Even before we were introduced, I felt intensely drawn to the man who became my husband. He was a decade older, from another country and culture. I spoke none of his native language, and he knew only a little of mine. We met in a park in New York City, and the man who introduced us was himself a stranger to me.
I had just finished my freshman year at Columbia University and was not quite twenty years old.
The second time we met he handed me a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. Not because of any interest on his part; he had found it lying in the street and passed it on to me.
I was the daughter of an atheist, but had recently come to believe in the existence of God. I was intrigued by the book and thought the author, pictured on the cover, looked interesting. But the man who had handed me the book interested me far more. So, after reading a few pages, I put Autobiography of a Yogi aside.
The man and I spent one exhilarating month together. In my infatuation I missed all the warning signs, and didn’t realize that marriage to him would be a nightmare of physical and mental abuse, poverty, sickness, and isolation.
Finally, one night I prayed with all my heart and soul for God’s help.
Almost immediately, circumstances changed. I was able to trade my housecleaning services for a yoga class. I met a teacher there who tutored me in meditation and pranayama. I began creeping out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to do my practices.
I felt, after that night of desperate prayer, that God had grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and was pulling me away from the self-destructive path I had been following for more than a decade.
One night after a meditation class, instead of just saying good-bye, the teacher insisted on escorting me to my car. I had rarely been alone with a man who was not my husband. There was a full moon, and for a moment we stood together in awkward silence. Then he said, “Sister, you are in an abusive marriage and it is time you woke up!”
At that exact instant, the headlights of my car began to flash and the horn honked repeatedly. I had an electronic key, but years earlier the battery had worn out and I had never replaced it.
Soon after, I confronted my husband. We were outside, standing next to my car, when I issued my declaration of independence from his abusive ways. Once again the headlights flashed and the horn honked.
I looked right at him and said, “I’m not the only one who knows what you’ve been doing.”
His response a few days later was to attack me in a drunken rage. I thought it might be my last day on earth. The next night I left and never returned.
Several days later I met a friend who had with her a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. This time I read it, cherishing every word, weeping with joy and thanksgiving, at times so moved I could scarcely breathe.
I realize now that Divine Mother was always with me during those dark and difficult years. She was playing in my heart, urging me to awaken. And when I finally called to Her, She responded—thankfully, loud and clear!