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Friday, March 31, 2017

Rape, Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault: Rewriting Women's History

A few weeks ago, an article I wrote went viral. It was written in a form of open letter to my ex-husband’s mistress, detailing what I lost and what I felt thanks to their, ah, ‘innocent dalliance’. It wasn’t about her or him, though, it’s about speaking up of what actually happened during an affair, in hope that somebody who is toying with the idea of conducting an affair could understand the possible consequences of their action.
My geographical location (in Los Angeles, writing for Indonesian readers) and the virality of the article – to the point when there were several days where my face and article was all over the Indonesian online news – assured my safety. Had it not gone viral and had I lived in Indonesia, I would have some serious explaining to do with the clan/my main family. As a matter of fact, had I lived in Indonesia, there is no way I would have penned that article. It would be considered a horrendous act; one should never tell what’s behind the closed door.
A few days ago, another Indonesian woman wrote about the sexual attack she experienced. She wore Hijab, the all-covered Muslim wardrobe for women, and she still got assaulted. She was trying to raise awareness that clothing is not the reason why women get sexually assaulted, as she was pretty much covered from head to toe. She is currently located in UK. I can’t imagine how extra difficult it would have been for her to write and publish it had it happened in Indonesia. Even written so far away from the prying eyes and judgmental accuses of our country, she still received the advice: ‘no need to go into detail’.
April 2, 2016, a 13 or 14 year old girl by the name of Yuyun walked home from school, gang-raped by 14 drunken men and teenagers (half of them are aged 18 year old or younger) to the point where her vagina and her rectum melded together, killed, and dumped in a rubber plantation nearby. Her body was found 2 days later. The outcry didn’t start until early May, triggered by female activists who picked up the story. Some of the perpetrators face 10 years in jail. We are quickly approaching a year later of when she got raped and killed, yet no updated news and nothing has changed.
March is Women’s History Month here in US. According to Wikipedia, “Women's History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.” Face it, we women are badasses. But do you know that your support towards women here in US can go a long way? Do you know that your little kindness here in US can be the butterfly wing that causes the storm in the land beyond the sea? Do you know that you can be bigger and more important than what you think you are?
Living as a (South) Easterners in a Western world is scary. I may look bold and audacious, but I will still be the obedient woman who looked away in shyness when you compliment me. I will still be the nurturing woman who tosses a blanket over your body to make sure you don't catch cold. I will still be concerned if I know you haven’t eaten or are in distress, even after you do vile things to me. We are taught, nay, programmed to nurture, to be obedient, to ensure well-being of our nuclear family: our kids and the partner we are with.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t be free or that we can’t have our own thoughts and preferences. Being nurturing and caring doesn’t mean that people have a pass to walk all over us and doesn’t mean we can’t tell people: “go F yourself”. This is something that I have secretly believed when I was in Indonesia, but dismissed it as me being brainwashed by Western ideas, that I was just lewd and raunchy and cheap and naughty.  Even though I was married to an American, it wasn’t until our divorce and my singleness in Los Angeles that I finally ‘get it’ that as a woman, nay, a person, I am allowed to be who I am.
It’s the newfound freedom of being able to do anything, everything I want without having to ask permission or worrying what other people would think. It’s the understanding that I am worth it, regardless of what people might say or think of me. It’s walking back home after a long commute from work and stop to admire my reflection in the city’s window. It’s knowing how independent one could be, while still being true to herself. And you all did this for me.
Sure, I took the first step. I was the one who decided to step out of my shell to face this big, scary world, but I was never alone. I read numerous encouraging articles and posts online. I saw so many women that I adore and admire, be it for their style or their seemingly indifferent ways. Those women won’t let themselves get hurt, won’t let the world beat them down. I too thought I could be one of those women. I've learned that it is not ok for somebody to hurt me. It is not ok for somebody to talk down on me.  I can say no to physical contact; that just because I agree to go on a date I don’t automatically have to sleep with them. I learn that I have the right and control of my own body and mind.
Fast forward to my viral article. I passed that knowledge to my fellow Indonesian women back home. It is ok to leave a husband who is not kind to you. It is ok to choose to use birth control until you are ready. It is ok to live by yourself without having to rely on anyone. Your choices do not define you. Your past does not define you. It is not your fault when sh*t happens, despite being told sh*t happens because you are not ideal enough.  Yeah, you are allowed to have fun and loving yourself and at the same time love and take care of partner.
Nothing changes though, nothing quite visible at least. This is a continuous process that will take a long time, if it ever going to stop. But having somebody in the community who will stand up for herself, who knows how to respect themselves, helps. It can be your friend, your aunt, your sister, your long lost cousin, it doesn’t matter as long as you can see them appreciate themselves and be confident with themselves. Ideas are dangerous because they set us free. If so, combinations of ideas and role models are lethal.
This is what happens when we women help each other; especially us who live in a place where we can grow ourselves, protected by laws and surrounded by supporters. Our kindness, your kindness, towards other women – more importantly those who are new in the country or go back home to their own country often – ensures that it can and will be spread globally. All we need to do is not be a judgmental prick and start to love all women, nay, all people equally. All we need to do is to be a person who is comfortable in their own skin, which will prompt others to seek that comfort.
And maybe it could spread wide enough so no more 14-year-olds get raped so horrendously, and more people will speak up against it. Maybe it could spread wide enough that people like me and the Muslim girl can write our own feelings and thoughts without having to be thousands of miles away from home. Maybe it could spread wide enough that even in the remote area where electricity is scarce, women can still stand tall and claim: “This is our body and our mind”. We are rewriting history here, and you can (and should be) writing it with us. Now tell me, will you write with us, and what will you write?
PS: Men, this is also for you. I have met and read and noticed so many amazing men here in US, young and old, who protect and helped and understand women, who allowed and encouraged women to reach their full potential. These men made me understand my value as a woman, and I believe I am not the only one who can see the worth and benefit of a good man in a person’s life. Thank you, and come join us to rewrite history.

Cinta Itu...

Cinta itu… indah ya
Membaca surat-surat cintamu
Melihat foto penuh senyumanmu
Mengingat lembut pelukmu

Tapi kamu tahu apa yang lebih indah?
Binar lampu malam di Los Angeles
Kursi paling depan di teater ala Broadway
Ramai-ramai naik kereta ke San Diego

Cinta itu… hangat ya
Sehangat nafasmu disisiku
Sehangat coklat panas yang kita nikmati bersama
Sehangat janji setiamu

Tapi kamu tahu apa yang lebih hangat?
Ayam Nashville super pedas dengan chef super ganteng di Chinatown
Berdansa di atas panggung di klub di Universal City Hollywood
Pujian tulus orang-orang yang berkata, "Kamu asli mana, cantik sekali!"

Cinta itu… tak terlupakan ya
Masih kuingat derai tawamu
Masih terdengar dentingan gitar Dobro mu
Masih terngiang bisik mesramu

Tapi kamu tahu apa yang lebih tak terlupakan?
Perasaan waktu pergi sendiri ke Seattle pertama kalinya
Perasaan waktu lulus ujian dan mendapat lisensi agen Asuransi Jiwa
Perasaan waktu menyadari orang senang membaca tulisan saya

Cinta kita tidak pernah tidak terjadi, sayangku
Badai ini tidak pernah tidak menghantam
Cerita kita bukan sekedar angan-angan belaka
Bukan sekedar kisah pilu yang tabu terungkit

Satu demi satu balok memori kupasang
Memori indah, memori buruk, memori yang pernah ada
Membentuk siapa diriku, kuatnya diriku
Perlahan tapi pasti pribadiku berdiri

Kusesali tangisanmu, kusesali tangisanku
Namun tak kusesali kita pernah bertemu
Ku teringat masa indah, ku terkenang rasa cinta
Namun tak kusesali kita telah berpisah

Dunia ini luas, sayangku, dan begitu indah
Hidup ini terlalu menakjubkan untuk terus meratap
Los Angeles memanggilku, Jakarta menggodaku,
dan Bali menantiku untuk kembali lagi padanya

Tersenyumlah sayangku, sebagaimana aku tersenyum
Berbahagialah sayangku, sebagaimana aku berbahagia
Simpan baik rasa dan asa yang pernah ada
Dan nikmati lembaran baru hidup kita

Cinta itu….

Cinta itu…
Senyuman manisku di dalam cermin
Rasa nyaman baju baru yang kubeli
Refleksi cantikku di kaca toko

Cinta itu…
Menikmati indah hidup single di Los Angeles
Memasak berbagai makanan baru sesuka hati
Tidur siang seharian di hari libur

Cinta itu…
Yang pernah ku rasakan padamu
Yang sedang ku rasakan terhadap hidup
Yang akan selalu kurasakan pada diriku sendiri

Cinta itu… asyik ya?

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Night of One Thousand Demons

Far out, the cry of the drunken men could be heard. The light from the torches can be seen from afar, glowing like little spirit fire, bobbing through the night. The smell of the burned papier-mache effigies lingered in the air, and smoke still rose from some of the burned effigies. The woman shuddered. Her young face was almost unrecognizable in the depth of the night, her dark brown skin blended perfectly with the darkness around her. It's coming, she thought frantically, it's coming.

She dreaded that day. She always does. The day always scared the living sh*t out of her. It was the one day where everyone was to stay at home, all silent. The silence will go all the way through the next morning, and she will stay up in terror throughout the lightless night, waiting for the dawn to finally come. Even far away from her hometown she would not feel safe, and the moment the clock strikes midnight she'll darted to turn on the lamp, arguing that the silence day is over. Here in her hometown, she was scared witless.

The demons are all out, they say. The demons and the witches and the shapeshifter. They'll have epic duels and whoever mortal saw it will die within days. The night of the dead moon will give unprecedented power, another one said. So many tales about people getting attacked and harassed during the night of the silent day, all in the comfort of their own house. One of her uncles woke up one morning with choke mark around his neck. A couple others reported disturbing dreams, and their wives corroborated the stories. Rooster that crows out of nowhere, some say, and shadow without body, other say. What if they come and get her this time?

"Why would we?" growled a voice amusedly from behind her. Her skin prickled. She went stiff. The energy, the smell, the voice, it was one of them. Her legs ached to flee, but she knew she couldn't outrun them. Her brain went into a total chaos, her stomach turned to water. "To be precise," another voice growled, this time with a sing song tone, "Why wouldn't we?" Two, no, more. She was surrounded by them. The energy was maddening. What would they do to her? What would her family think? She shouldn't have come back for the celebration. But it was too late now. This was it, her time had come. 

"You are right," growled a different voice. She felt a hand on her shoulder, gently turned her to where they were standing behind her. The long nails felt sharp on her soft cheek, but it didn't break her skin. And there they was: tall, short, big, small, females with breasts drooping to the waist, male with long tongues, four headed ones, multiple limbs, tusks and fangs everywhere, all around her. The smell of incense and flowers and an underlying waft of decaying flesh hung thick around them. "You are right," the demon said again, "Your time has come." The demon pulled her closer to them, smiled a gruesome and terrifying smile, baring teeth and tusks. She closed her eyes in defeat and despair. The demon put both hands on her cheek and pulled her face even closer, baring her neck for all to see. Or to devour. She could feel the demon putting her face next to her own, and whispered: "Welcome home."

In an instant the world explode, or it seemed so to her. The cheers erupted was deafening, and the laughter and screams and shouts afterwards was even more so. Everywhere seemed to burst in color, and the night looked as bright as the day. But it was nothing, completely nothing compared to what's happening in her mind. Streams of memories, locked for so many years, flooding through her mind. Her strength, her power, her magic, all returned and she could feel it running through her veins. The hair band that tied her hair into pig tail broke loose, and her hair fell in a curtain around her face. Her eyes lit with fire as she looked at her capturer, nay, her friends. No, more than that. Her family.

The demon who woke her smiled even wider, and she couldn't stop admiring how pretty the demon look. The evil ones, people called them, the horrible ones. But are they really? In her mind, she saw the structure, she saw the rules, she saw the system. Are human really are better than them? Or is just a different kind of beauty, a different kind of system that human failed to understand? It didn't matter. What matter was for now, for a full day to come and a full night after they can roam the land freely. For one cycle of day the land is theirs again. She smiled happily. Their ecstatic happiness rubbed on her, and soon she was dancing on the street with them. She was home, and this was the night of one thousand demons.

Note: this short story was made by combining the concept of Balinese New Year (Silent Day) celebration and the Japanes lore of The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (Hyakki Yako). Happy Caka New Year, Hindu Balinese!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ngerem Jempol Yukkk

"Legal Disclaimer:

Buat Teman2 Sosial media,
Direkomendasi oleh Pengacara
Facebook saat ini adalah entitas publik. Semua pengguna FB harus membuat pernyataan seperti ini. Jika anda belum mengeluarkan pernyataan setidaknya satu kali, maka akan secara teknis bahwa anda mengizinkan penggunaan foto dan informasi di akun facebook:
Dengan ini saya menyatakan bahwa saya tidak mengijinkan siapapun untuk menggunakan foto dan informasi di akun facebook saya dan digroup facebook ini ke media apapun."

Prens, mo sejuta kali ngeposting 'tidak memberi ijin' untuk orang/Facebook menggunakan foto anda NGGAK akan membuat anda bisa menuntut kalau ada yang memakai foto anda tanpa ijin. Logika aja, seberapa sering meme lucu dishare tanpa kita tahu siapa yang pertama buat. 

Sebaliknya, tanpa pernyataan pun kalo udah dipakai tanpa ijin dan merugikan orang lain kita jelas nggak bertanggungjawab dan bisa nuntut [pencemaran nama baik]. Coba itu yang bilang ini ilmu/statement dari lawyer/pengacara, tolong keluarin link resmi dari lawyer terkait. RESMI ya, dari website beliau atau kompas detik etc.

Ini tipikal hoax yang termasuk nggak berbahaya, tapi kita mesti belajar nggak main copas share tanpa mikir. Waktu ini beredar hoax 54 orang Indonesia disini ditangkap dan dideportasi gara2 Executive order nya Trump, pas dicek di KJRI ternyata hoax. Berbahaya? Nggak. Tapi kebayang ga jadi orang Indonesia di negara orang yang mungkin bahasa Inggrisnya juga nggak lancar, tinggal di daerah yang komunitas orang Indonesianya sedikit atau malah nggak ada, dan nerima pesan begini tanpa tau mau klarifikasi kemana. Tinggal aja deh dag dig dug takut diciduk/dipersulit walau surat-surat resmi. Kesian ga sih? 

Yuk belajar direm dulu jempolnya, belajar lebih pintar sedikit, belajar bertanggung jawab terhadap apa yang kita posting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kamu Tak Akan Pernah Sendiri

Buat kamu yang terluka
Datanglah kepelukan saya
Menangislah dibahu saya
Biarkan hangat menutup luka

Buat kamu yang terhempas
Gapailah tangan saya
Genggam erat, jangan lepaskan
Biarkan hangat menarik lepas

Buat kamu yang tersesat
Raihlah jemari saya
Rasakan jemari kita bersatu
Biarkan hangat menuntun pulang

Buat kamu yang terinjak
Berlindunglah dibalik saya
Usir jauh ketakutan
Biarkan hangat membangkit rasa

Buat kamu yang disana
Sendiri didalam duka
Tenggelam didalam tangis
Terpaku didalam keputusasaan

Saya disini untukmu
Menunggu, menanti
Meratap nestapamu
Berharap kamu mengerti

Lihat saya, kekasih tersayang
Lihat saya, teman tercinta
Saya disini, saya disini
Dan saya tak akan berpaling

Pandang saya didalam cermin
Temukan saya didalam diri
Saya menunggu kamu disini
Didalam nurani dan lubuk hati

Karena saya adalah kamu
Kamu yang berharga
Kamu yang istimewa
Kamu yang saya sayangi

Menangislah bila perlu
Keluarkan amarah bila butuh
Rasakan kepahitan bila harus
Namun kamu tak akan pernah sendiri

Karena saya masih disini menunggu
Karena saya masih disini menanti
Karena saya selalu bersamamu
Karena saya adalah kamu

Dan kamu tak akan pernah sendiri.

Safe Haven: An Immigrant's Story

Yep, that's the actual door
to the sanctuary
A friend of mine had to crash for the night because she lost her keys. Due to how late it was when she showed up plus my very early morning commute, when I got ready for work I instinctively told her she could just stay and sleep in my apartment while waiting for her roommate to call back. I got sick to my stomach even as the words passed through my lips. I don’t want anyone to intrude on my safe haven. I can’t let anyone in and stay there without my supervision.

The day was Wednesday, March 16, 2016. I woke up feeling groggy in my apartment; I can’t even remember if I slept at all. The morning sunrise flooded through my apartment window, and so did the memory of the day before. My fight with him over text and on the phone; triggered by my frustration on how I felt he neglected me. The exchange that got heated until he cussed me out. Me, who had enough with him putting me down, posted the screenshot of his text calling me an insignificant c*nt to his Facebook page. My phone that went quiet afterwards because he disconnected my phone line; me, shaking uncontrollably when I found out. Getting a new number from T-mobile after work. I found out he took all the money out from our joint account, my money.I came straight back to my apartment to find my clothes stuffed in a suitcase, already waiting for me there; I broke down and cried.

But I have my little apartment, and my paycheck luckily went through the next day. I bought basic dining utensils at Target, and improvised my meals in a microwave as it was the only means of cooking I had. Steamed Brussel sprouts with butter sauce and some horrible chicken nuggets was what I had that day, along with my shattered pride and broken heart. Yet it was a safe haven; or at least I thought. I came home a few nights after and felt like someone was in there before. Later he admitted he did come (he had an extra key) and managed to find my new number on the T-mobile receipt. The day that I finally had that key back, that was the day I could breathe in a little easier. 

When people talk about immigrants, they think of people coming here for better opportunity; people who had it hard in their own country; people who want to take advantage of the great country of USA. But there were also people like me. People who came here in the name of love. People who were here because their beloved could not move to stay where they are, so they made the sacrifice to leave their home to be with their beloved. We do not only surrender our love, but also we entrust our lives to our beloved, which is why USCIS has minimum income requirement to sponsor a fiancĂ© or spouse from abroad; that the sponsor must be willing to provide for the person for 2 years. This is because we have to start from point zero, a perfectly clean slate. We have to struggle with the language and the culture, and depending where you are from, your education and work experience could mean nothing. Adapting to a new country is hard, and we need all the help we can get.

Is it really a wonder that I refuse to give up my sanctuary? Even after our divorce turned bitter, which I initiated a few months later after finding out he was cheating on me. Even after everyone told me to leave the apartment and find a safer place so he couldn’t find me, I still clung to that little haven persistently. Slowly but surely I start filling out that little apartment with my own things: pictures on the wall, cooking utensils, and my new love: board games. For someone who came to US with only a carry-on luggage filled with clothes and a heart filled with love and hope, I think I did pretty well. I got thrown out of my nest, yet there I was, building a new one.

Do I regret having the fight with him and posting his abuse online? Absolutely not. I can tell you how he neglected me and he’ll tell you the same, but I can tell you how I was left in tears so many times over his insecurities. I can tell you the many times I sat there crying while he berated me and telling me how unworthy I was for having casual sex before I even knew him. I can tell you the many times I was told I should be grateful because he took me to the US; that I should be grateful because he clothed me and feed me and support me while I was not working. I can tell you the many times my words and actions were turned against me, twisted and turned to make me feel like I was the worst human ever. I can tell you the many threats he made to my family, the libelous things he wrote about me publicly in Indonesia, including that at some point I got an STD due to unsafe sex, the number of men I slept with, and that he could get me deported any time. All this because he thinks he can get away with it; he can’t.

Behind the little apartment’s door, the woman grew stronger. Once you are free from the chains, once you found a safe place to plant your roots and grow, the sky is your limit. My safe place is a 225 sqft apartment in a ghetto part of Los Angeles; a place so tiny that I need a fold-up futon bed to ensure I have space to do my activities during day time. It doesn’t mean I am completely free from him, though. Hearing his name, receiving his message, or even seeing him sends me spinning into a spiral of anger and anguish and fear. Gone were the days where I think about him with such bubbly feeling and almost star-struck with his presence. You can only beat the dog so much until she stops loving you and starts loathing you. Yet within those walls I am safe. As long as I don’t let anyone else intrude my little haven, within those walls I will always be safe.

This morning I passed Carrows in West Covina. I remember a day where we got into a fight and I walked from that restaurant all the way to West Covina Mall. I remember a day where we got into a fight in San Diego and I made the decision to go home to OC by myself; somehow the prospect of spending a night at the bus station was a better option than riding back home with him. I remember a day where I took the bus from OC to Los Angeles because I couldn't stand his abuse. I remember a day where I had to spend a whole day at a Korean Spa after I cried uncontrollably due to his malicious taunts, and he told me to get the hell out because his son got worried. I remember a day where he told me I am not allowed to spend Christmas with his family. I remember the times when I wanted to go and run but didn't have anywhere to go; no safe haven for me. I remember all those times and I want to hug that woman who had endured such a storm. You are safe now, little bird, you are safe now.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Song of the Mermaid

The Song of the Mermaidaka Ariel's Other Ending

Here I stand between their world and mine
Which one is which, which one is real?
The soft calling of the wave beckons me
The gentle light of the city calls me
Whom should I answer?

I have walked among them, indulging my senses
Having a taste of owning puny legs and feet
Feeling the warmth of hearth and even warmer embrace
Lost in awe for colors and smell
The life of dream, if dream could be real

I have swum among them, serene and mindful
The lightless water that clouded one’s sense
The cool surroundings that promises peace
At home among shadows and whispers and deepest contentment
Dreaming of life, yet it is so real

Here I stand between their world and mine
Here I stand between two worlds that might not even be mine
The sound of laughter captured my heart
The quiet peace captured my mind
And here I stand: barefoot, naked, lost and afraid

Will I be happy amongst the land people?
With shoes that chafe my feet and ache that follows?
With helpless limitations and simple desires?
With no ancient dweller telling me wisdom of old?
Will I be happy where I don’t belong?

Will I be content amongst the sea people?
With vast ocean and no one to speak?
With years ahead of me, and then some many more?
With no little kids telling me the silliness of youth?
Will I be content where I don’t desire?

The wave crashed gently on my feet, sending shiver to my spine
The time has come for me to choose
The life of easy life and indulgent love
Or the quiet thoughtful life that I am born into
Which to choose, which to hold

The tide is coming fast and my decision is made
Goodbye music, laughter, and light
Goodbye fairytales, families, forgotten love
Goodbye rising sun, bright rainbow, cool spring rain
Goodbye you all, goodbye, goodbye

The coldness of the sea embraces me, envelopes me
The salty sea water chokes me and burns my land lungs
The scale grow back, the legs unite
The silence scares me, yet also calms me
Yet soon here I am, complete and whole again

Beneath the sea level where all flow still
Deep in the trenches where secrets are told
Lost in the majestic serenity of such magical world
For I am Poseidon’s daughter
And this is where I belong

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hello my [now ex-]-husband's little missus

Editor's Note:  This is an English version I made for my blog post which was in Indonesian. Many non-Indonesian readers wanted to be able to read the post, but the Google Translate version did not translate well.  This is not a verbatim translation as to adapt with different way of thinking. Despite the tweaks the message is the same: affairs are not the way to go. If you want to read the original post in Indonesian, just click here.  Thanks for reading.

Hey there, my [now ex-]husband's little missus. What's up? 

Now now, let's not throw the axe at me so quickly. Chill. I am not here to judge or harass you. I am here to tell my reader what really happens in an affair, all the ugly truths that so often hidden in a simple line "he had an affair" with the hope that others will think twice before being in one. 

Affairs are devastatingly expensive.  For instance, the affair between you and my [now ex-]husband cost me 4.5 years of my life. That's 1588 days together. 216 weekends and/or holidays spent with his kids (my stepchildren). Five birthdays, 4 Christmas, 5 Father's Day, 3 Thanksgivings. Numerous toys, books, games, event tickets, and all the fun things I obtained for the family. Immeasurable anger, frustration, and tears that I endured myself, plus his that I help him to endure. My career and my family that I left behind to be with him. My age, and I'm definitely not growing younger. Our chosen partner is our investment for the future, and you've successfully destroyed mine. How does it make you feel?

In your defense, you probably did not know that on your first rendezvous (which he claimed was vacation for therapy), I bought the ticket for him to fly to your hometown because I was worried as a foreigner he'd get scammed. Every day he was there I was constantly worried for his well-being as it was a new place for him.  He didn't text much because 'there was no signal'. My family, who were obviously confused why he went on vacation to Indonesia without their daughter, still greeted him very warmly. I sent Mother’s Day flowers to the mothers of my stepkids and to his late mother's grave because it was Mother's Day while he was there.  I wanted to make sure everyone got thanked properly. And guess what he's doing?

I am also convinced you did not know that even as you started to communicate with him he was still being pampered, despite what his claims may be. An anniversary dinner date at a swanky rotating lounge in Downtown LA. Homemade cute “boob and butt” cookies for his birthday. Matching father-son Top Gun shirts for Father's day, complete with Father's day dinner at a Samba restaurant for the three of us. The Father's Day was extra special as I found out the proof of your affair three days before. I still went with it though, as everything has been booked and I didn't want to ruin Father's Day for my stepson. You don't know any of this because he won’t tell you. Not even a single recognition was made for me in all the Facebook posts he made, so how could you know?

This is wrong, obviously, but you made the decision to be with him even though you knew he was still married. You are not without resources, though. As a writer, I maintain a public persona which is easily found online. Heck, you can even find the book I made for him online. If the wife of the man you are dating keeps posting pictures of the two of them looking happy together, you might want to reconsider his 'unloved' claim. 

Even if you didn't have resources, in general it is a good idea to stop and think what would the other woman feel. What would happen if he was lying and the other woman is still in love with him, because this is what happened. Four-and-a-half years down the drain. The family was broken. I haven't seen my stepkids since I had to leave. They're probably confused as hell as to where did their old stepmom go and why does this new one keep being shoved up their face.

It's over though, for me and you. You made the decision to accept the devil (i.e. my ex-husband), and here we are now. But for others who read this, others who might be in the position to be tempted, please reconsider. It is not that you can't love. By all means, love all you want, just make sure you don't hurt others or yourself.. Get yourself the certainty you deserve, that the love of your life is definitely leaving the other person to be with you. 

It took me a little over a month for my ex-husband to sign the divorce papers, and that's with him begging repeatedly for marriage counselling.  He'd tell me how much he loves me and we should get back together, plus numerous threats and fights between us just to force him sign. Considering his defense when I found out about the affair was "we're gonna get divorced anyway", I actually feel sorry for you. Please, don't go this route. You are not being a martyr of love, you are being a kitchen cloth used to wipe grimes. 

Life has so many sides that it's almost impossible to see them all at once. However, we still need to try and base our decision on as many sides as we can consider instead of going all in to get what our hearts want. Isn't it better and more rewarding to be able to say "how can she not know about me?!" than  "how can she know about me?!", Temptation will be there and assholes will lie, but in the end we are the one who made the decision. Hopefully with this information, you can choose more wisely.

In the end, everybody loses in this game. My ex-husband lost a loyal, devoted wife. My stepkids lost a stepmom that would go to the ends of the earth for them, not to mention cool and smart to boost if I don't say so myself. You'll lose respect from anyone who knows the story, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if my ex-husband uses this against you in the future. I lost pretty much everything, yet at the same time, I am the clear winner. I gave my all, and it didn't work. It's pretty much what keeps me sane and moving. There are no ifs and there is no regret. I gave my all and put everyone's happiness in consideration. How can you regret that?

I wish you all the best, little missus. I am free and happy as I can be. I miss my stepkids a lot, but I am grateful to be rid of an unfaithful husband. I am loving life to the fullest, and it doesn't hurt that I’m told I look more attractive than ever. The pride from successfully weathering the storm does that. You on the other hand, still have a long journey ahead of you. Good luck, little missus, you're gonna need it.

Ps: please don't look for the little missus, dear readers. And definitely don't harass her. This post is not made to bash her, but to educate people on what happen behind the sultry and scandalous veil of 'affair'.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Terima Kasih Semua!!

Saat artikel ini saya tulis, artikel blog saya "Halo Selingkuhan Suami Saya" sudah dibaca 1 juta kali. 1 juta kali. Mau pingsan rasanya. Teman saya dengan bercanda bilang, "Berarti ada 1 juta orang di Indonesia yang selingkuh atau diselingkuhi." Saya tertawa. "Salah," jawab saya, "berarti ada 1 juta orang di Indonesia yang perduli."

Itu yang saya rasakan dari semua komentar, pesan, dukungan yang mengalir deras di blog, Facebook, dan Instagram saya. Orang-orang perduli. Bukan hanya perduli terhadap saya, namun juga terhadap orang-orang lain. Kolom komentar blog saya meledak dengan orang-orang yang menceritakan apa yang terjadi dengan mereka, dan orang-orang yang "You go girl!" terhadap cerita tersebut. Dalam reaksi terhadap artikel tersebut tidak ada batas agama umur atau apapun, yang ada hanya solidaritas.

Tentunya ada satu-dua yang, tetep lho, negatif. Mulai dari yang normal, "Jangan cuma nyalahin Mbak nya dong!" dan menuduh saya marah-marah, sampai yang bilang saya kena karma merebut suami orang (he?) dan komen memaki "You deserve it, you race-traitor size queen!". Padahal setahu saya yang size Queen itu biasanya kasur lho. Apa ini berarti saya mirip kasur? Omigod. 

Tapi anda tahu apalagi yang terjadi?
- Saya bertemu kembali dengan kawan lama yang tak sengaja membaca artikel itu
- Kakak saya juga bertemu teman lama karena teman-temannya yang membaca berpikir itu dia (kami mirip seperti kembar)
- Saya bertemu, berbincang, tertawa bersama sekian banyak teman baru
- Dan yang paling penting, saya yang berada 14,500 km dari rumah saya, sendirian di negara orang, saya merasa tidak sendiri lagi.

Tidak akan cukup semua rasa terimakasih saya untuk anda sekalian yang sudah perduli. Ini hadiah Hari Wanita terbaik yang bisa saya dapatkan: solidaritas bagi dan untuk para wanita Indonesia. Bagi yang masih mengalaminya, bagi yang pernah mengalaminya, bagi yang berada di posisi si mbak, dulu maupun sekarang, semoga semua akan menjadi lebih baik.

Terima kasih, terima kasih, terima kasih.

- Yang ingin tahu cerita lebih detailnya bisa dibaca di Asian Parents Indonesia: 

- Yang ingin tahu perjuangan saya lepas dari si mantan bisa dibaca koleksinya disini:

Terimakasih sekali lagi!!!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Halo Selingkuhan Suami Saya

Editor's note:  People have been asking for a proper English translation of this post, so we now have one available.  Click here to view it.

Halo Mbak yang memacari suami saya. Nggak risih gitu Mbak?

Santai Mbak, saya nggak berusaha nge-judge Mbak kok, apalagi merebut kembali mantan suami saya. Dia boleh buat Mbak kok, saya rela. Saya menulis ini buat Mbak-mbak yang lain yang sedang atau berpikiran untuk memacari pasangan orang. Selingkuh itu mahal lho.

Buat saya yang diselingkuhi, kisah asmara kalian membuat saya rugi:
-1588 hari bersamanya. Ini jumlah hari saya bersama mantan suami, dari kami pertama bertemu sampai saat saya pergi dari rumah
-216 weekend bersama anak-anaknya. Ini kurang lebih jumlah weekend plus hari libur yang kami habiskan bersama anak-anaknya.
-5 hari ulang tahun, 4 hari natal, 5 hari Ayah, 3 Thanksgiving.
-Sekian banyak mainan, buku cerita, baju, tiket nonton/game, bentuk-bentuk hadiah atau hiburan lainnya untuk dia dan anak-anaknya.
-Sekian banyak amarah, kesedihan, frustasi, tangisan yang saya alami, serta yang dia alami dan berusaha saya bantu tanggung
-Karir saya, karena saya berhenti kerja demi persiapan pindah untuk bersamanya
-Keluarga dan teman-teman saya, yang juga harus saya tinggalkan
-Umur saya, yang jelas nggak bertambah muda

Pasangan saya adalah investasi saya untuk masa depan yang saya rawat dengan baik dan benar, dan Mbak dengan sukses menjebolnya. Bangga Mbak?

Iya, Mbak tahunya dari mantan suami saya bahwa saya tidak cinta lagi sama dia, bahwa hubungan kami sudah tidak terselamatkan, bahwa kami akan bercerai. Mbak jelas nggak tahu kalau:
-Saat kalian bertemu saya yang membelikan tiket pergi ke kota Mbak, karena saya takut dia sebagai orang asing ditipu di negara orang
-Saya sibuk dag dig dug berharap dia baik-baik saja karena jarang dengar kabar dari dia saat seminggu dia di kota Mbak, alasannya sih ga dapat sinyal
-Keluarga saya yang walaupun nggak mengerti kenapa dia pulang kampung tanpa saya tetap menyambutnya dengan hangat
-Saya mengirimkan bunga ke makam ibunya untuk Hari Ibu plus bunga untuk ibu-ibu anak-anaknya, saat dia asyik masyuk dengan Mbak di negara asal saya
-Sebelum dia pergi untuk liburan (baca: selingkuh) dan sampai saya minta cerai, saya masih tinggal serumah dengannya, masih menjalankan hubungan suami istri normal; walaupun dia bilang ke Mbak saya hanya datang untuk minta ‘jatah’.
-Setelah kalian ‘berteman’ di Facebook (yang saya nggak tahu), saya masih: membawa dia kencan ke resto cihui untuk merayakan hari jadi kami, menyiapkan kukis ulang tahun untuknya, sampai membelikan hadiah Hari Ayah untuk dia dan anaknya plus dinner seru lengkap dengan penari Samba. Yang Hari Ayah ekstra spesial karena 3 hari sebelumnya saya menemukan bukti perselingkuhan kalian.

Kebayang nggak Mbak jadi saya? Kebayang nggak saya menemukan “Baby I miss you” di Facebook dia? Kebayang nggak saya membaca “I love your son” dari Mbak? Saya lho Mbak yang disitu bersama dia, yang mengeloni anak-anaknya, dan Mbak nggak ada angin nggak hujan bisa dengan entengnya bilang ‘Love your son’? Kebayang nggak saya yang mati-matian minta dia melepas Mbak, berusaha mengingatkan soal anak-anaknya? Kebayang nggak anak-anaknya yang bingung karena ibu tirinya mendadak hilang, dan tiba-tiba ada yang baru dijejalkan ke mereka? Ini hasil selingkuhan Mbak. Ini keluarga yang hancur karena pilihan Mbak. Puas, Mbak?

Iya sih setelahnya Mbak minta maaf ke saya, tapi kok Mbak nggak mikir sih saat Mbak belum ketahuan? Buat apa sih memangnya, Mbak? Nggak malu gitu? Jangan pakai alasan Mbak masih kecil, Mbak ditipu mantan suami saya dan sebagainya. Sebagai penulis tulisan saya bisa dibaca publik, Mbak bahkan nggak perlu repot stalking saya untuk tahu siapa saya. Kalaupun nggak ada info tentang saya, Mbak bisa dong berpikir dari pihak perempuan, bagaimana rasanya kalau terjadi pada Mbak. Bedanya saya dengan Mbak adalah, saat ketahuan Mbak berujar: “Kenapa dia bisa tahu tentang saya?”, kalau saya akan berujar: “Kok dia bisa baru tahu tentang saya?”. Ketahuan kan mana yang lebih superior?

Dan ini adalah sesuatu yang akan dibawa sampai seterusnya lho Mbak: cap perusak rumah tangga orang, cap perempuan rendahan. Orang-orang yang tahu cerita aslinya akan melihat Mbak dengan rendah, dan ini termasuk keluarga dan teman dekatnya. Yang nggak tahu tapi kepo dan berhasil menemukan blog saya bisa membaca artikel-artikel mengenai perceraian saya yang saya tulis sebagai bentuk terapi. Dan seringkali ya Mbak, nggak penting siapa yang benar, yang penting siapa yang berbuat skandal. Walau Mbak selingkuh atas nama cinta, tetap saja selingkuh dan lidah akan bergoyang. Nggak selingkuh pun kita wanita perlu menjadi benar-benar super untuk mengalahkan bayangan si mantan pacar/istri, apalagi selingkuh.

Buat [para] Mbak yang sudah terlanjur didalamnya, tulisan ini mungkin percuma. Tapi buat Mbak-mbak yang lain yang berniat, dipikir lagi deh. Apa iya menghancurkan perasaan wanita lain (dan sebuah keluarga) itu seharga cinta yang akan anda dapatkan? Apa iya rasa malu dan hinaan orang lain seharga cinta tersebut? Kalau benar cinta kan nggak kemana, dan bisa menunggu sampai si dia benar-benar single (putus/cerai dari pasangannya). Apalagi yang pasangannya track recordnya doyan selingkuh. Rugi kan, sudah dosa karena berbohong dan melukai perasaan orang lain, seumur hidup dicap perempuan nggak benar, eh hubungannya nggak bertahan juga. Menuntut kepastian demi harga diri kalian itu jauh lebih baik lho, Mbak-mbak sekalian.

Kata orang urusan begini jangan diumbar, tapi buat saya ini penting. Biasanya kita hanya tahu “Si A dan Si B bercerai karena si A selingkuh,” tapi tidak ada yang tahu detail yang terjadi saat itu. Ini yang sebenarnya terjadi saat anda memutuskan berselingkuh. Akan ada orang-orang yang hanya membaca berita ini sebagai skandal sensasional, tapi akan ada, dan ini target saya sebenarnya, orang-orang yang membaca ini dan bisa mengerti mengapa selingkuh itu salah. Orang-orang ini akan mengedepankan harga diri mereka dan bilang ‘tidak’ pada tawaran selingkuh, baik pria maupun wanita, dan akan mengingatkan anak-anak mereka untuk tidak berselingkuh, terutama anak gadis. Kenapa? Karena kita perempuan yang paling terlihat jelek saat berselingkuh.

Balik lagi ke Mbak tersayang, selamat dan semoga hidup Mbak bahagia. Terlepas dari semua kepahitan saya, saya membuang seorang suami yang tidak setia dan hidup single dengan ceria. Walau di negara orang, saya mampu mencapai kebebasan finansial (baca: hidup kere tapi asyik) sambil menikmati lirikan-lirikan dari para pria tampan disini. Bisa kok meraih kebahagiaan tanpa bantuan orang lain, dan jelas tanpa merebut kebahagiaan orang lain. Sukses ya Mbak, perjuanganmu masih panjang dan berat. Berjuanglah!!

Saat ini (6 am Mar 7 2017 LA time) artikel ini sudah hampir 21k dibaca. Whoaaaa!!! Terima kasih banyak atas semua dukungannya!!!! Kalau boleh aku mau nambahin:
1) Artikel ini bukan untuk 'menyerang' si Mbak, tapi untuk memberitahu dan menguatkan para pembaca diluar sana. Jadi nggak usah penasaran kayak gimana sih mantan suami dan si mbak hihihi. Kalau tujuan saya jahat saya kasi semua link sosmednya dari awal ;)
2) Saya juga ga ngulik 'Kenapa' atau alasan mereka, karena tiap orang punya alasan masing-masing dan karena kita nggak di posisi mereka kita nggak bisa ngejudge. Jadi please jangan ngejudge :* .
3) In fairness, si Mbak ini sudah minta maaf dan menawarkan mundur, tapi saat itu saya sudah babak belur dan ga bisa lagi (secara nurani) untuk menerima suami saya kembali. Saya tetap menghargai usaha dia untuk memperbaikinya :)

Jadiiii.... Mari kita perlakukan tulisan ini sebagai mana tujuan aslinya: untuk menginfokan dan menguatkan. Nggak usah bawa-bawa yang lain oceee. Love you all!

*Update 2*
2018 dan masih banyak yang sms saya bagaimana bisa move on. Silakan lho meluncur ke Gramedia atau toko buku terdekat untuk mencari buku saya: Dear, Mantan Tersayang - 25 cara move on dari mantan . Bagus lhoooo hahaha (eh dia malah jualan). Anyway, thanks for reading!!! Terimakasih sudah membaca!!

Friday, March 3, 2017

After The Party


The woman sighed. Her eyes were fixed on the vista below her, a sprawling town with the castle yonder, all lit with little lights from the candles. Her mind, though, was entirely elsewhere.

"What's with all the sighing?" her man-servant asked, "And please, you will ruin that dress sitting on the grass like that."

She didn't answer, only sighing some more. 

"I am lonely," she answered.

"And you are ruining your dress," her man servant replied, pointing to her beautiful silvery white dress.

"It's enchanted," she pouted, "you and I know that. It magically repents wear and tear. How else can I use my glass slippers for so many dances without breaking it once? Even with those clumsy buffoon princes."

"Touche," said the man servant.

They sat still for a good while. Her man-servant took out a small case of cigarettes and started to lite one. She looked at him reproachfully. "Smoking will kill you," she said.

The man servant shrugged. "Eh," he said, "once I am back into a mouse I've only got, what, 3 months to live? Might as well enjoy it."

"If we get back," she corrected him.

"Once we get back," he smiled mockingly, "That old fairy godmother of yours is powerful, but the spell can't last forever."

Now it was her turn to shrug. "Why not?"

"Because, dear little housemaid," he answered, "as a house-mouse I know nothing lasts forever."

She looked away. "You are just being negative," she said.

He laughed at her statement. "Really? What do you think would happen, say, two years from now? Will we still be the wandering vagabond that crashes into each party?"

She sighed again. "I am already tired of parties. I want to go home."

The man-servant looked at her kindly, lovingly. "Let's go then."

"I can't," she answered. "I don't know where home is."

They sat there in silent. She took the cigarette from his hand and inhaled it deeply. He didn't mind. She needed it.

"I wish," she said between the puffs, "I wish I had settled."

"With what? Fat lazy princes? Dubious ones?" her man servant snorted.

"I mean, they can't all be that bad," she said with a shrug.

"No, they are not. There's always a good part in somebody, and there's always a bad part," he answered.

She looked at him with a sorry look, "You've seen a lot, haven't you?"

He merely shrugged, "Eh, not important. We don't live long enough to care."

"Back to you, though," he said, "we won't let you just 'settle'."

She looked away. "Neither will I."

He lit another cigarette and handed it over to her, taking the dead one away. 

They sat there smoking in silence. "Maybe I don't need a prince anyway. Maybe I should just be happy with a farmer or a merchant."

Her man-servant laughed. "Dreaming of days chasing ducks and feeding cattle, followed by quiet nights by the fireplace?"

She laughed with him. "You make it sound so abhorrent." The laughter grew stronger until they both roared with laughter.

"No, no, seriously," she said. "That doesn't sound that bad."

He smiled and looked at her, "It is that bad. You know that."

"It's quiet and peaceful, though. You could have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren by now," she smiled wistfully.

"I like them as 'could have'," he answered. She grinned.

The night was getting older and the chilly breeze came through. She shivered a little. He took off his man-servantjacket and wrapped it around her, sitting closer to her.

"How many Royal parties have we crashed into?" he asked.

"I don't know," she answered, "a dozen? Two dozen?"

"Remember the one with the courtyard so big it took us almost an hour to go to the castle's entrance?" he said.

"Oh yes!" she answered with a giggle, "and also the one with the crystal chandeliers! Fanciest castle!"

"I remember the one where the prince was so handsome I thought that'll be the end of our adventure," he laughed.

"Don't remind me of that vain prince," she cringed, "Or the one who took interest to me but doesn't seem to know what to do with me."

"That one was your loss," he teased. "You could have taught him things."

She scowled, "Like what? Like how not to faint and get a nosebleed when I stand too close to him?"

Her man-servant roared with laughter again, and she soon followed suit. Their laughter rang throughout the night.

"Cindy," the man-servant said softly after they went quiet again, "if big castles and golden cages couldn't keep you in, why do you think a humble house would?"

She looked at him. "I want to go home," and buried her head on his chest.

He hugged her close and caressed her hair. "We will go home," he said lovingly, "to a home that you deserve."

She didn't say anything, so he kept caressing her hair. "The horses, the other man servants, us the bewitched ones, we're happy to be a part of your adventure. We want you to be happy because you deserve it."

"I am sorry I brought you all into the mess," she answered. Her voice muffled. "I didn't know the spell was for me to find a prince, and so when I rejected the first one, the spell continues to work. Had I known…"

"Had we known, we would not change a thing," he answered. She lifted her head up and saw him smiling, "We think living as horses and man-servants are a better deal than as mice and being chased around by that horrid cat."

She giggled. "Really?"

He looked at her and smiled, "Really." 

He pulled her close and let her bury her head in his chest again, tenderly caressing her hair. "We will find your home, and we will take you home."

They hugged quietly for the longest time.

"Promise?" she whispered softly.

"Promise." He gently answered.

The chilly wind gently rustled the leaves on the tree, but the two of them remained there for a while. It's a big, big world out there, but they'll find their home. They know it.

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