If Your Life Sucks Only You Can Change It - Nobody Can Do It for You

Caroline de Braganza

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(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

It’s a given that wisdom comes with hindsight.

I believe the road ahead is easier if another has walked it and can warn you who follow of the dangers of dark alleys that drain your determination to dare to be you, to disappear into the vortex of what others expect of you and forget why you’re here.

Life becomes incredible when you take charge.

Is this a story of coincidence, serendipity or synchronicity?

Let’s look at the Oxford dictionary definitions, then you can decide once you’re read this.

Coincidence - striking occurrences of two or more events at one time; perceived as luck.

Synchronicity - the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. Implies deep intelligence at work. Coined by C. G Jung in 1953.

Serendipity - the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

The origin of serendipity is attributed to Horace Walpole, who in 1754 coined the word, suggested by a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip (the archaic name for Sri Lanka). According to Walpole, the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

With the vocabulary lesson out of the way, let me tell you what happened to me.

Broken marriage vows

When I married at 19, I thought I was so grown up. Heck, I’d left home at age 16 and had been in a job for over two years. I believed marriage was a lifelong commitment, as I’d sworn an oath. I never broke a promise.

That belief blinded me to reality.

Fast forward to the early 80s. I’d left my job as a PA in the Fashion Division of a large group of department stores. My husband blocked my aspiration to become a Fashion Buyer as he resented any idea of my pursuing a successful career in any field.

This wasn’t the first time he’d stifled my growth. He was always jealous of who I was with and what I got up to when I was out or away on a fashion show or conference with my boss - the only man my husband did not suspect of having an affair with me, because he was gay.

I resigned.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I always acquiesced. Despite being the sole breadwinner most of the time, I trotted after him - a loving puppy believing one day he’d change. I was adapting myself to fit in with him. I no longer had any of my own friends - dear husband had cast them aside for me.

My last attempt to force change upon him was getting a mortgage on a home. “I’m sure once he has the responsibility of our own home, he’ll change, he’ll grow up, he’ll become responsible, he’ll work, he’ll stop the drugs….”

I didn’t want to admit I’d made a mistake marrying him.

Within a short time of the move to our new home in another town, my husband took up an offer of free premises where he could pursue his woodworking and picture framing. Plenty of space for his tools and equipment, complete with large workbenches.

He took an entire year to put up gum pole fencing round our property and build a wooden driveway entrance gate. Other than that, he produced zilch. (Guess who paid for the tools and equipment.)

I discovered that while I was at work—a round trip of 90 kilometres—he hung out with the local riff-raff smoking white pipes - marijuana mixed with mandrax. This was the designer drug before crack cocaine became popular.

As the months passed, he became more irrational, expected me to cook dinner when I got home after a long day. His behaviour become more aggressive and he looked gaunt and haunted.

I was accustomed to the verbal abuse, but one evening he threw a punch at me. I spun away as my Aikido instincts kicked in and his fist glanced off my chest - the first and last blow.

“Awakening is not changing who you are, but discarding who you are not.”- Deepak Chopra.

I broke away

That was a wake-up call. December 1984. I set the timer for 1985 - to divorce my husband. Though I didn’t know how, the goal was non-negotiable.

I finally realized I couldn’t change him, but I could change me.

A better life was coming; I could make it happen. Get out of a lousy marriage and in to a new career. I felt empowered.

Despite being behind on the mortgage payments, I resigned from my secretarial job. Where did this strength originate? Was I being reckless?

This is what happened

Mid-January, my brother phoned to tell me that our Dad was in hospital. I didn’t know my Dad had been in poor health as we’d been out of touch.

I went to visit and there met a fellow patient whom I would eventually marry! Turns out he and my Dad knew each other from years before; this man had met me at my Dad’s office 25 years prior. I would have been nine and he twenty-one, so I didn’t remember.

But there was a spark, a soul connection, as I shook his hand.

As a result,

  • I moved in with my Dad.
  • I started a career at the same company from which my Dad had retired and became a Branch Manager four years later.
  • I sued for divorce. (This included taking out a restraining order and giving him custody of the dogs.)
  • My new friendship blossomed into romance and eight months later we started a life together. Thirty-four years and counting!

What did I learn?

It wasn’t a coincidence - no “striking occurrence of events” or “luck” involved.

I don’t believe it was serendipity either - although I met my Prince (Portuguese, not Persian!), these events didn’t happen “by chance”.

That leaves us with synchronicity. I vote for Jung’s take on this - “the presence of deep intelligence at work”.

Because I’d made a conscious choice to change my life, events conspired to present opportunities for me to do that.

“When you hold on to a script that doesn’t serve you, you leave no space to write a new one that does.” - Jennifer Ho-Dougatz

Do you believe in synchronicity? It’s appeared too often in times of crisis for me not to.

This song brings back memories of our early romance:

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.

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