Regression Therapy
Regression Therapy

Interviews

Inner Child Therapy on War Traumas

an interview with Trisha Caetano

by Gözde Tabak

 

Since February the world is witnessing the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. There are thousands of people affected first hand and many more by the effects of war. Even by watching the news, feelings of despair, fear, helplessness and anger are triggered within most.

This is not the first and probably not the last war. Mankind has a painful history of conflicts and individuals are very much affected by all means. This is where we, regression therapists are coming into the picture. As soon as the dust settles, those individuals will be seeking ways to cope with their new realities and we will help them to adapt.

For a better understanding of what war does to people and how to work with those affected, we got together with Trisha Caetano, a pioneer in Inner Child Integration and Regression Therapy. Trisha answered my questions of Inner Child Therapy, war traumas and more.

Before we get to the war traumas would you explain the importance of the inner child therapy in one’s therapy journey?

Inner Child Therapy deals with primal emotions including out of control fear or powerless rage, self destructive behaviors like addictions or abusive behaviors such as violence.  Often these are a result of trauma during pre-birth, the womb and childhood.

The early traumatic experiences in childhood are ‘hard wired’ in the undeveloped brain and neuro- system of the body. They become the fundamental survival tools and coping structures that will determine our teenage and adult behaviors for our whole life.

What starts as a subconscious survival program in childhood, too often results in illogical, immature or destructive behavior in adult life.

As long as early trauma and the resulting responses remain unhealed and in the subconscious, it is reactive and outside our logical thinking or conscious control. We no longer know what we really feel or want. We become internally alienated from ourselves. Whole parts of who we are become locked into the traumas of the past.

Inner Child Integration Therapy is a powerful tool for healing by getting to the cause of these painful, reactive behaviors, then healing the physical, emotional and mental responses associated with the early traumas.

With healing and a new adult understanding, we become aware of who we are, how we want to live our lives and what conscious choices we want make.  This work is about freedom.

When or on which issues it is most needed or do we all need it the same?

We are multidimensional beings functioning on many different levels at the same time. Healing trauma with a client is a dance, a flow, using whatever tool is necessary to address what the client is presenting in that session, in that moment. Inner Child work is an integrative therapy. It includes not only regression but gestalt, psychosynthesis, voice dialogue, constellations, rituals, Transactional Analysis, NLP, non-dominant hand work, Jungian archetypes and much, much more.

There is no ‘same’ method with any client. Each client is unique. Each person experiences trauma differently. With the same trauma in the same family, each child comes to different conclusions and has different issues and behaviors based on how they interpret their own feelings.

The results of continued trauma is cross-referenced in the mind creating a systematic web of survival beliefs and associated body responses. We have to address these beliefs, peeling them off layer by layer until we reach the deep core issues and eliminate the results of each individual client’s traumatic past.

Looking at the war in Ukrania and many more effected around the world, how would inner child therapy or integrating the inner child into therapies help healing the war traumas?

I have worked with victims of different wars in numerous countries around the world. For example, during Pol Pot’s war in Cambodia, a 10 year old boy witnessed his parents and sister being raped and murdered. Imprisoned, he listened to screams throughout the night. In the morning he was forced to clean up the vomit and feces from tortured victims and haul their dead bodies out of a cellar and pile them on the waiting cart outside. This continued for four years. As an adult, these experiences crippled him emotionally, physically and spiritually. Using Inner Child, Integration Therapy we brought peace to this anguished man and he was able to choose a different and better life for himself and his family.

War forces us to exist on a primal level. There is no thought, only a desperate and reactive drive to make the body survive. Too often we do not address how to help the psychological consequences of war. Most people never recover from the emotional and physical destruction of being victims of war.

When dealing with war traumas what do you observe most commonly? What are some common topics or issues that affects a person because of experiencing war?

Powerlessness, fear, anger, grief are all the common denominators of victims of childhood trauma and war. There are other things that are so subtle, so deep that we must never assume we know the feelings, beliefs or illnesses found in survivors of war. Some things that need to be considered in working with victims of war:

Toxic Stress

Toxic Stress is the result of prolonged traumatic life events that occur over an extended period of time in the child’s life without the safety or protection of an adult.

War and trauma in the childhood create toxic stress resulting in: anxiety disorders, depression, cognitive problems, behavior problems and choices, mental illness and addictive disorders. In addition, constant stress compromises the body and the immune system resulting in chronic infections and illness and the potential for heart disease, stomach and bowel issues and shorter life spans.

If your client presents these symptoms during your initial intake, consider regression and Inner Child Integration therapy to address these issues.

War and the Child’s brain

In addition, research now shows that excessive stress also disrupts the architecture of the developing child’s brain and their survival responses. Indications are that abuse and war can also inhibit the brain signaling the natural development stages at the appropriate time. The person becomes arrested in the trauma instead of progressing to the adult.

Inner Child Integration therapy allows the client to return to and unblock the feelings and behaviors trapped in the past, move through the missed developmental stages, restoring the client to healthy, adult behaviors.

Hyper Vigilance

Hyper vigilance is constantly being alert, tense and watching for the next painful experience.  The constant fear of war and abuse causes the stress hormone cortisol to be abnormally and continually produced.  This results in the child and the adult being always on high alert for danger; fight or run. In growing and in the adult life, this leads to toxic stress and physical and mental illness. This hyper production of cortisol can remain throughout a persons life. The results can be addictions, anxiety disorders, trust issues, phobias and health problems.

Core Issue Abandonment

Core issue abandonment is caused by the sudden and violent separation or loss of one or more parents and family members. Children being torn from their mother’s arms, herded into cages like animals, abused and neglected, creates profound and chronic fear responses. This results in destructive behaviors in relationships and becoming addicts in an attempt to fill the ‘empty hole’ feeling caused by abandonment at an early age.

How is the war different for age groups? Is the way how war is percieved by an adult is the same as how it is percieved by a child?

The adult has focus, survival tools, reason and decision making skills to try and cope with the madness of war. The child has none of these skills. When little, children internalize the parents and caretakers fears, powerlessness and anger.

Imagine yourself experiencing unspeakable terror and you cannot speak, walk or run. You are drowning in a sea of collective horror with no understanding and no way to escape. Children are absolutely powerless to control or change the terror around them or in themselves. This becomes the reality of what life is and the distorted feelings and beliefs usually continue throughout the person’s whole life.

The teenager has more skills but the reasoning brain is not fully developed and the hormonal changes in their bodies cause them to respond more reactively than consciously.

What are the key points for us as therapists when dealing with people effected by war? What are your advices and suggestions to fellow therapists on this issue?

Shame

One of the issues not commonly addressed in the healing process of war is shame. Shame that they could not protect themselves, their children, their loved ones, their home, their country. Shame from war destroys on many levels. I recall one client whose father had aligned himself with the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II. After the Nazis lost the war the father had to go into hiding. With deep shame the client recalls as a child, looking out her window and seeing her father creeping through neighbors back yards in an attempt to see his wife. I recall one Jewish man who was on the committee that selected which Jewish people were to be sent to the death camps. Eventually he had to inform on his own relatives.  Later, the shame of his betrayal caused his body to develop enormously painful arthritis, becoming crippled, incapacitated and in a wheelchair.

Survivor’s guilt

Survivor’s guilt carries the shame that they survived and those around them, often other family members, were murdered. Healing this illogical guilt becomes necessary. The various dimensions of shame must be addressed if healing is going to be complete.

Collective trauma

We must remember that in war there is a collective trauma. Not only what is happening to you but the trauma is reinforced and impacted because everyone around you is experiencing the same terror, rage, guilt and powerlessness. This collective energy intensifies the trauma. Collective trauma impacts an entire generation, an entire country. Survivors of war live in the energy of collective war trauma every day for generations.

Healing the client can sometimes include healing the ‘group’ around them and even healing the physical location where the war occurred. I had one client who went to Hawaii and visited a museum built over a ship that was sunk 40 years before by the Japanese.  There were over 2,000 solders still on board when the ship was bombed. To her shock she heard the screaming of the dead men below her. After working with her to help her understand what she experienced, she chose as her mission in life to travel to the places around the world where war had occurred. She then worked to free the energy of the land as well as free the souls still trapped in the collective trauma of war.

PTSD

All the body senses, feelings and beliefs are impacted by war and continued trauma.  All or any one of those senses or thoughts can trigger the client to relive the horror again and again. Post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, is a crippling consequence of war. To prevent overwhelm in therapy, we often we have to take only one or two components of the clients horror and work with it;   only sound or only smell or only body sensation. Sometimes we have to peel the ingredients of the trauma off, layer by layer until the client can move past PTSD and find peace.

Changed genes

We now know with epigenetic research that continued trauma impacts individuals at the deepest core level changing the genetic structure and conditioning of the human body. These changes, often destructive, are generational. These altered genes pass down to our children and our children’s children. There is growing evidence that using Inner Child Integration and regression therapy, we can heal the horrific results of war on our genetic structure. There are indications that our DNA can be restored to a healthy function so future generations do not inherit the genes distorted by the devastation of war.

Distortions

The continuing trauma of war creates distortions in our reality. For example Power could mean: domination, screaming, brutality. powerlessness or disassociation, depending on the client’s interpretation of what they are experiencing. They then repeat and reinforce the behaviors of these distortions in adult life and in adult relationships.

We start to heal these distortions by asking the client to free associate as they define a ‘trigger’ word. For example asking the client to complete the sentence, “Fear is…”. Repeating the question and hearing the freely associated answers carries the client deeper into the subconscious. When the the client responds with reactive energy, we regress the client to reach the trauma that originated the distorted beliefs.

For example, one client was a 4 month fetus in her mother’s womb. The husband and his mother were constantly yelling and hitting the mother, demanding that she produce a boy child after 3 previous female children. In the womb, the fetus felt enormous guilt for being the wrong sex and decided that she would have to always protect her mother. These distortions were carried into her adult life and dysfunctionally impacted her marriage and her own children. This resulted in generational distortions. Once regressed, she was able to heal the fetus and release the resulting distortions and behaviors in herself. We then had to work with and correct how those distortions had harmed her marriage and her children. We can only imagine the distortions caused by war.

Polarization

Fear, war and continued trauma locks the person into extreme belief and behavior that prevents reason or logic. We become imprisoned in a life sentence of what we must always do, what we must never do in order to survive. Being trapped in these unchangeable concepts of behavior creates internal alienation.  It causes us to never know who we are and having no hope of ever finding out.

When the client can no longer hold the extreme behavior, they will usually act out the opposite extreme in destructive ways.  For example, a person who is an extremely controlled and religious could become a binge gambler or pick up someone in a bar for ‘dirty’ sex.  Filled with guilt they will then return to the religious behavior.  The client is trapped, bouncing between the two extremes trying to always do one behavior and always repress the opposite behavior.

We work with polarization by taking the most believed side of the polarization and regressing to cause of the polarized belief and body responses. Then we take the other side of the repressed polarization and regress to cause. As we continue to work with these polarizations we move more and more into the Shadow work – and more and more into Soul Consciousness.

Understanding and compassion are not enough:

If you have not lived through war, do not for a minute think you know what it is like to experience war or to know the complex inner landscape of these people and the pain they endure. We must understand that everyone, the solders as well as the civilians, are devastated by the inhumanity of war. That is why, when a young Viet Nam veteran told me that at the end of each day his team would gather around a fire, consuming drugs.  They would then count the ears they cut off of the Vietnamese they had killed that day. The one with the most ears got an extra ration of drugs. And then he returned to the the USA and the scorn of the Americans who had no understanding or compassion for this once, idealistic young man, now emotionally destroyed by an illegal and amoral war.

That is why, as therapists, we neither judge, nor collapse into the horror of our client’s experiences. We breathe. We center. We hold the space for these human beings who have the courage to enter our door and struggle through their pain from the darkness into the light.

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Many thanks to Trisha Caetano for the time and thorough explanations to our questions.

The war is and always has been a destruction for countries, groups and individuals. Hope this interview may shine some light on the realities, affects and ways to deal with it.

 

For more information and to get in contact with Trisha, you may visit: www.trishacaetano.com or trishacaetano@yahoo.com

Estafet 1 | Video Interview with Rob Van Aert

ESTAFET 1
Interview with Rob Van Aert

Years ago, when EARTh was a young association, Anita Groenendijk and Yasemin Tokatli started out an initiative called Estafet* which was a series of interviews in our newsletter that was intended for our official members; we were semi-strangers to each other back then and knowing more about our colleagues was informative for the rest of our membership.

Now, 16 years later, we like to introduce our esteemed colleagues to a wider audience, both among our membership and the public, by giving a second chance to EARTh Estafet, this time as video interviews.
In this first video, our dear executive secretary Anna Merkulova interviews Rob van Aert from Netherlands.
And Rob chooses the next member you will meet in the second video.

*A courier who conveys messages to another courier

Interview Text

EARTh Estafet Video 1 Transcript

Anna: So, hello! It’s Anna here. Yeah, and I welcome everybody to this first episode of the Estafette where we get to know and meet the therapists who are members of EARTh and we will be doing that- Watch out! Maybe you’re the next one.
And today I have my first client or “victim”- whatever, as a guest I have our member Rob from Netherlands- you might see the tulips and I’m already in Netherlands myself- and we’re just going to go through some questions and see what comes out. All right, Rob?

Rob: Sounds fine to me.

Anna: Very good. How are you today?

Rob: Fire away! Thank you very much. I am pretty good. It was a busy week, as usual. So, it’s nice to have a Saturday off and then you came, if I want to participate in this and I gladly do so-

Anna: Yes, I thank you very much for your time today- also, you have a nice view behind you.

Rob: Yeah, thank you. It’s- I feel very happy to have this view. Usually when people see me on the Zoom then the camera pointed on the other side and that’s where the curtain is- but now you get to see what I am looking at normally. So, I’m very happy to be in this practice here in the south of Holland.

Anna: Very good. So, you are in Holland and you are from Holland, correct?

Rob: Yes, I was born just- I think 20 kilometres that way and I’ve been living here for almost 30 years now- so I’ve moved over quite some time- a few times in my life but I’m very stuck to this place. I really love it here, I’m happy too that I took this place to be born.

Anna: You see how that’s the most important- if you love it keep it!

Rob: Yeah.

Anna: All right! so I’ll just hit you with some questions that we prepared and we’ll see- Could you tell me about your education and your training that you have in your life?
Rob: Okay, yeah- Well I went to university, I was trained in communications. I worked as a  copywriter and I was a teacher in Dutch, the Dutch language and mostly in communication I’ve worked and I was trained at Tasso. I think I did there about all the courses they have there. I’m very happy I did that and I took- Actually I’m doing a repeater course now and just I’m an observer now and I did Tasso for the second time.
And I also went to Rita’s school in Belgium for a year just to attend and I’m also glad to be teaching a little bit- just very tiny bits there and in Holland as well, so it was good.

Anna: So, you are also teach?

Rob: Well, just a little bit, tiny tiny bit.

Anna: Cool. Very interesting progression from what you did before and regression but we’ll get there, we’ll get there, wait. So, what is the job you do now?

Rob: At the moment I am a full-time regression therapist for about seven years now and it is actually a bit funny because I always thought that therapy was something for crazy people, as they do in America but it turned out not to be so. So, I never thought of becoming a therapist but actually, now I’m doing it full-time and I’m really loving it.

Anna: Full-time means every day, right?

Rob: Every day, just from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. I don’t work in the evenings because I  need some time to recover from all these heavy stories people are telling me but yeah, full-time.

Anna: Fair enough, yeah.

Rob: That seems to be an exception, not many people in EARTh are doing this full-time, I’ve heard. I think Holland is a bit more in advance more people in Holland are doing it but let’s, let the rest of the world follow quickly. 

Anna: Yes, hopefully. It depends now on the country and the rules also. Like in Germany it is a little bit different so you have to find the right way to exercise this kind of therapy. True.

Anna: Okay, my next question would be as follows: How did you actually find out about regression therapy for the first time?

Rob: Well, I was quite young when I first came in contact with regression therapy. There was a lecture here, in my city by Henri de Vidal de St. Germain. Just by the name, you should go to a lecture of his and he was one of the first students from the first class of Hans Ten Dam and he came here to tell about his experiences, and I found it so fascinating that I took his business card and I called him up the day after and I said “well I would like to know something about my past” and he said “well that’s too bad because I’m not working with tourists just like you, I’m only working with serious cases and especially for children because they have the most to gain so I’m very sorry but I can’t help you there” and I was a bit disappointed and also impressed because I didn’t really get the point that it actually was therapy for serious things. I had heard, just heard the spectacular stories. So, I had to wait and a few years later I got into a burnout and I felt really bad, I couldn’t move from there from the couch to the kitchen so I thought well maybe now I’m, my case is bad enough so I can come. So, I called him up again and he heard my voice and he said “okay I can hear it’s not really going well with you, so I have some opportunity for you next week so please come quickly and we’ll see what we can do about it”. And the regression session didn’t cure my burnout but because of that session I could recover from the burnout by myself and I didn’t feel able to do that before. So, at the end of that session I thought “wow, this is what I want to do too”. And I had this inner voice saying “well of course everybody’s saying, thinking the same after a session”. But no, that’s not the case. More people have gotten inspired to do this as a training or to go to… or know more about it but not everybody wants to do it. So, it nearly took half of the burnout extra to really learn that, I should really start doing something about it and actually I knew since I was a child- as a four- or five-year-old, I knew I was going to do something like this. And I knew that before being able to do it I had to have my hair grey. Actually, I qualify by now so I can do this. 

Anna: You have the best qualifications now, perfect.

Rob: I knew that I can do something with talking to people. That’s what I thought as a four- or five-year-old that it would involve something as talking to people. Regression therapy didn’t really exist by that time, I think but somewhere in my subconscious I was aware that I was supposed to do that.

Anna: It was a more subconscious thing or you really had some sort of thoughts as a child? Well, how was it, you know? When you know how do you know?

Rob: How do we know? We never know. I didn’t have an example of somebody I saw doing it. It didn’t exist by the time. So, I think my soul must have known because I really feel that I’m doing what my soul wants me to do now.

Anna: Great, we wish more people feel like that.

Rob: Yeah, they will come, I think.

Anna: Yeah.

Rob: I hope, we’ll see.

Anna: Is there anything in your practice that you like to use as the induction methods? Anything special or anything- erm, you can say favourite.

Rob: Well, I use them all. I think it’s really important to have them connect to the body. Since I was- well, I’ve been working with my mind all of my life, so I tend to be something someone mental. So, I had to learn that. I had to involve the body as well and that turns out to work fine. So I always ask for connecting the body and somatics; and from there on the emotions always come. And I always start with a body scan- that’s I think the secret to the trade. So, now you all know. And I probably think you already knew before.

Anna: Yes, yes. I think it’s one of the best ways to go in, also for me- definitely as myself as a person, as a client let’s say.

Rob: And you are, of course, a body person. That’s your life.

Anna: For me it’s very easy, yeah.

Rob: I wanted to say half your life but it’s your entire life I think.

Anna: Yes.

Anna: So, and also- do you use any other therapies or you just work purely with regression in your practice?

Rob: I’m pretty much pure in regression. I did take the course from Roland Duchateau in Emotive Therapy -which was interesting but not really for me. I do use some tools of it and I tend to use a lot of things I have learned in face reading and Chinese face reading. Now that could be interesting for all of us but I hardly have ever heard anyone talk about it. Except for this week, during the workshop that Nassos gave and then, Haike Bettendorf told me that she was also into face reading. So, next congress or convention I have to definitely talk about that with her but I didn’t know that’s the first time I heard someone talk about it. It’s really very interesting but that’s another topic- maybe nice for a workshop or whatever. We’ll see.

Anna: Yeah, I will remember that. Be careful. I will find you for another workshop.

Rob: I’m not the person to teach in that but there are people who are better at it. And I also use a lot of language stuff because that’s my background and I am very attentive to special little words or the way people say it. A week before, a client told me that she sometimes hated me because I do something that she tends to do with other people; she takes their words and turns them against the one who is saying it and I did that to her and she didn’t like it. Sometimes the words people use can say a lot about their problems or character or  whatever so I am very attentive to words. I’m much- I’m very much a language person.

Anna: So, your background- it’s actually very useful then for the therapy.

Rob: It’s- well of course it’s a talk therapy so where we have to pay attention to what other people say and how they say it. Very important. Yeah.

Anna: Wow. And what is your favourite thing about being a therapist?

Rob: Well, the great thing about it is that we get to have a look inside the lives of a lot of other people. And sometimes I get very impressed about the courage they take as a soul- to take the challenge to lead these lives. A lot of clients are much more courageous than I am so they take- they take upon the task of resolving karma. I would never have the courage to do so I tend to make a deep bow for them, and especially the clients that are feeling very down are impressed by it and they think “but you are a therapist” “yeah but you actually do it, I am only- I’m here to guide you a little bit with it” but erm- I’m very timid about what a lot of clients do.

Anna: It’s also good for clients to realize what they’re doing.

Rob: Yeah, yeah.

Anna: For their own understanding of their path.

Rob: And you get to know people in all kinds of parts of society and all the extremes -being very famous or rich or very poor or living in harsh conditions or suffering very severe mental conditions. It’s extremely interesting and it never wears out. It’s- it’s a miracle every day. So, I’m really very grateful to being able to do this job. Yeah.

Anna: Do you have a favourite story that you could share with us?

Rob: Hmmm…

Anna: Probably have many but-

Rob: There are many and every day there are more but what impressed me most was- I was actually maybe I had just graduated or was about to graduate and then- some lady called- it’s actually a fun story about how she came on my path. She had read the book by Michael Newton, “Life between Lives” and she was talking about it with someone else “Oh, let’s do that oh but we have to go to America, that’s going to be expensive and it’s going to take a lot of time, so pity but maybe there’s a way of doing it in Europe, okay let’s find out.” So, they started to Google and they found out it was possible to do a session like that  in Europe and it was even possible to do it in their own country, in the Netherlands. And then they started digging deeper and they found out that just three kilometres from their own house there was this guy doing this, so they didn’t have to go to America. So, that’s the way we- they came across me, and she called up and she said I want to do her life between life sessions. Okay, we can do that. So, we made an appointment and at that time I was not too experienced so I didn’t have a really great procedure about intakes, so I did not know much about this lady. And then the time she came here, she was actually handed over by her mother and she was- well actually she was pretty much dead. I saw death in her eyes when I opened the front door for her- so that’s giving me goosebumps now- because I wasn’t too experienced by these things at that time- erm, and it turned out that she was well very depressed for a long time and she didn’t want to live any longer so she had really concrete plans of ending her life and it was not going to take much time and I think that this life between lives session was just to get a sneak preview of what was coming next after she had done that. But it turned out to be different because in the session we resolved a deep depression- that she was depressed and she had a really deep depression for over 20 years and resolved that in one session. And it was amazing for me to witness it disappear- and oh yeah, I still was graduating then because I was doing research on brain waves and I was recording brain waves and I wanted to do a statistical analysis on that which is not really my thing and after that session I realized that I shouldn’t be doing any statistical analyses. I should just be doing this, the real job and let the statistics be done by someone else. That was really impressive for me. 

And another nice story which was impressive for me was: one of my first clients was referred to me by friends and she was a young girl. She didn’t have much confidence and she was- well not having a really nice life and we did one session. And well, it worked out fine I thought and then she contacted me. She came for the second appointment and she said “Well, Rob I’m very very sorry to tell you but I came here just to tell you that I don’t want to continue because it’s too vague for me and I’m not sure it’s something for me.” Okay, so that’s disappointing but I have to accept that and I told her, “Well since you’re here now do you want to do another session, just to end it?” And then she said yes and then she left. and I didn’t hear anything from her for over half a year and I was a bit disappointed because I knew there was a way of resolving things and she had really worked well in the session. And then after this half a year she contacted me again and she said “Rob, I’m very sorry I didn’t give you any notice but I was so busy catching up with my life because I was feeling so worthless, and now all these feelings of being depressed etc have gone so I really start going out. I have friends, I am having dates, I’m starting to study.” So she didn’t have time to contact me and I’m totally fine with that. I’m glad that she took the time to catch up with all the things she had to do as a youngster. And that was very very impressive as well.

Anna: Nice knowing when the client contacts you later and then gives you such a feedback.

Rob: Yeah, that’s it is always nice to hear but a lot of times you don’t hear anything about them and it actually can be a good sign.

Anna: Yeah, that’s true. Maybe they’re just following their road and hopefully enjoying it. Yeah, nice. Thank you for that- for sharing that. Are there any other activities you do in regression field? I know you’re a member of other organizations also not only EARTh?

Rob: Well yeah, I’m not- I don’t have any official jobs but I do things along the line and more in an informal way than really in a formal function.  I’m not really much of an association person but I’m a people person I think but who knows, one day perhaps.

Anna: We are very glad to have you in our association.

Rob: I am involved, it’s really my passion so I’m contributing the way I can but along the line.

Anna: Along the line. How many years you’re already with us in EARTh? How long have you been a member, do you remember?

Rob: Maybe five years or so, I don’t know really for sure.

Anna: Actually yeah, you probably- you joined after me because we- I think when we met at one of the conventions- probably was one of the first years…

Rob: My first convention was in Holland in Baarlo.

Anna: Yeah, yeah. So that was probably when you joined or maybe just previous year that was- how many years ago? Yeah, five years ago.

Rob: Yeah, more or less.

Anna: More or less. Nice.

Rob: Time flies, who cares! Time does that.

Anna: Flies, yeah, it’s true- yeah, I just- I do remember my first- the first conventions with EARTh are always the ones- I remember my first one also very strongly. It was an amazing experience also.

Rob: Yeah.

Anna: All right. So now you’re gonna get- you get a chance to choose who is going to be the next person interviewed from our members and you can choose from all the members that we have. Make your choice.

Rob: Well, I would love to hear more from Olga. Olga Chatskaya. I think I pronounced it right.

Anna: Correct.

Rob: Because I told you that I pretend to be modest but I think she’s even better in being modest. She really is doing a lot of work. I’ve seen her work at a congress and she is really- she really rocks! But she is always- well, a bit in the in the background and I would love to put the spotlights on her. So, Olga, here you go! This is your way to be out of the comfort zone but we love to hear from you. I have seen you work and I know you’re doing great work together with Gennady in Moscow so we love to hear from you and since this is a worldwide association, let’s move over from Holland to a few thousand kilometres further away.

Anna: Yes! Great choice. Thank you! So, we’ll see Olga in our next episode. And I really thank you very much, Rob for your time. It was a pleasure to have you and chat with you, and I wish you again all the best. Make sure you rest and enjoy giving, doing your work that you love and keep loving it! 

Rob: Well, that will be won’t be too hard because it’s just something I love to do. Thank you very much for all the effort you are putting into EARTh because it’s not just a job for you, I see, it’s also a passion, you are putting much more energy in it and it’s coming back multiplied, with all the things that are starting to happen just because of what you are doing so I’m really grateful and I think I’m talking to you on behalf of a lot of other members as well.

Anna: So, thank you. It is my pleasure, it’s true. I really enjoy doing it, I’m very passionate about the whole organization.

Rob: It is- isn’t it miraculous that we are this extended family and we are gathered, connected from all around the world. It’s always nice to see everyone at conventions or even online. Of course, it’s much more fun to do it real life but still we are all together in this crazy business.

Anna: Yes, and I hope now this new format will bring us even closer so we really get to know more people. So, that makes me very happy I wish I could travel with my camera and go to everybody. Maybe one day.

Rob: That would be fun.

Anna: I would film from the location.

Rob: I would love to be your assistant and carry your bags. I volunteer if EARTh has a big pot of gold to finance it.

Anna: Yeah, all right. You have the job so, be at the airport and we’re flying to Russia.

Rob: Okay- oh in that case I want to nominate someone else.

Anna: What?

Rob: Somewhere in more sunny space if we’re.

Anna: Oh yeah, no change! That’s it. Maybe the time after that we will go somewhere warm. 

Rob: Okay.

Anna: All right. Thank you so much, Rob and thank you everybody for watching and being with us. And I see you soon in the next episode.

Bas Steman | Morgan, My Love: A book about a writer who finds out who he was in a past life

Morgan, My Love: A book about a writer who finds out who he was in a past life

Morgan, My Love was first released in Dutch and has gotten marvellous reviews, the 7th edition is already released. The book is about the impact of a past life as a soldier during World War II on the present-day life of a writer.

The novel Morgan, My Love from Bas Steman is based on a true story. A Dutch writer experiences a panic attack during a parachute jump. He is encouraged to find out the origin of his fear. A regression therapy session brings to a past life as a soldier during operation Market Garden. An impressive experience to him, but rationally he cannot understand it. He doesn’t actually believe in past lives.

While trying to convince himself this can’t be true it leads him to a small village in Wales, where an old woman never could forget him.

The novel was first published in Dutch (Morgan een liefde) and is now also available in English. It is based on Bas Stemans’ own experiences after doing a regression therapy session with Ilja van der Griend, a member of EARTh Association.

In this interview, past life therapist Willemijn Luijendijk interviews Bas about the book and the experiences that led to writing it.

Morgan, My Love is available on Amazon or in Dutch (Morgan, en liefde) through publisher Nieuw Amsterdam or the local bookstore.

In 2022 a documentary about Bas Stemans personal experiences will be made, by filmmaker Ariane Greep (Filmagine).

Interview Text

So, you wrote the book.

Yes, Morgan My Love.

And how did you get the idea for this book?

Let me say it in a different way how did the idea get me.
I had an idea to write a novel about the possibility that a soul and a body are different entities so I would like to play in a philosophical way what happened. What…
What does it say about life when we are a soul and a body, what does it say about love or what does it say about who we are. And um.. I did some investigations -which means I read books about it and then somebody says to me well you should really investigate by experience.

Who said that to you?

Well, that’s my wife Ariane. She told me, maybe you should do something like a regression therapy or so I said, “come on, regression therapy? Let’s be serious”, you know. But I was in a way—I was also very curious about it, about what will there be on my hard disk then. But uh—I approached this from a rational way so I found a regression therapist, Ilja. I found her because there was an interview written with her in a magazine and I saw a picture that -wow! She looks great- so she just.. she doesn’t -um- seem to me the person who is really from- well guna guna or

Floating…

Yeah, I think she was very down to earth and that convinced me to call her and to make an appointment and I had an appointment with her and the first appointment I was only checking my questions: how do you know this? Are you certain? What’s the science behind this? And after three hours she said “Oh well, you spent all the time I had for you. You should come back next week and then shut up and go on the couch and you will have your own experience.”

Exactly.

And I had really no idea what to expect because I thought “Well, a regression and that takes an hour, maybe one hour and a half and then I go on with my day” but that turned out a little bit different and that was the moment the idea of the book caught me.

So, what happened in that session?

Well, Ilja, she was looking for a kind of entrance to my subconscious and there was a moment in my life when I was surprised by fear. I worked for television and we had a great
rate so my chief said we go out for a weekend of having fun and drinking booze and for skydiving. And I was in a way really looking forward to it because well, I’m a thrill seeker
and um- especially on that age.

So, how old were you then?

26.

So, uh- but I was caught by surprise by fear then. We were in the- in the dressing room, well, packing our parachute gear and then I was- well I froze. I was completely- uh, well, overwhelmed by panic and there was a voice in me that said, “If you’re going for a jump you will die.” Like what? But okay, I found my escape. I said I’m not going to jump. I take some flying lessons and nobody noticed but, in this regression, or before it, Ilja was pushing me back to that experience and my skepsis was very strong, I said “Oh my God, do you what? What am I doing here?” and I got those that I called the Muppet grannies- well, in my mind, who are always spoiling everything or criticizing everything but they- they silenced after a couple of minutes and then I got an experience and I say “I” because my perspective was from my own view. I was hanging on a parachute, wearing a uniform and there was an instant knowing in my body: oh my god, this is September 1944, Market Garden Ginkel Heath (Ginkelse Heide). And the strange thing was that it was not kind of memory but while not kind of a memory of my mind, it was a memory of my body.

Yes, exactly.

My fear was there. My adrenaline was there.

The rush.

The rush was there. Yeah, and it was not like a beautiful movie. It was- it were flashes, rushes. But I was so scared. So and that was just the beginning of the regression and I wasn’t prepared for an experience like this.

So you- I think she led you through death.

You can say that because I went through the whole experience of 1944 again and also I experienced my own death and that was very heavy but also a kind of relief because fear stopped.

Yeah.

So it was I was experiencing the fear and I was thinking “Oh, as long as I feel the fear I’m alive.” So I love fear but I hate fear- so just you know what I mean? It was mixed.

Exactly that.

Exactly, yeah and then these- these bullets came and um- I was laying on the couch and my body was shaking and I was crying but I was really upset about the authorities who just-
“Oh wow! They screwed us with this idiot war and things” but the strongest feeling that came free was sorrow- there was a like a boom of sorrow that exploded him uh-

About your own life or about loved ones you lost?

Well, the last. Not my own life. Now my own life was- was done. That was that was the freedom of the relief of I don’t feel fear anymore but at the same time there was the sorrow was about I couldn’t tell the people I love, I love them and that was something that turned to be a very strong drive to write this novel but it was more to do the investigations because when I… Ilja she asked me of that- at that moment after I died, “go back to your youth and describe or well go back to your youth.” Okay, I’ll go back to my youth. No.

The youth of the past life?

Yeah. The youth of- yeah. And uh- “what do you see and who are you then” and well, I described a house; a little white house with a shed and there was something about a bike. There was something with a bike and then Ilja asked “What’s your name there?” and then I became a little bit pissed because how do I know what my name is there, what a terrible question and let’s stop with this and, but then she asked me a very intelligent question: “If you knew, what would have been your name then?” And then I was quiet for a time and then, from some depth of my mind or soul came a name and that was “Morgan”- I said, my name is Morgan and that was a name I never use. If I said Harry or Johnny or Phillip or Billy or-

Yeah, yeah-

-I was doing something different now.

Morgan. And Morgan can be your first name or a last name.

Yeah, but I was sure it was a first name and after this regression which took more than three hours I went home. I don’t know how I get there but I got home and after a while I could only cry and was very very emotional but after a while my ratio was there- was there again and then I started my investigation. This is ridiculous, this is a fantasy, so I started looking on the internet to find things that prove that it was all-

That it proved you’re wrong.

Yeah, true- that this was all rubbish, but I found a name. There was only one paratrooper with the name Morgan.

Aged 26 when he died.

26 when he died and he came from Wales, from a little village of Pontardawe which was pretty close to the sea, like I described in the regression and I was curious, I found all the people in that area that with the same name, the Probert was his second name- with the intention can I call them and say what I experienced. I know, this is- this is ridiculous, I didn’t- I didn’t call them and because I thought “hey, there is something with the date”
because in this regression I was very sure I only experienced only one night. We were dropped- one night and he died. And I found out this Morgan died on September 19th and I knew from the school books that Market Garden Operation started on the 17th so it were two nights. So I said “Ah, I’m free.”

“It’s not true!”

That’s not true and I’m Bas again, fuck it- but then I saw he was a member of the 10th battalion which were dropped on Monday 18th and there’s the one night so there was a name-

Chills. Goosebumps.

Goosebumps, emotions and there was a date and then, uh we went to Wales because well, I was curious but still trying to prove it was all not true-

That’s the best way to investigate by the way.

Yeah.

Let’s go on.

I had no choice because my emotions were pretty clear but my- my head said “oh no, can’t be!” so we went to Wales and we were- we met someone in the village who knew Morgan and turned out to be his former neighbour-

By coincidence.

Everything is by coincidence.

Of course.

It’s- um and uh- he draw on a paper where we could find his house which was still there and he said Morgan’s sister is still alive and that’s when I said: “Eee! Not going there.” She’s called Glennis and uh- she still lives on- lived in that village but I said “No, I’m not going there. What should I say? Looking great for my age?! Or what do you say?

“Hey I’m your brother-“

I’m your brother!

“Remember me?”

Oh my god. I don’t- I even was-I was still doubting, you know, I still am someday, I still doubt but um- the next day with the drawing of the house, we went to the street where the house is and as soon as we entered the street my body started to talk. Goosebumps. Tears. And I saw the house. I said “this is the house I saw in the regression.” Differently. Different because well some- some changes but it was, it was the house. So we drove home and I wrote a letter to the sister with some questions in it uh- because I didn’t know how she would react when somebody asks about her brother.

So, you wrote a letter instead of contacting her in person.

Yeah, the letter was- was more safe so I wrote and she was very glad with the letter because she never talked about the brother since the war. It was blocked, it was trauma, “Go on, go on, don’t look back.” That was the mentality and because of my letter her daughters started to ask about her brother and she- and she was 85 then and she was never- she’s never been here, she never visited the grave of Morgan, And then there came a letter from a guy from the Netherlands and want to ask things about the brother and my cover-up was I was a journalist and just writing about unknown soldiers- ha ha!

Just one of them.

One of them, yeah.

And you picked this one?

Yeah, and I picked this one. And she wrote a letter back and she answered about uh on one of my questions. I asked her about the bike because I saw there was something with a bike in the regression, I saw something like that and my most sceptical friend said to me, well if there is something from Morgan in you, there should also be something of his passion in you; so, I asked about the bike and I got the letter from Glennis with a picture of his cycling group.

Cycling group.

Yeah. They were well dressed but Glenys said to me later Morgan was mad about the bike. He was a poor, uh steel guy but in his spare time he worked, he delivered groceries to get a racing bike. So he had a racing bike he had racing gear and every weekend he went with his friends for a tour and they had some competition together.

And what does it have to do with you then?

Well, I’m a race cyclist as long as I can stand on my legs, you know, since the day I had a bike where I was three or four, I changed the position of the handlebar to be a race cyclist and and I’ve been a race cyclist for years in competition. It’s my greatest passion.

So, you have the same passion.

We shared our passions. So and that was for me almost game set and match, the name, the date, the house, the bike.

And your mother came with a box of drawings that you made when you were a little child.

Yeah, because I was still thinking, “Oh, maybe Ilja pulled me a leg with this regression, she just opened my firewall and there’s some side story which entered me, in my mind.” That’s why I was looking for an escape. you know, you got it? And then my mother showed up with the box of all things from the past, from my kindergarten and everything and there were some pictures inside or drawings which I draw when I was five or six or four and you see planes, parachute, dead soldiers. So…

… a little boy with a trauma.

Yeah.

Unfinished business.

Unfinished business. Yeah. So that would- so the story caught me, I was no longer in charge. I had to do something with this experience.

And you went back to the little white house, did you?

Yes, yes, uh um- Glenys came here, uh um- I invited her to come over and I said “Come in September, then you have these commemorations and there are flowers and veterans and but she said “I can’t make it that day, I will come on Monday 18th.” Okay.

18th.

“and we will see each other on the 19th.” And I said “Do you know what date it is?” She, they had no clue so she came here and-

Because the 19th of September
Was the day Morgan died.

Exactly.

And we met at the Ginkel Heath and it was a coach car with 70 grey women and men but I knew exactly which was Glenys and she walked straight into me and said: “You are the reason I’m here.” But she didn’t know yet what I would like to tell her if I had the guts, and I had the guts. I told her what I told you. And she left this travel group and joined me to this place and we stand together at Morgan’s grave and she breaks into tears and I’m holding her, standing on this grave. So, what’s happening there? And then she invited me to come over to Wales and uh-

But her daughter told you something about how shy she normally is.

Yeah, she’s very closed to strange people. Yeah, but she said to me “You never felt like a stranger”. We were so- familiar from the first moment we saw each other, we were touching each other when we walk, we make fun. It was going too easy for a stranger.

Glenys: Whatever’s happened between the last couple of years, between them, I believe in you. I knew you. Did you have that? Do you understand that experience?

Bas: That I knew you, that we knew each other?

Glenys:  I came out, you came on to me, I wasn’t meeting a stranger.”

Bas: “It is hard to explain everything.”
Glenys: “Oh, Goodness, yes.”
Bas: “Er Cof Am?”
Glenys: “With loving memory, Er Cof Am”
Bas: “That’s Welsh.”
Glenys: “Yeah.”

When she invited us to come to Wales, I visit the white house and I said- well, things are changed of course but I was trying to describe what I saw and have seen in the regression and I remember things about the stairs, I said “Well, I think the door was here, the stairs were- stairs- no, the stairs should be there.” Which was correct, behind the wall there are still the old stairs and I said “there’s something about the front door, that wasn’t the front door I remember, I can recall. It should be a closed wooden- plain wooden door without a window.” And they were saying, no, grandma always had this door in her house. Well, maybe I’m wrong and then Glenys said “Well, no. Till 1942 or 44, toward the end of the war we had this plain wooden door so I remembered the house, of course from longer ago. So, my mind is trying to find an escape

Again or still

No no! Not anymore, now it’s- now it’s part of my life and I accept- I accept the possibility that a part of me or I was Morgan, and sometimes I forget and then I start to doubt again, well maybe there are other possibilities but then something happens like seeing a Canadian flag in a in the landscape for a little remembrance from soldiers who died there and then boom! Or somebody asked me a question and I suddenly break into tears and I can’t-

I just remember when you had a reading about the book and a woman came to you or a couple, and they had one of those wings-

A woman.

A woman.

Yeah it was- uh one of my first readings, lectures here in Oosterbeek, and even it was before the lecture, she came into and she had I think she read the book and she came to me and said this belongs to you. Wow. And then she gave me the wings her father found here after the war.

The wings that they wear on their beret.

On the beret. Yeah, yeah. So, I keep it like a treasure but the strange thing is I wrote a novel because I don’t want to write only about- well look at what happened to me. I want to
put it in a bigger perspective so I wrote a love story and when the book came out, I wasn’t
prepared on that people really would read it and say something about it but it’s published in 2018 and so almost three and a half years, and there’s that I’ve had no any sceptic reaction at all, none, even from my most down to earth friends, that’s also maybe because the way I wrote it, I put all the scepticism into the book with a lot of humour and but also after an interview like this or I’ve been on the radio speaking about this, people were -how do you say it- caught by the story but nobody was sceptic and said well you’re now you have to go to the lunatic asylum or so.

Well, it is the wet dream of every regression therapist-

The wet dream!

-to have a client like this. To have a client who can really confirm the past life that came up.

Yeah well. Yeah.

It doesn’t happen so often, so it’s really special.

Yeah, it’s special but if- but even outside this community of regression therapy, therapists-

Even there, they believed, they felt it was heartfelt.

Yeah I think so, they were called by the love story, about the possibility that love is stronger than death.

Because you wrote about your search and you also wrote their love story- of Morgan and Betrys.

Yeah, yeah. Because that’s what it’s all about, you can make a romantic story of reincarnation, we can say well we let’s meet in another life but then maybe uh you are very ugly then or and I am blind or I am born in France and you in Australia, a different moment of time so it’s nice for a romantic idea, so that’s the thing I played with; I don’t want to be romantic about the idea of reincarnation because the sorrow is still there, if you lose somebody; and in this book I follow Morgan and Betrys in their youth and the war came in between their love and he died and she is in a way still longing for him all her life and she’s now very old and now she’s longing to die because she believes he will be there in heaven but in the meantime, there is a younger guy from The Netherlands on his way to her.

And she is- her mind is lingering between there and here.

Yeah, she’s old and yeah she’s dreaming of him, she sees him, she’s going back to the to the days when their love started. Yeah. So it’s I think that’s where the tears in the book are.

Yeah, they sure are.

Yeah. So, this is him. This is the picture Glenys sent me in the first letter and this was -it’s a blow up because in real this is a small picture taken just before he left for Arnhem.

So, show them, show them Morgan.

We don’t- we don’t look very similar I think- the similarity is in the inside.

Yes, that too. Yeah.

So, I can explain now some of my pretty heavy reactions of things that happened in the world or when they send soldiers to a war or- wow. So sometimes I can feel, okay that’s connected to that period. Well, this is the book in Dutch but I got also in English.

Since a couple of months.

Since a couple of months, yeah.

It’s good it had to be in English because his family has to read it, has to be able to read it.

Yeah and I hope it will find its way in the world. Shall I read? Yeah?

Please.

The bus stop is on the other side of the village, in front of the post office. A fifteen-minute walk. They slowly descend the hill from the Probert’s white cottage, past The Cross Hands -where people wave- and past the local shops, over the bridge spanning the Tawe to Herbert Street. The shop windows are the town’s eyes; following them across the square by the
village hall and past the cinema where they had seen How Green Was My Valley, Gone with the Wind, and Casablanca; up to the Dillwyn Arms at the crossroads with High Street. Morgan walks beside her, his right arm around her shoulders, the fingers of her right hand entwined with his. But how does she feel? Empty, shattered, like she’s suffocating.

What if the bus doesn’t come, or it arrives too late in Swansea, and he misses the train? She is totally unprepared for the overwhelming confusion she feels. “Don’t go!”

He looks at her, their faces together. “This is a must. I don’t want to let down my brothers.”

Brothers? It’s the first time she’s heard him use that word. Brothers, men who were strangers just a few months ago. She rests her head against his chest and feels his hands around her: a sculpture of two lovers outside space and time. Resolutely, but with a loving tone, he says something about trust, that she should take care of his parents, that he’ll write her again soon. Then follows a sentence he must have read somewhere that has always stayed with her: “Love’s binding force shall not be severed by distance nor time.” He runs his fingers through her hair. She feels his heart pounding. In her mind’s eye she sees him running after her on the beach at Rhossili, feels him swooping her across The Rink dance floor. She hears tools falling in the shed, the squeaking of the chair he’s sitting in, his laughter. Of course, he’ll come back. Montgomery is our best strategist, he won’t take unnecessary risks. A few weeks, it’ll only be a few weeks.

“You have everything?” she anxiously asks.
“So, when I return make sure your hair is done and you look at me the way you did last night.” A smile with a serious gaze directly above.
She sighs. Her body fills with dread again.
The bus approaches with a threatening hum. “Just go” she says, feeling his arms loosen their grip, hearing him say her name.
“Betrys, I will see you soon”, he says. “The war is going to be over in no time.”
“Yes, see you soon”, she repeats, not knowing what else to say.
The bus door opens. Her head is spinning. Morgan gets in, walks down the aisle and finds a spot by the window. It feels like a film, a play: his fingertips against the glass; she dramatically mirrors his gesture. They look at each other, but the reflection in the glass obscures his face. The bus begins to move. She runs alongside, a few paces, her fingertips reaching for his behind glass. She has to let go. She waves. Powerless. He’s off, her love, a shadow in a teetering bus.

There are more than 1700 soldiers. This is the grave of Morgan, so I can put the picture-

Of course.
There.

I put the books here. Though far away, across the foam-

Your memory lives in our hearts, at home.

It’s weird, weird to see your own grave

Yeah, you could say so, yeah, every time it’s weird too because you try to understand what’s maybe not meant to be understood.

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