Woolger, Dr Roger - Other lives, Past Selves – Tormented by memories of a severe childhood nightmare of flashing eyes and teeth
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Other lives, past selves [A Jungian Psychotherapist discovers Past Lives] – Dr Roger Woolger
Cindy had been in therapy for quite a while, working on issues of deep emotional longing mixed with a fear of rejection. She wanted dependable love so much, she said, that it was like "being eaten from inside," and she indicated her belly. She was also tormented by a severe childhood nightmare of flashing eyes and teeth in a dark corner of her childhood bedroom.
In her interview the two issues seemed unrelated, but they were equally troubling to her. One well-meaning therapist had urged her to image a monster in the dark and then to befriend it, but somehow this ploy had not lessened the residual terror.
Working on the assumption that the childhood night terror might well be a past life flashback, I got her to find herself back in her bed as that terrified child:
"I'm standing in my bed, clinging to the railing. There are horrible yellow eyes in the corner and it looks like teeth, Mommy! Mommy! Please help me! They're trying to tear me up! Help me! Help me!"
Her mother comes and hugs her, saying, "It's only a dream, go back to sleep." She lies down, but still the eyes are there in the corner. Still the terror in her child’s body-especially in her belly.
I direct her to look closely at the eyes and teeth and to stay with her feelings of terror, reminding her that her body as Cindy is safe and sound here in my office. I get her to repeat one phrase as she looks into the darkness:
"They're going to tear me up! They're going to tear me up!”
“Oh, help! I'm running, I'm in a forest, it's almost dark. They're coming after me! I'm a boy, about six years old. They’ve caught me-it's a pack of wolfhounds! Help! HELP! Their teeth . . ." (She screams and writhes violently.)
"They're tearing me up . . . Help me! Help me!"
After an agonizing five more minutes of screaming and writhing, Cindy suddenly goes completely limp.
"It’s all over. I'm above the body. They (the wolfhounds)are all eating it. Ugh! They ripped out my guts, my neck, my chest. Oh, it's awful! But I'm dead now, I don't feel anything."
Cindy weeps for some time while I encourage her to breathe and let go of as much of the trauma as is possible, especially what is lodged in her belly. She realizes her belly is where she has always carried all the terror from this memory. I guide her to look back on the young boy's life until then. He had been the young son of a peasant woman who worked as a serving woman to a particularly brutal feudal lord. On a cruel impulse the lord and his cohorts had selected a human victim for their hunt one day and had driven the boy into the woods for sport.
Although the mother had been helpless to prevent it, the boy felt deeply betrayed by her and by her master. The failure of Cindy's mother to rescue her from her night terrors had unfortunately served only to reinforce an old deep wound of betrayal, a wound which had become increasingly generalized in adult life and had lodged itself symbolically in her stomach as a gnawing longing for trust and protection.