Before, Now and After

Connecting our past and our present can help us find the solution for a better tomorrow.

Turning back the hands of time. (The watch was a gift from my brother.)

The first time I was really aware of my gift was at six-years-old. However, it felt more like a curse at the time, a reason for people to ridicule me and dub me a ‘freak’.

When I was ten my family and I visited a horse ranch an hour out of Melbourne. I still remember that day so clearly: the air was crisp and the strong wind was blowing through my hair making it go frizzy. Out of my five siblings, my brother George and I were the only two old enough to ride the horses, so my dad took us to get saddled up — and that’s when it happened. I watched as my brother fell off his horse and cracked open his head. The next thing I heard was some unfamiliar voice screaming out the name ‘Jeremy’ over and over again. I dropped to my knees and buried my face in my hands to stop myself from looking at my brother’s lifeless body. It wasn’t until I heard George’s voice say, ‘Daddy, is Dorothy okay?’ that I looked up and saw him standing in front of me alive and well.

My brother George and I.

Later, I overheard my dad telling my mum, ‘She must have had another hallucination; she needs to see someone about this. It’s becoming dangerous.’ Let me tell you that when you’re a kid, hearing something like that is both scary and discombobulating.

Over the next few months I saw three different psychiatrists, and all of them told my parents the same thing. Apparently, I had an overactive imagination, which was causing me to fabricate an entirely new reality in my mind — that’s probably how my penchant for writing fantasy and sci-fi was born.

The older I got, the less the ‘hallucinations’ occurred. I had managed to train my brain to create an impenetrable force field that prevented my ‘overactive imagination’ from straining my ability to distinguish between what was real and what was an illusion. But there were still times that I would look at my brother George and my mind saw flashbacks of him falling off the horse. It was like a recurring nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. Soon after, my long and hazardous road of sleepless nights, countless ‘are you alive’ phone calls and near heart attacks began.

Fears. Everybody has got them. My greatest fear is and has always been losing my family. Sometimes I can’t even answer the phone because I’m afraid it’s the police calling to say my dad has had a stroke and didn’t survive, or that my mum was in a car accident while going to the local supermarket to pick up groceries. Yeah — crazy — I know. I could write an entire memoir documenting all the insane things I’ve done when I worry about my family’s wellbeing.

In order to cope with the anxiety I decided to dabble in the holistic lifestyle. This led me to renowned psychiatrist Brian L. Weiss’ book Many Lives, Many Masters. The book chronicles the therapy sessions between Weiss and his patient as they take a trip down memory lane — literally. It’s called past life regression (PLR). What stood out to me in the book was how they talked about past lives appearing in dreams and in experiences of déjà vu. Then it hit me as hard as a batter hits a homerun that every hallucination I had as a child was probably a past life memory that was triggered when a present moment paralleled a past one.

“There is no right or wrong. There is only belief.”

PLR is a form of hypnosis that helps a person retrieve memories from past lives or other incarnations. Not everyone believes in reincarnation, which is okay because there is no right or wrong. There is only belief. I spent many hours researching the bejesus out of PLR — reading books, speaking to experts and people who had undergone the hypnosis. A distant relative of mine (picture a crazy cat lady) admitted to having done PLR a few years back, and she told me that she went all the way back to 1548. She claimed that she was a witch and the town’s folk found out her secret and burned her at the stake — pretty morbid stuff, which explains a lot. After hearing her experience, I was apprehensive but she assured me that by finding out the root of the problem, which in my case the problem was the relentless fear of losing my family, I could make sense of it and work towards overcoming it.

Thus began my journey in search of a reputable practitioner who mastered in past life regression. After a few hiccups, the universe ultimately led me to a woman named Jenna. She is an intuitive and has trained in Reflexology, and Hypnotherapy and has a Bachelor in Sociology and Bachelor of Laws. Her resume was hard to deny.

It was 12.00pm on a Tuesday and the season of autumn was nearing its end. When I stepped foot into Jenna’s office it wasn’t at all what I had imagined. The room’s décor was subtle and provided a strong sense of tranquillity. Jenna introduced herself, but didn’t ask me anything personal. Instead, she grabbed hold of a clipboard with multiple sheets of paper attached to it and began revealing secrets about me that only I knew. How could a complete stranger have such a vast knowledge about me? There was no possible way she could have searched me up on the Internet because when I had called to make the appointment weeks prior I only told her my first name. I was just one Dorothy in a pool of thousands. She proceeded to tell me that her spirit guides communed with mine and that’s how she knew so much. Did I believe her at the time? I honestly don’t know. I was impartial.

We briefly discussed the challenges I was hoping to resolve in the session and then went on to do some breathing exercises before I planted my goosepimple-covered body onto the pale white chaise lounge. Jenna guided me during a brief meditation session to relax myself and prepare for the hypnosis stage. I remember her coarse voice reverberating around the room, telling me to relax, close my eyes and think of a garden. I did as she said but I won’t bore you with the details. She counted back from ten, and by five I could feel myself being pulled into another dimension.

I delved in so deep that I could smell the freshly cut grass and feel a cool air charging through me. The first thing I noticed were my shoes. They were slightly pointed and laced in a yellow silk material with a chunky wooden heel. ‘Where are you?’ Jenna asked.

Without any hesitation I answered, ‘I’m walking along a path surrounded by a beautiful meadow. I can see a dark figure coming towards me.’

‘Don’t be afraid of it; it’s your spirit guide coming to take you through your past’s threshold,’ Jenna assured me.

The next thing I saw was a tiny cottage with ivy leaves growing around it. Jenna continued to ask me simple questions about where I was and what I could see.

‘Do you know your name?’ Jenna asked.

‘My name is Carrie,’ I responded, ‘and I’m 17-years-old, and it’s 1834.’ How do I even know all that, I pondered. I felt like I was in some Victorian-style film like Dangerous Liaisons.

When I walked through the cottage’s front door everything slowly started to make sense. I had strawberry-coloured, wavy hair and my body was gaunt and pale.

The next snapshot I saw was me sitting on a wooden rocking chair my father made for me, swinging back and forth while cradling my nine-month-old son. I was married to a man I deeply loved — a man I recognised and fancied from my present life. From that point on, the memories played out in a linear fashion like a compilation video comprising all the highs and lows from my old life as Carrie.

All of a sudden, I started crying hysterically. Jenna instructed me to remember it wasn’t happening in the now. Carrie found her young son dead in his crib, and I was reliving it. ‘I can’t do this. It’s my fault he’s dead,’ I called out to Jenna. But she kept telling me to skip to the next big moment. Just like a movie the scene quickly changed and Carrie, now twenty-years-old, was sitting at the dinner table surrounded by her grieving family. Everyone was dressed in black and her brother’s seat was empty.

‘What’s your brother’s name? Jenna asked me.

‘Jeremy. His name was Jeremy.’

‘How did he die?’ ‘He went riding the other day, and fell off his horse. He got a brain haemorrhage,’ I wept.

The montage continued to play in my head, and during each snippet someone I love always died. After my brother it was my mother and then my husband. What made it harder to bear was that everyone from my past life was someone I know from my current life.

My beloved family at my mum’s birthday dinner.

Finally, I reached the last moment of Carrie’s life. I was lying in a bed dressed in a white nightgown. I was fighting to stay alive, but my body felt too weak and defenceless. Standing in the corner of the room were my son and daughter; they had a desolate look in their eyes. ‘Dorothy, it’s time to leave Carrie behind. But before you do, what are her last words to you? What message does she want to tell you?’ Jenna asked.

‘Finish the book. He’s the one. But most importantly, protect your family,’ I whispered.