“We started out as friends with benefits. We met in poly, and she was nothing more than a classmate who’d help sign my attendance when I skipped school. We’d go out for drinks, disappear from each other’s lives, then meet up again. Our relationship was very on and off.

After three years of flirting around, she got engaged, but we still continued to see each other. I remember how her fiancé came knocking on my door at two in the morning looking for her. She was in my room, but I did the very cowardly thing of hiding the truth from him.

It eventually reached a point where all three of us had to sit down to confront the issue. She ended up leaving him before getting together with me. Our relationship – whatever it was at that point of time – had no foundation, but we decided to give it a try anyways.

It was my first proper relationship, and it was like being on a rollercoaster. Whenever there was a problem, tensions would escalate like crazy, but when we were not fighting, there would be no communication. I’m actually opening up to you more than I ever did with her.

She was also slightly different from my friends, and whenever we hung out, I didn’t make any effort to make her feel part of the group. Once, in the heat of an argument, she told me my friends will all be married one day and I’ll be the only one who’s left single and alone.

I asked her what was it to her if I didn’t get married? Why did she care? I was extremely angry, and to this very day, I don’t really know why. Maybe the mention of marriage triggered some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder I developed during my childhood.

I come from a broken family. I’d rather not go into the details, but my mom raised me by herself because of something that transpired between my parents. People don’t understand how that experience shapes you as a person unless they’ve been through it.

Friends with complete families always say I’m too sensitive, but can you blame me for being irrational when I had no control over my upbringing? It’s too convenient to blame everything on my parents, but I do have commitment issues because of what I’ve been through.

Sometimes I wonder if I made bad decisions because of what I witnessed at home. I asked myself that when I cheated on my ex-girlfriend just before she found out she had breast cancer. I remember the date because she was diagnosed a day after her 27th birthday.

The cancer had spread to her sternum and she had to undergo six months of chemotherapy, but even after she found out that I cheated on her, she still wanted me there throughout the recovery process. We stayed together for four more months before I broke up with her.

I simply said we were not healthy together and that I wasn’t good for her. Maybe it was graciousness on my part; maybe I was just looking for an easy way out. There are many things I’ve done in the past that I cannot rationalise to you now. Yes, I do regret them a lot.

She has recovered, thankfully. She’s studying in Melbourne now and has met someone new, which I think is great. I do chat with her every now and then when I’m feeling down. I’d tell her I’m sorry for everything I had put her through. I didn’t have to be such an asshole.

Since she’s in Melbourne, she’d joke about how she’d smoke a joint for me, which was something we used to do during our travels. I laughed and asked if she was the one who told mum I smoked. She said it was the helper; she never did any of the things I accused her of.

We were both criminals in this act together; why would she tell on me? She took the blame for everything she didn’t do because she loved me unconditionally, and that revelation changed everything for me.

Nowadays, whenever I see someone treat another person badly, be it through emotional blackmail, psychological abuse or what have you, I’d tell them to stop. Karma is a very real thing, and it will come back to get you.

That relationship has also made me more appreciative of people. It’s taught me to reflect on what’s really important in life, which is the consciousness that we’re all on this earth together, so we have to be nicer to each other.” – Rong, 33



Follow Us On Instagram

@everydaypeoplesg

 

Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.