Different people have different experiences of Awakening. Some people (the very few I Imagine, but those are who you hear about) experience the Big Bang! This can be described as an event, an overpowering experience(overpowering to the Ego anyway) of realizing that they really aren’t their body-mind. That they are Pure Consciousness, the Buddha-Mind, Brahman, The Void, and a hundred other names which cannot really define this Awareness because it is beyond mind, beyond interpretation, beyond words.
Others, most of us, do the “slow shuffle”, a very gradual process of daily realizing that we are not our thoughts, our emotions, our body sensations.. we are not our opinions, beliefs, memories, our religions, or even our own self-definition.
In either case, there is a realization that we are the Observer who observes experiences as they arise. In either case, our reality changes forever. We can’t go back. there’s no one to go back to! There is no longer a “me”, no longer a “personal self” . No longer my beliefs, my opinions, my history, my direction, my personal life.
Yes, we continue to act in our “conditioned reality” (our roles, our relationships, our day-to-day life) but we are aware we are simply acting as an aspect of the Universe which is unfolding exactly as it should. It doesn’t mean we don’t “suffer” in our conditioned reality, it just means we don’t take our suffering so seriously.