The word ibu means mother. Being a mother is a gift. In Balinese society, being a mother means being everything. We are the house organizer, cook, nurse, babysitter for our children, nanny, even a nun who always bows and prays for the grace of the Lord for everyone's well-being and prosperity. It is a privilege being a mother in our society, but unfortunately, there wasn't enough luck for me to be a mother for my own child. I could not do what most mothers do. I was born in a jungle. I grew up in a jungle, and I live in a jungle. It wasn't a privilege for those who had financial struggles.
I thought I wasn't lucky as a child who lived without my parents and moving from one place to another. I thought, Why am I not lucky? Why are my parents not around? It triggered me to attempt suicide when I was nine for the first time. The next attempt was when I was fifteen. Finally, my siblings, my parents, and I reunited. And we built a hut in the jungle again with monkeys, snakes, and all those other wild animals as part of our family. The neighbors came to my dad and wanted to buy me and my sister because they thought this was the easiest way to get money for our studies.
The Universe again designed my life. I was married at a young age. I had no experience. I had not been in any relationship with men or women. I didn't know how to respond. I didn't know how to deal with this unpleasant situation I faced because no one taught me. No one showed me there were possibilities and opportunities. Again and again, I attempted suicide, but I could tell I wasn't smart enough to end my life. I always ended up in hospital. I thought the story would end when I finally got divorced, and I had to leave part of my blood, my daughter, when she was eight months old. That was the biggest pain.
I found myself being a mother without part of my blood and found myself being divorced, which had been taboo in our society. I did what people do around the world at the moment, lockdown. This is my second lockdown. I told the next in the family compound, which is my mom. A mother is the key of weakness and strength. She gave me such sharp words. "Okay. If you don't want to go out, if you don't want to open the border, kill yourself inside. But before that, you will see my dead body outside." That's the moment when I promised I would open the border. I will move. I will face whatever is in front of me next, whatever comes next. I gained weight, which I had lost during the marriage—from 53 to 35.
I did harm myself in the past because I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do. How could I know because no one taught me? But I'm glad I did. Of course, only after so many tears. When I gained weight, I was happy. But then men came by one by one and asked my price. "How much are you per night?" It was just because I was divorced. Again I didn't know how to respond. And of course, it made their partners, girlfriends, or wives afraid I was taking away their partner. A few of them even spat on me. I could not again respond to that unpleasant behavior, those actions. But one thing I could do was cry. I still had tears to help me.
When I realized I was not in a healthy environment, I decided to break my mom's rule, to keep me just in the village where I couldn't deal with all the gossip and people looking me up and down. I decided to move forward. I'm glad I did, even though it was not easy for the first three years. I continued my studies in university and kept myself as busy as I could because that was the only way to be able to lay down on my bed. Otherwise, I could not stop thinking about my princess—my daughter. Can you imagine when a part of our body is separated because of a patriarchal society?
My second journey began when I met many women who struggled with many different issues. Not only being divorced but having fertility issues, single moms, mothers having children with special needs, transgenders, sexual illnesses, and all those things. The more I met, the more I realized this has been happening for such a long time in my society. It has been taboo to talk about them. People always think it's a shame to talk, to share, but then I realized this needed to be shared. I brought them to sit together and to let them know they are not the only ones who struggle. Let them know there's a space for them, which I didn't get, which I didn't find. Because again, I had no opportunity to broaden my horizon in the past.
The idea came to put them together and share because every time I shared my story, I found it to be a natural way of healing. And I thought if it works for me, it should work for others. That's when the idea came to create a women's center. Not only a women's center but a place where everyone can come together. The Universe knows how to lead us to start something at the right time. I ended up taking care of children and adults with special needs, which helped me to understand myself deeper and better, helped me to keep the three Ps—my passion, my patience, and perseverance and to see the results of what I'm doing, what I'm learning.
I found the biggest teacher ever in my life who taught me how to be happy no matter what my situation. And again, the Universe always knows, and I think this is what I've been following in the natural way—Bali time—slowly but surely, even though many times I'm not sure.
It's okay. A few years later, the women's center created more and more people willing to learn and share. And now we end up a center of community where we embrace everyone, no matter what their background, no matter where they're coming from. And what I'm doing is not something new. Instead, I'm doing CPI—Copy, Paste, Improvise. I copy and paste all those beautiful things—the heritage of our ancestors—improvise, add value, and make it joyful and meaningful in our activities. And I'm so grateful to have my family who loves me dearly, even though they don't know what led me to end up doing these things.
But I believe with the three Ps, everybody is a teacher. Every place is a school and every moment is a lesson. I learned. I grew from all those people I met, from all those places I've been, and from all those unpleasant situations I went through. And again, I believe so much in nature's way and the Universe's know-how. I learned how to embrace, be a friend, and get along with pain, to help me to have forgiveness for myself and for everyone else.
And this year is the biggest gift. On December 22nd, it is Mother's Day. The Universe gives me the biggest reward. She was in my family compound when she was eight months old. And after sixteen years, it's been a long journey. And I'm grateful for having family and friends and all those who struggle, those children and women in my community who stand next to me. They remind me how strong I am in my long journey of waiting. And this gift, my princess just stepped out after sixteen years in my family compound last Wednesday.
This is the biggest reward to keep my three Ps—my passion, patience, and perseverance. And this also proves when you are ready, the Universe will make it happen. Trust me. And another beautiful gift I received this year is from the government being the Mother of the Year. Happy Mother's Day.