Reflecting on what could’ve been helps me appreciate the present

How counterfactual thinking has benefited my life

Alliah Czarielle avatar

by Alliah Czarielle |

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Whenever I scroll through my Instagram feed, I often reflect on the “what ifs” in my life. For example, what if my life had unfolded exactly as I had envisioned it during my youth?

As a child, I was a dreamer with countless aspirations. I envisioned living in a different country, renting an apartment, and furnishing it with vintage treasures (think 1930s typewriter, old-fashioned record player, midcentury furniture). I even fancied wearing vintage dresses while running daily errands.

My creative spirit led me to explore various hobbies, including drawing, painting, handwriting, beading, sewing, and cross-stitching. The allure of sewing persists today, driven by my passion for fashion. But I don’t have the time or the resources to truly delve into it.

Reflecting on these “what-could’ve-beens” stirs a flutter in my heart. Yet, I recognize that embracing my current life reveals its unique beauty.

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My life today

Today, I am not a quirky lady living alone in an eerie vintage apartment with a large collection of ancient objects. Instead, I am married to Jared, my loving husband who has severe hemophilia B and epilepsy.

Our shared experiences, his chronic illnesses, and my journey from being a so-called gifted child to someone with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder create a special bond. As Jared likes to say, “You and I, we’re one in a million.”

Jared and I are the parents of a vibrant, 5-year-old girl who is the apple of her father’s eye. While Jared dreams of a cure for his hemophilia and seizures, his ultimate wish is for our daughter to lead a better life. With unwavering love and support, we believe she will.

Our home may not echo a vintage theme, but our purposefully minimalist dwelling suits our needs. Vintage clothing doesn’t fill my wardrobe, but my foray into vintage cosplay, supported by Jared, resulted in an excessive collection of vintage spectacles. His nonjudgmental attitude, coupled with encouragement to seek help when needed, underscore our supportive partnership.

Crafting now takes a backseat to family responsibilities and work, which we must prioritize for our survival. I resist accumulating excessive belongings, given my ADHD’s tendency to forget unused items. Practicality guides our choices.

The power of counterfactual thinking

In psychology, counterfactual thinking explores alternative scenarios for past events. While seemingly no different from “pointless fantasizing,” it does, in fact, serve a purpose by allowing us to frame the past positively. Downward counterfactual thinking emphasizes how events could have been worse. As a result, it fosters gratitude and reduces anxiety.

The adult life I envisioned at 11 was quirky and eclectic, the perfect life to suit my personality — or so I thought back then. Yet my current reality is equally wonderful and certainly no less quirky!

Imperfections persist — Jared’s monthly hemophilia-related bleeds and unpredictable seizures present challenges. Change is constant, but being so familiar with having to adjust eases our struggles.

So whenever I catch myself pondering about what could have been, I remind myself that I’m here, living my life as it is. I’m truly grateful for how things turned out, including all of those other paths that never became my reality. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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