“Zapped! –The Power of Coincidence”
by Marianne Thompson
When I hadn’t found Mr. Right by the dreaded age of forty, my cousin’s wife suggested I say a novena for a husband—that I should say the rosary for sixty days. I balked at her strange suggestion. I was a lapsed Catholic who was no longer religious. Well, she wouldn’t take no for an answer and handed me a rosary, assuring me it really works. Knowing my difficulties in relationships probably stemmed from growing up in an alcoholic home, I decided to take on the novena challenge. What followed was a series of remarkable coincidences that brought to the surface blocked childhood memories that explained the years of insecurities that had sabotaged me throughout my entire life.
When I came home from my cousin’s that evening, I had trouble falling asleep, which wasn’t unusual for me. I would toss and turn, my mind racing and my heart feeling lonely and scared. I couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong with me. I was constantly in and out of depression and at times felt very insecure. I also had a lot of free-floating anxiety that followed me everywhere. I didn’t know why I had this constant anxiety; I just knew it was there, every day. I also decided to ask God to help me solve my problems because I figured this would probably help me find my mate.
I took out the rosary and began to pray. The repetition of the prayers became like a meditation. My eyes became heavy and I found myself getting sleepy. This was better than Tylenol PM! Night after night I prayed, determined to go for it.
And just around the 60th day, on a Friday night after work, my other cousin, Pam, and I decided to go out to a local restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut for Happy Hour. I started chatting with Robert Brenner, an attractive man who owned a company that was about to revolutionize cable TV. The chemistry was instantaneous. After a phenomenal first date a few days later, I thought miraculously my prayers had been answered. I quickly fell in love with him, but in the weeks that followed, his business was taking up most of his time. Suddenly a tremendous fear came over me and I cried myself to sleep thinking, I’m in love and so scared.
The next morning, I decided to go to Sunday services at Second Congregational Church, a magnificent stone structure with a tall steeple. This was my first visit to the church. Walking up to the entrance, I spotted a glass-enclosed sign posted on the lawn that listed the day’s sermon. As I drew closer, I was in utter shock when I saw the sermon was entitled, “Being Afraid to Love.”
I slid into a back pew, emotionally shaken as the minister began his sermon. “Today, I would like to reflect on love for a few moments. I would like to reflect on the love in our lives that never gets a chance to come to fruition because we are afraid. Now this might be romantic love that we have pushed away, or it may be the love of friend, or the love of neighbor. . . In romantic love there is a supreme joy, and also a supreme fear in connecting to someone in this way. We are afraid because love is not predictable. Where will this journey take us? How can we risk when we don’t know if we will be safe?”
I sat there transfixed by the coincidence that was so powerful, it felt like I was Zapped by stray voltage. I couldn’t help but think it was a message for me.
The next day, Monday, I commuted into my job in Manhattan where I worked for Morgan Scott, a manufacturer of moderately priced dresses in New York’s Fashion Industry. During our morning fitting with the freelance fit model, Sue Turner, I told her about the strange coincidence at the church. “It’s not a coincidence!” She exclaimed.
”Read the book The Celestine Prophecy. I have it right here in my bag. It’s about the concept of meaningful coincidence.” My jaw dropped as she handed me the book.
A month later, I was off to Martha’s Vineyard vacationing with a group of friends from Manhattan, as well as my cousin Pam. I had been reluctant to invite Pam as we weren’t getting along at the time. She always seemed to be putting me down, and I was extremely sensitive to criticism. Despite my trepidation, the days on the Vineyard were heavenly – that is, until our last evening on the island.
We were having after-dinner drinks at a local restaurant when Pam started to disparage me. I became so enraged, I left the party and went back to the hotel. When Pam got back to the room she started to ridicule my relationship with my new love, Robert.
At that moment my anger took over, and I found myself getting up and raising my hand. I was about to strike her, when in self-defense, she pushed me away, twisting my wrist in the process. I sat on the bed, frightened by my emotional reaction—of actually wanting to hit her. I said, “Pam, I’m sorry. I just can’t be friends with you anymore.” I felt totally drained, and saddened, at what had just happened.
The next morning, feeling awful about the night before, I went out for a walk, and stopped in a small, but very beautiful church. I walked in, knelt down, and said a prayer asking God to forgive me for that horrific fight.
On my way out of the church I spotted an assortment of small pamphlets and picked one up entitled Adult Children of Alcoholics–Hope, Help, and Healing. Maybe I’m getting Zapped again, I thought as I put the pamphlet in my pocketbook.
Later that day, we packed up and left Martha’s Vineyard. I began reading the booklet in bed that evening. The section, Inside Every Adult is a Child, began with a story about Tom, a young man who went to a party where his friend began to tease him. He became so enraged by this that he felt like punching his tormentor, but instead, he left the party. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t able to just brush off his friend’s teasing and his emotional response worried him. Then out of the blue came a memory. Tom recalled a day when his dog was killed by a hit-and-run driver and his older brother mercilessly teased him for crying. The memory of the incident washed over Tom like a wave. With it came the insight that his anger at the party was the anger and hurt of that little boy who needed comfort and understanding so many years ago.
I was getting Zapped again! This story was a replica of the fight I had with Pam at the restaurant. Only for me it’s women who make me so upset when they say cruel things. My mother said cruel things to me. Cruel women reminded me of my mother.
Just then a childhood memory came to me. I was about six or seven years old. My father was yelling at my mother saying “How could you say that to your own daughter?” I was crying uncontrollably. I ran up the stairs to my room, sobbing so hard I could hardly breathe. My father followed me, sat down next to me and tried to comfort me. “Daddy, why is Mommy so mean?” I asked. He told me, “Your mother has a disease. She’s an alcoholic and doesn’t know what she’s saying.” But from that day, I have never remembered what it was my mother had said to me.
Then another memory struck me. I was thirty years old, severely depressed and suicidal. I had lost my job and my boyfriend at the same time. I was a mess, totally despondent, without hope, seeing only darkness ahead. I was living with my sister at the time and she called my mother and father to take me home for a while. One night while I was there, my mother in her drunken voice screamed at me, “To Hell with You!”
In total despair over what she had said. The next day I took a handful of my father’s Valium from the medicine cabinet, went back to Manhattan, and attempted suicide with the pills and alcohol. My sister found me and rushed me to the hospital just in time.
As I lay in my bed remembering those very painful moments in my life, my mind raced back to the first childhood memory, then forward to my suicide attempt, and back to the memory of me crying as a small child. My thoughts raced back and forth, when all of a sudden, I remembered what my mother said to me when I was a little girl. My mother told me to “Go to Hell”!
In my mind’s eye, I went back to the scene, re-experiencing what happened to me as a child and all of a sudden—Screams of terror began pouring out of me. Spontaneous, uncontrollable primal screams, that were so loud I quickly grabbed my pillow and put it over my mouth. There were no tears, only these screams of terror, until finally my screams turned into tears. I’d never experienced anything like this complete and utter terror in remembering my mother’s cruel and heartless words.
As I lay in bed crying, I thought about what a psychologist had once said to me. She told me I had no compassion for myself and for what I had endured throughout my childhood. And for ten years I had carried with me tremendous guilt about my suicide attempt. In that moment, the guilt that had eroded my very being, instantly dissolved and was replaced with compassion and love for the hurt little girl inside me. And with time, I forgave my mother and came to terms with the past.
After my experience, I made an appointment with Reverend Ron Allison, the senior minister of Second Congregational Church. I’d been going to services at Second Congregational Church almost every Sunday since hearing the sermon, Being Afraid to Love. While sitting in his office, I related to him all the strange coincidences that had been occurring in my life, and asked, “What is happening to me?” He replied, “Why, it’s Providence. It’s Divine Guidance. God’s trying to tell you something.” Musing, I said, “All these coincidences make a great story, and it’s a story that can help others who grew up in alcoholic homes. I have to write a book, I really, really, really have to write a book”
He agreed, and then said, “I’d like to give you a personality test.” He walked over to his bookcase and pulled out a paperback, Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types. “This is the Keirsey-Bates personality test. It’s widely used by therapists, and I use it often in my counseling. I’d like you to go home, take the test, and we’ll go over the results the next time you come in.”
I went home, took the test, and my personality came out under the heading “The Author.” Another Zap, and this time I was really blown away! Then I remembered my sister’s boyfriend had given me the same test five years prior and the results were the same. I had never written before, but this time I decided to give it a try. It took me a year to write the book, and then I spent another year trying to get an agent and publisher, all to no avail.
Six months later, I was vacationing in the mystical land of Peru. On my way to visit an Incan Shaman in a remote Peruvian village for a psychic reading, I chatted with my traveling companion, bemoaning the difficulties of getting published. When we arrived at the wise man’s adobe hut, the scene was surreal—it had dirt floors, pigs and chickens in the living room and a dead, dried up condor on the wall. Appalled by the surroundings, I said nothing to the man. He told me, “Many Americans come here.”
“Really?” I asked incredulous. “Any famous ones?” I quipped. “Yes,” he answered and handed me the business card of an American Publisher/ Editor.
I couldn’t believe it! Zapped half way around the world. I contacted the Publisher/Editor as soon as I returned to the States and discovered she was a woman who helped people self-publish their books. When she told me it would cost $15,000 to finance the project, which was the average cost at the time, my hope quickly dissolved into despair. I didn’t know where I’d get that kind of money so I put the project on the back burner.
Until one day when the most bizarre coincidence of them all occurred. I have to preface the story by telling you I have an unusual nickname, Bebi, that my parents gave me when I was a baby. They could never explain how they came up with it, but I’ve had it throughout my entire life.
Back to the story—After my condo was renovated, I hired a Bosnian handyman to hang my draperies. He called me into the room and asked where he should position the drapes. I looked up in utter shock to see a homemade tattoo on his hand that spelled BEBI. “That’s my nickname on your hand! I screeched.” He laughed. “I call girlfriend Bebi. Mean baby in Bosnian.”
I immediately called Reverend Allison and asked, “What are the chances of that happening?” “Zero to none,” he replied. What could it possibly mean?” I asked. He paused in thought and replied, “Since you designed all your drapes, maybe it means you should open a custom drapery business.” I thought that was an odd response. “A custom drapery business? I don’t know about that,” I said. But six months later, I lost my job in fashion, and decided to open a home-based drapery business. I sent out 200 brochures and received one reply from a woman who ordered $50,000 worth of draperies. My profit of $15,000, the amount of money I needed to publish my book, Zapped: A True Story of Divine Intervention. The book went on to become a local bestseller that gained endorsements from Liz Smith, syndicated columnist, James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy, and a five-star review from Midwest Book Review that states, “Zapped is a powerful modern parable, as engaging and entertaining as it is meaningful and inspirational.” But the most rewarding moments were when average readers told me how much the book had helped them. A local banker said, “I also grew up in an alcoholic home and after reading your book, I’m no longer ashamed of it.” A woman at a book signing said, “I have your book. I keep it on my bedside table because it helps me.” And another woman told me her minister’s wife, a woman with three small children, went into rehab after reading Zapped.
I guess you’re wondering what ever happened to Robert Brenner, the man I was in love with and the impetus for my experience. As it turned out, he definitely wasn’t heaven sent! So in the end, God didn’t drop a husband down from the heavens. He gave me something far more valuable—the gift of my true self. So the next time you’re Zapped, always remember … there’s no such thing as a coincidence. It’s just God’s way of remaining anonymous!
To read the entire story see “Zapped a True Story of Divine Intervention” on Amazon.com