Even In Dark Times, There Is Light
After I shared what happened this past week regarding a mass my doctor found on my cervix, I received a kind, supportive message from a friend of mine. Gretchen and I haven’t seen each other in years and we don’t talk regularly, but ever since we met four years ago at a party, I knew she was one of those special, soulful people that lights up every room she enters.
When Gretchen heard the news of the mass, she reached out asking if the doctor I mentioned that I’m seeing this week was the same one she saw for her hysterectomy. Indeed, he is the same doctor. She offered to tell me about her experience with him so I called her up and we spoke for an hour.
I never could have predicted what happened during the call.
While she told me that I’d unknowingly been paired with the best gynecological surgeon in town, she also shared that she, too, had endured childhood sexual abuse. And she endured painful cervical procedures. Turns out, she also suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome (like me) for many years until her hysterectomy.
It seems what my grandmother (in spirit) and Jason (in spirit) told me about stored trauma in the body creating physical issues is pretty spot on. I never doubted it, honestly, but what are the odds that I meet someone with a similar journey and the exact same medical issues?
During our conversation, Gretchen mentioned her mother who passed away a year and a half ago. As I listened to her talk about her mom, I immediately felt Karen come into the room. Chills raced up and down the left side of my body—my sign that a spirit who has crossed into the light wants my attention. (When I feel chills up the right side of my body, I know the spirit has not crossed into the light. I share more about this in my upcoming book.)
I’ve been channeling spirit since I was 36-years-old, but most of the time I channel children in spirit. It’s rare for me to talk with someone about a deceased loved one (adult) and feel that loved one step in unless there is some connection to abuse, murder, sudden death, or suicide. 95% of the channeling I do involves children who are on the other side.
In my mind’s eye, I saw Karen’s outstretched arms holding a bundle of yellow daisies. When Gretchen finished talking about her beautiful mother, I told her what I was picking up—that her mom had just popped in and presented an image I felt strongly I needed to share. Gretchen thanked me for telling her what I saw saying that she related to the message, especially given the fact that Karen was an avid gardener. It’s where Gretchen got her love for digging in the dirt as well.
I never met Karen, nor did I know anything about her other than she succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease, but I suspected she was an amazing woman given that she’s Gretchen’s mother.
“Kiersten, when my mom was alive, she was a marriage and family therapist who specialized in working with sexual predators. She even went into prisons and worked to help rehab pedophiles and sexual predators."
My jaw hit the floor.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. No wonder she came through to me. I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor who has worked (as a volunteer intuitive medium) on cold cases involving children who were abused and murdered by pedophiles. I also unknowingly fell for a man who turned out to be an abusive malignant narcissist and sexual predator—one that I have a restraining order against. My story is full-circle, to say the least.
And now, here I was in this incredibly full-circle moment.
I couldn’t believe that we both worked to stop sexual predators. Of course, I don’t work the same way Karen did, but still, our mission is now and forever the same: ending sexual abuse. I applaud her efforts to do what I’m sure few dare to do. What an incredible warrior she was...and still is.
Shortly after Gretchen’s mom came and went, we talked a little longer about what I will likely face in my appointment this Thursday. Gretchen helped me feel at ease about the doctor we share, the process, the surgery, and the aftermath.
I am enormously grateful to these two incredible angels. Gretchen and Karen, you have touched my life in ways I can never fully express.
And you’ve shown me, once again, that even in dark times there is light.
Related: Nate's Story (Spirit Story) and TEDx Talk
I’ve vacillated multiple times about whether I should share what I’m about to share. Ultimately, I decided to talk about this part of my journey as it unfolds. And include all of its hard, embarrassing, jaw-dropping nuggets of truth.
So here goes…
Three days ago, a doctor found a mass on my cervix. Not a small, strain-to-see kind of mass, but rather a mass that made itself known immediately.
What led me to the doctor’s office wasn’t a list of symptoms or a feeling that I might have something wrong with my cervix. It was a fear that a tampon had gotten “lost.” I didn’t really have any proof other than the occasional sensation that something felt off. Even though we women don’t talk about it openly, the accidental lost tampon is something that has happened to countless women.
After I finally realized I needed a professional to step in, I donned my cloak of shame and jumped in the car next to Scott. When I got to Planned Parenthood, because I couldn’t get into my regular OBGYN clinic, I sheepishly told them what I thought was happening. The front office person didn’t seem phased at all. Still, I felt pretty embarrassed by it all.
While waiting for the doctor to come in, I sat perched on the exam table thinking about how much I HATED these types of appointments, and how much I wished my husband could have been in the room with me. He's normally by my side holding my hand because he knows how hard it is from me as a sexual abuse survivor. Because of COVID, he wasn’t allowed in, so he waited in the car.
The doctor and nurse team made me feel a little more comfortable by telling me that what I thought I’d done is pretty common. I also warned them that I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor which makes me, even at the age of 47, want to run from OBGYN visits.
They talked me through what they were doing up until the room went silent. I instantly knew something was wrong. After a minute or so, the doctor spoke.
“Kiersten, I do not see a tampon…but I do see a mass on your cervix.”
I was rendered speechless just before the tell-tale signs that I was going to pass out moved through my body. I did my best not to faint while she continued to poke around. The pain I felt from the exam wasn’t helping; the room started to spin.
After asking if I was okay, she continued, “In addition to the mass I see, a normal cervix is supposed to be spongy when pressed on but yours is hard. You need to get to your gynecologist right away. Do you have a history of cancer or cervical cancer in your family?”
As I gathered the strength to sit up and answer her now that she was done with the exam, I immediately regretted it.
“I need to lie back down…I think I’m going to pass out.”
She comforted me as I did my best to stay conscious. After a few minutes, the world stopped spinning and I was able to answer her question.
“Yes, many in my family have had cancer. My mom has had breast cancer twice, and I remember that she also had a hysterectomy due to pre-cancerous cells. My dad survived a rare form of eye cancer 20 years ago….”
And then it hit me. My grandma. Oh my god, my Grandma Pennington came to me in spirit a month ago and just stood by my side of the bed. She didn’t say a word but I could feel a sense of protection and warning. I naively thought it was about staying COVID-free and didn’t press her for more because I was dog tired that night.
When Grandma was in her late twenties, she had her cervix removed.
I relayed the bit about Grandma to the doctor and she reiterated that she’d be writing up a referral for me to be seen by my clinic ASAP. Her expression spoke volumes showing me that she knew exactly what I was likely facing.
I had already told her that the man I was with while Scott and I were separated had, according to my primary doctor, given me HPV since it had never showed up on my tests prior to him coming into my life. In all my years, I’d only had one irregular pap after Scott and I got back together. And it culminated in a coloscopy. The results came back in 2017 as normal. I was okay, according to my gynecologist.
And now, three years later, I'm not okay.
What hit me like a ton of bricks wasn’t the realization that the HPV was likely the cause of this mass, but rather a memory of a message from one of my guides in spirit (Jason) that happened back in September of 2020. He told me that I needed to put my manuscript away (even though my literary agent was still shopping it with publishers) because I would be adding to it in 2021 before I’d land a book deal. I didn’t know what he was talking about regarding what else I’d add. Nor did I want to believe that he was right about having to wait longer for publishing contract. I’d hoped that one would come by the end of 2020 but it never did.
This. This was what I was supposed to write about. While this revelation didn’t quell my fear of cancer, it did explain what Jason meant four months ago.
After making an appointment for next week with my regular clinic, I dove down the rabbit hole of Google. And I almost threw up before closing my laptop. Immediately after, I picked up my phone to relay the news to my dear friend (and fellow psychic medium) Cynthia Spiece.
She calmed my fear when she immediately started channeling both my Grandma Pennington and Jason. Both had messages for me about why this was happening. And why the mass is here to help me rather than hurt me.
In a nutshell, they said that the sexual trauma I endured at the hands of two sexual predators (one when I was 5 and one when I was 40) had led to unresolved trauma that was stuck in my pelvic region. I am no stranger to gynecological issues having been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome years ago, but I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’ve quite literally been carrying the scars of the trauma I endured (and the disease I got from the second predator) in my pelvis. Every minute of every day. And now, I’m finally at the point where I can heal the unresolved trauma by removing those parts from my body.
I’ll know more next week but given my family history and my personal health history, I will likely undergo a radical hysterectomy as well as have my cervix removed.
“You will be okay, Kiers. You were guided to find this right now,” Jason reassured me. “It’s the final piece of healing and the final piece that needs to be added to your book.”
Hearing Cynthia and other trusted intuitive mediums relay the same message was calming to say the least. The “phantom tampon” (as my agent calls it) was indeed guiding me to see a professional when I did.
Before Cynthia and I hung up, I asked her one more question about the doc I will see next week. You see, he’s a man and I haven’t seen a male gynecologist since Grace was born. I was nervous about seeing a male doc given my history of abuse but he was the only one who could fit me into his schedule.
“Kiers, you actually NEED a man to help spearhead your physical healing. A caring man who is the farthest thing from a predator that will finally help rid you of the trauma. Do you see how full circle this is?”
I knew she was right because as I stood there listening to her, tears streamed down my face.
Full circle healing, indeed.
Turns out, I like this new doc already. He's allowing Scott to accompany me to the appointment next week—something they aren't letting anyone else do. Because I told them I am a sexual abuse survivor, he recognizes how important it is that I have my husband by my side during the exam.
I’m sharing this experience on my blog because one in four women is sexually abused in her lifetime. And many of us, myself included, don’t connect trauma to physical ailments that arise long after the abuse is over.
I will be sure to keep you in the loop over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who is dealing with issues in the pelvic region/kidneys/bladder, etc, I hope you’ll think about my story and possibly find it helpful as you move through the stages of healing.
Also, once again, spirit came in to help me understand the next chapter in my healing journey.
And the final chapter in my book.
**Thank you to Cynthia Spiece, Steph Arnold, Egan Griffith, Yvette Godfrey for passing intuitive messages to me and keeping me sane through this, and thank you to my friends and family who are being so incredibly supportive and loving.
***To those of you who read my blog and are survivors of abuse at the hands of my uncle (or any pedophile) as well as the man I was with from 2014-2017 who turned out to be a predator in his own right, please consider that if you're having physical issues in your pelvic region that you might want to check out the New York Times Bestseller, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. And of course, you can always reach out to me privately.
Who has the new The Chicks album, GASLIGHTER, on repeat right now? I do. As a survivor of narcissistic/sociopathic abuse, it feels like it’s written for me. For all of us survivors.
I had never heard the term GASLIGHT until months before the end of my 3-year relationship with a narcissistic predator. Even after I read the explanation of what it meant, it still felt confusing. That's because I was still being gaslit. I was still drowning in a sea of lies and projection. Eventually, I came to understand that all of the times that he called me crazy or sick, or accused me of cheating on him, it was a manipulative way of putting me in my place. And it was the closest thing I’d get to an admission of guilt on HIS part for all of those things. He was projecting everything he was doing onto me.
It took lots of therapy for me to understand that I wasn’t at fault. I wasn’t sick. I had to undo the subconscious conditioning that had been hard-wired inside of me since he and I met that fateful day in 2014. I went from being a strong, independent, confident person to a shell of a woman who couldn’t figure out why it had all gone so pear-shaped.
To better illustrate gaslighting, here’s a specific example from a few years back when I wrote a blog post about the abuse I endured while working on a project with my ex. I spelled out how he screamed at me when I innocently didn’t think to lock the door to the dorm room in which we were staying, and then he screamed at me that the reason I did that was because I wanted men to come in. It was soul crushing, all of it. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, he pushed the right button, for sure. Anyhow, I wrote openly about it and received this message from him before I eventually secured a restraining order against him:
You are sick Kiersten. And you were sick in Florida. And you're sick from the abuse you suffered as a child not any from me. And the blindness from your parents for their own facade all your life. Being sick does not make you bad. But it sure keeps you blind. And, you've lost the only one with the insight, guts, and the true love enough to tell you. You've surrounded yourself with only enablers. Truth needs NO validation. What happened in Florida got to anger on both sides. And you helped big time! Just as you did all along knowing each button to push, when calm loving truth showed itself, you RAN again to projection and blame....”
With love only, xxx
Do you see what he did there? He turned it all around. In no way was he calm or level headed EVER. He blew up that day just like he did down he road when the cops were called by a concerned person to our apartment for fear of my safety. And unbeknownst to me the whole time, he was the one who was wanting others to come into his bedroom. Latter I learned that he was cheating left and right with women of all ages.
I’m three years healed, now, and it’s all so clear in ways it wasn’t when I was battling the darkness of abuse. If you’re dealing with gaslighting, know that you are NOT in the wrong. You are not the problem.
You are being abused.
Many thanks to The Chicks for writing such a raw, vulnerable, brave album.
“You’ve got to be mistaken.”
“His kids (adult kids) will be devastated if they find out.”
“How can you be sure this happened to you? That it was him?”
“We were never with him during evening time nor did we spend the night.” (As if sexual abuse can only happen at night.)
“You realize being vocal about this hurts all of us, right?”
I heard all of these at various times since I came out with what happened to me as a child. These are not reactions from cold-hearted, distant people. They are the reactions from loving, caring, heart-centered women in my family. Hurting them was the last thing I wanted to do but if I kept my secret to my grave, I would not have been honoring Little Kiersten, who carried the weight of all of the abuse for 35 years.
I soon realized protection of self and others (others that were not me) was the underlying motivation for the disbelieving responses. And I had every right to be angry as hell.
There I was, then age forty, stunned that I was being questioned the way I was, even after all the evidence proving my visions were pretty spot on. At least according to decorated police detectives with whom I volunteered helping to solve cold cases. Granted, no one wants to believe anything like this can happen to a child yet every year 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. And these are the “reported” numbers. What about all of the kids like me who didn’t report it because they blocked it from their memory until years later? We are apparently just the ones who “want attention,” according to many who don’t believe in repressed memories.
Let me tell ya, if I wanted attention, this would not be the way I’d go about it.
I know in my heart NO ONE could have stopped what happened to me. He was going to do what he did, like he did to so many and he was damn good at getting away with it. It’s the hallmark of the sociopath, many of whom are charming, good looking, funny, and easy going. The man who sexually abused and raped me between the ages of 3 and 6 admitted to sleeping with over 100 women, young and old, during his decade-long marriage to a family member. I know I’m not the only child he abused, as well. “It didn’t matter the age, Kierstie,” said one of my favorite people who is now in spirit. “It was and is the cycle of abuse, generation after generation. You’re a cycle breaker.”
FUCK. I’m a cycle breaker. A cycle breaker who swears when talking about the weight of being a cycle breaker.
Now, if you’ve read my story or watched my TEDx talk, you know that it took channeling information (visions) about other children who had been sexually abused and murdered and subsequent validation from detectives around the country to make me take visions of what I endured seriously. I didn’t ask for any of the visions but they came anyways and when I finally realized I, too, was in the same unfortunate club, it made more sense why I was having the visions of others in the first place. It was scary and emotional, to say the least. I also had to endure gynecological surgery at age 19 to repair what I now know was scar tissue damage from being raped as a very young child. This is not something that’s uncommon, according to fellow survivors who endured abuse around the same age.
My first sexual experiences were terrifying and odd. I automatically went into a very submissive, “just lay there” role. It was what I knew to do even though I didn’t remember it then. Later, I would go on to have panic attacks when any kind of weight was on me.
The “proof points” just kept stacking up:
But back to what happens when you shed light on a dark family secret. Most times, I can quell the anger I still feel because I know their reactions are very human, very self-protective, and at the core, shame-based. I know they love me and would love to make this all go away for me and for them any way they could. It doesn't make me love them any less.
But sometimes, the anger rises. I think about how I would react if one of my kids came to me years from now talking of abuse inflicted by a distant relative. I would do whatever I could to help them and I would be hell bent on advocating for them. You'd have a hard time keeping me from going after (via communication or in person) the person who inflicted the abuse. I would campaign on behalf of my kids sharing what I could have maybe done differently and signs to be aware of in cases of childhood sexual abuse. Hell, I would own it all even though, from a spiritual perspective, I do understand that some things cannot be avoided in life. I naively believed that specific family members who were also hurt by him the most would rise up and want to get to the bottom of it with me—that they, too, would want justice for what he took from me. (My parents have been wonderful—they have shared and acknowledged what happened and cheered on my TEDx talk.) Instead, I realized that everyone has their own capacity to go deep and for many, a couple inches below the surface is about all they can go. Maybe it’s generational? Maybe it’s part of the non-cycle breaker DNA. I’m not really sure, but here are three things I’ve learned from my experience sharing what happened to me with my family:
To all of the warrior cycle breakers out there, I’m hugging you. It’s not an easy road but it’s a necessary one if we are going to eradicate this type of abuse for generations to come. Your voice and your story are important and whether you know it or not, in addition to helping heal your inner child, you’re literally helping heal generations of pain by shining a light on yours.
Keep shining and know you have an F-bomb throwing friend in your corner in Flagstaff, AZ who believes you and is grateful for your voice. After all, you’re one of the strongest people on earth—you’re a fucking cycle breaker.
* If you'd like to share your story, I welcome it. Please either share it in the comments or send me a message on the contact page.
The Sex Talk
As one of my favorite writers, Glennon Doyle, says, “We can do hard things.”
Talking about sex is a hard thing for me—and from what I can tell, for many childhood sexual abuse survivors.
I want to talk about a few things as they relate to recovering from the initial trauma of childhood sexual abuse as well as realizations from an adult relationship that involved narcissistic abuse and what is finally now clear to me—a little something called the Madonna/Whore complex.
Looking back, I can connect the dots pretty easily but it wasn’t until I fully understood that I was abused as a child. So that means for forty years, I had issues. For me, intimacy/sex was cloaked in shame. I couldn’t put my finger on it necessarily, but I was not the “I am comfortable in my skin—celebrate your woman-ness” girl. I was shy and rarely took the lead. I felt emotionally disconnected from the act and was incredibly modest throughout most of my life. Right before I started to experience flashbacks at age 40, I was even starting to have panic attacks during sex. Any weight on me would cause me to almost hyperventilate. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but soon the flashbacks started and things came into focus. It was all starting to make sense, but sadly, I was also mistakenly projecting the feelings of being controlled/suffocated onto my husband.
Then, all hell broke loose. I went down the rabbit hole with another man and a three-year separation from Scott.
As happens in new relationships, everything felt new, different, and exciting. I wasn’t having panic attacks, and I wasn’t feeling suffocated. I was feeling euphoric, revered and free—like I was taking control of my own sexuality. Little did I know what was yet to come.
Lisa E. Scott—author of The Path Forward—explains in her article, “Understanding the Narcissist’s Madonna/Whore Complex,” that narcissists have intimacy issues and cannot see their partner in a healthy way. She goes on to say that some narcissists are unable to see what most men dream of in a woman—someone who is both sweet and sexy at the same time. They cannot help categorizing people into one of two separate categories — saintly or sexy. They find it impossible to see someone as both. To them, someone is one or the other, but never both. This is what psychologists refer to as a Madonna-Whore Complex.
I truly had no idea I was dealing with this for three years until messages started coming in from other women (after we split) regarding my ex. Specifically, one set of screenshots where—unbeknownst to me— he was plotting to meet up with a very sexually open woman in another state while living with me. In fact, she was the one to mention this Freudian concept to me and it helped me come to grips with what I endured, and what it meant.
In the beginning, I was appealing to him because of the thrill of the chase. I was continually told I was the sexiest woman on the planet; however, over time, I certainly didn’t feel this way and I questioned him. Was he really just tired? Was I just not attractive to him anymore? The change in dynamic was very obvious, but he did a good job making me feel a.) it wasn’t real, and/or b.) if it was real, it was because I’d done something wrong. Being programmed to believe that I somehow caused my relative to rape me as a child, I just fell right back into that pattern of thinking I was at fault.
If I were to step outside of the “good girl/nurturer” persona, i.e., being adventurous, playful, or leading the way, I would eventually be shamed for it. I, of course, took that on as mine—as if I’d done something wrong, not realizing he couldn’t see me as a sexual being and a nurturing love at the same time.
Lisa E. Scott goes on to explain in her article, “They begin to view love as sexless, pure, and saintly; whereas sex is dirty and reserved for whores. If you are good to a narcissist, he eventually withdraws sexually from any type of intimate relationship you once had with him. It is inevitable in any long-term relationship with a narcissist. You become sexless.”
It wasn’t until I started reading the messages coming in from multiple women around the world—where they mentioned risqué photos being sent to them by him and immediate talk of sexual acts and tantric massage—that I was the Madonna. It’s likely the reason I was shamed with, “you want men to come in the room, don’t you?” when I forgot to lock the door.
As an abuse survivor who thought she was finally tackling her demons and shedding innate shame and insecurity around sex, you can imagine how devastating this was to endure. Just when I was starting to feel comfortable, I was, again, being shamed—and this time, by someone outside of me.
It’s taken me this long—with the help of an amazingly supportive partner—to fully embody that there’s nothing wrong with me. I can be playful, sweet, and sexy all at the same time, and I will not be shamed for it. I will be honored and loved. And I will honor and love myself for all that I am.
Phew. I did it! I like to think Glennon would be proud. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, which I will take to mean it was time. There are many gifts along this healing journey and reclaiming myself—body and soul—is definitely one of them.