The Power of Personal Awakenings

by Healmyvoice on June 30, 2019

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 1.37.39 PMOriginally Published On Purpose Woman April 2019

By Andrea Hylen, Founder of Heal My Voice

There were two pivotal moments of “personal awakening” between December 1985 and December 1986 that changed the direction of my life. The first awakening began late one night, sitting in the kitchen cross stitching Christmas ornaments to be given as presents. Existing on only three to four hours of sleep each night, I had a moment of paralysis. My legs and feet were frozen in place. I couldn’t move. I cried out for my husband to help me. With his assistance, I was slowly able to stand up and shuffle into the bedroom. Crying myself to sleep. I repeated silently, “Tomorrow is Al-Anon. Tomorrow is Al-Anon.”

Pushing myself to be the perfect mother, wife, employee, including making handmade ornaments, had driven me to the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was working 40 hours as a research assistant at the University of Maryland. Waking up at 5am to breastfeed my 6-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, before getting my 2-year-old daughter, Mary, dressed and ready for day care. Also, Elizabeth was still not sleeping though the night. My husband didn’t “help” me and it became easier to just do it all myself. I had night duty, day duty, a full-time job and an expectation I had placed on myself to do it all. The moment of paralysis, the Al-Anon meeting, all helped me to wake up and look at my life.

The second “awakening” was at Christmas time the next year. It was during an argument with my husband and glancing to see a look in my youngest daughter’s eyes.  When I heard a voice in my head say, “This is not the role model I came to be for my children,” I was sparked into awakening. I knew something had to change and I knew it had to be me.

I knew there were problems in our marriage, and I had tried to “fix” them. I converted to Catholicism so my husband would go to church. I went to Al-Anon and expected my husband to go to AA. I read books like, “The Dance of Anger,” and “The Dance of Intimacy,” and tried to engage my husband in conversation. I went to therapy and did Family Constellation work. But, with every “personal growth” step, I tried to make him change.  After one more year of co-dependency, I finally made the decision that I would leave the marriage and focus on healing myself.

When I think of other times in my life when I felt an “awakening,” there was a moment that felt like a light bulb being switched on. I describe it as an inner knowing that was sparked from within and a voice inside of me gives me a message that shifts my perspective. I am called into change. The spark might have been an answer to a long, awaited question or a feeling like thunder clapping. The feelings range from fear to shock to relief. It might be connected to a relationship, a job, a move, or a hidden desire.

When the light of awareness is turned on, there is no going back. You have been awakened to something and in that moment, everything changes. You cannot unsee it or unknow it. It is a moment when you wake up to a new awareness and you know you have to make different choices. It may feel like life or death. You may need to cry and grieve. You see your life with a new perspective.  It sets something new in motion. It requires action and the complete change may take years to unfold into the new, but it starts with, there was a moment when…

         This is where you have a choice. You can acknowledge it, or you can do things to try to deny it. You can’t unsee it, but you can pour all of your energy into the denial, if you choose. Get super busy. Use an addiction like eating, drinking, sex, exercise, work, anything that becomes an obsession that fills up all empty space where you may feel the thing that you just saw. Or you can choose change. You can let the awakening guide you to something new.


*Acknowledge: Begin with an acknowledgement of the awakening.

*Support: A women’s circle, a class, a therapist, a support group, or a friend. Get support from people who can support you without judgement.

*Take baby steps. What’s the next step? That is all you need to know right now.

*Self-care. Nurture yourself with silence, pampering, nutrition, rest, and simple pleasures.


Personal awakenings will guide you to a better life. They begin as disruptors. There is chaos. The life you are here to create is waiting for you and it requires change. Surrender. Follow the steps above and open to the magic on the other side.


I leave you with a few questions to explore:


*Was there a moment in your life when you saw an injustice that other people did not see, and you had to stand up and speak even though you knew someone would be upset with you? Would you do it again?

*Think of a moment when you heard about a book or a film that opened your eyes to something. What was the topic? How did reading the book or watching the film change your life?

*Was there a moment when you noticed something, about a person, and you knew you had to make a choice to get closer or farther away from them?




Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community.

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