My beloved husband, Krishna, had a dream about me in which three questions were posed: What are you afraid of? What are you most attached to? What are you willing to live for? I was intrigued by the questions and decided to ponder them. After a few weeks of reflection and sorting through superficial responses, one answer to the three questions arose from within me: truth.
I am afraid of speaking my truth.
I am most attached to knowing the truth.
I am willing to live for the truth.
Speaking my truth
When I was a child, classmates made fun of the speech impediment I had while growing up. I wasn’t bullied because I had a speech impediment. To say I was bullied because of my speech impediment puts the cause of the bullying on me. I was never the cause of other people’s cruelty; I was not the reason they became bullies. Yet, I did not understand this as a child. I believed I was the cause, I was the problem, and that something in me provoked darkness in others. Consequently, the fears I had to sort through concerning speaking my truth related to being verbally attacked, followed by being outright rejected and shunned.
I emerged from childhood as a passive participant in my life. Often, I would not share my truth, even to state my needs, opinions, or preferences, out of my fear of being slaughtered by the words of others. In many of the moments where I did not speak up, I experienced mixed emotions: both the relief of keeping myself safe from perceived or potentially real threats, as well as a sense of self-betrayal. I avoided external conflicts by creating severe internal struggles. Becoming inauthentic to be accepted came at a significant cost, including a crisis of self. This pattern worked for me for some time because the self-betrayal felt easier to manage than the possible threats. Then, there came a time when the cost of the internal struggles was unbearable; I could no longer act out of fear of rejection for who I was by keeping myself hidden within a perceived sense of safety.
When I was finding my voice, I was emerging as a 'truth-teller,' though I did not know about such roles at the time. The truth-teller within a family or community is the one who says, "Hey, there is some weird, toxic, funky stuff going on here that we should look at." It turns out that not everyone wants to be aware of unhealthy patterns. Speaking my truth has come with a huge learning curve, as I went from being passive to pissing people off. Though it wasn’t often that I aggravated people, when I did, they were often terrifyingly explosive. Violent responses were frightening for me and could shake me to my core. I became aware that I had to resolve the terror left in me from the years I endured being bullied as a child, as harsh responses triggered deep inner wounds.
Family members were not the only people reacting to my truth and perspectives. Many years ago, I downright agitated most of the staff I supervised when I was a director of an education program. Upon being hired, I remember walking the premises and telling the executive director, "This place feels like home." Little did I know that was a foreshadowing of that place feeling like the home I grew up in. In my role as director, all I was trying to do was bring awareness to some dynamics that were detrimental to the program. The staff did not want me to question the workplace dynamics; they wanted me to find a place within the dynamics—to be the director of the dysfunction, not the dismantler. It was only in looking back that I realized I was in the truth-teller role in that job, just as I was within my family.
I now recognize that I play the truth-teller role from time to time and better understand behavior patterns. More recently, I met a man disguising himself as a shaman, but in truth, he was a sexual predator. When I figured out his game, I knew the moment I started to speak the truth about him and warn people would be the moment he would attempt to make me look like I was crazy, dark, or both. Sure enough, he did. When a predator, much like a narcissist, gets called out on their behavior, they turn on the truth-teller and attempt to make that person look insane or evil to others in the community. They flip the story to make themselves the victim while sharing their perfected “poor me” response. There is something so utterly liberating about knowing this pattern.
I am not the cause of someone’s cruelty, though I am sure to expect it if I choose to speak my truth within any highly dysfunctional home, workplace, or even a retreat center. It took me many rounds in the truth-telling ring, many rounds of being flattened, to even realize that I was occasionally embodying the truth-teller archetype. If I enter the truth-telling ring with someone who does not want a truth to be exposed, they will likely throw some verbal punches and make grand attempts to defame my character. Fortifying myself with my truth, I have learned to decide what words from others enter my heart. Before learning to do this, I would let myself be destroyed by the words and behaviors of others, along with their perceptions of me.
Self-determining who I am has been essential so that a void is not left within me where others' perceptions can take root. This not only pertains to moments when I have found myself in the truth-teller role but also pertains to my everyday life. Part of allowing my truth to emerge has been the subsequent slide down the bell curve of “socially normal” into an outlier position. In this outlier position, I have had to self-determine what this means. For example, in my work, I function as a channel of light language. Being a channel of light language comes with many perceptions of me, some of which are benevolent, while other perceptions are far from kind. Standing in my truth, I can dismiss the comments of others who unreservedly believe that people who function as channels are doing the work of the devil. It feels like a miracle that I can stand in my knowing of who I am and not even be fazed by such perceptions.
In a moment of aligning with my truth, I found the courage to write a letter to family members sharing what I do for a living, along with my worry about being disowned. I bared my soul, and most of them didn’t even respond, which only confirmed their rejection. My human needs for acceptance and approval and the corresponding sense of safety and security from belonging have not always aligned with my soul's aspirations. I chose to journey through the immense pain of losing people in my life instead of losing myself because I can no longer sell my soul to blend in and be accepted.
Diverging from conformity and establishing a sense of safety on the outskirts of normality has come hand-in-hand with learning to feel safe in conflict, as well as feeling safe in being unloved, unwelcome, or even abandoned. It is one thing for me to have different values, perspectives, and ways of living, but feeling secure in those differences is essential for me. If I am different without self-assurance, without being content and comfortable within myself, I am not free; I am tethered to fear, insecurities, and my desire to be accepted. My need for acceptance and approval diminished as my sense of self increased. I stopped fearing that people would leave me because I broke the habit of abandoning myself so others would not abandon me.
I realized that being safe is not about playing small but in aligning with my truth. I feel super safe being nestled into my truth. This includes basic things like choosing which words work for me. For example, for many years, I would get a sense of what words people used for the Divine and adjust myself accordingly. I altered my vocabulary to be in alignment with other people's truths, mainly to prevent rejection, as the word God lands with people in vastly different ways and for a plethora of reasons. Now, I no longer worry if people will tune me out or judge me because I use the word God. The fact that I no longer adjust my vocabulary, my truth, to be heard or to prevent judgment is profoundly significant for me. As my truth is expressed, it will land in the context of people’s lives as it will, and I have grown comfortable with this.
As I have grown older, I have been learning to use my voice to remain true to my nature and live according to my rhythms. At my core, I love joy, gentleness, and connection, and I am rather allergic to conflict and drama. Staying true to myself has been learning to speak and assert myself in my life in a way that keeps me aligned with my inner truth, such as using my voice to kindly extract myself from interactions that are not good for my heart.
Speaking my truth has been quite the journey. In grade school, with my speech impediment, I never wanted to speak; in fact, I could get through the entire day without speaking to anyone. I was there physically, but I had no voice. I lived in isolation right in the middle of people. Today, I belt out light language, and I have grown to use my voice to speak my truth. I even wrote a book, The Devil’s Yoga: A Woman’s Journey from Entrapment to Freedom, that details the horrific experience I had with the false shaman who was, in truth, a sexual predator. The fact that I published this book after growing up without much of a voice is a miracle.
I am most attached to knowing the truth.
When answering the questions from Krishna's dream, I was amazed that the three questions had the same answer, as I was expecting three unique responses. I was even more surprised that the thing I was most attached to was something positive: truth. I assumed the answer to the second question would be linked to something I was afraid to let go of or something my ego was attached to. Being attached to truth made me realize that being attached to something is not always limiting but can foster determination, bravery, and even liberation. I acknowledged the cultural conditioning of thought I fell into—having a negative connotation related to being attached to anything.
Though I would absolutely love to know the ultimate truth of the universe and the nature of reality, that might not be accessible to me while my spirit is incarnated in human form. I do believe that there is an ultimate truth of who I am that resides within me, and I strive to increase access to that inner truth. What is honest to my essence, my ultimate intrinsic nature, is the foundation of my truth. My truth is rooted in my essence, not in my mind or culture. Ultimately, I want to explore this life while being uniquely Kerry—allowing my essence, the holder of my truth, to be expressed through my personality.
Being attached to knowing my truth has meant venturing into the confines of my mind. Examining my own psyche—the good, the wonky, and the prison—has not only been about witnessing how I have been programmed by external influences like media, education, religion, mainstream culture, or countercultures, but where I have internally tethered myself with beliefs.
I have been an expert knot-tyer.
My gallivants into cul-de-sacs of my psyche and internal prisons have shown me that I had twice-over tethered myself: I had not only reined myself in with negative beliefs about myself that have kept me small and confined at the personality level, but I had also created a psychological prison that kept my essence locked up. My knot-tying skills gave new meaning to “losing oneself in thought.” I lost myself at the personality level (who I can fully be as Kerry) within the bombardment of negative thoughts, and I also lost contact with my essence; I literally lost myself in thought.
I have been mind-locked with negative thoughts and heart-locked with destructive emotions that, in turn, have kept me soul-locked. Living (well, more like surviving, as I really can’t call it living) without feeling a connection to my essence was pure madness because all I had access to were my thoughts, which were mostly negative and rampaging through my mind, and my emotions, which were a hot mixture of fear, resentment, and rage. I grew up with a traumatized mind that was aligned with my wounding, not my essence—a mind that convinced me, at two different times in my life, to attempt suicide.
After many decades of depression, which started in early childhood, my brain developed a neurobiology of depression, which greatly influenced my thinking, including the conclusions I formed about myself. Many conclusions became beliefs; my beliefs created notions of truth, and my notions of truth created horrible perceptions of myself. Though my perceptions about myself have often been far from accurate, I trusted all the negative beliefs to be true. I trusted the “truth” of the loud, self-deprecating thoughts related to self-loathing as well as the more subtle, insidious thoughts that ran in the background. This only tied the knots tighter.
In many ways and for many decades, my mind steered me away from my essence. I felt my essence was distant and inaccessible. I had zero concept of it. To get to my essence, I had to get through my mind and into my heart, and well, the passage through the mind was a doozie! Learning to use my mind as a navigation tool into my heart has been essential. My mind needed a proper job rather than running wild. It wasn’t about closing shop but about giving my mind a way to access wisdom from my heart that leads me to expand and bring out the best in me, instead of listening to the noise that makes me shrink and suffer. This is an ongoing dance of watching my mind conjure up nonsense and then using my mind to allow my essence to provide guidance. Using my mind as a navigation tool into my heart has been a life-changer and a lifesaver, literally!
From time to time, I continue to get captured by my thoughts and feelings. Yet, when my essence knocks at the door of my personality, it hands me a key. The key is not in the hands of my personality, as my psyche cannot release my psyche, only my essence can. I am continuing to learn to get myself, at the personality level, out of the way and allow my essence to provide the guidance and required energy to break me out of any hypnotic rhythms of thought and emotional patterns I have used to entrance myself. Anchoring to my truth has included a continuous dance of breaking free and finding more tethers I didn't know were there, identifying where I am holding myself captive, and learning to untie the knots.
It has been the work of my essence to ensure that I am honest with my own truth and in alignment with my inner wisdom. This has included not only untying the internal tethers but also the external tethers like socialization. At certain times in my life, I have felt conditioned beyond measure, like a walking puppet of culture, void of myself, removed from my truth, and full of indoctrination. This started early on in my life. Like many kids, I was a sponge. I learned how to think, feel, and behave from people around me, including family members, educators, and coaches, along with television personalities, the advertisement industry, the diet industry, the church, the news media, and so on. From what I learned, I thought, felt, and behaved accordingly. For example, I was taught to fear God, and I was fearful. I was in alignment with the teachings that had very little to do with my truth, but the notions of truth handed down to me.
After decades of regurgitating information from grade school to grad school and following all sorts of cultural norms, breaking the shackles of socialization and releasing internalized customs and ideologies has been part of my path to accessing my truth. As I strive to be honest with my own truth versus what I have been conditioned to believe, it has been imperative to examine what my truth, values, and perspectives are based upon, including countercultural influences. There have been times when I did not follow a traditional course, such as when I dropped out of college and taught environmental education on a sailboat that functioned as a floating classroom. I assumed that since I was not following mainstream society, I was somehow living my truth. Yet, I was simply following another set of norms while believing I was free. Socialization can be incredibly insidious.
External tethers have not only appeared through socialization but also through well-disguised fabrications of truth. The retreat center where I met the false shaman/sexual predator had many well-disguised horrors, yet it came with rave reviews. The center was supported by prominent authors, thought leaders, and proclaimed healers, many of whom were world-renowned. I assumed that if these individuals supported the center, it must be reliable, trustworthy, and honorable. Thus, I handed over my discernment well before I stepped foot on the land. If I had tuned into my knowing, I might have been able to discern something was off and access more of the truth of the center. Instead, I trusted the perceptions of others, many of whom were unaware of the dark undercurrents of the retreat center.
While at the center, I endured being taken advantage of while in a vulnerable state. Getting through my horrendous experience with the false shaman required me to name the experience truthfully rather than engaging in spiritual bypassing: utilizing spiritual principles to evade integration and healing of trauma. I do believe, on a higher plane, that there are no victims; yet, in the third dimension, we as humans can experience being victimized. My essence and my personality can live these two truths simultaneously and be at peace within the multidimensionality of truth.
If I applied a higher-dimensional truth to my third-dimensional reality, I would have inadvertently led myself down a path of spiritual bypassing rather than true healing. While I have no interest in living in victim consciousness, I also don’t want to spiritually bypass any experiences and suppress trauma. Processing the experience of being victimized through feeling what was true for me: anger, confusion, grief, and fear, until these emotions were integrated, led me to feel empowered, liberated, and truly free from the trauma.
The evolution of my truth corresponds to increasing my connection to my essence. It is a loving intelligence that I am learning to be more present with. Connecting more and more with my essence has allowed me to distinguish between my truth and cultural notions of truth. It has helped me access the wisdom of my body instead of referring to a metaphysical book. My essence has helped me to trust the information coming through me as I work as an intuitive while knowing not to trust everything my mind says.
My essence holds my truth, which can then be reflected through my personality. The more I connect to my essence, the easier it is to bring forth the principles that are core to my being, such as integrity, honesty, and respect. This connection helps me to stand by such principles, yet not stand in a way that is too rigid because my principles can be, at times, contradictory. I honor commitments I make, and yet there have been times when I needed to break a commitment. Though my core principles remain steady, much of my truth has been fluid, ever-changing, and contextual. What was true for me in one year was not true for me in another, such as the kind of work my soul felt called to do. My views on certain topics have changed, along with my biorhythms, ways of interacting, my needs, my response to life experiences, and more.
My truth is an ongoing dance between the “I” and the “I am,” between my personality and my presence.
I am willing to live for the truth.
Growing up, my relationship with God was bizarre and distorted at best. Like many, I grew up believing in a wrathful God. I saw “him” as very masculine, mean, and out-to-get-me. “He” felt more like a demon with a destruction story than a God with a creation story. When people would say, “Don’t worry, God is in control,” or “Let go and let God,” I would cringe, as I did not find relief in such statements. Let go and let God do what exactly?
It was difficult to trust life when I didn’t trust the maker of life.
Hell was tangible to me. When I was in 6th grade, I was digging under a tree in my backyard. Within six inches or so, I came across the tree's roots, which were red. I instantly thought that was the entrance to the devil's home as if hell was that close and that easy to enter. I quickly covered up the roots. I had been well indoctrinated into the constructs that God was vengeful, which made hell a real possibility. I can see now that this wasn't my truth; it was an insidious indoctrination that covertly impacted my life.
When I started to no longer resonate with the church’s teachings, I began to be open to the idea that a good, benevolent, and loving God exists. Though my mind was starting to come around, my heart still had zero faith or trust in God. Intellectually, knowing that God is loving did nothing to open my heart. Opening myself to experience a loving presence has been a journey in itself.
I carried my lack of trust in God into adulthood. When I was learning to meditate, I realized that I did not feel safe leaving the confines of my mind, regardless of how crazy my mind was. If I started to melt into and merge with spaciousness, I would come to full alertness with a hyper-vigilance, not of my mind, but of the nothingness, as I feared what I was melting into and wondered if it was safe to experience. Better the devil I know—my crazy mind—than to reach out to what was unknown. I did not feel safe reaching out to something greater than me to help me free myself from my mind.
As the construct of a wrathful God was dissipating, I was starting to experience God as loving. Yet, when I perceived God as loving, I realized how unworthy I felt of Divine love. I didn't need to think about receiving God's love when I understood God as unloving. Yet, when I began to experience God as a Mysterious Loving Presence, I discovered that I believed I was unlovable; an untruth that felt like an absolute truth. What I have come to believe is this whole notion of being or not being worthy of love is a human construct that has nothing to do with God.
Though I left the church in my early teens, the church lived on inside of me. Inadvertently, I found spiritual communities that had a distinct overlap with the religion I was raised in. It was as if some notions of spirituality were born out of religion, and therefore, I unconsciously resonated with the similarities because they felt familiar. I journeyed from handing over my power and seeking answers from church authorities to seeking answers from psychics. I still used an intermediary between myself and the Divine: in the church, the priest, and outside, the healer. I was still controlled, just through different doctrines and tactics. I still felt guilt and shame, just for other reasons. Ritual practices went from sacraments to ceremonies, some of which were extremely mismanaged by “elders.” All in all, I felt very accustomed to hierarchical structures, corruption, misuse of power, and abusive behavior of leaders in the world of spirituality because of my years in religion.
Though I am very aware of the tremendous harm from some religions that are devastating to the human soul, to say the least, I have learned through personal experience that some spiritual communities have become cults, and some “shamans” or “gurus” have been identified as sexual predators. I have also witnessed how spiritual communities can be places where people co-create their reality with their own set of facts and truths, reject information that contradicts their perceived and constructed worldviews, and feel like their truth is what is true in general, just like church!
This is why I have learned to question what my truth is based upon. This is not self-doubt. This is knowing that we, as humans, can feel we have escaped or are beyond a certain level of consciousness yet unintentionally carry over what we think we have escaped from to another version of the same consciousness. I know that I can be insidiously indoctrinated in ways I cannot see, and therefore, I have learned to make sure that what is in resonance is from my heart and not from what is familiar. I have learned to trust myself to challenge notions of truth, especially culturally constructed notions of truth, spiritual or otherwise.
I don’t know the mysteries of the universe and the ultimate nature of God, though I would love to know. It is easy to trust when there is a degree of certainty and knowing. But since I don't know the ultimate nature of God, I need my faith to cultivate trust. Trusting or not trusting an all-loving presence is not a reflection of God but of me. God is solid, and therefore, questioning the reliability of God feels unnecessary to me. The real question is: how much can I surrender to trusting God? This is on me.
I have had some extraordinary experiences where I felt that I had surrendered fully to the love of God—experiences where I have felt very little concept of myself as Kerry but as an essence that is part of all that is. I have been cracked open to love with the brilliant white lights and all, only to clamp down and disconnect within days or weeks after my experience. I would start to doubt that what I experienced was God; how do I know if what I experienced was true? Am I deceiving myself? I could not find my truth, even through my own experience.
At some point, I had to get really honest with myself. This was not a healthy self-doubt. This doubt acted as a sword that cut through the connection. This was no longer about the church or spiritual communities. This was about me. I was the one holding the sword and standing between God and me. When I took an honest look, I realized that not trusting myself and my knowing was a mask to my resistance to letting go—knowing God gets in the way of me keeping my story.
Though I am most attached to knowing the truth, and I am willing to live for the truth, I have come up against resistance to the truth because brushing up against any level of Divine truth comes with a crumbling, a deconstructing of notions of myself and my reality. I cannot walk toward truth and remain intact. My essence might be attached to the truth and willing to live for the truth, but that comes with my human self being willing to deconstruct / “die” to the truth—not dying physically, but a death of certain aspects of my personality that keep me in notions of separation. Since I don't want to be more attached to my story than to knowing God, connecting more and more with God has come with increasing my willingness to untie the knots, being willing to recognize myself beyond my personality, beyond the straps I have tethered myself with.
The ultimate truth may only be accessible after my physical death, where my essence might have access to infinite wisdom. Yet, while alive in my physical form, being willing to live for the truth—like really live—means letting go of the past and feeling joy. Allowing my essence to be more present and expressed through my personality is to feel the feelings of my essence, like joy, love, connectedness, and gratitude.
Though my relationship with God is constantly evolving, I had to get this God thing sorted out to some degree in order to function in this world. I now trust God, and I now trust life, even when the nature of reality feels utterly bizarre at times. Within all the wonkiness that comes with being human resides my connection to God; at whatever beginning level that connection is, it is there, and for that, I am grateful. For that, I can live more freely as I journey with an ever-evolving personal truth, within the ultimate truth, which remains an ongoing mystery.