10 Editor's Pick
May 23, 2019

Real Awakenings are Not Elegant—they are Messy, Ugly, Shattered & Raw.


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I want to have an awakening like they do in the movies.

You know, where the protagonist experiences their quantum shift with elegance and grace, leading us, the audience, into a wonderful montage (complete with awesome music) of all the ways their life will now improve.

They get an amazing new job after sending out a few résumés; a random run to the coffeehouse yields them a phone number from their dream partner; they ditch their sh*tty apartment and relocate to a house that they can now somehow afford very easily; they make up with their asshole father and go fishing. All in the span of mere weeks.

And, after the montage is over, we witness the protagonist looking back at the crossroads that brought them to this new, wonderful place in their life, all the while contemplatively smiling and drinking a margarita.

Reality check, please.

Real awakenings are not like this. Far from it. There is no montage, there is no music, there is no shortcut to the next scene in which we will somehow now be miraculously happy, at peace, or in love. We can’t fake it. We can’t skip the middle. We can’t yell, “Cut!”

With real-world awakenings, there is a lot of crying. There is a ton of confusion and doubt and questions and shock. There is deep-seated socialization and conditioning that gets unearthed, leaving us wondering what the hell we believe/want/know/feel now. There is the messy middle and feeling terrified in the middle of the night and that body issue that for sure got cleared up in therapy but is now rearing its ugly head…again. There is the wondering if anyone else ever feels like this, and, if they do, why aren’t they talking about it?

Awakenings feel like our heart is breaking and being pieced back together again at the same time. It feels like all the parts of ourselves are at war and they are inviting us to come along for the ride. It feels like we are caught between this person we say we want to be and the person we are right now (who is a complete mess!). It can feel wretched one minute and like we are on cloud nine the next. Sometimes, it just feels sloooooooow.

And then, in the middle of the awakening, something happens. A flash of a fresh perspective that shifts the entire world on its axis, a rush of love to the heart that makes us grab our chest and catch our breath, someone telling us that we matter, an old wound that finally, finally heals. Something releases. Something surrenders. There is a softening where there was once a hard place. There are moments that feel like we are being hit by a ton of bricks and knocked over by a feather at the same time.

Awakenings tear us open. They expose all the yucky stuff, the shameful stuff, the secrets, the dreams that were never given a voice, the relationships that imprison us, the words left unsaid. Awakenings are a mirror we can’t turn away from, even in our ugliest, most tattered gown. They force us to get real, to get honest, to get transparent. They ask us to up level.

Awakenings don’t just come for anyone. They seek out those who are strong enough to take a hit. Awakenings don’t f*ck around, because they have a mission: to help us arrive. To arrive at our deepest place of love and compassion. To arrive at our endless inner wisdom. To arrive at the tender crossroads of accepting ourselves and loving others. To arrive at the place in which we are in full trust of who and what we are. To arrive at our shattered places and pour some light over them.

And when we do arrive, we realize we have been cleansed, blessed, and prepared. We understand that those dark nights of the soul were an opening for our raw truth to claw its way out. We are humbled that our greatest pain has now become our biggest teacher.

The truth of who we are is not in how well we can contort ourselves into who the world says we are allowed to be. The truth of who we are is when we stop contorting. When we stop making excuses. When we stop lying to ourselves that we are satisfied when we are not. When we stop believing that all the beautiful experiences in life are reserved for other people.

Awakenings allow us to realize all the ways we make ourselves small. All the ways we try to fit ourselves into other people’s rules, limitations, and beliefs. All the ways we have rejected ourselves and not honored our own wisdom.

We change when we realize that there must be another way. When our inner truth is so loud that we can’t find any more excuses or distractions to turn the volume down.

We must answer the call. We owe it to ourselves.

So, give me the messy middle because I want all the good stuff on the other side of it…including an amazing margarita.

author: Elizabeth Gordon

Image: Gravity (2013)

Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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Catharine Jun 5, 2019 9:03am

it was like walking around in the world with the plague that nobody could see.
A loss of a spouse and staying in bed for 6 months.
A place I could not seem to care about anything at all.
Why can nobody see me?

One night I fixed myself, a simple simple meal.
It was cold and dark outside, and I was so cozy.
I noticed! I was so grateful,
for the simple meal, the coziness,
Comfort in my own company,
I noticed.

I noticed small blessings, my plant was still thriving,
My CD still worked and I played just the right tone, for my shattered self.

I noticed the seasons, going by, and the time I spent with myself,
and what brought me, joy, and I did more of that.

I learned to play again, I danced in my apartment, by myself.
Such small things, such huge impact.

Keeping not just food, but yummies, in my fridge. Everything I owned was negotiable, except my linen sheets! And one painting.

I used up my energy foolishly and what was curated energy?

I lived my way to my own answers. It has been seven years.

I am old now, not young. I am so encouraged by the youth of today, so much healing so much healthy expenditures of energy. So much healthy self care, balanced, and whole. I salute you!

janise cross Jun 4, 2019 12:24pm

OMG. Elizabeth Gordon. You just NAILED it woman!! I am going to print this out and make wall paper out of it to paste wall to wall all over my house!! LOL. Well. That might be a bit extreme… But really-i will read this often to remember. This article knocked it out of the park. Thank you. 🙂

Erin Lehn Floresca Jun 3, 2019 3:00pm

Beautiful article! Truly resonates with me at this very moment!

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Elizabeth Gordon

Elizabeth Gordon is a world traveler, meditation & metaphysics teacher & healer, energy worker, clutter clearing expert, animal lover, vegan, yoga baby, and former Hollywood dreamer. She worked in the arts & entertainment for many years before answering the call to channel her love of healing through spiritual & metaphysical work. She owns enCOMPASS your life, a small business based in Portland, OR which offers clutter clearing & home energy work. Elizabeth also hosts a monthly group, med/met, which offers guided meditations, discussion of metaphysical topics & group healing. Find her on Facebook or on Instagram here or here.