The Spoon Theory

I’d love for all of us to stop judging others on what they do and don’t achieve in life, whether they’re ‘normal’ or ill, or whether they’re ‘like us’ or not. Here’s why: we all carry a unique and limited number of ‘spoons’ to use each day. Let me explain.

The Spoon Theory is a genius analogy coined by Christine Miserandino.

The theory is especially relevant to me because I have a gut condition called Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction. This illness, along with depression, anxiety, a moderate pulmonary stenosis and an underactive thyroid, affects how much I can and can’t do on a daily basis.

The Spoon Theory is a fascinating, simple concept about the limit of physical resources a sick person has. By physical resources, I mean energy stores, muscular strength, the quality of sleep I’m able to get, and bodily malfunctions.

Anyone who sets out to understand the Spoon Theory will benefit from knowing about it, not just those with an illness or those who live with chronically ill people.

 

Time to read

I’ve shared the above two links, hoping you’ll read them now, before continuing with this post. Even if you consider yourself healthy and ‘normal’, please still look at them.

 

More than just a body

As well as the physical capacity of a person, the Spoon Theory can also be applied to a person’s mental and emotional reserves. It certainly applies to all three aspects for me, as I struggle daily to maintain homeostasis within my whole being.

In this age when depression is more widely and openly discussed, and there is greater public awareness about mental health issues, I think this is an important point to remember.

 

Spoon supply

Each day, week, month, brings with it a varied amount of spoon supplies. Life is ever changing and for me, there are rarely a reliable number of spoons at my disposal each day.

If I’ve had more sleep, I have more spoons to use. If my body is being less symptomatic, I have greater concentration and more energy. If my son has been well behaved, I have more mental space to be mindful and keep my depression in check (resulting in a lower likelihood of depressive ‘slumps’). This can also apply to people who are quite well.

So many elements in life use up one’s spoon stores – not just illness. Relationship issues, children, work and many other things take away from each person’s supply. Sometimes those ‘other things’ deplete a person’s spoon supply so much that it leaves them with no spoons to use for him- or her- self at the end of a day.

 

Effects of The Spoon Theory

Maybe, given my medical condition, I aspire to achieve too much, but I’m determined to experience as much as a motivated healthy person in this life. I’m ambitious in spirit but poor physical and mental health has always limited what dreams I can realistically accomplish.

Because of the Spoon Theory, I’m a lot more okay with my limited capacity than I used to be. Discovering the theory brought some freedom into my life. I was able to lower the lofty height of ‘the bar’ I’d always set for myself.

My loved ones have all read about the Spoon Theory and it’s really helped them to manage their expectations of me. This has resulted in a happier, more relaxed Jodie. The funny thing is, when I’m feeling so well supported, I can generally give more back.

 

Got a spoon?

And that’s why I’d love us to stop judging others based on what they do and don’t achieve in life, whether they’re ‘normal’ or ill, or whether they’re ‘like us’ or not.

Everyone has their own number of spoons. Everyone has their own capacities and weaknesses to face, and strengths to deal with life’s challenges.

Why don’t we start thinking about whether we have a spare spoon we can lend to someone (sick or healthy) who doesn’t have as many as they need?

Being given a spoon is one of the greatest gifts anyone could bestow upon me. Thank you to everyone who has ever given me one of their spoons. I’ll always be grateful.

 

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Dumb Things that Happen

The clock is ticking. Time might be my enemy today.

I notice a couple in their SUV, pulling out of a driveway. I wonder if they’re nice, normal people and then decide to take the risk and ask them to give me a lift.

I’m really hot and tired by this stage and I’m worried about getting back to my sister’s house in time to make my appointment, which is an hour’s drive further north than I’ve already travelled.

Today, I have a medical appointment at a hospital three hours north of where I live. I left home early with my three-year-old, in a luggage-packed car and plenty of time on my side. I’m about to get the quickest answer to prayer I’ve ever received.

Let me back up for a minute.

I’ve driven to my sister’s house where my son and I are staying for two nights. After dropping my son off at his Granddad’s to be babysat for the day, I park on the lawn, unlock the front door, drop my handbag (with everything in it) inside the front door and return to the car to unpack.

I’ve taken everything out of the car and piled it up outside the house.

I grasp the lever on the front door. It won’t move. A feeling of dread plummets into my tummy. The door has made a vile move against me on this busy, hot day and self-locked. The bitch!

I pat my hands around my jeans pockets, searching for my mobile phone. I have no phone, car keys, nothing. They’re all in my handbag inside the house. A whispered curse escapes my lips. Of all days, this cannot be happening today!

Panic turns into quick thinking and I start knocking on neighbours’ front doors until I find one who’ll not only open their door to me, but also let me use their phone.

I call my husband. My husband calls my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law calls me. He’s in Perth with the spare key, working. The only other spare key is with my niece and she’s at school. Fortunately, the school isn’t too far away.

I have to leave everything (including my unlocked car and several valuables) and walk to the school. Well, that’s where I think I’m going.

It’s 11am, 33 degrees celsius and I’m already feeling too hot. I’m puffing, I’m scared of burning and also worried about passing out (I have a history of heat exhaustion).

The school feels like a light year away. I’m not even sure I’m heading in the right direction. After about ten minutes, I discover I’m heading in the wrong direction and turn around. And that brings me back to the couple pulling out of a driveway in their SUV.

The couple clearly thinks I’m strange but respond kindly to my request for a lift and take me to my niece’s school. I thank them repeatedly then wait at reception in the air conditioning while the key is being retrieved from my niece in class. I’m feeling impatient but try to relax.

The key is finally in my hot little hands and I start walking back. Two minutes pass and I’m already completely over the heat so I squash my pride and employ my hitchhikers thumb. Another risk.

No one stops. I hope someone is going to pick me up and take me back to my sister’s house – not some unfamiliar place to slaughter me. I try not to think about all the possible things an evil person could do to me.

I’ve been whispering prayers in my head up until this point.

This time I literally pray out loud for the very next car to pick me up. Two seconds later, a car approaches. The driver stops and invites me to sit in the passenger seat. There’s a cute Chihuahua in the back seat. The nice old lady drops me back at my sister’s house.

I unlock the house door, again, go inside, drink copious amounts of water and tear my jeans off to cool down. I still have time on my side. I’ll make it in time for my MRI appointment at the hospital after all.

Far. Out!

 

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The night of the alien

Once upon a time, in a hospital far away, there existed a 13-year-old girl whose life was surrounded by a sphere of mystery and desperation.

The girl’s name was Jodie. The girl was me.

I can’t remember all the details of my history, which is annoying. I’m guessing my memory is patchy because I had intense experiences, permeated by high levels of emotion.

I’ll try to recollect one especially peculiar scene for you…

This scene unfolded during a time when I was debilitated in hospital. My abnormal body had produced an abscess where a jejunostomy tube had been removed from my gut wall. Why did an abscess form? The answer is unknown.

I was lying, supine (as I often did) on my plastic mattress bed, watching TV. It was an average night on the teenager ward at Princess Margaret Hospital. I was reasonably happy because the dressing around my gut ‘hole’ had been fashioned by a skilled nurse. The dressing was secure, so stomach acid wasn’t burning my skin, as it so often did during this particular admission. It was a pretty ordinary hospital stay.

Then average changed and the ordinary got real weird. (Not that I wasn’t already familiar with all sorts of weird…)

Stomach acid began to seep under the expert dressing and sizzle away at my epidermis. The ostomy pouch secured over the hole (for drainage) puffed up with gas. I sensed impending doom.

When weird things happened to my body, as they did on semi-regular occasions, I felt astonished. But this time, I said, ‘Woaaaaah, check this out!’ to my mum who was sitting nearby.

We knew something was quite wrong when the pain started. Mum rushed off for a nurse.

The nurse, who tailed my mum back, loved grotesque human secretions. (Nurses are generally curious, fascinated creatures.) She took the ostomy pouch off. A foreign, disgusting smell filled the air.

What happened next was almost like the alien chest-bursting scene in the movie, Alien (or the rip-off version in Spaceballs). Funny thing was, I didn’t order the daily special.

What erupted out of my gut wasn’t an archetypal alien… But it was green, it was slimy and it was definitely disgusting. My adrenaline level soared. I stared at my tummy, grimacing, as if it were someone else’s bodily dysfunction that I was observing. It bubbled as it exited, like a creature moving of its own accord. The mass discharge happened in a matter of seconds.

Straight after the alien had slimed out of my gut hole, all covered in mucous like a baby – it burst.

The first thing the nurse said was, ‘Coooool!’ All I could say was, ‘FAR OUT!’ My body had produced this. It was surreal to see the abscess on the outside of me, after it had been causing so much trouble inside me.

What followed was a decent clean up effort and animated talk between medical staff. The best thing, after this episode was that I was free, for now, of physical pain. Finally, I had my jejunum back. Now, hydrochloric acid wouldn’t leak out, over my skin and torture me.

I may not have slept so well since The Night of the Alien.

 

 

 

 

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Pledge

I made a pledge to myself a few months ago.

I made this promise because I feel like there’s too much isolated, silent struggle going on out there. It breaks my heart.

My pledge is this:

I will be honest about the struggle I go through with my thoughts and emotions. I will help to overcome the conspiracy of silence. I will speak up.

I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, poor health, relationships, conflict and life in general, in both silence and isolation – it’s horrible. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

My aim is to be transparent and honest with people about the battles I face – to set an example and to encourage community.

I want to be someone who’ll never cease caring about others. I want to be someone who others are willing to confide in. More than anything, I want to somehow help those who are struggling on their own, in silence. Even if all I can do for them is just listen.

I’ve discovered some lonely, silently suffering people in the world and they’re the most beautiful of souls. I’ve made friends with many of them.

I’m passionate in my belief that we’re all meant to be helping each other in this life. Let’s stop judging each other and living individualistic lives. Let’s get our shit together and break out of our boxes to speak up and help someone.

Are you with me?

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Review: The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

Guest Post by Steve Daykin

Jen Campbell must have had a lot of fun compiling this book. The Bookshop Book is a labour of love; it’s part travelogue, part guidebook. Campbell writes of all the weird, unique and sometimes bizarre bookshops and the equally weird, unique and sometimes bizarre people who work in them.

I don’t know if Campbell actually travelled to the hundreds of shops she describes in her book. Nevertheless, she has produced a handy book to stow in your own suitcase if you’re packing for a trip to Europe or North America. It’s a kind of guidebook.

The Bookshop Book is an eclectic mix of interviews with bookstore owners and employees, customers, authors about bookshops, their role as community hubs, and much more. We hear from those who love bookshops and those who dream about them. Those who work in them, and some who live in them and some who do all of these things.

Some people do plain eccentric things, like Marta Minujin, who built a 25 metre high tower of books in Buenos Aires with 30,000 titles of all languages. She called it the Tower of Babel.

We hear, too, from famous authors, like Bill Bryson and Audrey Niffenegger.

The Bookshop Book contains the secret for success for bricks and mortar bookshops trying win in a world of e-books and online retailers. It’s a secret so powerful yet basic, and which many retail outlets – be they bookshops or others – appear to have forgotten. And it’s this: be interesting, and give meaningful customer service.

 

Steve loves reading, writing, excellent coffee, good company, new and secondhand bookshops, libraries, and much more besides!

Find Steve online: twitter.com/Steve_Comet 

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The Road to Self-Publishing

Guest Post by Tania Park

One of the hardest challenges for a writer these days is to get their work published. It appears that if you’re well-known, publishing houses welcome your manuscript. They’ll even contact you and ask you to write a book. Even if the celebrity doesn’t actually pen the words but uses the services of a ghost writer, the publisher’s arms are open wide. A huge amount of money is spent on promoting those types of books. There is only one reason why: money. Publishing houses are in it to make money.

So if you’re a nonentity, even with a literary masterpiece, it’s very difficult to get a publishing house to consider your manuscript.

So where does that leave the newcomer? How many brilliant manuscripts are gathering dust in forgotten drawers with twenty or so refusal slips attached?

There’s one solution: self-publishing. But this has pitfalls and many mistakes are made.

It will cost a certain amount of money – how much will depend on the printer you employ and what sort of expert advice you seek in order to have a professionally finished product. Then there’s the cost of getting your ISBN and barcode, which is a legal requirement.

I self-published a non-fiction book by doing all the work myself. It was the cheapest option. I found a printer who did the layout as part of the production cost. I hired a graphic artist to design the cover. This is a must if you want your book to look professional, unless you have those skills. A professional design will set you back anything from $250 for a basic cover. For a classier cover the cost will be higher.

You must have someone with excellent editorial skills to edit the book. An outsider sees errors you’ve missed even though you’ve read your work a hundred times. My eyes have skipped over simple misspellings repeatedly in my work. Spell check will not find things such as ‘the’ instead of ‘there’ and your brain skips over these simple typos unless you’re diligent in checking every word of every sentence. A professional editor will cost you at least a thousand dollars but it will be money well spent.

I recently read a self-published book that was edited by a ‘friend.’ The grammar is atrocious and the lack of proper punctuation is mind-boggling. The author paid an overseas publishing house to publish the book. So the publishers did what they were paid for – they published a raw manuscript. Some less than ethical publishing houses don’t care what the standard is like, for they received a substantial sum of money. Be very wary of these cowboy outfits that will publish your work for a one off payment of only $7,000.

My first book was successful and we managed to sell all copies. It looked professional but still I found at least four errors in the finished product. These were errors I’d missed repeatedly and so had other people who checked it for me.

I was involved in producing an anthology of short stories using the same method. The book was first class. But then we come to a major issue with self-publishing – selling.

Marketing a self-published book is harder than writing it and even harder than getting it published. Never make the mistake of thinking it will be a breeze. We had 300 copies of the short story anthology printed at a cost of around $10 a copy. It doesn’t sound like a large number but the books take up a lot of room and we still have at least 100 copies stashed in boxes – gathering dust.

I have just self-published my first novel, Mistaken, but this time I’ve used the services of a professional group. I’ve received advice from professional editors and technical producers, a cover designed by a professional that receives nothing but positive comments and every detail of book production is explained. The book is printed by a company that has outlets all over the world. The beauty of this method is that the books are printed on demand. I don’t have to order a print run of a certain number, which is the traditional method. I can order a single book if I wish or as many as I think I can sell. Of course the more you order at any one time, the cheaper each copy is. My initial order was for 100 copies. They were on my doorstep within ten days. I sold them all so my second order was for the same number. This doesn’t leave you with boxes of un-saleable books. The cost of my book being uploaded to more than one e-book supplier is included in the single up front fee. I don’t have the hassle.

I own the book. I own the rights to printing. I make the decisions for every single aspect of production and am responsible for the marketing, although I am amazed on how many websites my book is advertised. And it didn’t cost me anywhere near $7000.00. Even better, it is a local company that has a world-wide customer base. Everything is done by email. I didn’t even personally meet anyone from the company until I hand-delivered the first copy of my book.

I am so ecstatic with the completed product that my second book is now in the throes of production. I need to now market my book. All I need is a marketing company and ideas on how to sell it. Any offers?

 

Tania lives in Busselton, WA and has been writing for 10 years. Her second novel, Retribution, will be available soon.

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My Writing Process

Thanks to Danielle Carey for this epic tag :o).

 

What am I working on at the moment? 

If you take a bird’s eye view of one month of my work, you’ll find me writing blog articles, adding words to my novel, jotting down long form story ideas, drafting up a biographical article or two, editing for writer friends, beta reading, weaving words of poetry and spinning stories in short form for competitions.

So, what am I working on at the moment? Everything!

 

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I haven’t nailed myself to a definite genre (yet?). I’ve been writing for three short years and still consider myself an amateur. In that time I’ve experimented with: new adult, young adult, sci-fi, speculative, romance, memoir, thriller and mystery. I’ve enjoyed writing in all these genres and often, I mix up two or three genres.

I hope that my work is different from popular fiction in that it explores realms of profound thought and emotion. If my writing is of a high standard, intriguing, compelling and emotive, then I will consider my job well done.

 

Why do I write what I do?

I write blog posts and non-fiction articles to explore what I think about a topic or question, or to put a memory into context. I then share these with the hope of benefiting others. I like to retell experiences and explain what I’ve learnt. It feels beneficial to my soul, much like journaling.

I enjoy writing prose and, like many writers, aspire to publish a novel or two. I find creating and understanding characters to be the most rewarding aspect of long form prose writing.

I write poetry because I am in love with this form of creative expression. I like to achieve a rhythm with words and enjoy the abstract beauty of how words can play together on a page. I’m a romantic at heart. All romantics love poetry :o).

I love to write short stories because sometimes an idea is only a flash of inspiration and it doesn’t need a longer form to be fully developed. I find it satisfying to wrap up a story in 3000 words or less. Having a young child still on my hands, I find writing in short form much more achievable and rewarding compared to novel writing.

 

How does my writing / creative process work?

I can’t start one piece of writing, work exclusively on it until the end and then start the next piece. I just don’t work that way. I’m a multi-tasker, probably because I lose focus easily and get restless with how long a single writing project takes. I’m also a generalist. I like to have my ten fingers submerged in ten different projects.

Rather than working on one writing project at a time, I work on many – all at the same time. This keeps me interested and enthused about writing. It means I don’t have just one project and nothing to choose from (because then, I would always choose nothing). Instead, I have roughly five pieces of work to choose from at any one time. As such, I never end up choosing to do nothing in the time I’ve allocated to writing.

I have to listen to music while I write. Music is essential to keep me focussed. It creates a much needed sound barrier between my concentrating brain and ambient noise. Music draws me into the world I’m creating and inspires me with ideas. I can’t write – or live – without it.

And now over to Mona, Christian, Lisa and Ted.

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A Literary Heroine

Book love

In the late eighties, Obernewtyn, by Australian author Isobelle Carmody, opened up a new fantasy genre to young adults.

Fantasy has become popular among young readers over recent years with its sci-fi, supernatural and post-apocalyptic themes.

When I was 14, I borrowed a copy of book one in Isobelle’s The Obernewtyn Chronicles from my English teacher. I became an immediate fan of Isobelle’s work, as did two of my girlfriends. We devoured everything she’d written.

Isobelle was a key author who sparked in me a great love for stories. So you can imagine how I felt when I met her, after hearing her speak at Margaret River Reader’s and Writer’s Festival (MRRWF) in May 2015.

Until this year, I knew nothing personal about the famed Isobelle Carmody. It turned out that I had a lot in common with her.

 

Writing for young adults

Isobelle loves the adolescent voice because it is filled with what she describes as a ‘vivid fear’. ‘Teenagers fluctuate from feeling in control to feeling powerless,’ she said.

This tipping back and forth between feelings of power and powerlessness is something that adults can also identify with and it’s likely the reason adults, not just teenagers, also enjoy her fiction.

 

Maybe curiosity didn’t kill anything

An engaging and inspiring speaker, Isobelle entertained us with funny life stories that revealed her curious mind.

She loves doubtful people because, she says, doubt indicates to her that they’re thinkers. ‘People who are certain about life scare me,’ she said.

To Isobelle, every person is a mystery. She plays out, in her mind, different scenarios of how the people she meets would react in fictional settings.

She has a deep understanding of people. As such, throughout her stories Isobelle has successfully created authentic, loveable characters. She is certain of what her characters would and wouldn’t do, would and wouldn’t say. This is a major reason why her stories are effective.

 

Excellence created by obsession

Until I heard Isobelle talk, I believed that achieving a balance of everything in all aspects of life is what nurtures good mental and physical health. Isobelle may have convinced me otherwise.

She works according to her obsessions and she’s obsessed with The Obernewtyn Chronicles.

Given the success of all her books, I can’t help but think that maybe living and breathing the fictional stories I write is what’s required for them to succeed. Having permission to obsess over stories appeals to me – what a way to escape and enjoy life! (Maybe my addictive personality isn’t all that bad after all…)

 

Philosophy in fiction

Not only is Isobelle greatly influenced by the weather, (rain and storms are her favourites) she’s also a philosophical thinker. Underlying her work are always the questions; can people better themselves? Do people ever really change?

Isobelle is on a life quest to understand courage and bravery. People who are courageous fascinate her. She is intrigued by the dynamics of how bravery works. She said there is a great paradox in that; to be brave, you don’t feel brave, but fearful.

 

Lion heart

When Isobelle told the MRRWF audience about some fearful situations she’d lived through, her interviewer remarked that she seemed like a very brave person. Isobelle’s response was, ‘when being brave, you don’t see it that way. At the time, all you feel is fear’.

Isobelle often puts herself in the way of fear. She said she feels most alive when she’s afraid. Her words resonated with me as I thought about the most exciting moments from my life and how scared I was during those times but also, how those moments were worth the trade of courage.

‘When we’re vulnerable and afraid, we’re most sensitive to our environment. The fear strips a layer off us and makes us see the world with new eyes,’ said Isobelle. I hadn’t heard such a simple yet profound, and inspiring, statement in a long time.

 

Sacrifice

There’s no doubt that great sacrifice is needed to be a writer. For Isobelle, writing has brought her everything she thought she was giving up to write – and more. What an encouragement!

 

The world is full of lovely Creatives

Isobelle has only ever written for personal pleasure (and her daughter) but she is deeply grateful to have created stories that have also brought delight to others.

My impression of this long-time, personal literary heroine was wholly positive. A gentle, curious spirit, full of courage and wisdom, Isobelle was a delight to meet. She exceeded my expectations and caused me to buzz inside. I walked home on Cloud 9.

(Isobelle’s a self-confessed hermit, yet she came to MRRWF. Of all the places in Australia, she came to Margaret River in WA! I felt incredibly blessed by the odds.)

 

Next up

Isobelle has returned home to finish The Red Queen, in what she calls ‘lock down’. This seventh novel in The Obernewtyn Chronicles is due to be released in November. That’s just enough time to read the previous six books if you haven’t already!

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How to Respond

Part 5 of 5 – NPD series

 

Damage control

Psychological abuse creates emotional wounds and later, leaves scars. The damage can’t be seen but it is real and it is serious.

As I said in an earlier post, victimisation is not a reflection of how strong, or weak, someone is.

Remember that just because you wouldn’t get sucked into a narcissist’s game, doesn’t mean one of your friends won’t. Each of us is unique and we all struggle with different issues throughout our lives. Some of the issues other people struggle with will seem foreign to us. Try to understand.

 

Be gentle

If you know someone who’s being psychologically abused, please take it seriously. She needs supportive friends to help her through this hard time.

I detest the modern saying, ‘toughen up princess’. It’s so insensitive. It completely dismisses a person’s feelings. Telling your abused friend this (or anything like it) will just add to the self-hate she’s already feeling.

Please don’t highlight the things she may have done wrong, unless she has specifically asked you to!

 

How the victim is feeling

Your friend might be feeling worthless after a narcissist is done with her. Nobody feels good after being mistreated, even if it’s clear the offender was being a complete jerk.

She’s probably going through an episode of depression and feeling more than a little red raw.

She’ll likely also be feeling very stupid for not realising a narcissist had been taking advantage of her. She might be beating herself up for it.

I can assume what your friend might be feeling because I’ve been there and I’ve felt all these emotions.

 

Encourage and highlight

Encourage your friend to look at the positives she can take from her bad experience. Help her to develop tools she can keep on hand in her relationship tool box.

Highlight to her that her vulnerable traits are actually qualities! We don’t need a world with more hardened hearts. We need to nurture the soft-hearted.

Soft-hearted people feel emotions deeply. Be conscious of this and be patient. Your friend needs time to heal.

Gently help your friend to move on by being the most supportive, present friend you can be.

I needed nurturing and that’s exactly what my true friends gave me. They gave me all the love in the world.

 

This concludes my five part NPD series. Thanks for tuning in!

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I was a Victim

Part 4 of 5 – NPD series

Character traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder = susceptibility not strength

It wasn’t neediness that attracted a narcissist to me (although it’s likely that neediness does attract narcissists). And I wasn’t wearing a sign that said ‘abuse me’, either. In other words, that awful treatment I received at the hands of a narcissist? I wasn’t ‘asking for it’.

The honourable character traits that draw a narcissist to us can be the very traits that make us vulnerable to a narcissist’s abuse.

The narcissist targets people who are compassionate, forgiving, sensitive, trusting and loyal. Although having these attributes make it easy to fall prey, they do not make us weak. The difference between being weak and being strong comes down to whether your heart is unguarded or guarded.

 

Unguarded heart

In my experience of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) I left my heart unguarded and that is why I ended up so hurt. It wasn’t because of who I was or who I am.

I refuse to believe that we need to change ourselves in order to repel and prevent abuse from a narcissist. I’m convinced we can remain authentic to our character and be strong and wise to ward of any bad treatment.

I refuse to harden my heart just because someone hurt me. I’m soft hearted and I’ll never give that up. I’ve simply become a wiser version of myself. I’ve learned from my mistake and moved on.

 

Bad timing

I met said narcissist at a course where I was looking to establish new connections. I realise now that I was too open. I was caught up in the excitement of meeting new people (I do love to socialise).

I was also going through a lonely, bored season of life (but that’s a whole other story). In the beginning, this new friendship was exciting and fun. I let feelings distort my perspective.

 

Recognise red flags

To my detriment, I didn’t acknowledge the red flags. I let caution slip and stupidly left myself wide open to hurt.

The experience reminded me that in any relationship, we must stop and listen to our instincts. What’s your heart telling you about this new person? Be cautious; tread carefully.

 

My worst me

There’s no doubt about it, I reacted badly in response to how I was treated. The key word there is reacted; I said awful knee-jerk words of anger that I’m terribly ashamed of having said. I was hurt and confused by NPD games.

I’ve accepted responsibility for my unpleasant behaviour – there’s no excuse for it. And I also think, hell, no one deserves to be treated like I was. I wouldn’t wish such treatment on my worst enemy (even if I had one).

As a friend of a narcissist, I became someone I didn’t like and others didn’t like. I wasn’t being a true representation of myself. This is my biggest regret – losing my true self (for a short while).

 

Regrets

I also regret that I didn’t listen to the people around me who were telling me this friend wasn’t worth my effort.

At the time, I didn’t know NPD was playing with me but I still should have opted out and put myself first. I could have guarded my heart by withdrawing from the relationship.

I wouldn’t have ignored this friend (I find it hard to ignore anyone) but I certainly would have kept him at a safe distance.

 

Learning curve

I chose to believe the best in my friend. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a best in him to begin with. It was all just ‘smoke and mirrors’, as the saying goes.

I’ve learnt something I deeply wish wasn’t true and it’s this; you can’t believe the best in everyone. There are actually people out there who aren’t worth your time, effort and heart. Better to let just them pass you by.

 

Choose your thoughts

There are several reasons why we leave our hearts unguarded. Inexperience is one reason.

Experience equips us with tools for our future. Learning by doing is unavoidable. I encourage you to view a bad friendship experience as a valuable life lesson and harness the wisdom you’ve gained from it. Put what you’ve learnt in your relationship tool kit.

Try to see the positives from your experience with NPD. Dwelling on the negatives will only make your heart bitter and bitterness will rot your soul.

 

One more thing

My words of advice to you are; don’t rush into new friendships; tread cautiously. Above all, don’t bare your heart to anyone who doesn’t reveal some of his or her own heart to you.

 

How do you respond to a victim of narcissism?

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Reader, Writer, Warrior