A few years ago, I met someone. That person turned out to be perfect and we were engaged. But he passed away in June 2020, in the same month of my birthday and our anniversary, one month before his 31st birthday. His pain ended, our pains—his family’s and mine—still continue, because we’re the ones that are still living. His business in this world already finished, what’s left is the question “What’s next?” for us that he left.
We’ve been through such a journey where what we didn’t want to happen became the only thing we wanted to happen for him and for us, and it did happen. I have to adjust again to a life without him before I knew him and planned our life together. The difference is that this time I have a scar that I have to love and learn to live with it, managing the scar so that it doesn’t sabotage my life.
Losing the person we love is the risk of loving someone. The moment we sign up to be emotionally attached to anyone is the moment we agree to take the risk of losing the person. It’s just a matter of time, mine just happened to be this early, at this very young age.
My parents-in-law lost a child, his sister lost a brother, his best friends lost their mate and I lost my other half. We all lost a familiar picture of the future that we once thought was guaranteed. Now it’s a new puzzle that I’m still trying to figure out and rebuild.
It’s almost four months after he left us. In these four months, many things have happened in my and our lives. Yes there are still pains, but there are also beauty and grace in it. There are reasons why I have them as my in-laws and why Mike brought me to his family, because we’re just perfect to strengthen each other. They help me and I help them. Yes we lost the love of our lives but we don’t lose our love for live. No matter how much tears these eyes have spent for Mike, we’re still 100% sure that we still want to continue life, to the fullest. That there are still so much love in life.
I consider myself very lucky to have an in-law family like this. I may not have a husband with me now, but I have the best in-laws anyone could ask for! You’ll be jealous to see my in-laws, hehe! They support me so much and I love them like I’ve always had them as my family before. If I eventually end up with another man, he’ll need to meet two families; mine and Mike’s, because they’re the most important people in my life. My in-laws have exciting plans for their future and I’m so happy for them. We’re also lucky that we haven’t been hit by Corona effect at all and that we have the luxury to focus on healing. Everybody has his/her own shares of tragedy in his/ her life at this trying time, ours just happened to be losing our beloved family member.
Corona for me is a blessing in disguise. It hasn’t affected my life financially or any other aspects, even when I was diagnosed with it, it turned out to be a blessing. The lockdown makes me feel that I don’t need to hurry because the world is at pause anyways. And I know myself, I always run when other people sit in comfort zone, I have no doubt in myself that I will still grow in this year by the end of lockdown, because I always do something. I may not run as I usually do, but I keep on moving even when the world around me is at pause.
I didn’t update my life on this blog and deactivated my facebook since he passed away, but if you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I’m able to pick myself up quite well for someone who’s been through this hell. Many people wondered how it is possible for me to be like this. Well, they just don’t know that there are still about 1-2 hrs in my life DAILY that I just can’t do anything beside being sad. Those are the hours where I can’t be productive at all, some days I just wake up with tears. In the beginning, I used to be angry with the fact that I cry, but I’ve learned to live with it and admit the fact that I am in pain. The more you deny the pain, the worse it will get. By admitting that I have pain, I accept the grief and those crying times are nothing I should regret because they’re the grieving time I need to heal. Grieving is not linear, it goes up and down. In these four months, I won’t say that it gets easier, because the pain doesn’t stop, but I just get used to it more that makes me able to respond and deal with it better. Even if I will still have pain for the next 30 or 40 years of my life, that is alright, I’m ok with that. Because it doesn’t mean my 40 years are 100% pain only, there must be still joys in it, I won’t be sad 24/7 anyways, I will still create new memories, learn new things, travel new places, experience new stuff. The scar I have is the scar I got from a true love, so I see it as a badge.
I’m grateful that I took care of my grief right away, I decided to get professional help very soon, 1 week after Mike passed away, I had appointments with a psychologist recommended by the family (choosing a psychologist/ therapist is a tricky thing, you’d want to go by recommendations). It helped me a lot to go through several mourning phases. People who’ve experienced the grief of losing someone they love must know that there’s a phase that we’d feel sorry for moving on. My brain told me I need to move on and live my life and that Mike would’ve wanted me to do that, but for some reasons my feelings told me I’m bad for moving on that I was afraid that could made me forget about him. I’ve passed that phase. I know I want to move on, I want to create new memories, and those are possible without forgetting him, coz I will never forget him. I need to do what living people’ve got to do, which is living.
I spent the first 3.5 months grieving time in South Africa with Mike’s family due to lockdown, which was what I needed. I believe whatever happened is the best that could and should happen. I’m glad I took the time I needed. Then, for months I was planning to migrate to Australia and start a new life (my brother lives there) and student visa seemed to be the best option at that time. So I’ve prepared the documents I needed, even those which usually are only possible to do in person in Indonesia, I managed to do collect them though I was in South Africa, except for one thing; the English test (IELTS). My application wouldn’t move if I don’t have it and the college that I wanted was not being helpful by not making it easier for me, then I got COVID (asymptomatic though), which cancelled my schedule to take the test in Indonesia—plane tickets were already bought—and that was supposed to be the best timing to meet the ideal timeline for student visa application. I was aiming to enrol in their January intake. But then I had to be quarantined and delayed my coming to Indonesia, I was so upset at that time but then it gave me second thoughts whether it was the best to spend my money on. Because seriously, I don’t really need a degree, I’ve been working and earning well, I can afford living in Adelaide, Australia but the problem is that the education is so expensive and I can’t see the quality of the teachers. In fact, what can help me grow is not a degree, but a mentor. Even with online courses, I can measure right away what result I can expect, meanwhile with this degree education, it’s too much of a gambling. What made me really changed my plan is because the college didn’t help to give an alternative for that single problem only, I thought, if they couldn’t care to help me with this simple thing then they won’t be helpful for me in the future when I need more help as a student.
It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore and I want to make sure I don’t take decision emotionally especially when it’s about a lot of money. To be honest, living in Bali is not bad at all as long as I can keep making money much more than Indonesians make and keep growing, in fact, that’s better for saving and I can travel. I will still be able to apply for other visa later, and even to other country. I’d rather sharpen my expertise and work until my expertise can help to get me to where I want.
My focus now is to heal and second is to grow. Usually I put growth first, but I can’t grow if I’m not healed. And I’m thankful that even though what happened was unfortunate, but it still happened in the most fortunate situation of my life for an unfortunate event to occur. I live in the paradise island of Bali, I am financially fine to afford my lifestyle—though I’m still far from where I want to be financially and career wise—but it’s not so bad at all. I’m able to spend for this crazy healing expenses (I’m not talking about therapy costs, I’m talking about whatever-makes-me-happy expenses) and not working for as long as I need. I might only start working again next year, for now I just do whatever I like and there are so many things to do in Bali, even during lockdown. I’m living off my savings from my work, I’m sure I’ll make it up quickly when I get back to work again.
However, I will still come to Australia whenever the border is open. I will stay there for some months, and keep on working—which is good so that I can keep earning without having to be a student and work at the same time—then either go back to Bali for a few months and go to a different country again. Who knows.
As for love, I’m very certain that I want to be in love and be loved again. I first asked myself whether I would be able to love again. Then I realised right away that it’s not the correct question to have, I should ask myself, “Do I want to love again?” and the answer is yes. Because if I know what I want to have, then I will know what I need to do. Mike made me fall in love, and it doesn’t mean that there’s no other person in the world who would be able to do that again, no one can’t say one thing can only happen once in your life. It can happen if I allow it to happen and if I work for it. I fell in love with Mike because I did something, because I tried. There’s no guarantee how many trials I need to go through until I can find something like what I had with Mike, but I don’t see it as an obstacle, it’s just a journey and risk I need to take. Whether that person will stay in my life for long or short time, it doesn’t matter, I have stopped worrying over things outside my control a long time ago. I’d rather be in love again and lose it, than to live the rest of my life without it.
When I was in South Africa, I met with some people that are much older than me who already lost their spouses 30-40 years ago. And they said the same thing, that they wouldn’t call the person they’re with after that their spouse because it’s not the same even though they’ve been together with the new person longer than when they were with their spouses. Meeting them made me realised more that I don’t want to be like that. It may work for them, but it’s not what I want for me.
I installed Tinder again just a few weeks after Mike’s passing, people may think that it’s so fast, but only I know my journeys and feelings. And I know for sure I’m not looking for a rebound, I will date again because love being a partner and I am good at it. And I have many qualities, I am smart, talented, independent, etc, I am more than just a pretty face. And I believe that a woman can get any man she wants as long as she knows and is confident with the value of herself. I am that kind of woman. The country that I live in likes to belittle women and make us insecure, whether with age or look, etc. and luckily I’ve found who I am and what I am worth for before I found someone, so those kinds of tricks won’t work on me. And I already left toxic environment and cities a long time ago, my way of thinking is not common for Indonesian standards and I don’t live up to anybody’s standards but mine.
I know that I’m not the only one who’ve lost their husband/ fiancé and not many people are as strong or as lucky as I am in Indonesia. They might be still stuck in a toxic city/ environment where being a widow is discriminated, or they don’t have the support system like I do, or financial stability, etc. Those made them depressed and in the edge of losing their own selves, so I’ve been sharing my healing journey on my youtube channel, that this is normal. Life is not always perfect, and just because you lost a man doesn’t mean your life’s doomed or less beautiful than others’. Everybody has their own struggle, but not so many people want to admit their struggle and only want to display the perfect pictures.
When I fist met Mike, I was in my financial rock bottom and I didn’t have the skills and knowledge that I have today. I just lost almost everything and had to go back to my parents’ house after 9 years. But Mike told me, “Citra, you’re the person who knows how to turn a loss into a glory. You’ll always find a way to flip the situation around.” I don’t know what kind of ‘glory’ I would have a result from this, I hope by sharing my knowledge and journey can help others who might had been in the same situation. Because I saw this–losing a spouse– happened to other people before and who had known that this happened to me 5 years later.
Currently dating is not my priority, if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t for now, no problem. I’ve always been good at keeping myself busy anyway. People warned me that I should not compare the next person(s) with Mike, well even before they said that to me, I know for sure I won’t. I know everybody is different and I don’t need to compare them with anyone, I’m not perfect either and they also have their own past. What can make me stay in a relationship is who I am and who I can be when I am with that person, so no need to compare him and Mike, because it’s not about him, it’s about me. He doesn’t need to worry, but he also needs to understand that I will always love Michael Lance Goullee forever, he will always has a place in my heart, but it’s a different kind of love and he’s not the person I will have my future with anymore, so being jealous over a dead person is unnecessary. I’m also already mature enough to take care of my own grief, I won’t want to pass it over to another person, especially if I’m dating that person because he’s my boyfriend, not my therapist. I’ll take care of my problems and he needs to be able to manage his feelings about the fact I was engaged with another man and I keep a love for him. The right person should be able to see it as my quality as a lover instead of threat. That’s how much I love when I love someone.
Another thing that I recently started to do is standup comedy (just started 1.5 weeks ago!). One day the grief hit me harder than other days, so I decided to do something about it. Because either the pain controls me, or I do something about it. It turned out to be a success! People love me and my humour, kinda got me some more male attention, lol haha. I see that as a bonus, the most important thing for me is how it makes me feel about it. You can watch my first standup comedy here and this week I’m gonna have my third one!