S1:E8 | Truth Matters, Love Wins with Alex KuisisApr 01, 2022
[00:00:49.290] Welcome & Introduction to Alex Kuisis
[00:02:38.210] Having truth on your side
[00:04:04.200] How memories can be manipulated
[00:06:23.970] The legal system is part business and part game
[00:08:26.850] How Alex found Proclaim Justice - a non-profit organization
[00:09:43.370] Alex discusses the charges against her
[00:11:43.900] How the charges came about and what part memory had to play
[00:13:53.830] What Alex has learned about the power and corruptibility of memory
[00:18:07.020] Our soul’s objective on Earth
[00:24:12.400] Melanie asks Alex, what destiny has changed for her
[00:33:06.630] The power of digging into your own BS!
[00:36:55.590] Get in touch with Alex & her services
GET IN TOUCH WITH ALEX:
HOW DO YOU GO FROM STAGE FRIGHT TO SPOTLIGHT & BEYOND CHANGING THE WORLD & CREATING A LEGENDARY LEGACY?
How do you fine tune your body to fine tune your voice to convey what you're you might not understand, but your heart does?
I'm so excited to have today Alex Kuisis with me today.
Alex is a life, health and mindset coach, an influential thought leader, and a best selling author. Her practice 'Soul Fitness Coaching' empowers women around the world to prioritize their self awareness, self worth, and self care so they can confidently rise to any challenge assigned to them in this lifetime.
With Grace, grit, and gratitude, Alex walks her talk. Her recent bestselling memoir, 'Truth Matters Love Wins', recounts a time in her own life when she chose faith over fear in the face of false criminal accusations by using the same techniques she uses in her coaching. Welcome, Alex.
Thank you, Melanie. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Oh, I'm so excited. And it's been really fun. I've had such the fun of watching the lead up to Alex's book release because we share the same book coach Sarah Cannell. So it's just been really awesome to see it all come together.
It's an exciting process, that's for sure. And it is nice to have friends along the way bearing witness.
Absolutely. Your story is so incredibly big. False criminal accusations are not small stuff. It's not the small stuff.
Beyond even the accusations, they did turn into criminal charges, which did turn into a full criminal trial. So it really was like the whole enchilada.
Wow. I love this quote that you have at the beginning of your prologue that says 'Three things cannot be long hidden. The sun, the moon, and the truth.'
That's exactly right. That was actually sent to me from a friend during the beginning of the whole legal debacle where she just said, I want you to hold on to this. I knew from the beginning that I did have truth on my side, and I knew that had to matter. Yet here I was sucked into this system that really didn't seem all that concerned about what was the truth. It's like they had a protocol and they just followed it. If there were accusations made, then A, B, and C happens. Meanwhile, I was over here going, can we talk about this for a second? I actually have some information that I can share to show that this is an impossibility, and there was never that opportunity. So a friend of mine sent me that quote and said, you just hold on to this, you just have to keep the faith, really. Even though it's not a religious book that I wrote, it does talk a lot about keeping your faith in what's real, in what's right and in yourself well.
Certainly in those kinds of situations, we often and it doesn't even take that intense of a situation to create this. But we start to question ourselves, and we stop trusting ourselves or tapping into that deeper trust that we all have for ourselves becomes less accessible in the midst of all of the stress.
Especially if you're trying to rely on just your memory alone, because our memories can trick us, there have been tons of studies done on this. Throughout the past handful of years, as I was navigating this situation I have done a lot of my own research. I'm certainly not an expert in memory, but I'm familiar with the experts in memory.
Your memories can change with what you tell them or what other people suggest.
You can literally believe something is true when it's not. So that element of trusting yourself, like you said, can really come into question. Especially in a criminal legal situation, evidence is just so important to believe and then verify, that's what I was able to do. I knew that I had the truth on my side, and I was able to present information to verify that what I was saying was right. Whereas my accuser was not, because they were lying, essentially. It can be really challenging to just trust yourself blindly unless you can sort of back it up in whatever way makes sense to you.
I was fortunate to have photographs and journal entries and ticket stubs and things of that nature to prove where I was and that I wasn't doing the wrongdoings.
Before we get a little bit more into your story, one of the things I really loved is right at the beginning of your book your transparency in how you had some privilege and resources at your back to support you through this that a lot of other people that get in this situation do not have.
That is absolutely accurate.
You have this beautiful list of organizations that you suggest that people donate to help those that are in that same kind of situation that you are but do not have the same kind of resources.
That's right. Because what I quickly learned and this is a phrase from the book, is that the legal system is part business and part game. I really felt, and I expressed this to my lawyer, and he said, you know, you're not wrong. I said, I really feel like I'm just sort of this collateral damage, I'm this pawn over here, and you and the district attorneys, the DA's, are engaged in this mind game trying to prove to the judge, and then ultimately the jury, that you're smarter, you know more about law.
Again, the truth doesn't really seem to matter here. So it kind of boiled down to what can I afford? What kind of experts can I pay to come testify on my behalf or even not even so much on my behalf as just I hired one of those very expensive memory experts in the field, and she just came to lay down the information. She wasn't speaking directly to me or my case, but she was saying memory is way faulty, and that helped us. But I had to pay for that, not all my experts, some just get paid the cost of their gas money to get there then they didn't charge to actually sit on the stand.
Paying my bail, paying just all of it. It was really expensive. I have friends who have felony charges on their record simply because they did not have the time or resources to go through the whole rigmarole of trying to clear their name. It's a very slanted system. Fortunately, there are organizations out there who are fighting on behalf of the wrongfully accused, the wrongfully convicted. And one of those is called 'Proclaim Justice'. They're a nonprofit out of Texas. 5% of my book's proceeds are being donated to Proclaim Justice.
I learned about them literally about three weeks before my own arrest. I hadn't heard of them before. I went to a concert. Before the concert began in Texas, there were screens everywhere that were showing these little clips about what this nonprofit does. And I thought, this is amazing how great that they fight for the freedom of people who are wrongfully convicted. I bought a T shirt, a Proclaimed Justice T'shirt at that concert. Not a band T shirt, but a Proclaimed Justice T'shirt.
I was just enthralled. Then weeks later, here I was in my own false accusation situation that had the potential to become a wrongful conviction. So they've sort of become my pet nonprofit over the years where I direct my holiday giving and my Amazon Smile charity and things of that nature because they are doing really good work.
For those of you listening, you can go to www.proclaimjustice.org if you're interested in donating or finding more out about that amazing organization. So, Alex, what were the charges against you?
I was accused of sexually mishandling a minor that I was in a position of trust with. So a 16 year old girl was claiming that I had sexually mishandled her almost ten years prior. She claimed that she didn't realize it was abuse until she was in high school and one of her friends shared that they had been abused.
She said something kind of clicked in her head where she said that happened to me, too. But here's the twist, I had helped to raise that girl and her sister as a nanny. I was friends with the parents. My background is in early childhood education. I was their teacher at the first daycare that these children attended and became friendly with the parents. They invited me to live with them when I needed a new living situation. So I was literally in the home helping to change diapers and walk crying babies up and down the hallway and driving the kids to and from school because that's where I worked, very enmeshed in their life. I personally, was abused by a babysitter when I was a little girl and I never told my parents.
When I grew up, I told a therapist, I started telling close friends. I started to kind of work through it. My friend, these girls mother, asked me to tell her girls about what had happened to me. She said, It freaks me out that you never told your folks, but you have a really good relationship with your folks. And it literally happened right under their noses. They never knew that could be happening to my girls. Will you please tell them what happened to you and reiterate that they can talk to us. They could talk to you. They could talk to an adult if something were happening to them like that.
I had to think about it because it was a pretty big request. But ultimately I did it. I talked to the girls. They were seven or eight, nine in that age range. When I told them about what had happened to me, and I felt good about helping in that way because their safety was important to me as well. I asked them, I said, I want you to promise me that if anybody were ever to hurt you like that or try something like that, will you promise me right here that you'll talk to someone?
Oh, yes. They said, we promise. Then six years later, I was being arrested for being the babysitter in the story. 'Girl', my accuser had flipped it. Somehow along the way in her head and when her buddy said, oh, I was sexually abused, she said, wait a minute, I have something about that in my memory, too. She called it up in such a way that made her the abused girl and me the abusing babysitter, even though her younger sister remembered. Did something like that happen to Alex, too? Then the accuser said, oh, that's right.
She still clung to her version that it had happened to her. As for their mother, she claimed she knew nothing about my abuse. She said she never knew that about me until the girls told her and she had not certainly not asked me to tell them.
But as luck would have it, we had it in writing. She had sent me an instant message years ago asking me to tell her kids. So I actually did have it in writing.
So tell me a little bit about what you know about memory. I fully understand memory is a slippery, tricky kind of thing, and we all have a filter where we weave it into our stories. Certainly children have big imaginations. But tell me about how your memory experts supported you and what you know about memory and how this presented.
Sure. Well, as I said, I knew from the instant that this started to happen that I had to figure out how to show that I was telling the truth. And again, we can call it luck. We can call it happenstance, whatever. I happen to be a lifelong collector of memories, as it were. My husband calls me the recorder of the family.
I'm always taking photos. I saved the tickets where we go anywhere. I had just amassed those kinds of things to show to paint a picture. It helps me remember places I've been, things I've done. Since I've been a child, I've been like that. So I knew that I could jog my own memory by going back through these pieces, these stories that I'd written in my journal. I'd also kept a blog online for ten years, so I had things to put my memories back into place for me. As I was calling people to tell them I'm in a situation I would appreciate support if you're able to give me emotional support, anything, whatever, just letting the people in my world know this was happening. My uncle, who is a clinical psychologist in New York, suggested I look up a Ted Talk done by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, who is an esteemed professor out of Southern California and has spent her career dedicated to the study of memory.
I looked up her Ted talk and I watched it and I knew, as I say in the book, I knew after those 17 minutes I was on to something because she explicitly explains how memories can be planted. And she's done it. She's done research or done experiments rather with people and planted these memories of something slightly traumatic, like getting lost in a busy mall as a child or almost drowning in a pool, things that did not happen to people.
But the more they talk about it, people will start to remember these things happening to them. They'll paint pictures in their head and they'll say, oh, yeah, I think that you're right. And they'll come to actually believe that they were lost in the mall as a child. Dr. Loftus speaks explicitly to the legal system and how important it is.
She talks a lot about eyewitnesses and how it's important to speak to witnesses quickly because things can alter. You can literally talk to five different eyewitnesses people who see it with their own eyes and you can get five different accounts of the order of events, the color of a jacket, the size of a person. It's really quite fascinating. So there is just this notion that, again, when someone says something happened, you believe them, but then you have to go through the steps of verifying. Relying on memory alone is dangerous. It can lead to people literally spending their lives in prison.
The other piece of this I really want to come to because I know you have a deep faith around this, like your faith in the universe and a big understanding of certainly sometimes our soul logic is not our human logic. In your book you talk about how when you moved to Colorado that you knew that there was some deep healing that needed to happen for your own childhood abuse, but you didn't know the how you were going to have to go through to get there and how our subconscious leverages that is more traumatic for some than others. I just want your thoughts on kind of like the bigger pattern that was happening with you.
Okay, sure. I can start off the answer by sort of giving a little bit of context just to my own belief system that my coaching practice is called Soul Fitness. And I liken the soul to your breath. There's this idea that we have a physical body and we have a breath that makes it go. And when the breath leaves the body, the physical body ceases to go. It's still here, but our breath or our soul is what goes wherever it goes. Whatever happens after we cross out of this life, the only thing we take with us is our soul. And I have a belief that I've sort of honed over the years that our souls come to Earth to undertake specific assignments. These challenges that we undergo and we forget once we become a physical form here on Earth, we forget what these are, but they're coming to us. And so there are always things to learn from the challenges. We signed up for them in a very meta kind of way. The point isn't to avoid the challenges while we're on Earth. It's to learn how to navigate them so that they're not in vain.
Having this understanding when I first moved to Colorado, that moment in that car, I didn't move to Colorado so that I could heal my inner child and rise from the abuse . At that point, I was still really good with just stuffing it down in the corner. But there was just no denying in that moment. I didn't speak it out loud. I was in the car with my sister when it happened. It was the line of a song that sort of just struck through everything about the moment and it's all I could hear. And the line was, I will wait for you. And I just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was that little girl inside of me who had been abandoned. Quite frankly, she'd been hurt when she was little, and then I certainly had never come to her rescue. I had been stuffing her in a corner. You need to go shhh! So I didn't give anybody else the opportunity to help her either. It was just this reminder, hey, I'm still here, and it's cool. Take as long as you need, but I'm not going anywhere.
One of my Soul's lessons, it turns out, was about healing. That what happened to me as a very small child. I was like, maybe 3-5 years old when my abuse happened. Very young. By the time I put together in an intellectual sense, what that had been, it was long over. The babysitter was long gone from our lives, and I didn't see a point. I didn't value my own self. I didn't know to value my own self enough to say, there's something that needs to be teased out here, pulled apart here, and it became a deep source of shame.
I don't think that there are, I kind of use the word coincidences , but I don't really believe that. I think it all happens on purpose. As human beings, we have free will. So nothing forced me to move to Colorado, and nothing forced me to get the job at that school or move in with that family or fall in love with those kids. I did. I love them with my whole being. I made those choices. But it was like somewhere along the way, I'm going to make choices and opportunities for this healing are going to present themselves.
As I mentioned, I'd been in therapy on and off for a number of years, but I never told my parents. I didn't tell my parents about my abuse until after I'd been arrested. That's when they learned. So I handed them a gigantic part of my language, hit sandwich. I spent the weekend in jail, oh, yeah, and I was abused as a child. How are you guys?
I had opportunity, I don't know, to talk about it with them, to clear that air, to offer them healing from that, too. I didn't realize that that would be something they would need, and I never took it. And so it was like the universe decided that bigger and more drastic steps were needed for me to wake up and address it and other things besides, too. Right? Like my own healing, but also like my own shade and my own ways that I didn't always tell the truth or kind of acted in questionable ways or decisions I made. It really helped me clear out a lot of those cobwebs.
As I'm writing my book right now, I'm contextualizing it around the Egyptian myth of ISIS and Osiris. So that's part of my lens. And in that story, Osiris was killed twice by his brother and his wife Isis put him back together after both times. The second time, he got chopped into pieces. And I talk a lot about how we use dismemberment metaphors in our language all the time that we say we're falling apart, we can't get it together. Our lives are shattered, our hearts are broken. And whereas when I imagine being in that story, I imagine that most everybody outside of his inner circle, outside of his brother's inner circle that was trying to sabotage Osiris, that everybody thought his destiny was to be the King of Egypt, but his true destiny was to be the King of the underworld, which for the Egyptians was where all life came from and all treasures were found.
He literally had to come apart to come back together in that new way. I would love to know, certainly this bestselling book has been one of the amazing doors that has opened an amazing new way that things have come together for you. I would love to know what's on the other side? What part of your destiny were you maybe in hindsight, resisting or that, you know, what destiny has changed for you?
I love this question. It really has most to do so far. It has most to do with the book. I have been talking about writing a book, Melanie, for the better part of 20 years. I love to write. Like I said, I had a blog for over ten years. It was just like personal accounts of things I was up to. Some of it was just drivel, like what I watched on TV or ate for dinner. Oftentimes there were deep dives into my philosophies or my thoughts on life or my takes on why we're alive or things of that nature.
I've been told over the years, you got to write a book, you got to write a book. I've traveled quite a bit. I've lived in a bunch of different places. It took me a good, long time to find the love of my life. I thought for a while, this is what my book is going to be about. The journey I've been on and the learning I've done and finding my way to James. Then I had a falling out with this family, my accuser's family that was not tied to this situation.
I hadn't talked to them in three years when the police showed up at my door and I had this falling out. And I said, you know, I'm going to write this book and I'm not even going to include them in it, even though they've been instrumental in my life throughout the years, I said, because they walked away and they did me wrong here and there and wherever. Then this happened. And I said, oh, they are the book. It's like if this hadn't happened, this is the story I believe that I was made to tell. There's a saying that says, you've been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved. And that was another truth that I embedded during this whole thing was that this is an experience that I need to again, like I said, clear out some of the cobwebs and just the decisions I make and the friendships I keep. That has been a big switch as well. It's like the way I was a friend before this and now the way I will be a friend because of this. This was a tired relationship.
It was a little bit toxic. There was a little bit in front of me happening throughout it, and I recognized that. And I didn't honor myself or the other person by ending the friendship or distancing from the friendship.
That's a real thing like friendship break ups are a necessary part of life. I looked at it as a fault versus a growth and a period of growth and development. So that has shifted what I accept and what I give from and to friendships has gotten much stronger in quality.
Again, having this story to write, this story wanted to be told. It helped me grow as a person. The experience and it provided what I'm told is a captivating, thought provoking read. People are taking notes from this book. People are going back and underlining things. They're looking up concepts. They're applying things that I talk about helping me in this drastic situation and distilling it and saying this could even just help me with that squabble at work or the tough neighbor or whatever. They're able to be applied in a lot of different ways. So there are a lot of levels to how this situation has helped me become who I believe meant to be and help who I believe I'm meant to help and deliver the message that I didn't realize I was the messenger for.
Well, I love that. A book certainly has that ability to reach so many more people than you ever can face to face. One of the things that I really love about your perspective and I share much of the same belief system that you do, but I really love how you have owned this situation as yours and as part of this bigger healing process that you're going through, did you have that same kind of ownership as you were going through it?
I realized pretty quickly that obviously everything that was on the table had to do with being honest. I recognized that if I wasn't being honest with myself, what's the point? Why would I fight for the truth is so important and not be applying the truth. Part of that did come down to what do I need to take ownership for? A lot of it tied into my desire for forgiveness, both forgiving my own self, for not always being a really stellar, highly moral kind of person. Like my upbringing, I made a lot of questionable choices and then forgiving others for this sort, especially in this situation, really having to work at that. But recognizing that if I was going to continue to issue anger out and shade and wish ill, that was the exact energy that was going to come find its way back to me. And so that had been taking ownership, that had been the way I had proceeded, even like I just said about I'm going to write a book and leave them out of it. That was me being a jerk, quite frankly. Not that it's not human to do that.
I wasn't wrong. It was just a choice I was making that was creating more of the same in my life and being able to take a hard look at myself and say, what are you putting out and where are you issuing it that's making the lesson need to be this heavy? What are you resisting?
Well, do you feel like the amount of ownership you took of the situation helped you with the creation of making the situation dissolve, of being vindicated, of being set free of the charges?
Well, yes and no. I knew that what was being issued to me like what was on paper, I knew that was not that was nothing to me because that was so false, that was such a blatant falsehood that there was nothing there for me to find purchase with insofar as what kind of lesson do I need to learn or what kind of wrong do I need to write or attitude do I need to shift. The stuff on paper, these accusations were why I didn't take a plea deal, they kept offering me plea deals, and I kept saying, but I didn't do anything. My lawyer was like, this is amazing. Not if you didn't do anything, because they all would have included, like, sex offender therapy. I don't need that. I won't accept that.
Yet here I was, tightly ensconced in this legal battle again, I had to almost figure out, what are the parameters of this. It was a spiritual I was told early on from my spiritual guide or mentor, she said, make no mistake, this is spiritual warfare. You are being spiritually attacked and will continue to be.
I knew that even though it was happening on the physical level for everybody to see, my mug shot was all over the news, and there were letters sent out to the parent bodies of every school I'd ever worked at. There was a real awareness on a physical level. My work was like more of a spiritual nature. Again, it was like having to get right with things that only I knew I wasn't going to get up on stand and be like, well, let me talk about the shadow work I've done, because that was the issue at hand.
Yet that's what I had to do. So I started pulling apart every wrong I could remember from kindergarten on. I just spent a lot of time going over my own BS and trying to make amends within my own spirit, like, in all directions of time and space. Really trying to again, forgive myself, forgive others, forgive circumstances, and hope that the effort there would somehow trickle through to this game that I was a pawn in.
Well, that's really what I would love for the listeners to connect to. That is really the power of digging into your own BS and watching the world around you then start to shift. Years ago, I had a professional lawsuit against me, and I had a very similar approach. I couldn't control what she was doing. I had documentation to say that what she was saying did not happen. I passed it off to the lawyer and just worked on myself. When I really came to that place of forgiveness and compassion and really my own self compassion for I would say coming to that point was really perhaps the biggest piece of it. Ultimately, the lawsuit got dropped, and I really feel like it was that because I was able to evolve and change and like, you were able to evolve and change and undo and rewire yourself. But then the situation around you responds to that.
Yeah. And I think a lot of in my case, anyway, that's sticking by myself and standing up for myself and knowing I was right. My mom gave me a really strong piece of advice during it, and she said, 'Honey, as long as you can look yourself in the eye, then that's the decision you need to make.' And again, just saying, no. I think it was like six or seven plea deals that came my way, and they kept getting lesser and lesser in their intensity. Yet I wanted nothing to do with any of them. I said, no, I will take this to a trial. If a jury of my peers can sit and listen to all of this and then conclude that there is no reasonable doubt here, then that's my Soul's destiny. I can write a book in prison. I got to a place where I did honor myself and I did respect myself and I loved myself too much to bend over. Basically for that, they decided not to give away the whole thing. But I had a hung jury. I was not guilty on two charges, and I had a hung jury on five and they decided to retry the five.
So I had another six months of preparation and another like, oh, my God, okay, we're doing this again with a new jury, okay? And those are the six months that they actually did an investigation. They had never done an investigation. Once they did their investigation, they dropped all the charges because there wasn't enough to go to trial.
So had I acted out of that fear, which there was plenty of fear. I am not saying I coasted through this being like, no, I'm just going to keep the faith. I was terrified. I've never known that depth of fear. But what I reminded myself in that moment was because I'm now touching deeper amounts of fear than I've ever known before. The pendulum always swings and therefore, if I can hold on, I will soon know levels of love and joy and freedom like I've never known before. And so the promise holding on to the promise that I am so low that the other side is inevitable and just sitting with the fear, not trying to run away from it. I mean, I had a lot of, like, come to Jesus moments where I was like, oh, my God, my parents can't fix this.
There's nobody to call, could you make a phone call? None of that was even on the table. I have to sit with this. I have to feel it and I need to take what's the next best step? And that's what I kept doing.
Well, I am so glad that you kept taking the next best step, Alex, and there's so much wisdom in all of your words today. Thank you so much for being here for this conversation. Tell everybody how they can get in touch with you.
Oh, happily, I have a website. It's www.goaskalex.org . I am on Instagram at @soulfitnesscoaching and Facebook @soulfitnesscoaching. So those are the best ways to find me.
Great. What services are you offering?
I currently offer one on one coaching and I'm also now that the book is out doing more, speaking to larger groups, the same principles that I again have been using to coach other people and my very own self.
Excellent. I will put those links in the show notes. Thank you, Alex, so much for being here and thank you all for listening. Until next time, keep embodying your star.
There's lots more to discuss about how much truth matters and love wins! I'm looking forward to bringing more episodes of Embody Your Star to you.
See you next time.
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