Aida Zabidi
My sister’s ex-husband remarried three days ago.

It’s been hard.

It’s hard to see my sister go through the pain of having to deal with a divorce she didn’t want, to have her break down from hurt and pain while having to struggle as a main caregiver for her two young children. It’s hard to hear her cry when I cannot be there.

In some ways the children will not have full access to a father. He will be a partial part of their lives, someone who comes and goes, there for the fun happy times but will not be there as part of their everyday lives.

He will not see my dad sit down with his children every day to do their homework with them, with a hundred and one excuses to escape their work.

He will not see my mother’s tears whenever she sees her grandchildren tell her they miss their father, nor the worry in her eyes in the moments of them acting out.

He will not know our concerns as we watch the children grow, how they crave the attention of other males as replacement for a father figure.
But he will also miss the beauty of watching them grow into their wonderful selves, miss their wonderful quirks and cheeky little conversations, the laughter they bring to our lives.

As my sister Khairun wrote, “Don’t get me wrong. I’m struggling still. None of my family members are divorced. So I had no reference point, no knowledge of what to expect or what to do. But most of all, I had an inability to see Max as anything else but my husband.

But I write this because it’s hard. Not for his vilification or for anyone to take sides. But to share this experience from a woman’s point of view. Because we so easily call a woman emotional and tell her she has to be strong. But we fail to tell a man that he has wronged. Fail to remind him of his responsibilities and how he is being disrespectful. In all cultures, we blame the woman and congratulate the man.

Yet, it is me who has to scale things down for the children who is now supported by a single income. It is me who has to hear her kids cry when they miss dad. It is me who has to figure out what to tell them so their idea of marriage and love and commitment isn’t cheapened by the decisions their father has made. It is me who bears the responsibility so my son to not repeat the errors made by the generations before him - that he doesn’t do this to another woman, another child. It is me who has to explain why they have to grow up without their father, for the rest of their lives.

Knowing has brought me a certain peace. And seeing it for myself gave me closure. But deep love means I am bound to this man for life and will always care greatly for his happiness and wellbeing.

And deep love almost always comes with deep pain.”

For whatever it’s worth, I hope the decision is for the best for all parties.

 Please pray for my sister and her children, for the strength to face their challenges ahead and for the best in the years to come.
Aida Zabidi
I had a conversation once with a very successful plastic surgeon who had dropped by the house to pay a visit to my mother in law.

Interestingly enough, she was one of the few plastic surgeons I had spoken to who didn't believe in performing plastic surgery unless it was absolutely necessary, and she was such an advocate of natural beauty that she had followed up her professional training with a PhD in body dysmorphia and why people chose to do plastic surgery or take supplements for aesthetic reasons - in a Malaysian context, commonly to be fairer, slimmer or in the case of men, 'bigger'.

She regaled us of the horror stories she had seen, who had come to her after botched jobs, done clandestinely in the living room of some big shot or other, or other individuals who had done one surgery after another without understanding their own psychological insecurities why they chose to do so, and surgeons and aestheticians who would choose to proceed without counselling these patients properly.

We spoke about the widespread use of cosmetologists and aesthetics, and how common it had become that procedures were performed with minimal training, with minimal credentialing - how so many practitioners were allowed to practice in the field without proper supervision, without even knowing the potential side effects of the procedures they were doing.

It's a different world we live in, and having the constant reminder of perceived perfection on social media doesn't make things any easier. 

The choice to make changes to our physical shape is a conscious choice, but it is one that is easily fed into the psychology of the insecure.

The beauty industry feeds into the fears and insecurities of individuals, at the cost of a vicious cycle - an industry that is often unregulated and allowed to flourish, and sometimes the effects are permanent and regrettable.

We are made exactly the way we are, perfect and imperfect in our shape and form.

To make those permanent changes, one should truly decide after proper psychological assessment and counseling, to ensure that the decision is made as an informed choice, with all the risks and probabilities explored. 

Aida Zabidi
So the first thing he does on waking up is call me unkind.

I know he hasn't been sleeping well, and I know that he's in pain, but pain has twisted his body and twisted his mind into a husk of a man that I once loved.

There's barely an expression on his face as he calls me that, barely an thought of how it might have hurt me.

I'm already numb.

The words just become another statement said careless that hurt, another in a string of statements that hurt.

"I'm sharing my thoughts with you, and trying to be as honest as I can."

Why are your thoughts so negative? Why are they filled with anger, and hatred, masked in the most neutral of tones?

I was able to keep a up a mask the first time, the second time, and the third - but now I've started building a wall, one brick at a time so I can no longer feel the hurt when he insults me.

To what extent should I keep at this?
Aida Zabidi
So 2018 has been challenging so far.

I’ve been an advocate for mental health for a long time, and I’ve always found myself in situations where people come to me to seek help, perhaps because they don’t know who else to turn to.

I don’t know if it’s because I talk about it so openly that others feel comfortable reaching out, or if it’s a situation similar to the law of attraction; that I’m put in the lives of other people because they need help in their times of crisis.

This year I found myself in crisis.

A loved one developed a mental illness, and it’s been an everyday struggle to see how easily the deterioration happens – and when it does, as someone who’s so closely entangled in their lives, you ask yourself a hundred and one questions; could I have detected this earlier? Could I have forced help upon this person? Was there anything more that I could have done to have avoided this chain of events?

To be frank, I didn’t cope very well either.

I had a lot of anger because I could not express myself without fear of retribution while the disease was active and rampant. I had to learn to tolerate the harsh words that made my heart bleed, telling myself again that it was the disease, not the person. I spent so many days crying from helplessness, wondering how this story would move forward.

And at a point, I identified that I was in crisis. At that point I had to reach out to my friends and loved ones, spent days on end texting and calling and talking to others to help ease the burden I held to myself, because I had to make sure I was mentally and emotionally ready to ride out the waves of anger and hurt that were sure to come.

It’s not a story I am ready to talk about openly on the Internet, mostly because it d
oesn’t involve just me, but I can say this much – it isn’t easy.
I write this as a reminder to myself that this too will pass.

That this individual is now getting the help that is required. And that maybe one day, we can all move on together with our lives and continue to forge ahead.

In the meantime, I am very thankful for my support system – without them I would have crashed and burned, and this would be a very different story.

There are days where the outlook still seems very bleak, but I know I have to find the strength to be someone else’s strength today, and tomorrow, and the day after – until perhaps one day, we will break through this mental barrier together.

In the meantime, I will be there.

That’s a promise.

Aida Zabidi
It's been years since I've taken an exam that matters.

I had been complacent in my career for years, not willing to attempt the next step towards progression - perhaps in some ways because I had enough turbulence in my personal life that I was not willing to rock the boat any further. I was content in the way things were in my daily life, with my friends and activities, and perhaps, I was reluctant to make the sacrifices to change the status quo.

The thought of change can be one of the biggest barriers to oneself, and yet it's something so essential. 

I always wanted to embrace life, to challenge myself, and yet I held back with the same efforts with my professional life.

The exam itself wasn't a turning point.

It was an attempt to move forward, a progression that I had waited many years to even attempt. A leap over that stumbling block inside my head, one that told me that I would not be able to cope, that there were others who were more qualified.

As I attempted the answers, I realized how uncertain I was, and how little I knew - and it did not seem right to me that I should be content with my state of hesitancy. It was not fair to me, and it was not fair to the patients that I see on a daily basis, and whatever the outcome, it was a reminder that I should continue to better myself.

I was surprised I made it through the exam, one out the twenty plus odd candidates out of the seventy who sat for the exam, many who I felt were more knowledgeable than I.

I did not make it through the interview, but it was okay.

The attempt at the exam was a start.

Now to keep the momentum going!
Aida Zabidi
First time to Bali, first holiday of the year - a good start of many firsts! Bali seemed to run on island time, which was great to start with - until I realized how short the days were. It was nice to chill and wake up to our gorgeous villa and have people actually make us breakfast, which really made me realize how much of a difference it made to my mental state to wake up surrounded by such lush beauty.

It may have rained most days we were there, but we made most of the mornings to visit the local spots like the Monkey Forest and the local temples.We wandered around the rice terraces of Ubud, saw some amazing views and got our dose of local culture visiting the temples and the kecak dance.

The sun even came out in the end for our final beach day! Finally had a day of amazing weather - just perfect for the day we had planned for the beach! Karma Kandara has a reputation as the most beautiful beach in Bali (because it's a private beach), and you actually had to access the beach by cable car! We may or may not have gotten a little sunburnt, but it was such a lovely day!

Bali, you've been amazing - looking forward to the next visit! 

Bali 2018 from Aida Zabidi on Vimeo.
Aida Zabidi
“Go after her. 
Fuck, don’t sit there and wait for her to call, go after her because that’s what you should do if you love someone, don’t wait for them to give you a sign cause it might never come, don’t let people happen to you, don’t let me happen to you, or her, she’s not a fucking television show or tornado. 
There are people I might have loved had they gotten on the airplane or run down the street after me or called me up drunk at four in the morning because they need to tell me right now and because they cannot regret this and I always thought I’d be the only one doing crazy things for people who would never give enough of a fuck to do it back or to act like idiots or be entirely vulnerable and honest and making someone fall in love with you is easy and flying 3000 miles on four days notice because you can’t just sit there and do nothing and breathe into telephones is not everyone’s idea of love but it is the way I can recognize it because that is what I do. 
Go scream it and be with her in meaningful ways because that is beautiful and that is generous and that is what loving someone is, that is raw and that is unguarded, and that is all that is worth anything, really.” -Harvey Milk
Aida Zabidi

As we sat and watched the fireworks light up the sky for the sake of company, and the cheer of welcoming a new year, I reflected on how fast the previous year had gone by and how many things had happened.

In all the ups and downs, there was no way to tell how the following year would become - but as always, we go into a new year with hope - hope of new beginnings and the possibility of wonderful things, of continued improvement and of things that may come.

Amidst the crowd sitting on top of Zeara's apartment building, we all ooh and aah as we watch the beautiful display of fireworks, somewhat blocked by the Twin Towers of KL's skyline.

In moments like this, I count my blessings of the past year, and reflect on how much I have to be thankful for. Ringing in the New Year with love and laughter, reflecting on the good things that have happened this past year and wishing for wonderful things for the year ahead.

Here's to 2018! 
Aida Zabidi
I woke up with the alarm, and even in your sleep you reached out to me to pull me close. I smiled as I snuck my head at the curve of your shoulder, enjoying the warmth and your scent. The sudden swell of emotion takes me by surprise, the bubbling happiness inside my heart as I gaze at your face.

Has it really been more than two years?

I marvel that I still feel the same about you as I did before we got married, that we still want to hold hands, and dance with each other and hug, that we still sit next to each other and play the PlayStation with the same enjoyment that we’ve had before. 

That when we fight, it usually ends up in us emphasizing how much we want this relationship to work. That we still make sure we kiss each other before we go to work and before we go to bed. 

Are these our relationship goals? They’re not bad ones to still have, years down the line.

I asked you “Do you love me as much as you did before we got married?” 

“Yes. Maybe more.”

Like the lyrics of a Bon Jovi song, “We got each other, and that’s a lot for love - we’ll give it a shot.” I know that two years is nothing but a drop in the sea of life, and that we'll face more challenges in the years to come, but like how we've committed to this relationship, we'll take everything head on, one day at a time.

Many kisses Behr, until no more kisses remain.