In 1999 I went to see Thelma Freedman for several sessions to help me deal with a relationship issue in my current life. I was hoping to have a better relationship with two people in my life. We explored several lifetimes that involved the three of us. One of the first ones, however, had a surprise ending which neither of us expected.
I found myself on a beach, not sandy but made of small stones and pebbles, round and smooth. I was with other women and children. Behind us was a low cliff. There was a path or trail that led up the cliff and back to our village. I was a young girl, in my early teens. My sense was this was in Japan hundreds of years ago. Maybe 400’s. I was with my mother and my 2 younger sisters. We were “processing” fish that the men in the village had brought in that morning. It was our job to gut and clean the fish that the men brought in, and then put them out on racks made of driftwood to dry in the sun. This activity had been going on for many generations at this site. Everything was covered with fish bits and innards, including us. You can imagine how we smelled!
As we were working 3 men rode down to the beach on horses. These men were wearing very unusual clothing, almost otherworldly to my village eyes, very colorful and bright! They had weapons and seemed fierce. I knew one owned our village. This meant he owned us, the fish, the boats, our lives. As he rode down towards us on the beach, it was obvious that he was repulsed by us, by how we smelled. I felt an intense wave of shame go through me at the look on his face; it made me feel ashamed of myself and my family.
He told us that he was not getting as much out of us as he wanted. If we didn’t provide more fish and more income for him, he would sell the village and everything in it to the other two men with him. He told us they didn’t want us there, they just wanted the land the village was on. That meant the men had to spend even more time fishing and we had to work harder doing whatever we could to bring him more income.
I was a girl, the eldest child. I was always trying to prove I was as good as any son would be because I knew my father was disappointed that there were no sons. I felt it was my duty to make that up to him. As the firstborn, I should have been a son. But there were rigid rules about male and female roles in the village. I was not allowed to go on the boats or to swim, to do anything but process the fish and help my mother and sisters. I adored my father and wanted to be like him and it was a constant ache that I was not able to be anything other than another girl.
In the next scene the men were out fishing, even though a bad storm was brewing, and under normal circumstances they would not have risked going out in it. We were all too afraid of losing everything if they missed a day of fishing, so they went out. The storm came up and the boats could not get to shore. All the men and boys of the village had gone out on the boats, and the rest of us were on the beach, watching and weeping. The boats were there, we could see them, but the sky was black, the waves were crashing and tossing them like sticks, and we could not do anything. None of us could swim; there was no way to save them. I couldn’t just stand and watch my beloved father drown, I had to do something. So I tied a rope to an empty wooden barrel of some kind and wrapped the rope around my waist. I intended to tie the rope to the boat so we could draw it into shore. At one point the force of the water tore the rope away from me and I lost the barrel. As I sank into the deep water and drown I felt intense shame and guilt because I failed my father and my family.
All the men drowned, all the boats were destroyed, everything was lost. The village and everyone in it was sold to the men. They took what they wanted, mainly the young girls, and threw everyone else out onto the road. My mother died on the road. My two younger sisters were taken and used by the men. I blamed myself for all that happened to them, as if my failure to swim out to my father’s boat was the cause of their fate.
As we examined that young girl’s lifetime I saw that her two little sisters are the two people in my life today. Her father is a very dear friend. Amazingly enough, the man who owned the village is the man to whom I have been happily married for 30 years in this life. He and I have shared many lifetimes together, in many different ways, some loving and some not so loving. It was also interesting that one of the two men who bought the village is directly involved with the two people and is part of the cause of the problems between us. We started to talk about that and I found I could not share all the information with Thelma, as if it was not my burden to carry anymore. Just by finding the source of it, I release the sense of shame and guilt. And, I knew it was not my place to fix/heal.
However, there turned out to be another side benefit that neither Thelma nor I expected. When I came back to full body awareness, one of the first things I said was “That is why I can’t stand fish!” Thelma was confused, so I explained. From my infancy I have had a deep aversion to fish, in particular the smell. I could not stand the slightest hint of the smell, even of fresh fish, it would make me gag. I was so sensitive that I could not stand being near anyone who had recently eaten fish. If I could smell it on them it made me gag. This was such a deep and unconscious part of me that it never occurred to me to ask about it or think that it might be otherwise. Obviously this was not what we had been focusing on for these sessions, but it became from that session onward, a side benefit. Being able to see the source of that issue, I was able to release the aversion including the physical response to the smell. I can eat fish now. I also enjoy sushi. No one could be more surprised as I am, and my husband Tim is delighted. He is of Norwegian background and grew up eating fish, but out of respect to my sensitivity he would eat it only when he was on business trips staying from home.
Tim is what I call a “show-me skeptic.” He thinks for himself, but if you can show him something is real, he is open minded enough to allow that it might be so. Sometime after I had set up my practice someone asked Tim what he thought of the work I was doing. He shrugged, in his very low key New Englander manner and said, “Well there must be something to it.” When I asked him to elaborate, he reminded me that I eat fish now. If you asked him if he believes in reincarnation or past lives he will say “Not really.” But, if you ask him if past-life regression works, he will say there is something to it because he has seen it for himself.