Trigger Warning…

Trigger Warning...

Is it just me or do most people feel a twinge of unease when they read a post on social media that starts with ‘Trigger Warning – Mental Health’? Am I the only one who closes my eyes and keeps scrolling? What is it about that heading that, well, triggers me before I even read the post? I don’t have any mental health issues – which is surprising given my upbringing. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything other than anxiety brought on by menopause. Although I have my own theory about that. My diagnosis reads differently. I think my circumstances – at the time – brought on severe anxiety. Moving to the opposite side of the country and thrust into a life I never expected – throw in the ex from hell who makes the grim reaper seem like a charming dinner guest – leaving behind my own family and friends in the process. It was the stuff of nightmares — my own Truman Show (but that’s another book). Menopause was just the cherry on top of my iceberg. Underneath the surface, the layers of crap seemed endless. I think menopause was made more traumatic in my case because of what else was happening. My experience gives ‘the change of life’ a whole new level of truth and meaning — I should probably be a case study in someone’s thesis.

The stigma around mental health issues is a thing of the past, isn’t it? I had post-natal depression (self-diagnosed) a hundred years ago. Counselling would have helped me immensely then, but at the time that shit was taboo. You didn’t verbalise your feelings – certainly not to a stranger – nor speak about the critic inside your head who told you daily ‘you are a shit mother’. Crazy talk like that would alienate you at best, have you committed at worst and, at the very worst, you’d be prescribed meds without being committed. And if that happened, you might as well get your affairs in order. You were a walking headcase. No hope. Full stop.

Nowadays we all brag about our meds. I think Zoloft is the answer to world peace — and a happy marriage. Word to the unwise. If your husband’s idiosyncrasies make you want to take the lid off your Thermomix and stick your head in at 120 degrees then, trust me, you need Zoloft.

Mia Freedman told us recently on one of her No Filter Podcasts that Lexapro saved her life. She loves it. Her candid revelations about her anxiety put her a step higher on my ladder. For a minute there I thought she was being paid by the pharmaceutical company, but then she assured us she wasn’t. I believe her. I know a kindred spirit when I hear one. Decades ago, she would have been banned from the airwaves for that kind of blatant madness. Things change. Thank God.

My stigma is gone. I think. I am not opposed to mental health issues and suffering. I was brought up with plenty of mental issues in my own family. Some of my closest relatives were just plain mad and should probably never have procreated. Some of my best friends have been narcissists, are bi-polar, have OCD or ADD. I get it. I was married for two decades to a man I didn’t really know as it turned out. He was leading a double life. Not in a Ted Bundy kind of way – as far as I know – but an imposter nonetheless. Two people in one, and I don’t mean a Gemini. He was one person to the world — me — and a completely different person on the inside. You can read about that in my book Every Shitty Thing. Puts a new spin on sleeping with the enemy. Indeed. If that’s not the epitome of a mental health issue – his not mine – then I’m not sure what is. And if I didn’t go crazy from the whole experience, then you can all have faith in the strength of your own human spirit.

Mind you, it did give me some newfound issues. Next level head-fuck, I call it. Any stigma I had about counselling – and I did – I beat down with a big pretend stick. I was desperate. If counselling could help me through that hellish chapter of my life, I would acquire verbal diarrhoea for anyone who would listen to every sordid detail. I was over sweeping things under the carpet. Airing dirty laundry would be my new state of being. I went to counselling for a long time, but never once was it suggested I needed medication. Just when I thought divorce had tipped me over the edge, it turned out I wasn’t a basket case after all. I was no different from anyone else experiencing that kind of loss. And yet, the same counsellor, years later in a phone conversation, told me — well, strongly urged me — to take Zoloft. “You need it, Marce, to cope with your umm… new life.” She said.

Can you appreciate the significance of that statement!

Not my dysfunctional childhood, nor my brutal teenage years — not pregnancy, or post-natal depression, or divorce and secret double lives, not my brothers’ suicide (or wanting my own), addiction, not the traumatic death of my mother or a million other shitty things have ever warranted the need for me to take medication. And yet, here I am on Zoloft, convinced that if I stop taking it I’ll probably go mad once and for all, or fall into the abyss of some subliminal dimension. My husband will surely divorce me. I’m convinced he prefers me medicated. Some days I’d like to medicate him. If only. The thought of living without Zoloft gives me a new kind of anxiety. Ironic really.

From now on when I see a trigger warning about mental health, I’m not going to scroll past at warp speed. I’m a compassionate person. I have empathy. If it sparks my interest, I’m going to read it. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe I’ll leave a wise comment that could make someone’s day, make someone feel better. That would be a nice thing to do. Let’s face it, my life has prepped me for every trigger warning possible to man. I doubt much could unnerve me now.

As Gandhi said: My life is my teaching. I think he’d want me to pay it forward — the experience — if that can help others. I’m pretty sure he’d also tell me to stop taking Zoloft. Not happening. Ever.

Marcia Abboud

Becoming Invisible

Becoming Invisible

Before this life, I had another life. And before that, another. In fact, I can say with certainty I’ve had at least five lives during my 55 years. I didn’t realise – while leading these lives – that the day would come when I’d look back in wonderment – but mostly bewilderment – and think: who was that? Little did I know one day I’d see my past lives with such clarity and revelation that I’d wish with all my 55 birthday candles I could turn back time just so I could slap my idiot previous self really hard. I’d do more than that. I’d tell myself some home truths about the things I now think are priorities and what really matters. Living in the moment was a buzzword to me back then. What other moment was there? Ridiculous concept, I thought.

Before my current life of being a full-time writer, a self-published author, a third wife, a grandmother twice over, and a semi-hermit who sometimes doesn’t say a word for an entire day, I was a time management business coach. I wore suits and high heels – never less than four-inches. I’d visit CEOs in their plush corporate offices, sit with them and tell them all the ways they could manage their time better, and how to master Outlook more effectively. They would hang on my every word – lots of words – and thank me profusely for ‘saving them’ as they shook my hand and walked me out. I exuded the confidence of an expert because I was one.

Was that really me?

Today I can’t even get my tasks working properly in Outlook. I can’t remember. After years of living and breathing and dreaming in Outlook, my brain has retained none of it. How is that possible? Thank God for Google. And my precious heels — all gone. Given away to younger legs who can still walk in them and give them the respect they deserve.

Not my actual point.

This is just one example of the stark contrasts of my lives. I led a double life for a time. It lasted about five years. By day — weekdays — I was a devoted mother and wife who ran a household like a drill sergeant. I baked, and cooked delicious meals that were the envy of all the school mums. By night — weekends — I was a Diva, a Queen of Sydney’s gay dance party scene. My weekends consisted of elaborate dinner parties, rubbing shoulders with A-list celebrities at A-list events, and I was infamous for my fabulous outfits and chameleon persona.

(Possibly the cover of my next book)

Now that’s a book worth writing. And a life I barely recognise now. Surely that wasn’t me? I’d best hurry up and write it before my mind is permanently blank.

I’ve said it before. I’ve written about it and read about it. Something happens to a woman when she turns 50. More accurately, when she hits menopause. I find the whole topic tedious and boring, frustrating and melancholy, yet I keep talking about it. Because if I don’t, I might fade away completely into oblivion, vanishing without a trace.

I remember years ago – very pre-menopause – watching Oprah interview Cher. They were on the topic of growing older and what it means to each of them. Oprah asked Cher with warm content: “Don’t you just love the wisdom that comes with getting older?” Cher hesitated, looked at Oprah pokerfaced and replied: “Fuck wisdom, I’ll take young.”

Oprah laughed. So did I. Oh come on! Cher, you are ageless I thought. What’s your problem? But now I understand what she meant. No amount of money or fame can save you from the hell of menopause.

It’s all relative.

Which brings me to my point.

Recently I went to a 50th birthday dinner. It was a friend of my husband’s; they had been to school together. Besides one couple, I didn’t know any of the other 40 or so guests. The restaurant was more like a venue. I could imagine a lavish wedding reception taking place. Long, immaculately set tables filled the room, and each table was full of people. I was taken aback by the size of it — and so busy for a Sunday night. I hadn’t expected anything so grand. I was grateful I’d had my hair done that day, because my outfit felt lame in comparison to every other woman in the room. With my 20-plus-kilo, post-diva body, I take little joy in getting dressed these days. Functions make me anxious. It’s hard getting ready when you’re allergic to mirrors.

As I took my seat, I did my best to exhale my self-consciousness away. At least I wasn’t the oldest woman at the table — possibly — or the biggest — maybe… Introductions were made and pleasant conversations ensued. Everyone was lovely of course, and it wasn’t long before I relaxed. I had a flashback — one of several that night, like an LSD trip that lasted way too long. Another story for another time…

I thought about my 20s, when I was married to my first husband. I would have full-blown panic attacks if I knew a function was imminent. It was hell in the leadup to the actual event — so bad at times I’d cancel altogether. When I did make it, I’d relax soon enough and shake my head at my stupidity, wasting so much time for nothing — only to do it all over again when the next invitation arrived.

I’m so glad those days are gone.

Hours later I’m sitting at the table alone. Everyone was mingling, talking to their friends, including my husband. Most of them had known each other for years. I’d done my share of mingling, so it wasn’t like I was being a wallflower — just observing for a while, taking it all in. And then the revelation: not one person that night had asked me the obvious: “So Marcia, what do you do? What’s your story?” Questions I always ask when I meet someone new.

I was asked two questions that night, by two different women. If I had children — yes ­— and how I knew the birthday boy — through my husband. ­Then they smiled and turned away. End of questions.

I’d never felt more invisible.

I bet when Michelle Obama wrote Becoming, she wasn’t thinking about ‘invisible’. Let’s face it, a woman like that could never be invisible, but that’s not to say she doesn’t feel it some days. We are roughly the same age. She may write a sequel. I’d read that too.

These days I can smile during my flashbacks. That’s progress. I thought about my other life. How, in my diva days, I would have owned that room. Every man’s eyes would have been on me, and every wife would have been cursing me. I’d be surrounded, telling stories of adventures and shenanigans, making people belly laugh as they hung on my every word for all the right reasons – living life. Certainly not managing time!

Lost in images of my former fabulous self wearing a ravishing purple corset I once owned and loved more than any other piece of clothing that would no longer fit my thigh let alone my waist, I glanced up to see my husband staring at me. Engulfed in a group of people way down the other end of the room, his smile reached his eyes as it always does when he looks at me, the love in them as obvious as the glasses he wears. Sometimes it shocks me, the love I feel from him, for him.

Invisible I am not. To him. And they are the only eyes I need on me now.

I snap back into the present as he motions for me to join him. I secretly hope he’s ready to leave, so I can at last take off my bra. It’s late — way past my bedtime. I’m excited about the next day because it’s school holidays and my granddaughter is coming for a sleepover.

Is this really my life?

Yes, it is. And I’ve never felt happier.

I just hope that in 20 years I won’t be looking back on this life wanting to slap myself for all the daydreaming… if I remember!


This post is dedicated to my best man friend,
John Scott
I know you get me, despite being a man!

Marcia Abboud

Have We Met?

Have We Met

I need to get something off my chest. I’m going to come clean about my husband — well, about something he said. Should he be scared right now? No, of course not, but I know a few husbands who would be with that opening. Let’s face it, if your partner were a writer or blogger then everything about your relationship could and probably will become fodder at some point. It may not be in an obvious way, like I’m doing right now — it could be disguised as fiction. Unethical? Maybe. It’s the risk you take.

A note to the wise… If you marry a writer, get a pre-nuptial — you’ll probably need protection!

Still, as a writer I want to use my powers for good not evil. Mostly. And I have ‘permission’ for this one — sort of.

My husband is a constant source of entertainment to me. And I don’t mean in a stand-up comedy kind of way, although he is very funny and cracks me up. No. I mean his idiosyncrasies.

For years now I’ve been making a mental checklist of all the things I could blog about. He is a trove of material waiting to be used. Sometimes when we’re arguing or he’s doing something peculiar, I drift off and ‘write’ whole chapters in my head. I come up with all kinds of ideas for blog posts. You’d think I would write more of them and post more regularly like a proper blogger, but I’m lazy and blogging isn’t my forte. It’s my procrastination. Something I do instead of writing my next book. I have a folder on my hard drive full of one-page word documents. No content, just headings — triggers to help me remember. If I don’t create a blank document with a heading immediately, I fear the idea will be gone forever. Like my fading youth and expanding waistline, my foggy brain is a scary part of mid-life existence. I really should have started writing earlier. Who knows how long I’ll be able to?

On days when my fuse is short and my husband seems to be on steroids, I remind him of my powers: “You know I’m going to blog about that one day, right?” In the beginning he’d look at me with a poker face, then he’d crack up — start chuckling, not thinking for a moment that I would be so shameless as to chronicle our relationship. Nowadays there’s no laughter, just the poker face. He knows better now. He knows the drill. He's read the book. Anything is possible.

My husband is not the kind of man who likes to be on public display, unless it’s oozing with love and affection. He’s a softy like that. He’s had social media for years, yet only recently added a photo to some of his profiles, LinkedIn aside. That’s how private he is. Or he could be a stalker, now that I think about it!

But my bluff’s never actually been called until now.

It happened recently — in the kitchen as I recall. And I shall recall it. Forever.

I was having a fat day. Now, I’d like to say that I’ve let go of self-criticism and embraced the forward thinking of our modern-day sisterhood. The lessons. The affirmations. The inspirational quotes. The hardcore fact, in a nutshell, that we are not the sum of our dress size. And although I’m at an age where I can embrace this truth, I wish I could own the wisdom of it — the wisdom that supposedly comes in midlife, or should. But this is me I’m talking about. Fifty years of talking shit about myself (both internal and external) when it comes to fat days has and always will be a part of my vocabulary. It’s a hard habit to break. Not fat days — fat days happen — but putting them into words. I’ve worked long and hard on my internal dialogue, trying to control what comes out of my mouth, but some days I fail.

This was one of those days. And when I said whatever I said — I can’t really remember what – that’s the thing about talking rubbish, the monotony isn’t memorable. And if I feel that way, imagine how my husband feels. His reply was “Come here, you sexy chunky Mumma,” in his best seductive voice, and he pulled me in for a kiss.

Oh. My. God.

He did not just say that? I reeled backwards. Shocked at his words. He’s never actually said anything like that to me before, joking or otherwise. The word chunky has never left his mouth, not as a description of me. I was momentarily gobsmacked. I had a brain snap. Does he think I’m fat now too? Do I repulse him? Since when does my husband call me names?

“Umm, hello. Have we met!? Are you insane!? You don’t use words like that on someone like me. Have you even read my book?” And I proceeded for the next 10 minutes — and three weeks — to tell him all the reasons why his off-the-cuff remark was detrimental to my state of being, not to mention a massive trigger. Me talking shit about myself is one thing; do not join the conversation, husband.

Translation: I am fat.

Over-sensitive? Pretty much. Irrational? Not when you’ve been conditioned the way I have.

For example — and this is just one of hundreds of examples I could give — at 16, a guy I really liked once said to me “You have such a pretty face, Marce, but you’re built for comfort not speed. I will never have sex with you. We can be friends though.” I smiled, said nothing, just nodded in agreement and walked away. Well I didn’t ask dude, but thanks for the heads up! Arsehole.

Broken. I probably cried for a week over that one. Still, it could have been worse. Most boys that age take what they can get. His honesty was a form of chivalry, I suppose. But those words and his delivery… You need to work on that dipshit. I wish I could’ve said, back then.

Words have power all right. But perhaps, like the saying goes, it was the feeling left behind that held the real power.

Clearly, I didn’t forget anything!

After my husband said the chunky word, I contemplated my reaction (much later). He wasn’t being mean, I know that. He’s a sensitive soul himself, caring and very considerate of women’s issues, whatever they are. He was probably just repeating me, playfully mocking, being cute to lighten the mood and make me feel loved. Instead I took it as an insult and it stirred up all the past shitty fat issues that, frankly, I wish I could forget. But even after all these years, words still hurt.

My husband didn’t leave me feeling rejected or anything. I’m wise enough to know the meaning of context. But I have a feeling he’ll be choosing his words much more wisely in the future.

Marcia Abboud

The Vagina Wars

The Vagina Wars

And other shitty things about menopause you won’t find from Google…

I’ve been hesitant to write about menopause in any explicit detail, even though it’s been over seven years since I experienced the first signs. I do mention it in my book – Every Shitty Thing– briefly, in throw away comments as I grasp for humour. As if there’s something funny about it. There isn’t. I worried that if I harped on I’d bore my audience to death, especially the women who haven’t reached that stage of their life yet. In fact, I bet every non-menopausal woman has already stopped reading this — if they even started. Menopause is just not that interesting. Unless you are in the thick of it, you don’t give a shit. I didn’t before menopause. I used to think “Ah whatever, I’ll deal with that when the time comes. It’s just another part of life. How bad can it be? I can’t wait for the the period dramas to be over and I don’t get them anymore.”

Wrong thinking!

“Careful what you wish for, love…” My mother’s favourite cliché still haunts me from childhood. She’s been gone for 13 years but I swear she still whispers that in my ear.

The things I would sacrifice if only I could bleed again on a monthly basis…

I’m not going to worry about boring anyone or harping on about it anymore. It’s time I started paying it forward about menopause. My experience, which has been traumatic at times, has been one of my biggest learnings. How can I not share it if it helps someone avoid a few pitfalls, or at least makes them more aware?

When you Google menopause, one of the first things you see is this:


Doesn’t sound too dramatic does it?

What is should say is this:

Menopause is signalled by a consistent 12 months since your last period. Occasional missed periods could go on for years. The first time it happens it will scare the shit out of you because you’ll think you’re pregnant. You will purchase numerous pregnancy tests, convinced that you are. The anxiety could cause a total breakdown. You do not want a baby at age 45, or any other year thereafter. This process will happen several times before you realise it must be the first signs of menopause, i.e. perimenopausal.


They forgot the anxiety, mood swings and depression on this list.

Firstly, back to statistic 1.

Common symptoms include hot flushes (as we say in Australia, not flashes) and vaginal dryness – we’ll get to the latter in a minute.

Hot flushes are not what you imagine (overly warm, sweating more than usual). You will literally feel like you’re on fire. Jumping into the mouth of a volcano is an apt description. You will, for the first time, understand what your ancestors, the witches burned at the stake, went through and you’ll empathise for real. You will want to rip your clothes off — and you do, so be careful if you work in a public place. You will have little warning of the impending fire — 10 seconds at best — and it can happen more than a dozen times a day. Good luck if you’re in a business meeting. You will never wear long sleeves ever again — definitely not a coat, even if you live in Siberia. Air-con is your new best friend.

But trust me, the fire is the least of your problems.

You will eventually, almost certainly, resort to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) even though you swore you never would, just to make it stop. The decision will mess with your head, but not as much as the mess to your body. The trials and tribulations of HRT are long and arduous. You will try numerous types — there are hundreds — until you find one that works. In the meantime, depending on which HRT you’ve been taking, you may experience weight gain, nausea, dizziness, panic attacks (even if you’ve never had them before), weird abdominal pain (and other random pains), and even possibly changes in the cells that eventually lead to cancer (mine was pancreatic). Of course, you won’t know any of that unless your blood has been drawn for testing more times than you can count. Your doctor is now your best friend. The upside: the fire is gone at last.


Before we move on to the vagina wars – because that will need an entire page – I’ll touch on, briefly, anxiety and mood swings, and what to expect.

This new hell will have you believe you’ve been possessed by a demon entity while you were sleeping. You have no other explanation for your change in personality. You don’t know all the facts about menopause yet, even if you’ve read it all and think you do. You are in denial. Everyone else is the arsehole, not you. Your fears and insecurities are on steroids. If you thought they were bad before, you’re in big trouble now. If you were fearless and self-assured before, you will change. People, especially your family, mostly your children no matter how old they are, will become the enemy — and you’ll question why you ever had them in the first place. You hope a plane crashes into your house and kills everyone, but mostly you. Your morbid thoughts depress you, and so does everything else. Then the unthinkable may happen. For the first time in your life you turn to mood stabilisers. You’re desperate. Nothing you’ve experienced before menopause – a dysfunctional childhood, sexual abuse, addiction, post-natal depression, betrayal or divorce – has ever warranted prescription drugs. Zoloft is your new best friend.

If your body was once a temple, it is now the temple of doom. You embrace the drugs.

I could expand greatly on the items in statistic 2 – and many others – but for the purpose of this essay my focus is on the big one: vaginal dryness.

Imagine, if you can, that your husband’s/partner’s penis has become a living razor blade. As he enters you, no matter how slowly, you will feel as if you are being sliced open. This gets worse as time passes and your oestrogen levels continue to diminish. There is no lubricant on earth that remotely resembles oestrogen. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a liar. The loss of this hormone will strip you of everything that makes you feel female. You had no idea how important that stuff was before menopause, not really. Gone are your days of random hard pumping sex. The mere act will become a tedious checklist of prep work and careful manoeuvring. If you’ve been married for more than 20 years you will probably give up sex entirely. If you’re on your second or third marriage and still in the honeymoon years you are fucked, but not literally. You’ll become very good at blow jobs. I’d like to say blow jobs are your new best friend, but can we really say that about blow jobs?

And you won’t find any of that in the brochures. #Truth

I’m not finished with the vagina. Not even close. Believe it or not, that’s not the worst part.

Up to 50% of menopausal women will need to familiarise themselves with Lichen Sclerosis.


They make it sound less dramatic than it is, trust me. And it doesn’t necessarily start in POST menopausal, — that’s simply when it gets worse.

This Pandora’s box will have you believe – in the beginning – that you have a very bad case of thrush. The usual over-the-counter pharmacy medications aren’t working. By the time you get to the doctor, if you haven’t gone mad already from the excruciating itch that never stops, you’ll be so desperate you will consider calling your old drug dealer friend who can hook you up with enough weed to kill any pain. You hope. Ice packs are your new best friend. Sitting on them for most of the day will help. When your husband mentions sex, you will be tempted to stab him. Stay away from the kitchen. Your GP doesn’t know what’s wrong. It’s at this point you convince yourself your husband is having an affair (your insecurities hit an all-time high, you may double dose on Zoloft) and you’ve contracted some hideous STD (sexually transmitted disease). When swab and blood test results come back – hopefully before the separation – you learn it’s clearly not thrush or an STD (thank God), but your GP finds no abnormalities in the testing. You will want to kill yourself at this point as it seems like the only solution. The next step is specialists. Some will tell you it’s all in your head. Seriously. But then you’ll find a gynaecologist who does believe you. On examination he knows what it is – but he doesn’t name it – and simply prescribes a corticosteroid cream. It works initially and, two weeks later on a follow up appointment, you consider offering him a blow job because he’s a miracle worker.

Don’t be fooled. It’s temporary. All an illusion.

Advice to the wise. At the first sign that your usual thrush cream isn’t working, find a specialised dermatologist. If you’re in Melbourne, her name is Helen Saunders. She is the miracle worker. No blow jobs necessary. You will learn everything about Lichen Sclerosis. The ointment you need can only be purchased from a Compound Pharmacy, with a specialised prescription. After an intensive two-week treatment – and months of suffering – your vagina will feel sort of ‘normal’ again, but it will carry the scars of war like any other person who has been in battle. Eventually you’ll also learn that, once a week for the rest of your life, you’ll need to apply the ointment to avoid flare-ups. You’ll forget sometimes, but the raw tenderness you feel after peeing will remind you — you forgot your ointment this week.

I compare Lichen Sclerosis to herpes — or baggage — that shit stays forever. Even tattoos can be removed eventually. I’d get my entire face tattooed if I was guaranteed to bypass menopause. I’m not kidding.

There is so much more, my mid-life friends, that I could share — about my world, the things I’ve learned about menopause over the years — but it would be a book.

I will mention this in conclusion though: bio-chemical hormone replacement (BCHR). This is something I discovered from a kind nurse, a stranger I met while having a routine procedure in hospital in 2014. BCHR is a kind of alternative HRT treatment — less assaulting, yet still effective. I’m no expert, but I feel like I could be. If you are opposed to taking HRT, do some research on BCHR, you won’t be disappointed. Feel free to reach out and ask questions. If I can help, I will.

Marcia Abboud

You Can Lead…

You Can Lead...

A horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

If you thought this was going to be an inspirational post about leadership, you’d be wrong. Sorry. I don’t have a clue about leadership. I wish I did. I marvel at my social media, scrolling through all the leaders out there — so much passion and energy. I get tired just reading about their achievements, let alone the enthusiasm they show for wanting to help others become leaders too. I guess you could say I’ve played leadership roles in the past, but I can’t post those on LinkedIn nor share them here. No, that material is for a (fictionalised) book.

What I do have a clue about are writing and self-publishing. I now know so much about both that I could start a business — and, who knows, I could even be a leader at it! Anything is possible, right? Unfortunately, the very thought of doing anything that entrepreneurial makes me want to self-medicate and take a long nap.

Still, I’ve recently found myself in a surprising predicament. I unassumingly fell into a mentoring role. It wasn’t something I ever considered. I mean, I have written a book that I hope will inspire others, and when readers reach out to me confirming I have done just that I am gratified and grateful. That gives me more encouragement than they could possibly know. I feel a sense of pride. My work is validated. I have made a miniscule difference to someone else’s life, even if it is for just however long it took to read the book.

That’s a kind of leadership, I suppose, but in all honesty I’m a bona-fide follower. For example, I’ll have sworn off sugar and husband will say “Let’s get a tub of ice cream.” Me: “Ok.” Willpower gone, I will follow him to the confectionary aisle even though I was adamant we’d avoid it. I look to others for inspiration. Give me a task and I will do it. Give me a whiteboard in a brainstorming session and I go blank. I have nothing. Zilch new ideas of any kind in my head.

Funny then how a random phone call from a stranger, who had got my number from an old friend, put me on a path of redirection and challenged my thinking.

She had written a book she was ready to publish. She’s not a writer — her words. She was hungry for recommendations and determined to self-publish her manuscript as is, thinking it was final. She knew I had plenty to share about self-publishing and she came to learn. I am also in fact an unconditional sharer. I’m sure she didn’t anticipate any other advice, although she wanted my opinion — an honest critique, she said. I made it clear I’m no editor or manuscript assessor, and she was fine with that.

After reading her manuscript, it was blatantly obvious that at best it was a first draft. I didn’t need an expert to tell me that. She was oblivious though. She had no past history of writing — nor any desire as far as I knew — except to tell this one story, and she clearly had no training. So how could she know what is entailed in writing about a life without making it sound like journal dabbling? Except, she has the confidence and ego of 10 men and is so sure of herself (and her writing) that I imagined she could lead an army into battle. No writer I’ve ever known has been that self-assured. Stephen King may be — now — but the majority? Not a chance. Just as well, I say. A healthy dose of self-doubt keeps us on our toes. Keeps our head out of our arse, and keeps us grounded and open-minded, which in turn allows the knowledge to seep in. How else do we gain wisdom?

It was a very long 180 pages, but as I read I saw the potential. The weirdest thing happened. I knew how it should be structured. I knew what was missing and what it needed. Like a jigsaw puzzle falling into place, I knew instinctively what had to be done. And to prove it – mostly to myself – I did a great deal of work on it, including many pages of notes and suggestions. I was convinced I could show her the way and help her turn her story into a masterpiece.

She had unknowingly led me out of my comfort zone to a place that had me believing I could lead her...

Weeks later, as I sat at my desk looking at my mobile, stunned, having just had a ‘final’ conversation. I realised all my work had been in vain. She thanked me profusely, but she was going to do it her way. She took on some advice and will use most of the introduction and preface I wrote, but otherwise she felt her way was best. I wished her every success of course, and ate humble pie. Then I ate chocolate.

I’ve had an epiphany. I tried to impart to her in less than a month what has taken me years to learn from my own mentors. I tried to teach her what has cost me tens of thousands of dollars to learn. I’ve made hundreds of mistakes, deleted thousands of words and killed more darlings than I thought possible before coming to understand the true meaning of ‘voice’. How on earth did I expect she’d just get it? How do you explain ‘show don’t tell’ to a mere mortal in a few conversations? That shit took forever to sink into my psyche, and it still trips me up now and then. What was I thinking? Poor woman probably thought I was nuts.

And now, as my manager husband points out, I can indeed lead a horse to water, but I can’t make him drink. He also points out that time is money and I’ve just wasted a lot of time – taken away from my own writing – for absolutely no money, so he’s a tad frustrated as you can imagine. He is such a business leader. Shouldn’t I be more frustrated? Flabbergasted, yes, but I’m not frustrated.

I realise this experience has given me a glimpse into what is possible. My beliefs I had about who I am have been challenged to the core. I now know I could definitely lead, maybe not an army or a peace corps movement or a protest, but I could lead one person in the direction of their dream to become a writer. I could share what I’ve learned and give them the confidence and help they’ll need to see it though. In turn, I can pay it forward to the team of experts I’ve come to know and admire – editors, self-publishing and PR consultants, and creatives like designers, web developers and tech nerds. I am a trove of information. I could be the sounding board they crave, the shoulder they’ll need to cry on, or simply give the professional advice I know they need. And imagine being able to do all that for someone who is actually open to it…

But I will be letting my husband talk money. I’ll be following his lead in that department.

Marcia Abboud

It's In The Voice

It's In The Voice

I’ve been reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming. Well, I’ve been listening to it on Audible. I attempted an audio book once before and it drove me nuts. The voice reading it was painful, like brain freeze, or living under a flight path. I have no idea what the book was about. I was so busy trying not to focus on the noise that I missed the actual story. I wonder how a voice like that got a reading gig. I was disappointed, and not just because of the voice. I was hoping to do my bit for the environment — you know, save a few trees, not buy hardcover books. I wanted to save space too. I moved, and downsized considerably early this year. I must have donated a few hundred books in the culling of my possessions. I’d watched Minimalism on Netflix and felt shame at the abundance of material shit I’d accumulated over the years. I wanted to rid myself of a lifetime of unnecessary collectables — mine and others’. Moving from a lavish five-bedroom home into a modest two-bedroom apartment, you don’t have much choice but to cull. I’d rather give my clothes away than my books, but I had to do both. I made a pact from that moment on to wean myself off paperback to audio. I never wanted to pack and move two dozen boxes of books ever again. Audio books also appealed to me because my eyesight is crap these days, so reading can be tricky. It’s all about lighting. When did I get old? I thought Audible was the answer to my prayers…

No. It wasn’t.

I’ve bought a dozen paperbacks since making my secret pact. So much for my minimalism pledge.

Still, when I learned Michelle Obama would be narrating her own book, I thought now there’s a voice that could melt chocolate. Like Oprah or Morgan Freeman or Anthony Hopkins. They’d make a eulogy exciting. Their voices do not give brain freeze. I was willing to give Audible another go. Now I’m not usually a fan of autobiography. Memoirs yes – my first love – but that’s an entirely different thing. And I’m especially not a fan of autobiography that has political overtones. Frankly, I’d rather take a nap. Although I have always wanted to read Bill Clinton’s autobiography — and Idi Amin’s of all people.

Anyway. I decided to use time constructively. Instead of listening to music while I exercised, I’d listen to Michelle. One day I went for an early-morning walk, put on my headphones and started listening. I was right. Her story unfolds in a velvety melody of words and sentences that held my attention in every minute detail. I hung on to her every word, visualising the characters and scenes as if they were playing out on a screen. That first time two hours went by before I even realised. Of course the next day my hip flexors knew exactly how long I’d been walking. About an hour and 10 minutes too long!

Every time I walked or went to the gym I’d listen. I didn’t zone out when she got political — in fact I learnt things about American politics I never knew. And that shit is complicated.

Becoming is a long book. A friend told me to speed up the audio. I didn’t know you could do that. I tried it, and even when Michelle is on chipmunk speed, nothing diminishes the sound of her delicious voice. I put it back to normal though. I didn’t want to miss a beat. You can’t rush a masterpiece. That’s my 5-star review.

But here’s my problem with Audible:

I did miss some beats as Michelle delved into her story. Some things were so brilliant I wanted to hear them again. Like when Barack proposed to her. At that very same moment I tripped in a pothole and nearly went flying headfirst into a moving tram. It was such a great scene. The proposal —  not the tram slamming. I fumbled in my pocket for my phone, trying to find out how to rewind. I stuffed it up, and went back way too far. And I did that every time I tried to rewind. It was all too disrupting for my attention and my stride. After that, when something profound resonated I’d quickly check the recording timeline, make a mental note and promise myself to go back to it when I was sitting at my desk hours later. When the time came, I’d forget my mental notes. F***ing brain fog.

So I’ve just ordered the hardcopy of Becoming. I realise that no matter how great the voice, I need to see the words on the page, with my own eyes. I need to feel the paper between my fingers, to be able to flick back and forth in an instant. Or do the unthinkable: use a highlighter to mark the standout pieces. I need to speak out loud, in my own voice, repeat the good bits so they sink into my psyche like a tattoo, easily accessible at any given moment. And then there’s the smell. You can’t beat the smell of a freshly printed book not yet opened. At the beginning, ever so gently, I turn each page as if it’s some relic. By the time I’m half way through, all thoughts of delicacy have gone.

I’ll still listen to Audible if the voice fits the story. But even when it does I’ll buy the paperback. Well, until my eyesight is totally shot to shit.

Marcia Abboud

Bad Reviews - What Are...

Bad Reviews - What Are They Good For?

The other day a friend alerted me to a bad review of my book on Amazon. In a nanosecond my first thought was What? No Way. Not possible! Clearly that was my ego talking. My next thought was OMG, my husband’s ex-wife is up to her old tricks again, trying to terrorize me. Then I logged on to see it for myself. Here it is:


Now I know it’s not groundbreaking bullying, and definitely not the bunny boiler, aka husband’s ex-wife, but it did do something to me that I can’t quite name. I felt shock at first, then anger, hurt, disbelief — I was pissed off and gobsmacked. No writer wants to hear the book they have agonized over for years, sweated, cried and practically bled over, sacrificed a lot for, let alone dug impossibly, painfully deep to find the words to write, referred to as boring. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but boring isn’t one of them. I’ve also had a lot of feedback on my writing over the years, and that word never came up.

My first instinct was to hit the ‘report abuse’ tab — and I did. What an idiot! In my defence, I immediately assumed it was my stalker, which terrified me. I have a very expensive piece of paper to confirm she can’t even pretend to stalk me. And, as T. Gill is faceless, I imagined her. I wasn’t thinking straight. I should have done more research. As if a bad reviewer would have the guts to put a face to the name, even a fake one. I’m pretty sure the bunny boiler isn’t that stupid, but I could be wrong.

Boring. Please. I’m not that insecure about my writing. There are worse things I (or my writing) could be called. I mean, just look at Clementine Ford, now there’s a woman who needs thick skin.  And the Queen,Constance Hall, or the brave Ginger Gorman who went ‘Troll Hunting’ for her next book. The hunter has become the hunted, and it’s not even published yet. Now that’s putting yourself out there. These inspiring women, or the thought of them, helped me consciously let go of that one-star bad review. Subconsciously other things were brewing and I had a sudden attack of writer’s block, even though there were a dozen articles in my head ready to write. So I’ve been looking at a blank screen all week. I bought chocolate — the good stuff, Ferrero Rocher, not that 85% dark, bitter crap. I hadn’t bought real chocolate in months. And, I’ve had weird dreams this past week too. One night I was on stage doing a TED Talk type thing. I had my book in my hand, ready to read an extract, but no words came out. I stood there like a stunned mullet, alone, in front of hundreds of people and my voice failed me. Frightening! It’s a miracle I wasn’t naked. That’s what it felt like in my dream.

I don’t stress so much about writer’s block these days. I used to, but I know better now. It’s temporary. I can usually tell if it’s genuine too, or just me procrastinating, making excuses. This time it was real. I decided to use the downtime wisely and listen to some podcasts. I have hundreds saved in the pod app on my phone although I never listen to them, even though I have great intentions every time I add a new one. “I’ll listen to that tonight,” I tell myself. F**king Netflix.

So yesterday I see this Facebook post about a marketing podcast. It’s Marie Forleo interviewing Seth Godin about his new book ‘This Is Marketing’. Just what I need right about now, seeing as I’m so shit at it.

Something remarkable happened around the 16-minute mark, when the interview went slightly off-track. They started talking about critics, and it changed my whole perspective.


Harry Potter has more than 21,000 reviews on Amazon, and over 12% of them are one-star? Comments like: worst book I’ve ever read. As Seth points out “Said to the author who made more money as an author than anyone in history.”

Seth Godin hasn’t looked at his Amazon reviews for five years. He says, “I never met an author who has said ‘I read all my one-star reviews and now I’m a better author.’ All it does is seize you up and make you shut down. You have the right to say that, but I don’t have the obligation to read it. Thank you for taking the time, but I don’t want to know…


So I’m celebrating, and not just because my writer’s block is gone – thank you, Marie and Seth.  I am celebrating my very first bad review on Amazon and I say this to you, faceless, faithless Gill “Thank you for taking the time to buy my book and give it a go. Clearly it’s not for you… but your opinion is your own business.”

That’s what Seth would say, and that’s what my new and enlightened self says too. My old self might have responded differently — like “Hey, Gill, didn’t you watch Bambi when you were a kid? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Or my passionate, unwise, much younger self: “Hey, Gill, F*** you, a***hole!”



Don’t let one-star haters ruin your day. It just someone’s opinion. Look on the bright side — that hater bought your book, and that equals sales. You win! Be like Seth Godin and JK Rowling and Clementine Ford and all the other courageous, inspirational authors in the world — write for your tribe. Your people matter.

Marcia Abboud

Life, And Other Nightmares

Life, And Other Nightmares

It’s Melbourne Cup Day 2018 as I write this, and in typical Melbourne style it’s dark, gloomy and raining, but it’s early, things will change by race time I’m sure. I used to hear all the time about the whole four seasons in one day ‘thing’, but it’s not until you actually live in Melbourne that you truly understand its meaning. A few days ago, it was 33 degrees, the next 16. The day after that I woke up sweating. By lunchtime I needed a jacket, and then it started raining, again. By the time dusk hit, the sky was so perfectly clear I could see a sliver of moon and twinkling stars, not easy to spot when you live amongst a fluorescent city that never sleeps. 4 seasons indeed.

I can’t help but liken my life to Melbourne’s weather lately. I’ve had days so high I’ve felt invincible, in a euphoric bubble of praise and achievement. Then days so low I wondered if jumping off the balcony would hurt much. I’d never do anything that dramatic of course, knowing my luck I’d break every bone in my body and live. What I’m grateful for at this point in my life, is my awareness. Bad days are temporary, this too shall pass. For every low there is a high, the cycle continues. No amount of shit that comes will ever keep me down, mind you, some days that’s hard to remember.

For example, one day, let’s just call it the 16th of October 2018, I woke from a night of restless sleep, instantly feeling a heavy ball of anxiety in the pit of my gut before my feet even touched the floor. Not a good way to start the day, just ask Dr Joe Dispenza. I’ve recently discovered him, well my husband has. Hubby sends me links telling me; “listen to this darling, it might be a good one for you today” or “you need to hear this sweetheart”. No. What I need is Zoloft because no amount of Dr Joe can take the edge off like a good mood stabilizer. Still, I do listen. Dr Joe makes absolute sense. I believe every word he says. I just have to make my mind believe it. My head hurts when I listen to his words, like I’m reading a legal text book. I tell you lawyers and barristers are great, how they remember all that jargon I’ll never know.

So, the night before I did exactly what Dr Joe said, and I listened to his YouTube video before bed to teach my brain to manifest my dreams. Had nightmares all night. Woke with the ball in my gut. That is 13:42 minutes I’ll never get back, shot to shit. Not his fault. I do believe Dr Joe can work miracles. I’m open to the wisdom. I live in hope that my brain will eventually be infiltrated. But it didn’t stand a chance on the 16th of October. I was due in court. I knew I had to face my nemeses, the person who, for the past six years, has challenged every fear I fear, every negative thought I’ve thought, and has stolen from me more peace than every shitty thing I’ve lived through in my past. Big call right, but I’m dead serious. I would have gladly chosen my own exile rather than turn up to court that day. I had to go though. It wasn’t just a matter of safety, it was a matter of principle. I’m done with turning a blind eye to those who chose to abuse me. You just have to read my book to know how far I’ve come. And the sequel, when I eventually write it, will challenge your beliefs.

The gut is a miraculous thing. It knows shit our head just can’t decipher. And my gut that morning had good reason for its churning, as it turned out. The day unfolded like a nightmare come to life. Just being in the same room with my husband’s ex-wife was like knowing Hannibal Lecter was sitting behind me. I took the stand for over an hour, shaking, dry mouth, brain on fire, and that wasn’t even the cross-examination. It was a new kind of hell. There is something about the emotional drain of divulging every, single, abusive piece of evidence over the past six years to a room full of strangers that leaves you split in ways you never thought possible. It was shattering. I can’t tell you the lies I had to sit through and listen to. It was a harrowing experience. But like I say, for every down there is an up. The ending was glorious! I now possess a piece of paper that protects me for five years against anymore abusive behaviour. Now I know it’s just a piece of paper but, the power it holds is positively enlightening! Not to mention was it does for my mindset.

The relief I felt as the ball in my gut dissipated was like shedding five kilos in one day. It was cause for celebration. By the time we got home I was in a state of nirvana, and it wasn’t just because I’d mixed alcohol with my meds. By the way, I would highly recommend that any day of the year.

Days later when I came back to earth, I thought about the journey of it all… I had spent so much time; hours, days, months, in fact a long part of the past six years, in complete frustration and disbelief. I’ve worried, feared, cursed, hated, cried and felt pain and hurt more often over the injustice of my ‘recent’ predicament than I have over all the other shit I’ve been through. I imagined I was so affected by it because none of it was my fault. Whereas in the past I believed all my shitty experiences were a consequence of my bad decisions. Everything was my fault then.

The fact is it’s not about who to blame, including myself, because shit will come, whether you think you’re good or bad, right or wrong, strong or weak, content, sad, happy, despite every good intention, every good deed, every generous dollar you give and share, shit comes! I used to rage at the text messages, the emails, filled with the most heinous lies that degraded or defamed me. My rage was never a public display, not my style, but my husband witnessed it. If you can’t show your ugly shit to your partner, then what good is that relationship? It would sometimes take me days to get over the verbal onslaught SHE bestowed on me. I’d do my best with the positive self-talk, the counselling sessions, all the things I had to do just to keep going, just to get on with it. It was exhausting. I’d question my actions at times, and why I even stayed in my marriage. Was it worth it? Yes, it is, and I wasn’t about to let her succeed in destroying my life. It took all my strength to NOT respond or retaliate, and I never did. I wanted to, but something in my gut always stopped me. Now I know why…

I marvel at my clever, intuitive gut. It paid off in the end. I thank God, now, at every single piece of abuse she ever sent, and the fact that I kept it all and not deleted it. Because without it I wouldn’t have the evidence I needed to prove who she really is, and I wouldn’t have that magical piece of paper that enables me to ‘retaliate’ should the need arise.

But most importantly, if none of that happened, I wouldn’t feel the gratefulness I feel, which I must say is pretty overwhelming at times. I survived yet again, my resilience is even stronger. I didn’t give up, even when I wanted to, even when my balcony looked inviting. I am grateful for the Victorian Legal System, justice does prevail. And just think, if none of that happened, if she was normal, I’d probably still be living in Perth being a step-mother to five boys 50% of the time… SHIT!

Marcia Abboud


A Perfect Love

A Perfect Love

When I found out I was going to be a grandmother at the age of 49, I thought life as I knew it would be over. I was in shock. Horrified really. Grandmothers are supposed to be old, knit things, bake stuff, and smell like lavender or other field flowers. I certainly didn’t look the part. I looked 39. I’d spent the latter half of my life trying my best to defy the aging process and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. Grandmother was not a title I was ready for. How could this be happening?

My 22-year-old daughter wasn’t the kind of girl who daydreamed about getting married and having babies. At school she would have been voted ‘least likely to conform to anything remotely traditional’, or at the very least she’d settle down much later in life after her career aspirations had been fully and successfully met. She was still at Uni doing a Bachelor of Social Science Degree. She wanted to be a counsellor or a psychologist and help bring solace to troubled minds. Pregnant was not in her game plan. Yet she decided to have the baby and put her degree on hold. I was silently devastated.

I had just married my second husband after a very short dating period. He is seven years younger than I am. My husband would become a grandfather aged 42. If he’d run for the hills I wouldn’t have blamed him. I wanted to run too — far, far away — and pretend it was all a bad dream.

What a shit mother. I felt like the worst person in the world. How could I feel that way about my only child, my beloved daughter’s pregnancy? I mean she wasn’t 16, she was no teen mum, but I still felt she was too young, she wasn’t ready. I knew what she was in for — I still remembered. I just wasn’t sure she’d be able to cope. God knows I couldn’t. Being pregnant, and those first newborn months were some of the worst times in my life. I don’t use those words lightly, trust me. If you read my book Every Shitty Thing you’ll see just how much shit one person can endure and still live.

I was terrified my daughter would feel the same way, go through the same things. The thought depressed me, even though we aren’t alike in many ways. She was so strong, so confident, compared to me at that age. I had her when I was 27 and I still wasn’t ready! She wasn’t planned. My plan was to travel the world and live like a gypsy. That didn’t happen.

I couldn’t have done it without my mother’s support. She played a huge role in the birth of my daughter and those critical first few months. In fact, my mum was more like the mother in my daughter’s young life. Their bond was so profound I wondered how it was possible.

“You’ll understand one day, love. It’s different being the grandparent. The love you feel for that child, well, there’s nothing on this earth like it,” Mum would say.

She might as well have been talking Klingon. I had no idea what she was on about.

Clearly, I was missing the maternal gene. I’d never felt more inadequate in my life. Eventually, when my daughter was three months old, I fell deeply in love with her. I couldn’t imagine then how on earth I could love anyone more. Still, my mother’s connection with my daughter fascinated me, and I was grateful for it. It gave me peace and comfort. Accepting motherhood was a constant mind game that I’m still not sure I’ve mastered. My daughter tells me otherwise… that’s a relief. But my mother saved me on some of the stormiest days of young motherhood. Without her, I would have been screwed. I couldn’t do it again — give my daughter a sibling. Too hard. I take my hat off, bow down and kiss the feet of every woman who has ever done it more than once. You are either insanely brave or crazy!

Mum was 51 the year my daughter was born, and she looked 61. She knitted, and she always smelt like roses. She already had two granddaughters. Mum was the epitome of grandmother. She died at 66, when my daughter was 15 and her heart still aches at the loss of her nanna.

And there I was, about to become a nanna and expected to fill my mother’s shoes. I felt doomed. It seemed an impossible task. I’d look in the mirror and say out loud “Hello, Nan…” I just couldn’t make those words roll off my tongue. What a shit grandmother.

But that was then.

I met my granddaughter when she was three months old. Long story — it’s in the book. And from the moment I laid eyes on her and she smiled up at me, I felt my heart swell with a joy I’d never felt before. It was beyond love, if there is such a thing. There was an intense, resounding sensation, an energy that I could almost see, connecting us. I thought of Mum and understood for the first time what she meant.

Five years on, and the bond I share with my granddaughter still deepens. It’s very special and everyone recognizes it, especially my daughter. She remembers. She’s pregnant with her second child, a boy. I’m going to be a grandmother again, well, a Moo Moo — my granddaughter calls me that – it’s an old nickname. I couldn’t totally conform — grandma…nanna…no way!

Marcia Abboud


Why Murphy Brown Hates...

Why Murphy Brown Hates the Word Empower

The other day I turned on the TV while I ate my lunch. I don’t usually watch daytime television. I’m afraid if I sit on the lounge I’ll stay there. Working from home can be a challenge, especially when you live in a two-bedroom apartment. A change of scenery helps break the monotony, even if it’s just 10 steps into the next room. My biggest challenge though is the pantry — and the fridge. My arse would agree with that.

I see the cast of Murphy Brown being interviewed, as they are today. I loved that sitcom back in the late ‘80s. I never missed an episode, not in 10 years. Candice Bergen was my idol. Murphy Brown was the woman I aspired to be – strong, independent and really funny — but little did I know back then that she was everything I would have to be to survive. I was 24 years old and I thought the worst was behind me. Not even close.

The interviewer asks Candice what she thinks made the show such a success. Candice replies “Well, I hate the word ‘empower’ but I think Murphy Brown empowered women… ” I stopped listening — I was stuck on that comment. Why does Candice hate the word empower? It’s such a strong word. It carries a lot of weight, holds a lot of promise, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking about that. We all have pet hate words. I hate the word ‘blessed’. Unless I’m watching an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, that word annoys me. I roll my eyes and pretend to gag. It’s not like I’ve never used the word. I’m sure I’ve hash-tagged it on social media in the past, but I think the problem these days is the over-use of some words. They lose their meaning and have less impact.

But empower? I’ve been counting on that word — wanting to own it my whole life, never quite feeling worthy of it. When you come from where I’ve been, words like empower don’t come easy.

By the time I was a teenager I’d already endured enough shit to last me three lifetimes. I couldn’t wait to grow up, to be an adult. I imagined it would solve all my problems. That didn’t happen. I often wondered what I’d done to deserve all the shitty things that kept happening to me. I must have been a real arsehole in another life. I believed my present life was about punishment, because I had no other way to rationalise it.

In 2007 my 19-year marriage came to a sudden halt. In 24 hours, it was over. I didn’t see it coming. I was oblivious to what should have been obvious. Rock bottom is an understatement for where I was then. It was a new kind of hell, even for me. I would gladly have checked out if it hadn’t been for my daughter. And a few words from my brother turned my life around. You can read about that in the first chapter of my book.

Every Shitty Thing is a celebration of all the ways I’ve survived. It’s my story of betrayal, deception, heartbreak and endurance, with humour between the threads. It’s about hope, of never giving up on love and learning to trust again too.

When I started writing my memoir back in 2016, I never imagined it could help anyone else. I didn’t write it expecting any impact. I wasn’t even sure I could write it, let alone finish it. But I did finish it. It took me 18 months – well let’s get real, 50 years and 18 months.

I wrote Every Shitty Thing as a kind of legacy – I was here — all this shit happened to me and it didn’t kill me. I survived... I wrote it to make sense of my life. As I revisited all the betrayals and pain, I began to feel differently. I began to own my story, even though I was a bona fide victim for most of it. I had to return to the scene of the crimes against my body and spirit, but somehow, by some miracle, I have been able to meet my abusers with compassion and – dare I say – even forgiveness.

I hope my readers feel the same as they reflect on their own traumas and pain. I hope they realise, as I do now, that the shitty chapters of their lives don’t define who they are. And maybe even laugh at some of it. Trust me, you can only do that in hindsight. Maybe they’ll look at my life and think: If she can survive that, so can I.

And so, I had hoped ‘empower’ might be used to describe my book, but there goes my marketing strategy – shot to shit – thanks, Candice Bergen.

“We are truly blessed,” my second husband says on bad days. His glass is perpetually half full. Mine is the opposite. He’s right of course, but I still want to slap him.

Marcia Abboud