I think part of the reason for my success in finding happiness is my tendency towards abandon. I run at the point of no return like a wild bull at a gate. My way of throwing myself into things means that I hurl every part of myself into my choices and opportunities. Experience has taught me that the fullest joys and the richest rewards come when I don’t consider any alternative other than my chosen outcome. I have learned that if I find myself considering a Plan B, I never really invested in a Plan A. Sitting on the fence is an extremely stressful, uncomfortable place to live. And when you have lodged yourself there, it is very difficult to move into the next field where the grass is actually greener.
By the time I was 24 Wodonga had revealed itself to be a dead end that I had to escape. Marrying so young was not one of my smarter plans, but this is a story that saw me come home strong in the end. I married my loud, funny, extroverted husband Adam when I was nineteen years old and three months pregnant. Adam was my best friend at the time, and to this day we remain close mates. My first marriage lasted six and a half years, and these were marked by some unforgettable highlights. I remember the thrill of skinny dipping in the Hume Weir, and the horror of running out of petrol when my husband was my sister’s bridal car driver. Giving birth to my two treasures was a wonderful experience to share with Adam, as were the family holidays we had in Apollo Bay. We had friends who shared pizza and coke over card games that never seemed to end, and so many of our days and nights sparkled with laughing until we cried.
Adam and I were great at friendship, but terrible at marriage. Our hopes for the future and ideas about “the good life” were worlds apart. I wanted to build a big future that was nothing like my small past, but Adam was genuinely content to live day to day and week to week. The frustration that this conflict caused both of us was infuriating, and eventually brought us to the end.
I left on my daughter’s second birthday. As Adam and the kids waved me goodbye from out the front of our little unit in Wodonga, I knew that success could only come if I found a way to build the life I wanted for myself and my children. I knew I needed to get my two treasures back, but I had decided that if I couldn’t raise them with every freedom and opportunity imaginable, I didn’t want to raise them at all. I needed this imaginary life so much that I risked everything to get it.
We are all our own first audience, and on that day as I watched myself leave my two children – my reasons for living – I could barely believe my eyes. This was not the leading lady that I thought I was, and this was not the way I had expected the plot to play out. This was an unexpected twist that had even me on the edge of my front row seat.
But on that day, I drew a line in the sand. I put all of my eggs in the basket of the big, rich life I needed for myself and my kids. I gambled everything that I could make my outsides match the ambitious insides that I had. I gave everything to my desire for freedom, because this desire had been tearing my insides apart. It was with abandon that I gave myself to the pursuit of a big life. For the second time in my life, I had run away from home, and I never looked back.
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