This past week, Goop (founded by Gwyneth Paltrow) launched a Netflix series where they explore topics that are controversial. One of the episodes explored energy healing. The other episode Scott and I watched tackled intuition. They brought in renowned psychic medium, Laura Lynn Jackson, who not only read for several Goop employees, but also taught them how to open themselves up intuitively. She’s clearly very good at channeling and I liked watching the way she worked. I could relate to how the messages came in for her.
As we watched the episode, I felt happy to see the topic covered but also sad that intuition still feels so stereotypically 'woo woo'. Even the way Gwyneth and Elise Loehnen, the Chief Content Officer for Goop, talked to Laura felt different from how they discussed energy work with John Amaral in the first episode we watched. Both praised Laura for their incredibly spot on readings; however, Scott and I both felt they were more skeptical with Laura than John.
There was less skepticism in the energy healing episode even though the topic was about invisible energy. Is it because the energy doc didn’t give off the woo woo vibe? Is it because, unlike mediumship, energy healing is physical? The hosts listened without judgement when he spoke about moving energy around while Goop staffers writhed on massage tables. Mediumship is working with energy, too, just in a different way.
As a late-in-life medium who didn’t ask for what happened to me when I suddenly started channeling messages from kids in spirit, you might be surprised to know that the woo woo world freaked me out when I was looking for answers to what was happening to me. Truth be told, it still does in many ways. I just don’t connect with it.
Now, let me explain what I mean by woo woo. The stereotype of a gypsy-like psychic medium is very much alive and, in my opinion, not doing the topic of intuition any favors in the mainstream world. To be fair, I know and love a few mediums whose personal style of dress and speak fits the stereotype. I love them for who they are—and they are incredible healers and channelers—but in the beginning of my exploration of intuition, I avoided anything and anyone that felt too out there. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about the world of intuition so naturally, I sought guidance from those who felt and looked more like me. Now, when I tell folks that I discovered (at the age of 36) that I could channel messages, they always say the same thing: “But you’re so normal.”
Nothing about what I endured when I was coming to grips with my heightened intuition was normal but I get what they mean. I look like the average Jane. And to be honest, I thought every bit of my awakening was crazy until I started getting validation from parents and detectives. In a nutshell, I was a skeptic until I was being hit over the head with stuff I couldn’t explain.
But you know what, intuition IS normal—and we all have it—but it still predominately lives in the land of woo woo.
To its credit, Goop stepped out on the ledge to produce a series about out of bounds topics. I'm sure they are getting gutted in the press. I personally think they did a good job of boosting credibility by including Dr. Julie Beischel, a researcher who is studying life after death and finding scientific ways to prove that mediumship is real. But even still, I don’t think there’s enough info out there about how it all works. Intuition is not one size fits all.
For example, I would fail Dr. Beischel test miserably and not because I’m not good at channeling, but simply because it doesn’t work that way for me. I do not read for people—I simply share messages that come to me. For me, there is no sitter next to me wanting to hear from a loved one. I simply channel kids (and sometimes adults) in spirit who have messages to pass. Mostly, I pass messages to families and trusted law enforcement officers that involve sexual abuse. You see, I’m a sexual abuse survivor, too. I’m a safe place for these kids to come because I’ve lived it. It seems to be what I’m here to channel. For the most part, I channel children I don’t know who were murdered, died tragically, and/or endured sexual abuse in their lifetimes.
I'm the first to admit I don't know exactly how it works. I just don't and I've accepted that.
It’s not light, happy work but it’s something I chose not to ignore. And believe me, I had a choice to ignore it. I have successfully ignored my intuition to my detriment many times in my life. In this case, after realizing that what was happening was indeed real, I knew I had to pass the messages even though it was/is scary, heart wrenching, and not something I sought out.
I hope, over the next ten years, we see more programs like Goop’s series, but I also hope that all of us out there who are doing this work (in all of our various ways) can move the mainstream needle a bit. I know plenty of people who are highly intuitive who are scared to talk about it. I don't blame them. If we can change the perception of what it means to be intuitive, people might just start trusting their inner compass more. And, people like me, won't feel like we have to dive into the deep end of woo woo to understand what it means to be intuitive.
"But he seems so nice and caring?"
Yeah, well, so did Ted Bundy.
When will we collectively finally realize that some of the most abusive, predatory people in the world are simply playing a role for the masses even though they may seem "nice" on social media or in person? It's crazy to me to think that we, as a whole, STILL believe that the "bad guy" looks like a bad guy.
Now, with that said, I'm guilty of it, too. I have been known to judge a book by its cover despite the fact that my childhood abuser is good looking, charming, and funny. And my ex fits the same bill plus add a dash of Svengali.
Predators—both male and female—are the best actors in the world. Most are extremely likable with the uncanny ability to sniff out vulnerability and deep wounds in their prey. They are masters at pulling people into their circle.
Here are a few things I've learned about predators over the years:
So how do you know if you're dealing with a predator?
Pay attention to your gut feelings about a person and don't naively believe what they are sharing on social media or in person. Trust your intuition and the physical signs that help you recognize intuitive hits. The kick in the gut feeling is one of the biggest clues that someone is stealing your power/deceiving you. And if you venture into a relationship with someone who fits the bill, do your homework. Ask around and/or do a background check to ensure there are no restraining orders on the report.
Predators know what they're doing and how to do it—even if they look nice.
For more on the subject, check out:
As many of you know, I just finished writing a book about my journey from 2009-now. It's definitely a stranger-than-fiction tale but here's the thing -- it's all real. In fact, it was too real for me back when my intuition hit me over the head. I was terrified and didn't see the whole picture then, but I do now. And I wanted to share how intuition helped me survive and heal from childhood and narcissistic abuse.
I thought I'd share a bit of Chapter 2 where I share what happened when one amazing kid named Nate Pannell came into my life.
If you are looking for proof that intuition is real, check out this excerpt....
CHAPTER 2 – NATE & CARRIE
“Mom, do you remember the Pannell family in Defiance?” I asked while talking on the phone one day in 2010, the year my intuition kicked into high gear.
“Sure, I do—John and Denise, right? They graduated a couple years before you.”
“Yeah, they did. I don’t really know them but we are friends on Facebook. The strangest thing happened when I was mindlessly reading the feed today—I started to recognize that their son, who has apparently passed on, was in the kitchen with me.”
Silence filled the space where she was supposed to be thoughtfully commenting. I didn’t blame her. It’s a shocking statement to hear and this was all new to my parents. I’d been grappling with it all in the comfort of my own home with Scott and the kids, but this was a leap I hadn’t taken yet. I was telling my parents I was sensing things that maybe weren’t there. Crazy things that they didn’t have any experience with at all. The fear of judgment and ridicule was consuming me but I didn’t stop.
I went on to explain to my mom what I’d been dealing with for some time now and how messages from what could only be described as spirit were somehow being made known to me. And now, it was starting to happen when I scanned the Facebook feed. She listened supportively, not really knowing what to say as I continued relaying what happened that day.
I told her that while I was looking at photos of a memorial held for Nate, I heard his voice and saw flashes of scenes that he wanted to talk about. I felt him around me more than saw him as an apparition but one thing was clear—he was ready to talk. When I first started to recognize he was there wanting to communicate, I experienced chills up and down my body. I noticed they were predominantly on the left side of my body and made note of that, too.
I picked up my new tarot card deck for backup because I really had no idea what I was doing. I thought maybe somehow the cards would help. I was encouraged by my Reiki instructors to play around with tarot because it was a visual representation of what comes in intuitively. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what I believed but I thought it was worth a shot. I pulled three cards and shockingly was able to finish deciphering the last message Nate was trying to share. It was for his brother. After I made sure I had all of the messages written down, he pled with me to pass them to his parents.
I sat frozen in my chair thinking about what just happened. The last thing I wanted to do was reach out to grieving parents who may or may not be receptive to me. Their family had been through so much already. What if I was wrong and none of it was real? What if they saw me as someone trying to somehow take advantage of their situation? I wasn’t asking for money or anything, of course, but still. I don’t know how I’d react if someone reached out to me this way. Finally, I rose from my chair knowing I needed time to think about all of it and bee-lined it for our bedroom. Sitting on the edge of the bed with my notes in hand, I knew I had a choice to make. For now, it was to hide what had happened and go about life as normal. Normal was easier.
After a minute or two of contemplation, I swiftly opened the front drawer of my bedside table and stuffed the messages inside. I knew I needed time, so I waited to be filled with courage and knowledge that what Nate was asking me to do was the right thing.
The courage came two days later in the form of a very quiet, calm knowing when I least expected it. I wasn’t even thinking about Nate until, out of the blue, peace came over me. I was still terrified but deep down I knew I had to try. Even if they slammed the proverbial door in my face. Even if I was going to be the laughing stock of my hometown after word got around. I gently pulled the paper filled with Nate’s messages out of the drawer and crafted a quick introductory message to his mom, Denise. I nervously hit the send button hoping that I was doing the right thing. And it was indeed exactly what was meant to happen.
It was the right thing. Denise responded kindly which started a back-and-forth exchange leading to a phone call and later on, an in-person meeting.
About a year after I shared Nate’s messages with his family, I asked John if he wouldn’t mind writing what the experience was like for them. He told me he would be happy to write it up.
A week or so later, John shared his account of their experience with me via email. As I read it, my jaw hit the floor. I had no idea the impact it made on his entire family. I knew from sitting with them that they greatly appreciated that I reached out to them, but I didn’t fully grasp how much it shaped the course of their lives.
I was in tears reading about the healing that Nate had facilitated from the other side. Of course, I knew what the whole experience did for me and I’m eternally grateful. Nate and his beautiful family helped me understand that what I was experiencing wasn’t just my imagination. It was very real and very important for all of us. I just had to have the courage to trust.
Written by John Pannell, Nate’s Dad:
"Almost four years ago, I was just surviving being a bereaved parent of a
child that has passed away. It was a daily struggle getting through a day without a total meltdown and the overwhelming feeling that I didn't want to live the rest of my life in the role of a grieving parent. It was in the midst of one of my many meltdowns that I remember my wife coming upstairs, in tears, telling me she got a message from Nate, our son that had passed away at the age of 13 from an AVM. I tried to listen to what she was trying to tell me, but it seemed Greek to me because I couldn't get past my own doubt in what had happened. She tells me that she got an email message from this lady in California about how strange it may seem, but she thinks she has a message for us from our son. If we were willing, we could give her a call.
Denise called her and spoke for almost an hour. Denise was trying to relay the information from the four pages of notes she took while Kiersten talked. The only comfort this brought to me was that for the first time since Nate's death, I had seen tears of joy versus tears of sorrow. Denise and Kiersten had kept in contact, I kept my distance. One day, I remember Denise telling me that Kiersten was going to be in the area and wanted to meet with us.
Out of obligation to Denise, growing skepticism, and just a dash of curiosity, I agreed to meet with Kiersten. My anxiety level that day was extremely high. I remember when Kiersten showed up at our house and sat down with us at dining room table. It was my wife, our younger son, Jack, my wife's aunt Sally, Kiersten, and myself. There was a lot of small talk and I listened intently trying to find what the catch was. Over the next three and a half hours, what I got were answers, hope, and explanations. I had questions to authenticity as to who Kiersten was and what were her motives were. I found Kiersten to be one of the most genuine persons I have had the pleasure of meeting. She spoke from the heart. She relayed to us information as it was interpreted by her. What I found was she spoke with a gift. Her heart was pure. Her interpretation spot on. She offered validation that was unquestionably accurate. She gave us peace knowing that our son was fine. Kiersten taught me that events that occur are not just coincidence.
Kiersten opened up a form of communication between my son and I that allowed me to go from being a grieving parent just existing to being a bereaved parent that is allowed to live. She has helped us by being a conduit for question and answer sessions, she has taught us what it means to look for the hidden meaning, most importantly, she gave us our youngest son back. You see, until that time, there wasn't much communication between him and his mother and me. I know a large amount of time that first night meeting Kiersten, she spent talking with Jack. I have never asked either one what exactly was said, but I can say whatever it was, it made a difference in a young man's life.
Meeting Kiersten and being open to her gift has not taken away the fact that we lost our oldest son. That is something we live with every day. Having Kiersten reaching out to us, opening herself up to us, putting it all out there, all for us and never asking for anything in return, has given us peace.
Kiersten, I know that my statement doesn't even start to do justice to what you have given us."
-- John Pannell
Nate has his own page on my website here.
I woke up this morning thinking about how different my life is now compared to three years ago.
Back then, my hair was falling out and I was always on edge. Tears streamed down my face several times a week because no matter what I did to avoid fights, I was constantly doing something wrong in my ex's eyes.
This morning, I thought about how far I've come. Just two years ago when Scott and I weren't back together yet but we were spending time together, I was still experiencing PTSD-like reactions.
The excerpt below (from my upcoming book called TNF: One Woman’s True Story of How Intuition Helped her Survive and Heal From Abuse) illustrates just how much narcissistic abuse affects you subconsciously.
We spent time together as a family and we spent time alone just hanging out without any pressure. He saw me through what I know were PTSD reactions to the abuse I’d endured for so long.
One night, we went down to one of our favorite Italian restaurants in town. As I sat down in the booth, it hit me that I was still unconsciously choosing the side of the booth that didn’t face the door. In an effort to be fully open with him, I shared my revelation.
“Scott, I just realized something,” I started.
“What do you mean?” he replied nonchalantly while looking over the wine menu.
“Well, I didn’t realize I was still conditioned to pick the seat that doesn’t face the door.”
“Wait, that was a thing?” he questioned, putting down the menu. “God, Kiers, I’m so sorry . . . what happened?”
“You know how the eye contact thing was a big deal to him?” I said. “Well, one time, when we were traveling, I took a seat in a Mediterranean restaurant that faced the door. It was during the day so the light was kind of blinding me when the door would open and I would instinctively look up.”
“Don’t tell me . . . he thought you were scoping out other men,” Scott said shaking his head.
“Yes, that’s exactly it,” I went on. “If I wasn’t being accused of checking out other men, then I simply wasn’t present with him. I was too busy looking at the door, apparently.”
He reached over and grabbed my hands and said how sorry he was that I went through that, and that I was still going through that.
“I just can’t believe that I’m still doing it, even though you are not him, and I know that.”
It's been two years and a few months since my recovery started and I'm proud to say I no longer unconsciously pick the seat that doesn't face the door, my hair is growing again, and I haven't cried (aside from when I watched the end of The Notebook this morning) in months.
Life is calm, peaceful, and fun. The way it's meant to be.
If you just left an emotionally abusive relationship, know that it gets so much better. Just give yourself time. <3
For more information on narcissistic/sociopathic abuse, check out these past blog posts:
HOW TO SPOT A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
PROCESSING THE EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL AFFECTS OF ABUSE
ADDICTION: BIOCHEMICAL BONDS OF NARCISSISTIC ABUSE
This puppy—all 88,000 words—is finally heading off to my editor! Woohoo!! "TNF: A True Story About How Kids in Spirit Helped Me Survive and Heal from Abuse" is the working title/subtitle but that could easily change. Thought I'd share part of Chapter 18 (the unedited version, of course)......
The restraining order made me feel like I’d done everything I could to protect myself but there was also the minor detail that I still lived on the first floor of the apartment complex. And he knew that. Given what I’d endured and the fact I was standing up to him, I worried he might try to confront me in person. I’ve never known anyone to drive all night like he did when we were together. There were times he prided himself on driving across the country in 3-4 days time.
All of this led me to knock on the apartment manager’s door and explain what had been happening, that Scott and I had reunited, and that I now had a restraining order against Blane. “Luck” would have it that the apartment complex manager had dealt with a similarly abusive ex and had, at one time, woken up to her abuser having snuck into her first-floor apartment. He hid under her bed before he made himself known to her. She knew all too well what I was potentially facing.
To say she was sympathetic is an understatement. She was super happy to see Scott and I back together and not the least bit timid when she told me that other tenants frequently called the office to complain about the yelling they heard coming from my apartment. It turns out, others were equally as worried as the maintenance man was when he called the police.
She said because I held in my hand an official restraining order against him for domestic violence, I was legally allowed to get out of my lease. Scott was not; however, because he wasn’t on the order. He would have to file his own case against Blane and that wasn’t a viable option. In that moment, we hatched a plan. His two-bedroom apartment was about to become a four-person home until his lease ran out.
Later that night, we sat down with the kids at dinner to tell them what we’d learned and what we wanted to do. They’d been through so much but we had a feeling that this move would be welcomed. Especially because we let the kids have the two bedrooms and we set up our bed in the living room. Loft-style living for seven months sounded like a fun adventure. And who could argue that placing your bed just inches from the kitchen was a bad thing?!!
Grace and I scooted out after dinner to run errands and when we came back, part of our apartment living room had been moved up to Scott’s place by Scott and Noah. It was so fun to see the excitement on both of their faces when we walked into his apartment.
We had a blast making our “tiny home” work for us and took pride in our innovative layout. Being under one roof again was a dream come true and a financial godsend. Having hemorrhaged money with Blane, it was nice to feel like I could breathe a little bit, again.
But mostly, I was just relieved to feel like I could actually physically breathe again. I’ve never been a real “cuddler” but the first few months we were back together, it’s all I wanted to do. I felt safe and happy again nestled in Scott’s arms while we watched movies in our living room bed. Life was beginning to normalize thanks to Scott and the kids, my therapists, my friends, and my resolve to undo the subconscious programming that kept me locked in the cycle of abuse.
It took about six months for my body to calm down chemically from the addiction to the abuse known in many circles as trauma bonding. Normality and awareness were the cures. Then it came time to kick the cigarette habit that had spiraled out of control towards the end of my time with Blane. Intuitively, I knew I could do it and it wouldn’t take much effort since I was out of the abuse but it took two tries to get there. On the second try, I quit cold turkey. I surprised myself with the sudden switcheroo after using cigarettes for coping with relationship abuse for so long.
Even when I received a Facebook message from a man I didn’t know who shamed me for speaking out about the abuse I endured, I didn’t race to the closest convenience store to buy a pack of Virginia Slims. I simply sat at my desk, frozen.
I didn’t know this man named Scott Tullman but I decided to accept his private Facebook message out of curiosity. I didn’t know what to expect, but in that moment, I didn’t think it would be something scathing and shaming. Turns out, I was wrong. Mr. Tullman told me how horrible I was for talking openly about the abuse I endured in addition to lots of other lovely digs. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that this message could be my ex.
I wrote back that I thought it was so strange that he was writing me about something he had no experience with, and that maybe he should support women who report abuse versus shame them. Naively, I still didn’t think it was a fake profile. After I wrote back, I blocked him.
About an hour later, I received another message request from a woman named “Karen” claiming to be Scott’s wife. My jaw hit the floor. Who were these people who were so invested in shaming me for sharing my journey? Did they know my ex? Maybe I was a bit slow that day, or maybe I just generally believe people and what they are presenting, but I still thought the whole thing was real.
Hours went by when suddenly it hit me: they aren’t real people. They are one person (or one person and an accomplice) disguised as Scott and Karen in order to get the last word and circumvent the law.
I went to work investigating who Scott Tullman and Karen Marie were, starting with Google image searches that revealed both profiles used photos of other people who were traceable. Scott’s photo was of a well-known photographer named Lee. I let Lee know his picture was being used on a fake profile; he was grateful.
Karen’s photo was of a bartender in NYC. I used my detective experience to connect more dots: Karen and Scott lived in different areas of the country yet Karen and Scott both reviewed the photography business of a woman named Kim on Facebook. Kim was connected to— you guessed it—Blane. Kim reviewed Blane’s HOUZZ profile yet when questioned directly by Egan, she denied knowing Blane or Scott, her supposed client. The connections were pretty clear to me but getting Facebook to give me the IP information proved impossible.
I remembered what the detective at Flagstaff PD said: “You know that when you file a restraining order, it doesn’t guarantee your safety, and you can pretty much bet he will try to get around the order by sending messages somehow.” I immediately sent her all of the evidence I found and she urged me to see what I could get from Facebook but warned me it would be difficult. Again, she was right.
He violated the restraining order which technically meant he should have been arrested and taken to jail but I could never get the IP info from Facebook which was the very thing I needed to present to the court. This is just one of the ways abusers can break restraining orders regardless of how much evidence piles up. It was beyond frustrating, to say the least, but not something I wanted to dwell on once I realized I had no recourse.
The only thing I could do was help others who were in similar positions so I wrote a blog post about how to research fake profiles. Maybe, just maybe, I reached one person who was able to put their abuser behind bars for breaking a protective order. I know I reached Kim and Blane because miraculously Scott Tullman’s profile photo using Lee’s image disappeared and was replaced by an untraceable stock photo. Someone had been reading my blog.