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Here Comes Treble: Great Expectations?

Isabel Bradley tells of two much-burdened women, one who had the courage to break her bonds, and one who remained at the beck and call of a demanding family.

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For many years, Hilary bowed to the expectations of her family. Once, she went against their wishes, when she divorced her husband after almost thirty years of marriage, during which he had many affairs, the first while they were on honeymoon.

Her family rained all sorts of punishments on her: their youngest daughter, still at primary school, became chronically ill, her older daughter criticised her at every opportunity, her son moved as far away as he could without leaving the country.

Eventually, after several years of continuous stress on all the family, the youngest daughter seemed to recover. Hilary felt that at last she could break free of her ex-husband and be left to live her own life. An old friend, recently widowed, made contact and soon they were seeing each other regularly. Then he proposed marriage to Hilary. The expectations of her family once again blocked her own thoughts of happiness. Her older children objected to the proposed marriage, her ex-husband made a counter-proposal of re-marriage, and her youngest daughter showed signs of relapsing into the old illness.

Crushed by her family’s objections, she turned her back on her own happiness and returned to a love-hate relationship with her ex-husband. Hilary suffered from headaches, back aches and the miscellany of illnesses that so often visit the unhappy middle-aged woman. She was continually at the beck and call of her family.

In another case, Jean, after twenty years of living with a man to whom she was not suited, finally realised that her life was a lie. She could not maintain her personal integrity, was lost in the person her husband expected her to be and became a victim of verbal and physical abuse. After months of reading self-strengthening books and talking sense to herself every day, she saved herself.

Leaving her husband and their almost-grown children against all of his and society’s expectations was the most frightening thing she had ever done, and the most worthwhile. She rediscovered her sense of self and revived ambitions she had shelved years before. Her sense of balance was restored, she became confident, happy and healthy.

It takes enormous courage to break free of ‘the norm’, to follow one’s own path in life. Mark Twain said that ‘A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.’ This is true for everyone. Living with integrity, being ‘true to oneself’, is the only way to achieve true health and happiness.

Until next time… ‘here comes Treble!’

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By Isabel Bradley

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