“Five months into our marriage, she told me, ‘You know what? I don’t have any more feelings for you. My heart is closed off. There’s nothing more to discuss. I’ve already filed for a divorce.’ And that was it. We only finalised the divorce last July, so it’s all still fresh to me.
My closest friends never asked why we separated. They don’t believe in airing dirty laundry in public. But I do take accountability. We knew each other for three years, but argued a lot during the infancy stage of our marriage. Yeah, I should have been a better husband to her.
Her filing for a divorce without talking to me first hurt me a lot. I remember smoking at the staircase landing on the 10th floor of my HDB block. I looked down and thought, ‘It looks so peaceful’. If I ended my life right then and there, all this pain and sadness would go away.
As soon as I had that thought, I stepped back and thought, ‘Arz, what the fu*k sia?’ I cried and asked God, ‘Why me? Of all people, why did you take my wife away from me?’ I was so angry; so lost. I wasn’t the nicest person to be around during that period.
I went for counselling, and the counsellor gave me very good advice. She said my ex-wife is out there smiling, laughing and enjoying her life as though I never existed. She’s living her best life right now, while I’m here spiralling. Don’t I deserve to be happy, too?
She was right. I needed to move on. The divorce was emotional and tiring, but it also brought more good than bad. For one, it brought me closer to God. My friends advised me to pray, and I’ve not stopped praying and bettering myself ever since.
The separation also made me self-reflect. All my life, I’ve always been a ‘selenge’. I don’t know how to translate that to English. Maybe a goofball? I’ve always been a very goofy kid. I was never athletic, and I always thought that the people around me were much cooler.
I was scared of being made fun of, so I adopted this fake persona. I wanted to be liked and accepted so badly, be it in my career or personal life, that I became a people pleaser. I’d do stupid things just to hear people say, ‘Arz, kau gerek lah!’ [Translate: ‘Arz, you’re so cool!’]
The truth is, I was not cool. My life is actually boring as hell. I’ve never been an achiever. I’ve never really strove for anything in life. I just go with the flow. But the one thing I yearned for was marriage. I believed that once you settle down, your life would be complete.
So what if I’m not cool? If I could find someone who would accept me and love me for my flaws, my life would be complete. If we had kids, that would be the icing on the cake. I just needed someone I could build a home with. Especially at this age, you know?
So when my wife filed for a divorce, and the future that I envisioned crumbled before my eyes, I almost gave up on life. Going for counselling helped. It revealed that I’m someone who always seeks validation from others to define my worth. It was a horrible wake-up call.
One day, while I was packing for work, I came across a picture of me with legendary Singaporean boxer Syed Kadir. As a kid, I used to train at his gym. Reporters had come to interview him that day. They took that picture of us, and it appeared on Beritan Harian.
I used to take the bus to the gym after school, train until 9.30pm, and repeat the whole cycle the next day. I wasn’t training to be a fighter. I was an awkward kid who didn’t know how to socialise, but I made friends at the gym. Those were probably the happiest years of my life.
When I saw that picture, I thought, ‘What happened to you, Arz? How did your life get like this?’ At that moment, I knew that boxing was a way for me to kickstart my life again. I went online to search for boxing gyms in Singapore, and now, I’m training at Legends.
What I like about boxing is the sense of peace it gives me. There’s peace in the chaos. When I’m at the gym, you can see me seated down in the corner with my cup of tea. I enjoy watching other people train. I don’t know; it’s just my weird way of relaxing.
Boxing is also one of those sports that teaches you self-validation like no other. When you’re executing the combos and doing the bags, you have to do it with conviction. And the consistency and discipline that boxing requires is no joke. It’s all on you.
You know, I remember feeling very frustrated because a gift I had delivered to my ex-wife was returned to me. That day, one of the coaches at Legends, Coach Afiq, did pads for me. He let me get all my frustrations out on the pads. After that, we talked about anime. [laughs]
And that’s what I like about Legends. I can be completely myself and not get judged at all. Returning to boxing has really been a positive step towards changing my life. I just want to end this cycle of wasting my life away.
If there’s any wisdom I could share from my own life experiences, it’s to do things that you enjoy – or at least, things that centre and ground you. It could be boxing or just going out for a run. If you’re a person of faith, pray. Don’t let negativity ruin your life. Learn to let go.
And stop being so pessimistic about everything. It’s okay if your life doesn’t feel ‘special’ compared to someone else’s. There will be times where special moments of greatness will come to you. What’s meant for you will always find you – you just have to be more patient.
I also want to tell the younger version of Arz that it’s okay to be yourself. Don’t conform or pretend to be someone else, just to feel accepted. Be yourself and the right people will find you. Just do you. It’s okay to be a goofball.” – Arz