Until I was in my early 30’s I had this absolute phobia about mud, or more precisely, of walking in mud, of having mud on my feet or legs. I would absolutely have an anxiety attack, and then I would get this fear, more actually, overwhelming and absolute terror, in fact, that I was going to sink into the mud completely and be suffocated by it.
I could never actually understand where this irrational and unfounded fear came from. So I simply learned over the years, to avoid situations where I would need to be walking in or through mud.
It wasn’t until I was a young mum and we were visiting a friend’s dairy farm at the back of Cambridge, in the Waikato region of NZ, when my fear really came to a head and I realized I need to do something about it –at the very least find the root cause of this irrational thought and behaviour pattern.
My young son at that stage was perhaps three or four years old and my then husband and I were walking through their cattle run, to get to the milking shed as my friend was going to show my children how they milked the cows – which was pretty exciting for them.
It was very muddy as most in New Zealand, or perhaps other countries who have been on a dairy farm one can imagine that a cattle run generally is. The combination of cattle kicking up dirt combined with their excretions, did not make for a pleasant walk to the shed. In the summer, this isn’t too much of an issue you just skirt the cow pats – but in the winter, following days of rain, as it was that particular day, it is muddy – generally smelly and not usually too pleasant, and always requiring the wearing of gumboots and / or other protective clothing,
The children were given a ride on the back of the 4 wheeler farm bike – (which was incredibly exciting for them), as the mud would have been to their knee height, so the gumboots they were wearing would likely have been lost from their feet anyway… I was absolutely bracing myself for the walk through the mud. I was trying so hard not to show the kiddies my fears, which they did not need to witness – and I really did not want their exciting experience to be tainted by my ‘irrationality’ over a little mud. So I really held my fears in and very gingerly, testing every step to make sure the ground was solid – which was of the utmost importance to me, made my way through the mud to the shed.
I held it together really, well not showing any outward sign of the internal struggle I was dealing with – apart from my slowness walking, which could have been chalked to walking through the mud anyway, when my friend drove past with the kids only a few yards from me, and stopped. Then the kids climbed off the bike. My son was just so excited that he started to try and run towards me, forgetting he was in the mud and he fell face first into the filth.
That was it for me. I absolutely panicked and ran as fast as I could through the mud disregarding my own fear of there being no solid ground beneath me, fearing my son was going to die, that he was going to be smothered to death, by this disgusting, thick, viscous soup of mud, and excreta. I couldn’t breathe as I struggled to get to him.
But within seconds of his falling, my friend had scooped him up. His face and body was thickly coated in the muck. After catching his breath, from the smell as much as anything. He laughed and said that was fun can I do it again? He was fine, absolutely fine, I on the other hand, absolutely was not. I had genuinely thought he was going to suffocate in the mud and that I would lose him.
After my son was cleaned up my friend and my husband took the children to watch the cows being milked. I had to hide in her outdoor wash-house, under the pretense that I was cleaning the mud Michael had left deposited there, when we cleaned him up. I struggled for a few minutes to compose myself. I was physically shaking, crying my eyes out and just could not understand what was happening to me. That was the day, that I realized that this was a real issue, and that I had to find the root cause of this irrationality and deal with it. I didn’t want it to affect my children and their joy of playing in mud and simply having fun as kids do. I didn’t want my fears to hold them back.
Being a busy young mum, and with the net not yet as accessible as it is today, I did not have much chance to do any back research on my phobia…. And I sort of let it slide, until in the early 90’s Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted – It was the second-largest volcanic eruption of that century, and by far the largest eruption to affect a densely populated area.
More than 350 people died during the eruption, most of them from collapsing roofs, with diseases that broke out in evacuation camps and with the continuing mud flows in the area caused additional deaths, bringing the total death toll to 722 people. Entire villages that were not destroyed in the initial eruption were decimated in the following lahars. For those of you who have never heard the term lahar, Wikipedia, gives this definition:
“A lahar is a violent type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. Lahars are extremely destructive: they can flow tens of metres per second (22 mph or more), they have been known to be up to 140 metres (460 ft.) deep, and large flows tend to destroy any structures in their path. They have even been known to decimate entire settlements.” 1
I remember being glued to the TV – I could not, absolutely could not, take my eyes off the coverage – and then when I saw the lahar, I had an absolute melt down and a pile of memories came flooding into my mind mind – of being a child, in a small village – very similar to the ones that were destroyed in this catastrophe, and this lahar sweeping through my village, down the mountain, carrying me off, totally engulfing me, I remember a few seconds of utter fear and the inability to breathe as the mud surrounded and both compressed and filled my lungs. I died, completely covered in feet of mud and debris.
It was at that very minute that I realized where this irrational fear I had held all my life came from. I realized that this fear was totally from a past life that I had experienced as a child somewhere and I had carried that fear into this life. I had, of course, heard of reincarnation and the thought of past lives, but to be honest – at that stage in my life it was merely an eastern religious ideology and I had not given it much thought at all, and honestly, I wasn’t even really sure how I felt about it at that stage.
BUT, it was in that very instant that the memories came flooding back while I was watching the disaster unfolding, that I realized, that the penny dropped, and I absolutely understood where my fear originated from and I totally understood why I felt that way towards mud, why it terrified me so very much. From that point forward in my life, with the understanding that this was then and not now, I was able to absolutely release that fear and move forward without it affecting my life anymore. Because, to that point I had not realized precisely how much it had affected me.
Following that personal epiphany, I went to the local library and I hunted out whatever books I could find on reincarnation, I needed to know more about it, now that it was a reality in my life. So that was the first of a number of past life experiences I have had in my life.