• Shona Dee

When life doesn’t turn out the way you planned – A Christmas Tale

when life doesn't turn out the way you planned

It is exactly two weeks before Christmas and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop, looking out at the dull day outside, wondering if it will brighten up anytime soon. The radio is playing John Lennon and it puts me in a reflective mood:

So, this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun

What have I done this year? A bit. Probably not as much as I wanted. This year, there wasn’t a whole lot of activity, excitement or major planning going in my life. And I’m OK with that.

Then - fuelled by the song - I start thinking about Christmas morning three years ago. The same song was playing and I was sitting on my bed crying, thinking about how f%&*ed up this day was going to be compared to the same day the year before.

The year before, I was still married. I still had a ‘normal’ family. Everything was fine and normal. Christmas lunch had been planned to the letter and everybody was ‘happy’. It was Christmas, it was simply not possible that anybody could be less than overjoyed.

Precisely two months later (I’m almost certain it was February 25th) my husband decided that, actually, he wasn’t happy, and completely blindsided me with news that he wanted a divorce.

It goes without saying that that Christmas – my first as a divorcee – was not an overly easy or great one. It certainly wasn’t the way I would have planned it to be.

When I was married, I was a METICULOUS planner. I felt safe if I knew what was coming up next, and deeply unsafe at the mere thought of my plans going awry. It was not unusual for me, in my head at least, to plan both mine and my family’s lives up to ten years in advance.

The kids would leave school. Hubby and I would go overseas for a long adventure. A few years after leaving school, each kid would leave home. And so on and so forth. When said hubby told me that he wanted a divorce, life as I knew it had ended. And I resisted what was happening with a vengeance. It just wasn’t the way I’d planned it to be.

I didn’t want to move on and I didn’t want to be happy. I didn’t know how.

Until the day, about a year after he left, I realised that I was happy. That I was at peace with where I was. That I was in fact perhaps happier than I had been whilst married. This was the beginning of a MAJOR revelation for me. I finally learned (slowly but surely) that it was OK if things didn’t go exactly to plan – that there was in fact true beauty to be found in letting go and seeing where life took you.

And life has taken me to some pretty amazeballs places in the last three years. It has been a time of astonishing rides, of beautiful relationships and of thrilling new opportunities. And a lot of it has occurred without my direct input and direction.

MORE: The Best Breakup Advice I've Ever Received

Now, as much as I can, I resist making major plans for the future. As much as I don’t always like to admit it, I understand now that I don’t always know what’s best for me. Sometimes life – the universe – whatever – has bigger and better ideas.

After what I’ve been through, I now firmly believe that when life presents us with a hiccup or catastrophe we have a choice. We can choose to stay stuck in the mindset of NO NO NO or we can force ourselves to take a small step back, breathe, and let things develop as they will… for better or for worse.

My divorce was a gift. I didn’t feel that way in the beginning, but I absolutely feel that way now. And today, when people ask me for advice on coping with change, or about what to do when life doesn’t turn out the way they’d planned – my advice is the same:

STOP. Breathe. Allow the situation to play out. See what happens. See where life takes you. Because you may just end up with a BETTER life than the one you’d previously planned. I did.

Merry Christmas everyone xox

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