Reeta Balwinder Hernes, Psy.D.
Spiritual Journey Advisor
June 2012 I was at the peak of my life. I graduated with my doctorate in Clinical Psychology, won an award for my doctoral research, gained admission into my first place postdoctoral internship, and got engaged. Life was damn beautiful. And by fall of 2012, things began to come apart at the seams. The next three years were the complete destruction of all that I had defined my existence by and it felt like a slow, painful bleed out of all that I had worked for, cherished, and depended upon.
2013 to 2016 I lovingly refer to as my ‘Shit show’ years. Rather than trying to weave this all together poetically, let me just straightforwardly name each and every deeply transformational event that happened during that time:
- I confronted the relative that sexually abused me as a teenager and broke my silence to the rest of my immediate family members. Their responses ranged from beautifully supportive to painfully silent, all the way to horrifically hateful. For my sanity and the continuance of my healing, I decided to sever all ties with those members that became aggressors from that day forward and had to come to terms with losing half of my family almost over night.
- My father was diagnosed with metastatic skin cancer and within a year of the diagnosis succumbed to it at the end of 2014, leaving my sister and I to plan our first funeral together and nurse the wound of losing our first parent.
- My partner became chronically ill within a month of our wedding. Eventually I had to take over the majority of our finances and was working 2 to 3 jobs at any given time (including doing a full-time postdoctoral internship), trying to make ends meet, while also doing my best to manage the emotional stress of the entire situation.
- I failed the licensing exam for my profession a staggering three times. I wasn’t able to manage my stress or control my anxiety and it continued to get the best of me, while failing over and over again chipped away at my confidence and led me to question whether or not the field of psychology was even right for me.
- I eventually passed my exams and immediately opened my private practice, in hopes of making more in order to support my spouse and I. The San Francisco Bay Area is a brutal place for single income households, so at the worst, I would work 70 to 80 hours a week. It didn’t take long before my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health began to plummet as well.
- By summer of 2016, my spouse and I decided to separate, but as is also characteristic of the Bay Area, we had to live together for an additional 7 months before we were able to find separate apartments. You can infer the savage details of what those 7 months were like.
By the end of 2016, I had reached the pinnacle of the dark night of the soul and had to face the misery that was staring back at me every time I caught a glimpse of my own reflection. The magical combination of plant medicine, my first experience with psychedelics, and the meeting of just the right people reignited the breath within my spirit and my psychic blood began to flow again.
I went through a spiritual death that I had not willingly consented to, but that my higher self knew was the medicine I needed to come to life once more. I chose to be fully awake to my rebirth and do exactly as I was called to do from within. I spent the first half of 2017 selling most of my belongings, closing my private practice, finalizing my divorce, and deconstructing every bit of the life that I had carefully constructed. I dove headfirst into the anguish, the grief, and the fear; all prickly companions that tucked me into bed every night.
And on July 4th, 2017, I boarded a plane with a one way ticket. I have been wandering this beautiful world ever since. I’ve wandered in many moments of heartache and I’ve also wandered in even more moments of wholeness. It took many moons and a lot of patience to learn to move as my spirit tells me to, to seek out the experiences that will feed my soul and starve out all the fear, second-guessing, and internal judgment.
I’ve made companions in every country I’ve visited and with every person that I’ve come across, I’ve seen a spark light within them at the idea of doing what I’m doing. I don’t want to inspire people to live life in the exact way that I’m living it; I want to inspire everyone to live as their spirit tells them to. I want to inspire everyone to make the voice of their spirit louder than the voice of society and live fully and ecstatically aligned. And I want to be a part of this soulful journey for as many as will allow me to wander with them.