Holly shares that she’s going through an extremely difficult time. She’s decided to leave her 29-year marriage. Dealing with the process of divorce is hard enough, but the dissolution of such a long-term relationship is proving emotionally overwhelming. On top of that, one of her parents is gravely ill and one of her adult children has moved home. They both need her focused attention. Holly is surprised to be assailed with never-before-experienced anxiety resulting in daily panic attacks. She cries often. She is certain that she is not handling this episode in her life as well as she should be. She apologizes for needing to vent and is searching for some insight into how she can handle herself better.
Holly does not need to handle herself better. Holly needs reassurance from the many who have already experienced exactly what she’s experiencing, which is; Holly has entered stage one of awakening.
When you search on-line and find “The Signs That You’re Awakening” they most likely will not include: 1) the life you worked to build becomes impossible to live in 2) sudden onslaught of anxiety, depression and insomnia 3) crisis in all relationships 4) severe self-doubt 5) obsession with finding where you went wrong 6) an impossible amount of crisis, and then one more.
Holly, and possibly you, are awakening from role playing. All the roles that women adopt—wife, mother, daughter, employee/entrepreneur, etc.—to fit in and to get love. I talk a lot about this. The awakening, that seems sudden, has been steadily growing inside until it can no longer be contained within the constraining roles. Like birth, we need to burst out of the womb-like existence that our roles provided for us to realize our true selves.
Holly needs a compassionate witness to her unsettling awakening. She doesn’t know who she really is. Most of us don’t. She needs to talk, a lot (Women We Need to Talk). Holly needs to realize that she has been constricting herself, probably since her actual birth, so that her loved ones can feel comfortable and therefore accept her, but at a terrible cost to herself and to them. Holly needs to be taught how to nurture her true self; to be the all-loving, only kind, attentive parent to her new, emerging self.
We seem to imagine awakening in reverse order. We picture a beatific expression on the face of an awakening soul as she opens her arms to a holy light and peace descends upon her forever. That is more like the end of a lifetime of awakenings. In the beginning, awakening, like all birth, is traumatic, it is messy and it is inevitable. Occupying life inside our roles was not a mistake. They were not wrong or bad, they were a stage that is now over and the next has begun.