This was prompted by a Facebook post I saw today and I thought it was an interesting topic. In the pagan sphere of the world, we talk about spiritual awakenings and how wonderful and amazing and vital they are to your path. But we never talk about what a spiritual awakening is and the trauma or emotions we experience while we go through that awakening and why self-care afterwards is so important.
Now, I have to be very clear in the fact that not everyone’s spiritual awakenings are going to look the same. I can only speak from my own personal experiences and the experiences I’ve heard others talk about (within reason, of course). That goes without saying that your spiritual awakening might be gentle and you will be able to get back on track with life and move forward without trouble. But you are one of the lucky few. The rest of us go through this digging in heels, begging for the ride to stop, ugly crying in the corner with our favorite stuffy, and eating copious amounts of chocolate or another kind of comfort food while not understanding WTF is going on.
If you are lucky, you might have a teacher or guide or well-practiced friend who’s been there done that and can help you navigate your own spiritual awakening and reaffirm everything you’re feeling, experiencing, and trying to shed. And let’s not forget these are the angels that remind us to shower, eat, sleep, breathe, and basically remind us to human. But if you’re going it alone, a spiritual awakening can be one of the most traumatic and terrifying experiences you go through and you won’t know what to do when it’s come through your life like a bull in a china shop. You’re the ones I’m writing this for. You’re the ones I hope to help guide at least part of the way through and if you need tools or grounding, go check out my first post on Shadow work to help you create a “bug out bag”.
First of all, what the bleeping heck is a spiritual awakening? What are all these influencers even talking about and how do I know when I’ve gone through one? Well, there are more than a dozen different definitions all across the inter-webs that explain what a spiritual awakening is, breaking everything you experience, from realizing that birds are birds doing bird things completely separate from you doing your human things, to GREAT COSMIC POWER itty bitty living space, into spiritual awakenings. Realistically (and basically, lets be honest), a spiritual awakening is coming to a realization that is a 180 degree turn from your current knowledge, understanding, and view of the world or a “lifting of a veil” opening up a whole new world you didn’t know existed. Sometimes these are simply “ah ha” moments where you go “This thing is not what I thought it was or what I was taught it was supposed to be”.
Ok, but if that’s all they are, why are they so difficult? Because a lot of who we are, how we act/react, how we treat people, how we treat the world, is all based off of the knowledge we have at the time. When a situation arises that causes us (forces us) to see something differently, will force you to pause and take a moment and try to understand what is going on. If you are looking for these things (which I hope you are) you will allow yourself to go “Huh, I was wrong.” And decide to treat other situations within the realm of the knowledge gained.
The reason why they can be so difficult is because there is a degree of loss attached to the shifting of focus. I will use myself as an example. My teacher, Jim two snakes (check out his spiritual dading program), has a method where you determine whether you’re the hero, the villain, or the victim in a situation. At the time, I was allowing a friend of mine to live with me. They had taken up residence with me for almost six years at this point and I kept using the excuse that “They just need more help and support to get on their feet, it doesn’t matter they aren’t working or can’t hold down a job, if I keep helping them, giving them leeway’s and try to encourage them to better their life, they will be better!”.
What I was unable to see was that, over the course of those six years, they had held a job for maybe six months (not consecutively either) while I worked my butt off to keep myself (and them) afloat in this world. I thought, maybe they just need routine? Maybe if I give them chores to do to help them build healthy habits they will understand? Which then turned into, maybe if they just did the chores, I wouldn’t be so upset they aren’t paying me. No matter how I approached the situation, nothing worked and I just became more and more frustrated with them. And they either did not do the chores or bitched about them the whole time they were doing them.
They were a good friend of mine. Had been for a long while. Unfortunately, we are less than acquaintances’ now. In that situation, I had to realize what I was doing to try to help (and be a hero) was actually making me a villain AND a victim. I thought I was helping, I wanted to help, I wanted to see them succeed and become great in their own mind and I was ruining myself in the process. I almost lost my home, my job, everything I had because I was trying so hard to help them.
The awakening process took months to achieve. The stages of emotions I went through were astronomical and often cycled back through ones I had already traversed, all the while they still lived with me. When I finally came to a solution I felt I could live with, I told them “you have six months to find somewhere else to go.” Miraculously, they got a job that very week and started to pay me rent each month. When a time would come, no matter how much it hurt me to say it, where they would complain about work or coworkers or how hard it was to do that job, I would shrug and say “I don’t know what to tell you”. And move on. I saved every dime they paid me. Tucked it away in an envelope and on the day they moved out, I handed them that envelope and said “Best of luck to you.”
So, lets break that down a bit more, make some sense of how all of that was a “spiritual awakening” for myself. I started off being oblivious to how much hurt and damage I was doing to myself by attempting to help someone who had more interest in using my hospitality than they were trying to make something of themselves. I believed I was being a “good person” by allowing them to stay with me for free, supply them with a comfy bed, a roof, even cigarettes and gas money. The awakening here was the realization that I wasn’t helping anyone. I (in my mind) had failed. Grief, loss, guilt, anger, shame. I had failed them and because I had failed them, I had failed myself. Wow did I fuck up.
Stage two, was the realization they had used me for their own comfort and gain. Wow, fuck up number two. More guilt packed on top of embarrassment because of how many people had warned me that was how they functioned. Floating from couch to couch through the friend group. Now I just felt like an idiot.
Stage three was finding a solution that would help both myself get dug out of the hole I had allowed and find a way where I wouldn’t feel like a total D-bag by asking them to leave. This part took a while and it took a bit of courage to stand up to them and ask them to move on and to stick to my guns. I’m sure at the time, they figured, oh, she’s just mad. She will calm down in a few weeks and we can go back to normal as long as I do the bare minimum. But I had an arsenal of sticky notes in my area that they didn’t know about. With little sayings like “Don’t back down”, “remember why this is important”, “You deserve to survive and even thrive”. This is where my “awakening” began to make some ground. After a few successful moments of holding my own, keeping my footing (and listening to everyone around me about how toxic the situation was), the awakening started to take hold.
Stage four is where I back tracked. Oh yea, back tracking is part of awakening. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but it happens. Turns out, they needed gas money to get to work and back home. I knew how much they made each month, the amount of rent I was charging was LOW compared to the area, and I knew there was no way they didn’t have the money to make it work and back. So, I asked. Their response was “Well, I have to pay you rent and I’m giving money to so-and-so to hold for me to get my own place so I don’t spend it. You know I have a spending issue. I messed up! I need help.”
Ok. I’ll help.
Following week. “I need more gas money.” What. Really? Ok. Here.
Following week. “I need money for cigarettes. I can’t survive work without them. It’s SOOOOO stressful.”
Following week. “I need an extension on my rent payment.”
Stage five is realizing stage four wasn’t a setback. Stage four was a reiteration of the way things used to be and stage five is stepping fully into the “new way of viewing your world”. At one point, I realized they weren’t going to change, they weren’t willing to even attempt to help themselves. Because that friend they were giving money to? It was to buy weed. That friend wasn’t saving their money for them. That friend was their dealer. Stage five is what I consider my “done” stage. I looked at them, told them what I had found out. They said it was all lies. I just shrugged and said “You have two months left.” And went into my room to sob.
They moved out, I stuck to giving them the money they had paid me in rent, and we went our separate ways. There was only one person who supported my decision to hand them the money, and it was that one person who made every step I took into a lesson. A lesson to remember that people are human and not all are the same. That the next person I try to help isn’t going to be like the one who used me. Though I would have to be careful and set boundaries, my experience with that person didn’t ruin my desire to help people.
Spiritual awakenings take our worlds and either tilt them slightly to the side or completely flip them on their heads to teach us something important. Sometimes we need someone in our lives who will do nothing but the bare minimum so they can keep taking things from your kindness, and sometimes we need to slip and fall and crack our heads on a cliff wall next to the dead river in Marquette (true story).
What I’m trying to get across, is that yes, spiritual awakenings are difficult. The things most people don’t talk about is why they are difficult. We mourn our own lives, the way they were, and we fear what is to come. But the important part is finding the excitement that something is changing and to challenge ourselves to find out what the lesson is. That whole situation was a spiritual awakening for me. I went from thinking I could be their super hero to realizing I was actually the villain of their story while simultaneously being the victim in my own. What shifted was not my desire to help others, but my ability to take care of myself WHILE helping others. Like, setting boundaries and reenforcing boundaries when they were challenged. I figured out how incapable I became at helping others when I was suffering and how vital it is I am in a place where I can help someone while paying attention to whether or not they actually want to be helped. It changed the way I approached helping people, too. By asking “Do you need to vent, or are you looking for an ear to listen or do you want advice” helped me know what role I need to take when someone comes to me with a problem they are having.
And the biggest thing I learned was that I couldn’t save/help everyone nor was I always capable of being the “hero” they needed. Sometimes it comes down to just knowing who to send them to and being ok with that being my role. And sometimes, it’s me that needs saving. And that’s ok.
All of this goes without saying that in an emergency situation I would like to think of myself as one of the “helpers”. Someone who would think clearly and step in and offer support to someone else who is incapable of expressing what they need. One of these days I will share the dog in Munising story, but that will come on a different day.
I’m of the mind that Spiritual Awakenings aren’t just “ah-ha” moments or sitting on a cliff facing the rising sun reaching enlightenment. Spiritual Awakenings are long, difficult and painful. They are our teachers and our guides. They show us where something is wrong or broken and requires fixing. They demand our attention, sometimes in the worst ways, and our focus. And sometimes, they are small and nonobtrusive. That doesn’t change their impact or influence within our lives. Just don’t be disenfranchised by the influencers telling you how fluffy and wonderful awakenings are. Because I doubt they’ve ever experienced one that’s wrecked their worlds.
For me, Spiritual Awakenings are meant to broaden our points of view or to adjust our perspectives. And the spirits will not stop sending us events in order to help us grow and change. I hope your own awakenings are gentle and full of warmth and understanding (at least eventually). But until then, I send you warm blankets, pet snuggles or partner snuggles, a comfy corner or shoulder to sob on, and a hearty meal to keep you going.
If you like what I do, or want to hear me ramble on about a specific topic, please like, share and comment on these posts. It helps others find me and its one of the easiest ways to support a content creator you enjoy. Go forth and survive your awakening. You deserve it. Love to you all.