18 July 2011

On Divorce

As a young girl, I watched my parents fight frequently. Pots and pans flew around the house as I tried really hard to focus all of my attention to Video Hits and drown out the sound of yelling. My older siblings would try and distract me from what was going on but sometimes, they just weren't around so the blunt detestation between my parents was quite apparent. I knew all along what was going on, and the wider perception of these instances is that when you're below a certain age, you don't really understand the big picture. When I was four-years-old, I was well aware that my mother was unhappy with my fathers choices and that my father no longer wanted to be with her. Divorce was imminent, despite my hopes for it not to be.

I was eleven when my family sat down and my parents announced their separation. Thinking that that was a huge call and feeling as though they were neglecting us as their children, we all dealt with the circumstance in various ways. It was not easy for any of us and I can safely say we all shut down emotionally. Not long after this "discussion", my parents filed for a divorce and the thought of it being official and on paper was crippling. My mother moved to Indonesia shortly after and I resented her for a long time, believing that she had abandoned myself and my siblings. My father went on and continued working twelve hour days to support us, seven days a week but I was far too selfish to recognise his efforts.

In hindsight, I cannot think of a better thing to have happened to my family. I know that sounds weird but it's the truth. It took us away from the horrible, conservative Indonesian Muslim community here in Sydney and made us assess their agenda and traditions. It also brought my siblings and I together, in a way that could not have happened if it wasn't for the divorce. Alongside those two important lessons, it also strengthened our bond with both our mother and father by simply making us realise that they had worked hard despite their differences to raise us.

The Indo-Muslim community alienated us when my parents got divorced. They spread rumours about my mother cheating on my father and vice versa. I never want to think of my parents as "cheaters" but whether or not that really happened, I will never know. However, I trust my parents enough to be transparent with their past and I take their word for it when they say they didn't. Why would I take the word of a lying, competitive, superficial community over my hard-working, loving parents? I don't know what it was they were trying to achieve by erupting in gossip and pointing fingers. All I know is that we're better off without them.
They tried to use Islam against us, which is hilarious because there are verses in the Qur'an that talk about how yes, divorce is not the greatest thing in the world, but should the circumstance call for it then it should be done in an Islamic way, and that is exactly how my parents did it. So that was my main "Fuck you" to that community.
The way I see it is if two people do not love each other any more (or never loved each other in the first place) and spend most of their time fighting then it is absolutely their right to put an end to such misery. But of course, it is far easier for an arrogant community to judge rather than empathise.

I like kicking arse at everything I do and I really enjoy it when my siblings do too. People often think that kids from a "broken home" are at a disadvantage but that is false. My sister is an incredible Graphic Designer and Photographer who has done work for some of the biggest names in hip-hop and fashion in Australia after graduating from the University of Western Sydney. My brother is an Accountant (without even going to university for it), is about to get married, buy a house and raise a family. My other brother is a multi-talented Sportsperson and a qualified Mechanic from Toyota. I am about to start studying at the University of Sydney and I'm working as a Project Coordinator and In-House Audio Engineer at BYDS, as well as a Marketing/Administration Assistant for Powerhouse Youth Theatre's HERO Project. We're doing amazingly and I'm so proud of how well we pulled together during hard times. And through all of this, my parents were both there to support us, every step of the way.

Our family fought a decade-long battle against immigration and as I was the only Australian Citizen in the family, pressure was on me to keep my family in Australia. It almost sounds horrible when I say this but had my parents not divorced, our case would have been weaker. The fact that my father was a single parent reinforced the necessity of his presence in my growing up, as my mother was physically out of the picture. Now the rest of my family are Permanent Residents and my mother is free to enter and exit the country.

Divorce is weighty. It's not breezy, and it certainly is not something I'd wish upon anyones marriages and families. However, it is sometimes necessary to remove yourself from a sticky situation and re-assess your surroundings. I fully understand that divorces are messy and often end sour but I also think that our society is far too quick to judge families that have been through or are going through these struggles. I think that with the rise of quick weddings and quick divorces, we need to be a little bit more delicate and understanding of each others situations. All I really hope is that anyone that needs to go through a divorce is supported by their communities, rather than driven out.


1 comment:

  1. Really liked this post. I'm a fellow child of a loveless marriage that eventually ended divorce this really rings true!