The idea of a journey to an authentic life may seem strange and scary. Fortunately, many others have traveled this road and created maps to guide us. One ancient map of transformation was discovered by Joseph Campbell (1968) and described in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. One of the world’s leading authorities on mythology, Campbell studied myths and fairy tales of the Western world and the Orient that had been part of an oral teaching tradition for over 25,000 years. Throughout the history of the human race, myths and fairy tales have been used to teach people the simple and profound truths of life they needed to grow and change. Embedded in these teaching stories, he discovered keys to the universal journey of transformation. The image to the right shows the 12 steps in Campbell’s mythic journey.
Your lifetime is a large journey that contains numerous mini-journeys. Each time you change your internal and/or external life becomes a mini individual journey. Completing each of our developmental stages inside a couple or family system becomes a larger journey. All of these journeys carry you towards living from your True Self and experiencing an Authentic Life.
Our Individual and Couple Journeys Towards an Authentic Life
The Call to Awaken
This call usually comes as the result of an external event or some inner awareness that asks you to examine your life and the direction it is heading. This call can appear as an opportunity to do something new or as an obstacle that prevents you from living the way you have been. It can come at any time in your life, a fork in the road where you can choose a new direction or pattern for your life. It can be precipitated by an illness or accident that interrupts your usual routine and gives you time to reflect. The call can be the result of losing one job or finding another job that requires moving. It also can come from reading a book, seeing a movie or play, losing a loved one, or the breaking up of a relationship.
Barry Remembers His First Call To Awaken
Barry remembered getting his first call to awaken when he was still in high school: I was a rather shy teenager who was depressed a lot. In the summer before my senior year I was invited to join the DeMolay Chapter, a fraternal group for young men, in neighboring Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was a scary challenge. I knew no one in the Chapter and I had to travel to a strange city that I had only driven to once before in my life. In spite of all the obstacles, I knew I needed a change so I decided to accept the invitation. This turned out to be a very significant decision that helped me turn my life around. I quickly made new friends, found adult male mentors and quickly advanced through the ranks of the organization to become its leader about two years later. I eventually received the highest award a member of the organization could receive, the Order of the Chevalier. This gave me confidence that I could do things a short time before I thought were impossible.
I remember getting my second call to awaken when I was in my mid-twenties and while I was working as a middle-school counselor near suburban Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I had an opportunity to go to the University of Minnesota to get my M.A degree. Again, it was a scary decision, but I decided to take the risk. Although I had never traveled further west than Pittsburgh from my small eastern Pennsylvania hometown, I decided to go for my master’s degree in counseling at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. This meant moving to the big city of Minneapolis. I applied for and was awarded an N.D.E.A. Fellowship for my M. A. that would pay all my tuition costs plus a housing allowance that would enable me to study full-time. This decision drastically altered my life path because I ended up staying there for five years and completing my Ph.D. This move set the stage for subsequent calls to awaken that led me into deeper levels of consciousness.
Janae Remembers Her First Call To Awaken:
I enrolled in classes at the Merrill-Palmer Institute for Family Development in Detroit between my junior and senior years of college. Here I was exposed to many new and exciting ideas and people who were leaders in the field of human growth and development. My fellow students, who were from all over the country, helped me broaden my perspective and exposed me to many different cultural values and beliefs. Many of these experiences were in stark contrast to the conservative, repressive home environment of my native Midwestern farm culture.
One particularly expansive experience awakened me to some new dimension of spirituality. It happened at a Methodist church near the Institute. During one particularly inspiring church service, the heavens seemed to part and I had a brief experience of being at one with God. It was such a profound moment, I didn’t know what to do with this experience and had no one with whom I could talk about it. It gave me a glimpse of a deeper way of experiencing myself in relationship to something much larger than myself. This experience awakened in me a feeling of optimism about my future and a strange sense of destiny.
Refusing the Call
You may decide not to answer the call to awaken. At least not at first. Perhaps fear dominates your thinking and you decide this is not the right time to make changes. It is easy to find reasons to refuse to listen to the call to awaken. Perhaps you are in line for a promotion, or you decide to build a house or buy a car or boat. Whatever the reason, you may feel unable to break out of your roles and responsibilities. Don’t worry. If you refuse the call, it will come again and again, ringing louder and louder each time.
Barry’s First Refusal To Answer The Call:
I do remember refusing to answer the Call when I was in my late 20’s. I remember feeling very lonely in my first marriage. We had slowly drifted apart. I was in graduate school studying for my Ph.D. and my wife was home caring for our two young children. We seemed to have very little in common, except our love for our children. I thought of ending the marriage, but I could not face a future where I didn’t have day-to-day contact with my children. I decided to try everything I could to try to salvage the marriage and refused the call to awaken any further. I focused all my attention on trying to make the marriage work and all the other things I was doing professionally came second. I succeeded in staying in the marriage until our children were teenagers and my wife and I finally agreed to an amicable no-fault divorce, where we had joint custody of our two children.
Janae Observed Her Refusal To Answer the Call:
After graduating from college I was offered a teaching position at the Merrill-Palmer Institute that would have allowed me to begin graduate work with an outstanding staff at a prestigious school. I felt intimated by the high level of self-awareness displayed by the faculty, and afraid that they would eventually see my False Self and how shallow and undeveloped I really was. So I refused this tremendous opportunity and the call to awaken so that I could continue to live a False Life.
Answering a False Call
You may answer a false call by agreeing to do something that asks you to ignore your own needs and feelings, such as rescuing others. You may believe you are doing what is expected of you, but you are really setting yourself up to be a victim again. Perhaps old loyalties or debts pull at you, asking you to give up your own needs. You may become the chair of a committee at church, run for public office, or take a job you didn’t want. Only later do you realize you have answered a false call.
Barry Recalls Answering Several False Calls:
I recall answering a false call several times in my life: I became involved in causes to help others in the community. I seemed to have a strong need to do something to help the underdog or the less fortunate people in the world, perhaps was the result of adopting a Solicitous Caregiver role in my family while growing up. Each time I did that I would find myself losing my focus, then eventually losing interest in the cause and finally moving on to another cause.
I remember being asked to chair a committee in a community organization that was creating new primary-prevention programs for infants and children. This was a cause that I loved, but as I put in increasing amounts of time on this project I found myself feeling resentful that I did not have more time for myself. As a result, I became increasingly more critical of the project and the people involved. Finally, I realized that I was becoming a negative force at committee meetings. Fortunately, Janae noticed what was happening to me and encouraged me to extricate myself from this obligation and spend more time nurturing myself.
Although I hated to let go because I really believed in the project that the committee was developing, taking care of myself became a higher priority. I am glad I decided to follow my own inner callings instead of following an outer interest. Thank you, Janae, for helping me get my priorities straight.
Janae Remembers Doing the same:
Rather than answering the call to awaken and live from my True Self, I opted for something safe and known. I married a man I barely knew during my first year of teaching and we quickly had our first child. I stopped teaching and focused on marriage and motherhood. Having lost my mother at the age of thirteen and spending my adolescence in a single-parent family, I wanted a happy and stable home for my child.
During the years after my first son’s birth, my marriage became increasingly conflictual. Each time my marriage faltered, I tried even harder to make it succeed, but nothing seemed to work. To avoid feeling my despair, I became a workaholic housewife. By the time my oldest son was three years old, it was clear that my husband and I had deep incompatibilities. When I looked at the options related to divorce, however, I couldn’t see any so I answered a false call by deciding to have another child, and continuing to live a False Life.
Answering the Call to Awaken
This usually involves taking a big risk, such as trying something entirely new, discovering your own inertia, or identifying family patterns. Answering the call to awaken can be very difficult if you have refused it many times and feel backed into a corner. In any case, this decision usually involves a conscious choice to open up yourself to new growth and awareness. This decision is irreversible, although you may not realize until much later that you cannot go back to being unconscious.
Barry Recalls Answering the Call To Awaken Under Trying Circumstances
When Barry answered his first call to awaken by attending graduate school in a big city far from his home, he didn’t realize the impact this decision would have in awakening him to life:
While the challenges of graduate school and big-city life were new and exciting, one event changed my life forever. One day in a group therapy class, my professor, who was leading a practice group of graduate students, suddenly turned to me and said, “Barry, I don’t think you are close to anyone.” He saw through my mask, and I was terrified. Where could I hide? I was furious at him for seeing through me, but something told me that he was right and that it was time for me to answer the call to awaken.
Deciding to answer this call did not mean that things immediately got easier for me. First, I confronted the unresolved conflicts in my marriage, and then started therapy. As a result of taking these risks, I began to feel more and more alive. It took several more years of hard work before my decision to awaken bore fruit. I had refused so many previous calls to awaken that my whole life needed to shatter so that I could rebuild it again.
Janae Recalls How Difficult it was for Her to Finally Awaken:
My marriage did not improve. Rather, I sought ways to avoid answering the call. As my children got older and began to develop their own lives, I allowed myself to admit how much I missed the mental stimulation and challenge of teaching. One semester, I took a maternity-leave teaching position that renewed my zest for life, but actually terrified my husband. He was adamant that my desire to teach was in direct conflict with his need for me to be a full-time homemaker mother and partner. He became critical of my interests and jealous of any time that I took away from him and our children. We eventually hit an impasse in our relationship that forced me awaken.
One day I felt that I was dying. It wasn’t clear at the time if it was my False Self dying or my physical being. I just knew deep inside of me that if I continued in the marriage, I would either get some catastrophic disease, or I would have some kind of fatal accident. Once this realization hit me, I knew that I needed outside help to find my True Self. So I entered therapy, where I discovered how much unhealed trauma from my childhood was replaying in my relationship with my husband and children. One of the first self-awakening things I did as a result of my counseling was to return to graduate school.
At first, the new challenges related to answering the call to awaken can seem overwhelming. It is often necessary to gather allies for support during your journey. The word ally comes from the Greek word meaning “silly or fool,” so we may see our allies as silly or foolish in the beginning. Allies may also find you, rather than you having to look for them. Books may fall off the shelf into your hands in a bookstore, someone may give you a book to read or a tape to listen to, or you may have a chance meeting with an interesting stranger. You may also consciously seek allies by joining a support group or getting into therapy. These allies help us realize that we are on the right track and encourage us to become more awake.
The Process Of Gathering Allies Was An Unfolding Process For Barry:
I found several books that really impacted me during this period and helped me see that I was on the right track. I also developed several transformational friendships as well. While attending the American Humanistic Psychology conference in Berkeley, California, in the late 1970s, I encountered two new allies that eventually helped me change my life.
The first was Leonard Orr, who was one of the keynote speakers. Leonard is the founder of rebirthing, a breathwork process for releasing old traumas from the body. I tape-recorded his speech and as he spoke I noticed that the audience was laughing at him. Both his delivery and the content of what he was saying seemed to make many people in the audience very uncomfortable. After the conference, I listened to that tape many times because, in spite of the laughter, his message had a profound effect on me. I finally recognized the truth in what he was saying and a few months later I was headed back to California to be trained as a Rebirther. As part of the training, I had to be rebirthed myself. I experienced tremendous energy releases from my body during this process and the whole training experience seemed to give me more confidence to move forward in my life both personally and professionally.
The other ally I encountered at this conference was Dr. Jean Houston, who was also a keynote speaker. When I heard her speak, I was filled with awe. Never before had I heard anyone speak so eloquently; what she said penetrated me to my core. It was as if she were speaking just to me that evening. I knew then that I wanted to study with her and this decision led me to sign up for several of her extended trainings in the next five to six years. I could feel myself heading in a new direction in my life, even though I didn’t know at that time it would also open up some painful life events.
Janae Found An Ally Almost the Moment She Decided to Enter Graduate School:
I felt old beside many of the students in my classes. In one of my classes, I met Molly, a woman about my age and we began a friendship. She was divorced and her husband had custody of her four children. I was absolutely stunned when I discovered that her children lived next door to me with their father and stepmother. Molly understood my struggle to make my marriage work, my desire to have a life and interests of my own, my feelings of guilt about neglecting my children, and my experience of feeling lost and living from my False Self.
Molly and I spent many long hours together talking about ourselves, our lives, and our dreams. For the first time since college, I felt as though I had a friend with whom I could share everything. She also invited me to join a therapy group to which she belonged, which expanded my circle of support while I was deciding what to do about my failing marriage. This circle of allies reflected back my feelings and validated my need to become an independent person. Molly was a great role model for me in believing that my children could survive a divorce and that I could repair any damage to them that might result. I felt really grateful to have Molly’s support during this difficult period. She is still my friend today.
Crossing the Threshold of Consciousness
When you have gathered enough allies, you must risk crossing the threshold of consciousness into the unknown. This usually requires a leap of faith, a belief that you are doing the right thing. This step involves crossing a number of smaller thresholds before you can take that leap of faith into the unknown. The first is the silliness threshold, which involves the fear of looking foolish to others. Another is the sanity threshold, or fearing you might go crazy if you leap into the void or that you will fall into a black hole and never return.
The knowledge threshold involves a fear of discovering something new that might invalidate your way of seeing yourself or the world. The trust threshold reflects your vulnerability and fear of being hurt. You may also experience a love threshold, where you fear that you will lose the love of friends and family if you cross the threshold. Finally, you may find a survival threshold looming in front of you, fearing death or abandonment.
Barry Continues His Story:
I felt stuck in my relationship with my first wife for a long time, but I seemed to lack the courage to do anything about it. I finally decided to tell her about my feelings. We sat up that night and talked for about four hours. At the end of our talk, we decided to get a divorce. We had been having marital difficulties for a long time and it became clear to both of us that we were headed in different directions. While I had an internal feeling of rightness about this decision, I felt really scared. This was the most risky thing I had ever done in my life and I didn’t have a pattern for what I had decided to do. It truly felt like a leap into the unknown.
Janae Recalls Clearly Her Leap Into the Unknown:
It became increasingly clear over a period of several months that my marriage was not transformable. This realization emerged slowly as the result of many long conversations with my husband. I was very clear that I wanted a relationship based on partnership and he did not. I wanted desperately to move beyond my “mousewife” status and to do it in a way that preserved our family.
My husband wanted me to be a traditional housewife and to give up my need for interests outside him and our children. His expectations, which mirrored the patriarchal, Midwestern farm culture that I grew up in, asked me to live from my False Self inside a False Life. It was clear that I would have to surrender my personal interests and my need to live from my True Self in order to preserve my marriage and our family.
I eventually decided to end the interminable discussions about the marriage and began divorce proceedings. This leap into the unknown was not only an act of independence and self-preservation, it also a declaration of my need to live a more authentic life.
The Road of Trials
After the decision to cross the threshold into the unknown is made, you are immediately faced with the road of trials. These tests of your courage and commitment force you to rely on your internal resources to handle the tests you encounter. There is no time to look back, to consult your notes, to think it over, or talk to a trusted friend. The decisions must be made quickly and decisively.
Barry Faced a Rough Road of Trials:
After our decision to divorce, I found myself moving into a new home, building new relationships with my children, dating for the first time in over 25 years, and daily meeting new challenges I never thought I would ever have to face. Within a year, I married Barbara. and I felt happy again.
However, my happiness was short-lived because our closeness brought up a new wave of family patterns for both of us. Barbara began to be critical of me in ways that reminded me of my mother, and I began to act in ways that reminded Barbara of her father. This created a huge block to intimacy in our relationship. We both realized that we had brought unhealed traumas in our relationship that now was causing us to have intractable conflicts. We tried many things, with little success at first.
Janae Recalls Her Road of Trials:
In the period of the time between my separation and divorce, I moved three times. I did not want to buy a home because I did not have any idea where my journey would take me. I decided to invest in myself and, after completing one year of graduate school, enrolled in the Mystery School, a yearlong, human-potential training program in New York led by Dr. Jean Houston. I used the money from my divorce settlement to expand my horizons, deepen my connection to my True Self and to envision a more authentic life for myself. Of course, my children and many old friends thought I was crazy, but I knew that I needed to take radical action to direct myself towards a more authentic life.
The Dark Night of the Soul
Sometime during the road of trials, you may have to endure the dark night of the soul when the bottom literally drops out of the world. This might involve the death of a loved one, the end of a career, a serious illness, or an accident that tests you beyond anything you have ever experienced. You usually emerge from this experience feeling much stronger and more integrated.
Barry Describes His Dark Night Of the Soul Experience:
It was the day before Easter in 1983. Barbara and I had plans to go skiing and stay overnight at a ski resort. That morning as we packed to leave, Barbara seemed distant and suggested that we not go. Because of my eagerness, she finally agreed. Early that afternoon, as we were skiing together down an intermediate-level slope, we hit an unmarked patch of sheer ice. I was ahead of her and went tumbling down the hill. After I stopped sliding, I looked around for Barbara. She was lying in a heap about 30 feet away. When I got to her she was unconscious and was bleeding through her ski pants. Apparently, she had severed the femoral artery in her right leg. For the next 20 hours she clung to life as I stayed by her side in the hospital. Finally, after over 6 hours of surgery, at 11:00 a.m. on Easter morning she died.
The bottom fell out of my life. For months after her death, I also wanted to die. I could not find any reason to live, except to console our children and friends. Slowly, I began to piece together the fragments of my life. I realized that if it had been my time to die, I would have died with her that day. Out of the belief that there must be some yet to be known reason why I needed to continue to live, I made the choice to continue living. Again, I crossed a huge threshold into the unknown
Janae Shares a Dark Night Of the Soul Experience:
Shortly after my divorce was final, my oldest son left for college and my youngest son decided to live with his father. For the first time in my life, I was alone. I was faced with focusing on myself, my own needs, and my purpose in life. I read a lot of spiritual books, meditated, continued my graduate studies in transpersonal psychology, and participation in the Mystery School training. Even with all my newfound freedom and expanded interests, I still felt lost. Finally, I admitted that I was experiencing a deep spiritual crisis.
Finding New Allies
The kind of life-altering events around a dark night of the soul often attract new allies. The friends from before your shift in consciousness will probably seem shallow and unable to understand your despair. This step gives you an opportunity to go deeper into yourself to seek the meaning of your Dark Night of the Soul experiences. Some people return to therapy, travel, or develop new interests and activities.
Barry Recounts His Efforts To Find New Allies:
After Barbara’s death, I began doing things I had never tried. I traveled to Europe for the first time on a vacation. I began speaking more directly about my feelings, wants, and needs. I found new teachers to help me move deeper into myself. I had difficulty relating to the old friends I had with Barbara. I am a verbal processor and I was prone to talk about Barbara’s death to anyone who would listen, mostly trying to understand it and talk my way through the enormous grief I felt.
This became too much for most of my old friends to handle, and so they just stayed away from me. I think my talking about Barbara just brought up too much pain and loss for them to hear me talk about her. Gradually, I found others who didn’t know Barbara, who helped me process her death. I also realized that I was getting the support I needed more from men than from women. The women who knew both of us, tried in their own way to take away my grief and I found that I didn’t want them to do that. The men that I knew from a Men’s Group I was attending approached me much differently. They empathized with me but did not try to take away my grief. They encouraged me to mobilize myself and get on with my life. That was the kind of support I needed.
Janae Recalls How Quickly She Found New Allies:
I decided to find help. I began meeting with my housemate’s group of spiritual friends, learning more about their nontraditional beliefs. I also began dating a man deeply involved in Eastern forms of spirituality, who taught me to meditate and introduced me to vegetarian eating. His respectful and loving nature helped me heal the deep wound in my femininity from my failed marriage. I also joined a meditation circle and began reading teachings from a body of spiritual materials known as the Ageless Wisdom teachings. These experiences broadened my perspective about the meaning of life and opened friendships with a whole new variety of people. It gradually became clear that I must find a way to experience living from my True Self and begin living more authentically.
The Sacred Marriage
This very special step in your journey starts when you begin reclaiming your projections. You develop a sense of inner unity between your masculine and feminine parts that helps you integrate your power and your love. In many sacred traditions, this step was ritualized and celebrated as a major step toward deeper consciousness.
Barry Remembers His Sacred Marriage Experience:
I recall elements of my sacred marriage experience: The twelve months following Barbara’s death were a time of tremendous healing and growth for me. I realized that codependency had been a strong dynamic in my relationship with Barbara. I had projected my ideal feminine image onto Barbara and she had done her best to carry it for me. Conversely, I saw how Barbara had projected her ideal masculine image on me and I had done my best to carry it as well. This is common at the beginning of new relationships and we had been married less than three years when she died. When Barbara died, it was as though my feminine side had died with her. I felt like half a person and my first impulse was to try to find someone to help replace that part of me.
I had been developing a much greater appreciation for myself by then and decided not to search for another woman who would again carry my projected feminine aspects. I knew I could now care for myself and began feeling complete and whole for the first time in my life. I was developing a new kind of relationship with myself and vowed not to get into another serious relationship until I had completed the process of building a solid relationship with myself.
In order to reclaim and integrate my feminine part, I began to nurture myself and pursue some of my creative interests. I also read many books, especially those about the process of recovering my shadow parts. I attended workshops with people who specialized in helping men integrate lost or split off parts of themselves and I began therapy again.
Janae Remembers Her Sacred Marriage Experiences:
I first participated in a sacred marriage ritual during a week-long workshop with Dr. Jean Houston. This workshop exercise, which occurred during the period when I was separated from my husband, was a very powerful transcendent experience. I had my first understanding of what it meant to have an internalized male part. It seemed clear to me that I had always projected it onto my father or my husband. Once I began to reclaim my own inner male, I no longer felt such a dependency on men. This experience prepared me for a period of living independently and for restructuring myself and my life so that I could live more authentically as a whole person.
This step involves casting off the false self, which you developed earlier in life in order to please others, so that your higher and lower selves can merge. At this point, you have sufficiently dealt with your residue of developmental trauma and feel compassion for yourself and your parents. This is a time of inner healing, a time to move out of old victim or rescuer roles and build healthy boundaries with friends and loved ones.
Barry Shares How This Process Began To Move Within Him:
I have had many transcendent or transpersonal experiences in my life where I connected with my higher self. Some took me years to fully understand. I have felt blessed by my relationship with Janae. I can share these moments of deep connection to myself with her. One of my greatest challenges, however, is to “re-member” who I really am and to live every day out of my higher self. I have been able to experience periods of feeling this connection, but still have difficulty sustaining it. A goal in my life is to be able to sustain a deep connection with my higher self and remember who I really am.
Janae Remembers Her Experiences Of Apotheosis:
In retrospect, I recall several experiences of apotheosis, beginning with my call to awaken in the Methodist Church in Detroit while I was in college. This was followed by a long period of spiritual emptiness. During the first months of my relationship with Barry, I began experiencing episodes of transcendence that helped me connect to my higher self. Sometimes they happened during our lovemaking or other times when we were feeling close. Another occurred while standing on the bank of the Dnieper River during a trip to Ukraine. These experiences each felt uplifting, inspiring, and left me experiencing myself and life at a higher plane of existence.
In 1996, it became clear that it was time to deepen even more spiritually. I felt it was time to seek lost parts of my eternal self and went to New Mexico to do past-life regression work. These transcendent experiences opened me up to a new level of connection with my higher self and stirred my desire to live fully in this expanded state of awareness.
I spent the following summer immersed in the teaching of Agni Yoga and began meditating between one and two hours daily. I found that meditating early in the mornings when my mind was fresh and the world was quiet to be an excellent doorway to my True Self. Then I went on a month-long retreat to deepen even more and had a peak experience of what I describe as “bliss” that lasted about two hours. Since this experience, I have continued my practice of extended meditations and committed more deeply to living out of my True Self.
The Return to Consciousness
The transformational journey often seems complete at this stage, but actually this is only the halfway point. Your task in the next half of the journey is to be able to take all that you have learned during your inner journey and integrate it into your everyday life. In other words, to get on with it.
This is not an easy task, for the everyday world still contains all the traps and family patterns that can lull you back to sleep again or pull you off-center. There are also unexpected costs for gaining access to your depths. Your friends and loved ones may not understand your experience or you may be tested and criticized by your peers about your beliefs and visions for yourself. They may work very hard to get you to return to your False Self and the old drama-triangle dynamics. You also may find that the world that was once comfortable to be common, ordinary, and banal. You may wish to return to the comfort and safety of your rich inner world. To put it simply, it becomes incredibly difficult to live in the everyday world after living in an inner place of depth.
You must bring the knowledge from your inner depths back to the everyday world and learn how to integrate the inner and outer worlds. Crossing back over the threshold of consciousness into the outer world can activate some of the same fears that you had when you took your leap of faith into the unknown. You may fear that people will think you are weird or silly for wanting to pray, spending an hour a day in meditation, writing in a journal, or doing some daily spiritual practices. You may also fear that the split between your inner and outer worlds will drive you crazy.
Barry Relates His Story of Bringing New Awarenesses To His Life
I decided to follow my passion as things unfolded for me. If I was to stay single the rest of my life that was okay. If I found a person with whom I felt compatible, I was open to a new relationship. I finally just surrendered to the flow of life. My decision to return to the outer world took place while I was attending Jean Houston’s Mystery School in New York. One Friday evening during our dance and movement period, I literally bumped into an attractive woman named Janae who was attending this training.
When I went to apologize to her again the next day, I felt a strong attraction to her. Before I returned to Colorado at the end of the weekend, I took a bold step. I told her that I was attracted to her and, although I knew that she lived in Illinois, I invited her to come to visit me in Colorado. On the plane back to Colorado, I had second thoughts about my boldness. I decided to write her a letter and explain why I had risked being so bold and about my decision to follow my passion.
Janae wrote back quickly and told of her unexpected plans to come to Colorado in the next month. We also agreed to spend some time together getting to know each other at our next weekend of the New York training. When she came to Colorado to visit me, it took us only four days to recognize that we were meant to be together. The connection we felt for each other was so deep and so complete that we could hardly believe it. On Thanksgiving Day in 1984, Janae and I were married legally in Colorado, and in January 1985, Jean Houston performed our spiritual wedding ceremony at the Temple of Isis and Osirus at Abydos, Egypt.
Here Is Where Our Stories Merge.
It seemed that I had spent most of my life focused on meeting the needs of others and had attracted people who liked my dependency. This was not the case in my relationship with Barry. My return to the outer world happened quite quickly after a few short months of intense bonding during our short courtship and honeymoon.
The day after our return from Egypt, Barry was scheduled to teach his class in group counseling at the university. He returned, unfortunately, with a case of King Tut’s revenge and was not able to get out of bed. I had been a substitute teacher many times and knew it was not a difficult job, so I volunteered to go in his place. He gave me the preliminary information I needed to get the students oriented to the class and I went as his substitute. I gave out all the course outlines, explained the requirements of the class, and then shared with the group where we had been and why Barry was sick. This began a dialogue with the group that was very stimulating for me. I discovered quickly that the students were quite attuned to what I was sharing and I realized how comfortable I felt with them. My love of teaching had been rekindled and it was exciting to feel its energy again.
I returned home and gave Barry a report of my evening with the students. I remember saying, “It was one of my best experiences ever, as I could feel the excitement of relating with students and how easy it was for me. It was also one of my worst experiences in front of a class. I realized they were ready to work with me and I realized I didn’t know what to do next. It was awful!” Barry looked at me with a little grin on his face and said softly, “Well, why don’t you get your doctorate.” I looked at him in total shock. After a moment or two, I said, “Okay, I will.” Three months later I left for a ten-day entry colloquium and began my doctoral work. Two years and one month later it was finished. I felt elated. I finally had some tools and skills to enter the professional world.
I finally found a place to apply all the inner work I had been doing since Barbara’s death. Janae and I continue to live and work together cooperatively, which again brought to the surface pieces of our unhealed developmental traumas that we now learned how to help each other heal. Each conflict that we have is like a mini-journey of transformation. Looking at the sources of our conflicts forces us to cross the threshold of consciousness again and again looking within for answers. As we discover split-off parts of ourselves, over and over, we go through the apotheosis and sacred marriage again and again.
I feel grateful that am able to share what we have learned in our journeys of transformation. One of my biggest joys is facilitating a Men’s Group each week filled with young men where I can share my journey and see them gaining from my experiences. I also enjoy teaching doctoral learners and other professionals about what I have learned during my journey of transformation. Finally, I am blessed to be able to write books about what I have experienced so that thousands of unknown readers can find support as they move through their own journey of transformation.
Becoming the Master of Both Worlds
The last step on the circular journey is to become the master of both your inner and outer worlds. This means obtaining a “passport” that allows you to travel back and forth over the threshold between them. Then you can enter your rich inner world, harvest your riches, and bring them with you back into your everyday world. It means being able to navigate the interdependent world between oneness and separateness, free of major splits in your consciousness, and free of your developmental traumas and the traps of the drama triangle. It means you can live a truly authentic life. Doing this as a couple this is even more complex and difficult to obtain.
Our Parallel Journeys: The Journey Towards Authenticity Individually and As A Couple
This is the purpose of all of our inner work. We continue to live and work together cooperatively, which still brings to the surface pieces of our patterns that we help each otherheal. Each conflict that we have is like a mini-journey of transformation. Looking at the source of our conflict forces us to cross the threshold of consciousness again and look within. As we discover split-off parts of ourselves, we go through the apotheosis and sacred marriage again and again. This is not an easy path to follow, by any measure. There have been many times we each felt hopeless and defeated in our efforts to break through our family patterns anchored in our unhealed childhood traumas. Somehow we found the love and the trust to push forward in these hard times and ofter reach some resolution that neither of us would have imagined.
We feel grateful that we found tools and metaphoric maps to guide us into exploring our depths. Without them, we probably wouldn’t take the risks we do in pushing through our seemingly intractable conflicts. We find our relationship stimulating and spiritually invigorating. It seems to have no end; it keeps us spiraling into more self-awareness and appreciation for life’s complexity and more awe regarding the depth of the human psyche. We know that we will have many more adventures together and separately as we grow and become more conscious of whom we really are. It has been and continues to be an incredible journey of transformation. To be continued….