking care 6 children left behind by my uncle when he died of cancer. Dad was only 19 and he had to give up school. Despite being shoved into hot oil against all his will, Dad became successful in business.
As long as I can recall, Dad has been telling EVERYONE about his life story. How he gave up taking SPM, how he sacrificed his adoptive family (he was staying with an uncle) to come help his brother etc.. Everyone, ranging from a passenger on a train to a relative – his life story is played on repeat, which goes on and on. Just recently we attended a wedding and were seated with someone whom we didn’t know. After five minutes, they too learned of Dad’s life story.
Fishing for compliment aside, Dad constantly seeks approval and acknowledgement. Sometimes I am so angry at him for repeating his stories – as if he’s pressuring us in living our lives his way. I want to be respectful and grateful but whenever he praises himself, it annoys me. A 60-year-old man, who doesn’t understand how annoying he is, I think that is really shameful.
Dad never really understands or is emphatic about someone else. Everything he does, he claims that he understands about others’ feelings – but he only cares about his. For example, if he buys you breakfast, he won’t have asked you before but he’ll just buy whatever HE wants and EXPECTS you to like it. If you don’t, he’ll quote one of his most-frequently used sayings, one that has earned platinum frequent flying points, that 你不会做人 (you don’t know how to be a human or understanding).
Everyday, he complains and boasts about how early he has to get back to the office, boil water and make big pots of tea for everyone. He claims that he’s very busy yet he still does it. Is that not fishing for compliments? So when I am back in Malaysia, I drink tea, even cold one, 24/7. If you have guessed, you will have guessed correctly – if you don’t drink, again, 你不会做人. If mom or cousin makes other drinks, he’ll purposely not drink what they have made and purposely make more tea. Is that not jealousy? Is that not fishing for compliments? How do I tell a 60yo man that he’s utterly a child?
Whenever I work with, under or for him, there’s only one thing you will get out of it – that he is experienced and he’s done it many times. Every sentence that comes out of his mouth will either start or end with that. Every instruction that comes out of his mouth, I just wish he would shut up. Just STFU. Nowadays, no one pays attention to him anymore. We’re all scared of him. Not the bomb-will-kill-you kind of scare, it’s the we don’t want wake up a tipsy, easily annoyed, old giant, who may just yell at you with tonnes of 道理. How does one learn under a boss who is ever only so proud of what he has done? How does one listen when all one hears is “I’ve done this many times, I am so experienced in this….” – it is repeated endless times daily. It even happens when we are grocery shopping!!!! That he can choose the best products as he’s seen it all.
I can still run and escape as long as I am not in the same vehicle with him. It is the worst pain imaginable when one is in the same vehicle with him. He says everything at least twice. He says everything again and again from what’s happened yesterday, last year, 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Whenever he’s onto something or hates someone, that’s all he talks about, which can go on for years. He used to hate my aunty, so all we heard about was how lazy she was. He used to hate my other cousin, so all we heard about was how cunning he was. He didn’t like how Mom treated one of their staff, he would just tell his thoughts on it again and again, even thought the event took place two years ago.
Dad is a person that doesn’t listen and doesn’t bow down. He is stubborn and that often leads to others being blamed or ignored. Just because he can’t listen or even bother to entertain others’ ideas. All he thinks is right. Everyone else, nope. When someone does something wrong, you know it’ll become a radio hit song for a long time; if he makes a mistake, you know it’s a one-hit wonder. Whenever he says something, he can’t take it back because he loves face and he can’t lose.
It is like hell whenever we have big dinna with extended families. Dad doesn’t know how to estimate the amount of food to be ordered but he always wants to do it. He would say, I’ve ordered lots of food – most of the times he under-ordered, others over. It is funny how he can be so, how do I put it, hard to deal with. If he has in mind that he’s ordered for 12 person and only 10 are attending, he will invite relatives whom we rarely speak to, just to make it worth his money. It always ends up all of us feeling embarrassed. He can’t take back what he has thought, not only what he has said! When the food ordered isn’t enough, he doesn’t want to order extra. In his mind, everything has to be the way he’s thought it’d be. Every time we have dinna outside, it usually ends sourly due to what he says or acts. He always affects our mood badly.
I do think we seldom give him compliments or approvals in recent years. But I dunno how we can do it if it’s not reciprocated. He really admired one of my cousins who used to work for him. Every thing she did matched his way of thinking. So almost every other day, he would bring up the topic of how good my cousin was and how inadequate the rest of us are. If we ever do mention some wonderful things other men/fathers have done, he would quickly and fervently dismiss and deny it. The same thing goes for when we mention how profitable a particular business someone else is doing.
Is our problem expectation? Are we expecting something unrealistic from him? Are we wishing for him to be someone he’s not? Is he doing the same thing? Life is really no fun with him. Almost everything we do must be economical. Almost everything we do must be according to his ways. He has the anal tendency of going against what you say, just to prove that he can do something. Whenever you say something, he must say or do otherwise.
I feel like shouting at him at times, especially he claims that how well-liked he is amongst his school mates. I think he’s missing the point that those people do not share his life. Those people do not live with him. How would you feel if someone constantly tells you how to pick up bits of food left on the table? His royal way is to tear a small bit of tissue paper and pick the food bits up, one by one. You will be told not to use a table cloth because it’s not economical. During the monsoon season, how would his friends feel if they are asked to wipe the cars EVERY TIME after they have got in the rain? Even if it’s at 2a.m.? It is OK you don’t do it – but you will get an earful the next morning – of how persistent he is, of how he has been successful by being disciplined his whole life. I still remember when we first got our pet dogs, he would report every time he picked up after the dogs or after he fed them. The busier he is, the more he wants to do, the more he wants to boast about. What is wrong with this man? He claims that he’s the busiest person, yet he won’t let us do something that we can do.
I don’t know whose father thinks like this: we’re not allowed to switch on lights when we’re not at home. Not even when it’s dark or when we can’t see. He joined a voluntary army team before and he got a gun. He said he would be happy for thieves to rob our house so that he could use the gun. So when we get home at night, there’s nothing to be seen really. He hates us wasting electricity, but we subscribe to 2 Astro!! One at home and one at office, which no one watches really. When I wanted to cancel some shows subscribed, guess what happened? Even the one at home, he (hence us), only watches one channel. The subscription for an account is over RM120 per month. Our electricity bill is over RM200 per month. He wants to save electricity but he doesn’t care about spending on fuel. We have 3 cars, two of them can’t be in the rain. So every day, in addition to his already busy business life, he has to strategise which car WE can and cannot drive. He would even call from office just to tell you which one to drive. If it rains and only one car can be driven, he doesn’t mind making rounds just to transport us, as long as only one car is used and other don’t get wet.
Perhaps I can already write an autobiography or a real-life story. Mom certainly can be the biggest contributor. I think my father really needs to read more and interact more with others. But what’s the use and what’s the success rate? Every time he opens his mouth, he talks about himself. I will not be very surprised if he is treated by us the way his father was treated by his other half siblings – abandoned, for my grandpa was a very difficult person too. My grandma said to him before she died, that his life would be very difficult if she died first. She was right.
I don’t know if I should be complaining seeing that we are financially sufficient, provided by Dad. I should be content but I am not. I used to enjoy family dinner but I no longer do. Each time it feels like I am treading on a miners field. In others’ ears, I may have sounded like an unappreciative son of a gun but that’s how I feel. I really feel for Mom and I feel really selfish if I run away from home and have Mom alone with him, feeling miserable for the rest of her life.
One can’t choose one’s parents and one’s children. But how do I deal with this? I’ve begun to under why some people choose not to live with their parents or in laws, and why this is more prevalent amongst westerners. They are smarter. Yes, there are perks for living with your parents, it’s just perhaps they are may not be worth it; for everyday I no longer wish to be with my father as spending time with him is really an emotional torture.