My family is breaking apart. My father got into huge debts with banks and loan sharks and we ended up losing our house, cars and money.

My dad made my sister and I buy a house and refinance it so that he could use the money to pay off the loan shark. The money from selling his house and cars, and my uncle’s loan wasn’t enough.

I was torn as I’d wanted to save the benefits given to first time house buyers for my own use, but I had to use it to rectify my dad’s mistake. I hesitated before committing to the loan, and my mother called me a disappointment and said I was selfish.

On the other hand, my sister has sacrificed a lot for my parents. She took up personal loans, bought a new car for my father so he could work as a Grab driver and gave them money even when she was broke.

As we had lost our family home, I moved out to live with my boyfriend of three years in a rented room.

He footed most of the rent, gave me his car to drive to work while he took public transportation, and gave me money to tide me over during the hard times. I am extremely grateful for his support but afraid that my moodiness and stress will drive him away sooner or later.

I am not earning a lot as I had just started working three years ago. I don’t have enough to give to my parents. I want to save some money for emergency too as I have many health issues.

Some days, my mother will message me early in the morning and complain that I do not care about them because I do not offer monetary help.

She has hinted that I am selfish and a disappointment. It hit me so badly. I am broken.

How could she say that? My dad wastes RM300-400 gambling every week.

Some days, he asks us for money because he needs to pay “interest”. I didn’t budge and wouldn’t give him the money. If he stopped gambling, he’d have the money to pay the “interest”. Am I selfish?

I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for 10 years. Nobody in the family has shown me concern, care, love and support in all these years.

My mum once called me “crazy” when she found out I have depression. It hurts but I forgave her because she doesn’t believe that mental illness is a real illness.

Money can really bring out the best and worst in someone. I just want to live simply and happily. I don’t want a wealthy life. Am I selfish?

My mother keeps asking me to move back with them. I moved out because she scolds and insults us constantly.

I can’t take the stress and emotional abuse. When I told her I do not want to move back, she said I am selfish and just want to live the easy life.

Some days, I just want to disown my parents and leave them behind. Am I selfish?

I just can’t take it anymore.

 Broken Soul

I had to read your letter several times, and from what I understand, your father has run into a situation where his debts are so huge, that even selling all your family properties, and taking a loan from your uncle, and leveraging a mortgage from you and your sister haven’t made a dent in the money he owes.

I’m uncertain if you’re saying that he was borrowing money in order to gamble in the past, or if he’s still borrowing money and gambling.

Either way, he got into so much trouble that he moved from bank loans to borrowing from loan sharks. Frankly, that makes my blood run cold. The interest on those illegal loans is sky high. Once you are in those hands, you tend to be stuck. That is why sharking is illegal; it’s just never ending.

It sounds like your father takes wild risks and is an incurable gambler.

Whatever he’s up to, there is no way you can plug that kind of hole. No matter how much money you pour into this, he will always want more. He’s not thinking straight.

Your father should see a financial expert who can advise him properly about his situation. It will take professional help to get him out of the trouble he’s in.

As for you, what should you do? Families stick together and help each other out. That’s the rule. However, when one person is so wildly out of it that they drag everyone down and there is no end to the problems, then all rules are off.

Save yourself. Step away, build a career and focus on making yourself safe. Also, be grateful that you have an amazing boyfriend. That man sounds like a keeper.

As for your mum, I feel sorry for her, except that you say she emotionally abuses you. That’s just not right. I do see that her life is falling apart but that doesn’t give her an excuse to abuse her children.

I’d suggest you tell her to get herself some help too, but I suspect she’ll take it as an insult. Still, she’s your mum, so perhaps a carefully worded letter is the way to go. But don’t be surprised if it unleashes a storm of abuse and recrimination.

Will it be easy to step back? It may be a huge relief, but I suspect you may feel guilt. Also, there are plenty of armchair critics who love to run down others for escaping situations they themselves would not stay in. My advice: don’t share this story widely. You have enough trouble without busybodies sticking their oar in.

As stepping back can mean anything from cutting yourself off completely to keeping in contact and offering very limited help, you need to get some decent, practical advice on what choices and approaches work best for you.

I strongly suggest you see a professional. As you’re low on funds, contact one of the NGOs that provide free counselling. Look for either someone with a Masters degree in counselling or psychology, and look for a treatment plan that will help you manage your choices.

Do keep up your courage. Your parents are making a mess of their lives but it need not pull you under. You have a lovely partner, and your sister sounds like a nice girl too.

Good luck.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Write to Dear Thelma, c/o Star2, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor or e-mail Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.