Whoa it’s already the fourth month of 2020, as always time flies faster than we think. I guess the whole world now agree that it hasn’t been a good start of the year and we still don’t know how long this will last. For the first time in 29 years of my life, the whole world is connected by the same pain. Every one must have his/ her own story and struggle in this first quarter of the year, and here is mine.
To be honest life has been giving me punches way before this corona thing became a global problem. In October 2019, my life was over the moon, every thing in my life was going so so smoothly; my work, my family, relationship (we were planning a wedding). I remember thinking, “My life right now seems too good to be true, but nothing is permanent in life, bad times or good times, I wonder what will later bring this good times down.”
I regret ever having that question in my mind.
Just days after that, everything came to pieces all of the sudden when my then-boyfriend-now-fiance had a seizure and we took him to his home country to have a surgery as soon as possible. But then episodes of ups-and-downs have been following us, what we thought would be the end of this misery, played a trick on us, gave us false hope, brought us down again in February where he needed to be in ICU for almost a month and had FOUR surgeries in just one month. This happened at the end of my visa expiration, to make it worse, I overstayed without I realized (because the staten date and the given one are different, so I miscounted). So I had to submit an appeal and wait until it’s approved, otherwise I wouldnt be allowed to come to South Africa for one year.
Because of his job (pilot), being in long distance is normal for us, but this is the worst long distance I’ve ever had and no one will ever want to experience. I managed to get my appeal approved in three weeks, but then this Corona thing started to get worse. I already got my visa and tickets to SA, but had to cancel because I dont want to risk my fiance’s health whose immune system is very low at the moment and I’m afraid if I wouldnt be able to come back to Indonesia as scheduled.
So, I was not shocked because of this pandemic, I was knocked to the ground already since the end of last year. My life started to crumble, I struggled to do basic things, it has affected my work, my health (emotionally and physically), the peak, February 2020, was a month of nightmares for me that for the first time after 23 years not being in hospital, I went to a hospital in Bali and asked to be hospitalized because I just couldnt trust myself to be alone, physically and mentally. It was hard for everyone, not only me. All of his family are also affected, maybe worse than me, because they were with him and had to stay reliable at the same time, meanwhile for me, there’s not much I can do from these thousand miles away, taking care of my self or at least getting help to be taken care of is the only thing I can do to not make more problems for everyone. So I stayed in hospital for a few days in February, took the VIP room, and then left because the bills got scarier (I paid without health insurance).
Isn’t it chaotic enough already? Life said, “Not yet, Citra.” At the same time we’re dealing with my fiance’s health issue, my family back home is also having one. I’ve been supporting my parents and sending them money since I moved to Bali, my dad’s health is deteriorating, he’s been sick for ages but this time, we’ve got the the point that makes me even doubt if I would still have a father next year or two years. My emotional and physical states were not fit to keep working but at the same time I had to keep making money to send to home. I cant tell my family what’s happening because they already have enough. I’m keeping and dealing with this by my self, my best friends are far away from me, I wanted to cry for help but I didn’t want to burden anyone.
In February, I couldn’t function at all. I cried a lot and was so depressed that I was thinking to take anti depressant pills. But I didn’t, I don’t want to be dependent on things I dont understand, I’m sick of this feeling, sick of being sad, sick of being played by life and helpless. I’ve been losing who I am, I’m trying to pull my self together again.
It’s hard to get help or find people who really want to help. Especially in the time of wannabe-coaches around who give their sales pitches too soon. I was ready to pay for a professional help but it’s just not easy to find one that clicks, or really wants to help. I spent four weeks at home being sad until I finally said, that’s it, I need to get out of this mess. I need to dress up again, put my makeup on, and connect with people.
Living in Bali can be lonely because connection made is usually only surface level, because people come and go. It usually doesn’t matter to me actually, because I can keep myself busy and I never really have a lot of friends, but this time I needed to share my pain with someone. So I went to events in Bali, networking events and I poured out what I was dealing with. It turned out to be making very good connection with people, because I opened up about my vulnerability and they shared theirs too. Everyone has their own stories, and this is Bali, people come here for a reason, sometimes the reason is to escape from a wuthering height.
This first quarter has been tough, but actually there are many good things happened too. Like when my fiance’s family set up a small surprise party for me, let’s say, as an official engagement day. I proposed to him back in November in the hospital room, he said yes but I didnt have a ring. Even during his pain, he wants to make me happy, he ordered this very very beautiful diamond ring, with 7 diamonds, one of them is very big, I’ve never seen a diamond ring that beautiful. And it’s not about the materialistic value, I am blessed to be loved like that by him and also his family.
I finally decided to not work for some time until I’m back to my normal self, so since November I was already lessening the amount of work I took, and in February, I decided to really not work at all. So I’ve been living off my saving and still sending money home, I’m lucky that I live in a country like Indonesia and I earn in higher currencies, so my saving is enough to spoil myself to heal. But I was quite surprised looking at the amount of money I’ve spent in just two months (Feb-March), I’ve spent slightly over IDR 40 mil. Well maybe, that’s not a lot for many people, but for me to live in a country where the majority of people are still earning 2-3 mil a month for a full time job, that’s a lot.
Initially, I wanted to take a break until July but apparently my bank account disagrees, I will need to get back to work again next month. So I’m using April, my last mont of break, as effective as possible to learn new things and improve my existing skills. I also have been deactivating my facebook account for detoxing, so I dont actually know how this pandemic affected my work. My friends who work online like me said that they havent been affected at all so far. Well, I guess we’re one of the lucky people who are not destitute overnight due to this outbreak (majority of Indonesians live paycheck to paycheck daily), although in the long run, it could.
The brighter side of the outbreak is that now people are forced to be more tech-savvy than before. I feel glad seeing more people in my country at least now know how to use online study platforms. I also think this is good for working mothers/ fathers so that they can spend more time with their kids, and hopefully there will be more work that move to virtual platform in the future. I myself have been working remotely for years, in my case, I made this choice and worked for it.
In this first quarter, something that also changed in my life is that now I spend time in the kitchen and make my own food. That’s a simple task, I know, but not for me. I never ever expected seeing myself in the kitchen, now I just love it! I grew up in a patrirarchal culture and since I was a kid, I’ve always been told that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, so I decided to grow up to be against it. Also I thought that there are many people who can cook nicer food than me, but not many people can do my work, so I’d rather make enough money to pay people to cook for me. I hired a healthy catering company in Bali for my food, it’s not cheap though.
But this whole stressful situation with my fiance’s and my parents’ health have brought me to this point. I felt tired of the feeling of hopelessness in the hospital waiting room, waiting for doctors to come because they’re the only ones who know about things. At that moment, I felt like all the things I’ve achieved and learned in my life were useless because I couldn’t help my loved ones at all. There are many things I learned self-taught in life and I pride myself for that, I’ve been in hard times before and I’ve managed to solve them, I’ve always known what to do. So being in this situation frustates me so much because I felt like there’s nothing I can do. I felt defeated… in an unfair game.
Just a few weeks ago, someone who once was very close to me passed away of a heart attack and other complication. He’s like a brother to me even though after our lives got busier and we didnt communicate as often like before, we remained good friends. I couldn’t believe he left this world that soon and I just found out that he had been sick for 1.5 years before his passing. It’s really hard to believe, he was so young, kind and a talented writer. I revisited his blog and I know some writings are about me or based on my character. I’m glad that in his life he chose to do what he wanted to do, he liked writing. The only thing I wish he didn’t do is underestimating his self too much. He’s brilliant and a rare quality of a person in this era, but he’s the only one who didn’t see that. For 12 years I’ve known him, he never appreciated his self like he should. Please guys, whoever read this writing, do love yourself.
This is the first time in my life I have to deal with mortality issue, I didnt have anyone close to me sick/ terminally ill when I was a kid, I didnt know how a loss feels like because I havent lost anyone close to me due to death. If only I had known the pain of suffering earlier, I would never have studied art/ design, I would have studied medicines and been a doctor, no matter how hard it is. But it’s too late to go back to school and be a doctor now for me, you know medical school takes ages.
I can not accept the situation where I cant do anything at all to at least try, if I fail after I work, I can take it. But if I havent worked at all and then just given bad results, I cant accept it. That brought me to the science of food, and when I am into something, I study it deeply, not just the surface.
I started to educate myself about how food can heal, it’s a very complex matter but it interests me a lot. As an Indonesian, I didnt know about nutrition, we’ve been fed by many toxic food since childhood, that’s why although Asians look younger than westerners, we live shorter. Our food are mainly deep fried or served in the ways that kill the good benefits of a food. And diabetes, heart attack are very common in Indonesia. The diseases that we thought are genetic, are actually not. Nothing is as sudden as we think it is. What we eat daily contributes to a long term effect. And it’s not as simple as ingredients, the art of healthy cooking is a long list of what, how, and when. How your food is produced, sourced, distributed, how you store your food at home, how you cook and serve it, what heat, what cooking materials you use, and many more. There are so many important notes that we often neglect. We’ve been food-poisoning ourselves without we realize. That’s why I stopped hiring the catering company, I just hardly trust people to prepare my food now. Many people can cook delicious food, but not many people care that much to study about naturopathy.
It is indeed taking time of my day to cook my food, hours that I can actually use to make money. I used to feel guilty of that. Then I realized that it’s so wrong and our generation has been enslaved to be like that, we’re demanded to give most of our time in exchange for a little bit of money. Companies are racing to be as heartless as they can be, taking advantage of vulnerable youth who are scared of their future or not having stability, we’re demanded to give up our quality of life. So that’s why our generation just want instant food that doesnt take a long time. Because we’re busy, we dont have the luxury to have quality food, to prepare our food. In the end we dont have quality life. We’re buying vague things, social media makes us think we need something we don’t actually need. This is so wrong on many levels and unfortunately many people are too busy to even think about it. Food is more than just presentation, the more I study about it, the more gross the face of food industry is to me. Food is one of the reasons why a nation fails.
My small kitchen is now fully equipped with cooking tools, I spent a lot of money on good quality cooking utensils, oils, grains, fruits, etc. I used to not understand when my fiance talks about cooking, now I understand why he spends so much on a pan. And I’m so blessed to have a fiance that’s not only into cooking but also into farming, we want to later eat our home-grown food and make that into a business.
There’s actually many blessings in disguise in every crappy situation, and we need to have a strong will to flip it around.