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Back then, I believed they expected the best of me - by Q.X.

Chosen Topic: Life is a work-in-progress. What is one thing you hope to improve and why?

'O' Level student-inmate from institution A4

Consolation Prize

I vividly remember that I was brought up by my extensive family who instilled strong values of hardship that bears the fruit, kindness and loyalty into shaping me as the old child of their younger generation in the family. Back then, I believe they expected the best of me as I was told countless times to be ambitious, set realistic goals and to put my education first.

Little did I know of the hidden meaning behind this heartfelt advice as an adolescent and subsequently as an adult. For many hearts I chose to play truant and do notorious activities with friends. Such as inhalant abuse and into drugs as I grew older. I didn’t know that with such behaviors, I am actually causing or inflicting pain onto myself but the actual ones who suffered the most are my family members. My relationship with them turned sour as I avoided them by staying away. I actually thought that it would be perfect when I tried to create a family or a home I could call my own.

Unfortunately, being an addict in the streets wasn’t easy but when I came across issues such as whether I should choose to provide for my young children or my addiction. I chose my children instead, where at times I would receive physical abuse from my boyfriend then for wanting to provide for my children first. I knew I had to get out! But where and who am I supposed to turn to? When I tried finding jobs to survive, I was repeatedly rejected due to my education level that was below PSLE. Alternatively I sought for odd jobs that merely met the end. Subsequently, I found out that I had skills in the food and beverage industry, I worked my way up as a waitress in the service crew and up as a barista. I realized then that I became a sole breadwinner as a provider at home, I had no guts to leave my then boyfriend, who was not the father of my children but I had to spare some thoughts for my both boys too. In regards to a safe and healthy environment for them, that’s when I packed up and approached my step-father, who took in my boys, welcomed me home with open arms and gave me the space to quit whatever I was on.

However, the happiness of being reunited as a family was short-lived as my step-father had his acute stroke. I found myself at the cross road once again, when my previous boyfriend offered me a way out. I shamelessly took it without hesitation. Drugs that once made me penniless, gave me a new opportunity to earn fast cash that I am in need of. I realized then I had no way of turning back and even I approached the right authority. I would be sent in for a long time, however when the cash flow started to come in quickly I was blinded by the wealth that I had. It helped me to solve plenty of problems with just a wave of money but it made me very unhappy too. I was not able to spend more time with my children like I used to or if I wanted to visit my step-father. I have to creep in during the time to darkness just to see him in case of a change of element, where I would be arrested.

Looking back where I have been from, it has been many years since this incident and my regrets were that I was unable to send off my step-father in his death-pan and spend time with my aunt and children. My family always reprimanded me during my incarceration of where my loyalties are at. It is with them as a family, not with friends in the future.

What I really learned from the earlier parts of my life is that meaning isn’t something someone gives you; it’s every single little choice you make that builds meaning in your life. And I think in my case now as a mother or a niece being far away, it is bonding with them as a family and especially they are the ones, who came all the way to visit me be it rain or shine.

Since being incarcerated, I have been upgrading myself academically with hopes to lessen the risk of repeating my mistake again. Beside this, I will be able to provide them with financial and security by being there for them.

All in all, I realized “Defeat should never be a source of discouragement but rather a fresh stimulus” as what I have thought the first half of my life.

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