Updated: Jul 3, 2020
When asked to write a post for Lotus Integrated Wellness’s blog, my heart dropped into my chest. I have never written a blog entry before and had no idea where to start. The process began from a point of stress…for all of five minutes before I realized that my initial approach to the task at hand was one of my ego and not my soul. Writing a blog post that shares my story with the world in order to help other people share their stories with the world should not be stressful – it should be inspiring. In that moment, I decided to step away from my ego. I took my computer outside where I sat in nature and let my soul do the typing. Here I am.
It is a gift to be able to write this blog entry, which marks the starting point of me sharing my story with the world as well as serves as the introduction to the book that I will be starting to write about the story of my life. For years now, I have had family members, friends, soul mentors, a psychic/medium, and ancestors from across the veil tell me that I am destined to write my life’s story because it is a story that is meant to be shared with the world and to inspire the world. It is a story of survival, hope, inspiration, self-discovery, and authenticity. At the core, it is a story of moving through the darkness and finding the light. It is a journey of belonging…of belonging to nobody but myself.
My name is Jess. I am 33 years old and a licensed clinical psychologist. I am single with no kids. Well, technically I have fur-babies (and to me, they are the real deal)! I hope to find my soulmate and possibly have children someday. That day is not today, though. Today belongs to me and my spiritual journey that has come so far and will continue to evolve. The heart and soul of this blog post is to share my heart and soul with all of you beautiful readers, who are perfect just the way that you are. If nothing else, I hope that my blog entry inspires you to live your authentic truth and to always be loyal to who you are as a soulful being. Let nobody else make you feel less than who you are – and who you are is exactly who you are meant to be at this moment in time.
After years of searching for personal meaning in my life, I have come to realize that I am the one I have been waiting for all of my life. And I say the same exact thing to you. Look nowhere else – for YOU are the one you have been waiting for all of your life. Do not let another moment go by where you choose anyone or anything else. Many people say that it is selfish for you to choose yourself over other people or other things. I believe that society these days has gotten way off track regarding the real meaning of selfishness. Choosing to love yourself, to be yourself without condition, and to take care of yourself is not selfish. It is essential.
After almost 29 years of not loving myself, of not being myself without condition, and of not taking care of myself, my life changed completely. It changed when I met my first shaman soul mentor who did a soul retrieval on me. I agreed to it and all of the changes in my life that would result from putting fragmented pieces of my soul from this life and past lives back together. While things got darker than I EVER could have imagined, that darkness paved the way for light…for MY light to come out and to shine. It is not like my life was not dark prior to age 29 either. I spent my entire life depressed and anxious. I am talking depressed to the point of suicidal ideation and an attempt. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder when I was in high school. I then spent college with both diagnoses fulling reaching their peaks. Hell, I spent all of college bouncing from one anti-depressant to the next to try to find a combination that might work for me and to help reduce the intensity of the clinical depression. I was treatment-resistant in that my body and brain did not optimally respond to most drugs and needed either higher doses or less common kinds of anti-depressants. I was on so many different anti-depressants and other classes of FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs that I do not remember half of my college experience. I was at my all-time low and cannot believe that I was even able to graduate college on time in four years with a 3.01 GPA. I recall missing lots and lots of class because all I could do was sleep. I found my best friend in my college sorority during that time, and she helped to bring me back to life. I now know that she is my anam cara (it means soul friend). She understood me better than anyone and still does. We are still best friends to this day. In fact, she is the editor of my blog entry! Finding a select few amazing women in college who helped pick up my broken pieces and keep me alive then and now is one of life’s greatest gifts to me. These women have seen me and loved me through my darkness and revel with me in finding my light.
Following a sexual assault in college (in addition to my clinical depression and OCD), I dealt with my darkness in not the healthiest of ways. I had promiscuous sex and detached myself from emotion in my sexual relationships. If I did not respect my body, then why should it matter if other people did? That was my line of thinking back then. This kind of behavior carried on until I found myself in my first relationship at the age of 23. I never learned to love myself and therefore never let any man into my heart on an emotional level prior to 23. It is not shocking then to find that my first real relationship was an abusive one. I was with this man for almost 7 years. He beat me physically only a handful of times but emotionally, verbally, and psychologically abused me day-in and day-out for almost 7 years. I was codependent. I was lost. I gave him my personal power without even knowing it. I later came to believe that men like him prey on extremely strong women, breaking them down until they do not recognize their strength anymore. I was a battered woman who did not know how to live without this man but who also did not want to live with this man. My gut intuition ALWAYS knew that my relationship with this man would never last. Hell, my fur-baby at the time could not stand my first boyfriend! I have always known that dogs see the truth and are the best judges of character. I knew, from day one, that I was not going to marry or stay with this man forever but got sucked into the dysfunction so badly that I did not know how to leave. I did not choose to leave. He left me. It was one of my biggest blessings in life. The time leading up to and following when he left me was the DARKEST period of my life. It was through that darkness that I found the light. And the light that I found was me. This period of time came months after my first shaman soul mentor conducted a soul retrieval on me. When she asked me if I accepted all of the changes that the soul retrieval would bring forth, I agreed. Even though my ego had no clue what was coming, my soul knew that I could handle what would unfold. But boy did my ego and my human experience unravel significantly before I found the light.
Before I go into more detail about the darkest period of time in my life, I want to briefly share that there was a pivotal transformation in my professional life. Following college, I worked for a year (at which time I met my first boyfriend who was abusive) and then stopped working to enter graduate school. I had no idea if I would ever get into any graduate school to study psychology because I graduated with a “B” average (barely) from college. Thankfully, I got into the one school that I applied to with more lax entry requirements. I did a complete 180 in school. I graduated with my masters and doctorate in clinical psychology with a 4.0 in both programs. I was at the top of my class. I discovered how intelligent I really was at that time in my life yet still doubt my intelligence to this day. My psychiatrist prescribed me stimulants to help battle the fatigue of my depression so that I could function in graduate school. These stimulants helped me to have the energy to complete the bucket loads of schoolwork assigned to me in graduate school. They were an incredibly positive addition to my life at that time. I never knew that they would one day become part of my darkness.
While I was on internship for my doctorate in clinical psychology, my life began to change and I would never have guessed that things would go downhill so much over the next year. As soon as I moved away on internship, my dad got extremely sick. He was in the hospital and then a nursing home for the first 6 months of my year-long internship. I lived about an hour and a half away from my childhood home every Monday through Friday for internship and then would come home every weekend to be with my family. We did not think that my dad would survive. Thankfully, he did. The stress of that experience was the start of the breakdown in my physical body. By the time March of 2015 rolled around, I started getting sinus infections and migraines constantly. I learned that I had many issues with my sinus cavity and nose region, impeding the flow of oxygen to my brain. I had surgery in July of 2015 to fix these problems to help increase the flow of oxygen to my brain and make everything better. I had NO idea that EVERYTHING would get worse. My body broke down. I was in and out of the hospital for months not knowing what was wrong with me. Doctors were not sure if I had a brain tumor or autoimmune condition. My final diagnosis came in late September of 2016. Fibromyalgia was my official diagnosis. That diagnosis was and still is a hard diagnosis to accept. It continues to be known as the “hysterical woman’s syndrome.” There is no blood or radiology test that definitively tells you that you have it. It is a REAL illness…an invisible illness that has changed my life in every way possible. From the brain fog to the fatigue to the diffuse generalized pain to the breakdown in my body, it is in every way real. At the time of the diagnosis, however, I remember praying for something that felt more “real.” I remember praying for multiple sclerosis because at least then I would have a brain MRI and radiology report with an exact confirmation of the disorder that I could then give to employers or anyone who ever questioned me and what I was experiencing. It felt like the trigger point test that came along with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia was not “real” enough for me at the time or even now sometimes. The worst part of this time in my life was that I was on my residency. I was at a place that marginalized me for having an invisible illness. I was doubted, questioned, rejected, isolated, and ignored in every way possible at my place of residency. I made the mistake of telling my supervisors the name of my illness, thinking that they would be supportive. Instead, I was discriminated against and questioned. I trusted the wrong people. I even went to HR to report my experiences. I was told that I had evidence for a good case; but, by the time I would have been ready to invest in a case against my supervisors, I was so tired that I decided against it. Do not get me wrong, I was a complete hot mess at that time in my life. The treatments I was getting for my fibromyalgia and chronic migraines made me hypomanic. I had serotonin syndrome. The treatments that were supposed to help me were hurting me. I had never been hypomanic or manic before in my life. At the same time that all of this was happening, my dog was diagnosed with cancer, my abusive ex-boyfriend who I was living with at the time ghosted me and disowned me because he did not want to be with a “sick [physically ill] person,” and I became addicted to stimulants. The same stimulants that benefited my life just years before became a huge part of my downfall. I felt nothing but darkness in my life. I mean EVERYTHING was horrible in every way possible. Stimulants were the only thing that made me feel alive. I thank Spirit every day to this day for keeping me alive. I very well could have overdosed on them at that time. I hid my addiction from everyone, though I am sure those closest to me knew about it. This is the first time that I am putting this part of my life on full display for the world to read. I feel the most shame around my stimulant addiction. With everything crumbling around me and my world falling apart, I chose to resign from my residency early and let my ex-boyfriend stay at our apartment while I moved back in with my parents. When our lease ended, I eventually moved back in with my parents full-time. I have been living with them ever since as they help to support me while I get back up on my feet.
From the time everything crumbled, it took me close to two years to fully quit taking stimulants. I have been living without stimulants for almost two years now. It is such a blessing. It took me about two and a half years of medical management and spiritual healing to get me healthy enough to work again. I have been working part time for the past year and a half. While this job is a blessing in that it got me back into the work force after being out of it for two and a half years, it is a job well below my education level that I have maxed out. I have recently come to realize that this job is less than I deserve. Not that it is a bad job or that I am too good for this job. That is not at all what I mean. I am forever thankful for this job and have learned a great deal both professionally and personally from this job. It means that I now realize my worth. I have so much to give this world and I have given all that I can to this job. Now it is time to move on. It is time to move on to the next part of my professional journey.
Amid all of the darkness that I have faced in my life, particularly in the last four to five years, what has saved me is my soul.
Spiritual growth never ends. Just as life is a journey, so is spiritual transformation. My spiritual transformation really started when I was 29 years old. I grew up Christian but it never fit with my human existence. I knew that there was something different out there for me. That something different was and is shamanism. While I am not a shaman, I practice shamanism. I completed a life-changing apprenticeship in Celtic and Nordic shamanism in 2018. That experience changed my life from the inside out. I found more of my inner truth during that 9-month apprenticeship than any other part of my life until now. I am an incredibly old soul who has lived many lifetimes. I chose to come into this lifetime as a strong woman, which I am happy to say that I am! It has been quite the journey finding Her. She is here. She follows a Goddess path of light and love. I remember when the apprenticeship ended, I felt so sad that I “didn’t make the cut” in that I was not a shaman. My mom took the apprenticeship with me and she discovered that she is a shaman. Many of the other women in the apprenticeship discovered that they too were shaman. I was not. My ego felt bruised and wounded because I “didn’t make the cut.” In focusing on what I was not, I missed out on what I was – which is a healer who walks the Goddess path. How incredible! It took some time for it to sink in and, to be honest, it is still sinking in. But come on! How cool! My spirit and my soul are so closely connected to the Goddesses that I have been told by my shaman soul mentors that the Goddesses consider me to be one of them. And that makes me unique and different. Above anything else, that makes me…ME. For all of my life, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was always different and always uniquely me. All of my life I have never really known how to love myself or even like myself. And at the same time, I am who I am and do not change who I am for anyone else. I may have quieted my voice and allowed my soul to shrink so deeply within that I was not able to see myself for who I was or to speak my truth, but I always KNEW my truth. I always knew who I was and that I would not change that for anyone in the world. With that came the complete contradiction of: how can I be true to who I am AND still not love myself?
That brings me to today. I have never been more true to myself than I am right now as I write this blog entry. To share my story unabashedly and without hiding. To bring my true self forward – completely vulnerable. That is true love. That is me seeing, speaking, living, and knowing my truth. During the time of the coronavirus, I have been taking numerous online spiritual courses (all of which have led me to a greater knowing of myself and of who I am). The course that has changed my perception of life and of myself the most is the Soul-Based Coaching course that I am in and the flow of energy that has brought out my soul even more. I have spent my whole life “trying.” Always trying to do better and to be better. To be perfect. While I have always been extremely self-aware and wise beyond my years since a noticeably young age, something was always missing from my life. I was trying too hard. Not trying to be someone that I am not. But trying to WANT to be someone that I am not. Because I am different. Because I did not fit in. But the beauty of growth and transformation is in the journey. And the journey comes from awareness. And awareness is not an active, do-it-yourself experience. It is a gift that only you can give yourself by “just being.” Just being in the moment. Just being in the process of experiencing something, anything. Just being open to exploration and to witnessing what you are living through. Just being YOU. For all of the time that you might spend trying to find other things to fill the void (whether they be material goods, other people, romantic love, substances, other forms of addiction, etc.), the truth of the matter is as simple as it comes: YOU ARE THE ONE YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR.
My depression and anxiety have been my saviors for all of my life. I developed addictions to looking to the future – a new day, a new tomorrow – to fill the void of discomfort that I feel in the present or shame, doubt, guilt, disappointment, etc. that I feel about the past. But by always looking to the future, I have never really lived in the present. I have always been chasing a greener pasture, a sunnier day, future happiness, etc. By doing all of that, I have missed out on a lot of life. Well, not anymore. Over the past five months, I have been “trying” less and “just being” more. And with that stillness, that surrender, that release, that letting go, has come miracles. I hear Spirit. I feel Spirit. I know Spirit. My intuition guides me. My mind is being kept in check. My ego sits in the backseat of the boat while my soul is the captain. Lifelong questions like what my real passion and purpose in this lifetime is have been answered. Not by trying so hard to find the right answers. But by being. By listening with an open heart. During one of my practice coaching sessions for my Soul-Based Coaching course last month, I had an epiphany – straight from my soul to my heart – of what I am meant to do in this lifetime. I am meant to combine the three worlds of clinical psychology, shamanism, and Soul-Based Coaching to help people who have experienced trauma or who have serious mental health disorders to conduct soul retrievals on themselves while I facilitate the process using Soul-Based Coaching techniques to help people lead themselves through the darkness and into the light. Somehow, I will use therapy animals to help with this journey. I do not yet know how this part will fit into the bigger whole, but that does not matter. It does not matter because I trust in Spirit and The Divine. I trust in the journey. If I continue to “just be,” then the answers will come. Above all else, I found the biggest answer to what has been missing for most of my life. And that answer is me. Knowing all of me. Accepting all of me. Loving all of me. Once I realized that I am the one I have been waiting for, I stopped looking to outside sources to light my way. I am the light. I will continue to be my light. And I will use my light to help other people find their own light so that they will too come to realize that they are the ones they have been waiting for their whole lives.