Those Burning Questions

As I had blogged before, here, in Indonesia divorce is still considered taboo, a bad thing, a failure in life.

The “Interviews”

Ever since I went public with the new status of being separated and now a divorcee, I knew I would be facing oh so many questions from everyone. What I learned is people do react in different ways. Some were sincere, some were not so much and my skin has definitely grown thicker now than when it first started. The hardest ‘interview’ usually comes from my relatives. You know the elder uncles, aunties, grandmas, and grandpas. Sometimes, I just sat there half deafening my ears and counting hearing their lectures because it would be impolite – yes, that’s Indonesian cultures – to talk back or to argue with the elders. I’d like to think that I had handled myself pretty well at work and now my colleagues had accepted me for who I am – as a divorcee and all. They had seen me, the real person behind this so-called scarlet letter.

At first, I reacted quite defensively to the nosey questions strangers/friends asked me but now that I’m in full acceptance of the end of my marriage, I usually just completely ignore these questions.

Right after I left JR – I deactivated my personal Facebook profile – I got much bigger things to deal with. My ‘disappearance’ caused a lot of questions and speculations between some of my acquaintances. Luckily enough, my band of girls stood by my side and fends off questions from others about me. “Go ask her yourself!” were their magic words. Thanks, chicas!

Since the day I changed my status on Facebook last year I was bombarded with messages from supportive kinds to you know, the nosey-wanna-know-the-dirt kinds. Usually, I never bother replying to old friends who were on my Facebook just because we went to the same schools – wait, maybe it’s time to do some contacts cleaning up? Yeah, maybe!

But yes there are moments where I can’t put my cool hat on, like last weekend when out of the blue an old classmate shoot me a message asking if I’m really now a single mom. Mind you this person and I barely talked, barely communicate, last time we met was in my High School reunion over 2 years ago where JR and Lil’ A made a cameo appearance when they picked me up. So I don’t really owe this person an explanation because I knew it would lead into more questions but I tried to be polite and replied with a simple “Yes – *insert smiley face here*”. She quickly replied – and like I predicted – armed with more questions but the second one was “Then who have your son?” WTF?!

Stop Blaming

Okay, maybe the concept of co-parenting is not as widely understood by people here because it is ‘commonly’ accepted for the ex-husbands to just walk away being deadbeat fathers. There are no enforceable ways to collect child support as they do back in the States. Child custody here mostly falls on the mother unless of course, the father balked at the court like what happened with one celebrity couple here. Maybe I’ll write more about this in another post (s) later on.

This time I’m not going to reply and follow through the patterns because I bet this person has a mile long questions up her sleeves and in all seriousness, I’m too lazy to deal with that.

Also, here in Indonesia whenever divorce happens, sadly society places the blame on us women. “You didn’t treat him like the way he should be treated.” down to “Maybe if you took better care of yourself and not letting yourself get this fat he would’ve stayed”. These are usually the instant responses and remarks coming from relatives. Painful?! You can bet your ass it is.

Like I discussed with one of my Twitter friend Juinita yesterday after I saw her twitting about Abuse and Indonesian women, I told her sadly plenty of women here would rather stick to their abusive – be it physically or mentally husbands just so they don’t lose their face in society! Just so they don’t have to bear the title of being a single mother. We both recognized and agreed that it is the culture to blame us, women if our marriages crashed and burnt.

If only this customs, traditions or values could change…then life for single parents would be so much better in Indonesia. If a woman has enough courage to walk out of her marriage, we need to support her instead of stoning her like in the dark ages!

Throughout this whole ongoing journey of rebuilding my life, I have come to understand that those whose stand by your side even through the darkest of times really are your true friends.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.  ~Henri Nouwen

Going through a divorce, did you face a lot of questions from your friends/families? If you did, how did you handle it?

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5 thoughts on “Those Burning Questions

  1. Emmy Reply

    Lots of questions I got from my divorce but I didn’t answer their questions. Just told what happened with people I really can trust. I dissapeared thats how I handled my divorce hon, I came to conclusion I didn’t owe anyone any explanation. Hang in there dear, it will get better each day !

  2. Rini Reply

    Hi Maureen,

    Got your blog from ISP forum and i enjoy your writings so much. I know it won’t easy for us, Indonesian women, being a divorcee or a single mom. I choose to be a single mom and work hard to raise my girl rather than continue my living hell. The old paradigm about being a divorcee, a single mom is something that you should really avoid and it’s the duty of the women to keep their marriage life continue even though we live in hell. If only the mindset can be changed, we might have a better living. I know it’s difficult to make them understand with the life we live in now so I choose to ignore all those negative comments by deafening my ears even deeper so i won’t hear any bad things that make my mood down even further. Good thing is I rarely join any family gathering with my extended family since i was still single so i keep go on with it and i limit myself to gather only with my best friends.

  3. Missy | The Literal Mom Reply

    Wow – what a powerful picture you’ve painted of what’s going on with you. It (kind of) makes me laugh about calling the questions “interviews.” That’s exactly what it feels like to be questioned by family sometimes!

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