When I was just out of college in my twenties, I married my childhood sweetheart. I was certain then that the most important thing I could possibly do was to excel at what was expected of me. To that noble end, I worked in a corporate job, spent time with friends who got along with my husband and me, bought a home, had two beautiful children, and traveled to Europe and Canada. The strange thing that I slowly began to notice was that even though all my wishes were coming true, I felt no inner sense of wholeness. I felt instead oddly empty.
This emptiness accompanied a sensation of drowsiness that was impossible to shake off. I commented to my cousin in spring of 1994 that, "I feel like I've overslept, and even though I know I'm asleep and I really want to awaken, I'm just too groggy to wake up all the way." There is an old American Indian saying that if someone knows, but doesn't know that they know -- wake them up. I was in a state of knowingness without honoring what I intuitively knew to be right and true.
I felt such a strong need to awaken that I honored my sense of inner spirit waiting to emerge by writing the beginning of a short story called "Chrysalis". This was a story about a woman who suddenly realized that she needed to quit her job because the time had come to do something else with her life. She woke up one morning with a feeling of confidence that it was time to move on and do what she was here to do -- so she went in to work to tell her boss that she was quitting her job to go find what that something was.
Within a few short months of writing "Chrysalis", my life changed dramatically. It began when my husband returned home from a business trip in the summer of 1994. He'd had an intense spiritual experience in his hotel room, which was highly unusual for him. He was quite enthusiastic about it, and as he shared his visions and dreams with me I could feel myself awakening! His epiphany felt like my alarm clock... as if we'd set the time to wake up many years back, and had long awaited this very moment.
The summer of 1994 marked the beginning of many mysterious experiences in my life, which led me to realize that reality is not what it seems. There are powerful unseen forces at work in the universe which seem more fundamentally real than the physical reality most people consider to be All That Is. My spiritual awakening in 1994 also led me to view my marriage very differently than I'd seen it for all those "sleeping" years. I sensed how my needs and my husband's needs were vastly different, and for the first time I could clearly see how our paths no longer continued together as one. I felt hurt by this realization, since I like to make things work -- yet also relieved to finally be seeing my life with a clarity that I'd been longing for in all those sleepy years. I was sad to realize that this marriage was something that I could not save, even though I would always treasure the happy memories from it.
I realized how my husband and I had changed in profound ways from the people we were when we first met as teenagers in high school. Neither of us felt like encouraging the newly inspired person the other was becoming, yet we each knew that we could not climb back inside our chrysalises and remained cramped inside them any more. In the midst of this discovery of our true selves, I found myself realizing that we were emerging from a long sleep to come out of our chrysalises together. We'd been sleeping somewhat peacefully together for many years, unable to move -- feeling hemmed in and constrained. We'd sheltered ourselves inside the cocoons we'd built with our happy home, our prosperous careers, and our lives devoted to excelling at what was expected of us. As these overly confining belief structures crumbled, we found ourselves feeling much bigger, much freer, and much less able to remain where we'd been for all those cramped, sleepy years. We did what every butterfly does when it first emerges from its chrysalis -- we stretched our wings and felt ourselves get bigger and more magnificent. This inner transformation was not as outwardly obvious to the world, of course, but it felt every bit as real to me. I could no longer look at the world or myself in the same way, and my husband had been equally changed.
Sometimes I think back to the days when I saw the world from a more limited perspective, and remember the simple joy of living within those confined walls. I remember the feeling of being held in place by a sense of certainty that my assumptions and beliefs were true, and accurately represented "the way things are". Those days are but a memory for me now, because I can no longer squeeze myself and my big wings back into that tiny transformative space.
A very wise friend of mine told me when I voiced my bittersweet feelings of venturing into uncharted territories in my life, "You can't go back now. You know too much." I cried tears of gratitude and relief, since I could feel the truth in his words. I am free now to become who I truly am, complete with a newfound understanding that things are seldom what they seem. It is this very quality of mystery in this universe which gives me the freedom to experience it in ever-changing new ways.
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