by Robert Elias Najemy
Five blissful days have passed since my experience with death. When the truck demolished my car, I left my body and experienced my whole life time before me, only to return to it again after a few hours.
Although my body has never been in so much pain, I have never been happier and more at peace in my life. My experience out of my body has allowed me to be detached from what is happening with my body.
I am optimistic about life and looking forward to living my life with greater love, creativity and meaning.
I feel gratitude for simple things such as the water which soothes my throat, the taste of food, the colors in my hospital room, and the light which plays on the leaves of the trees outside my window.
A bee has entered and is resting on my bed sheet which is folded over the top of my blankets. It is perhaps the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. Of course, I have seen many more beautiful sights in my life, but my senses were never in the present enough to perceive their beauty as they are at this moment.
A wisp of wind caresses my forehead creating great pleasure. It also brings with it the smells from outside. There seems to be a bakery nearby. The heavenly smells of baking bread and fresh roasted coffee tantalize my sense of smell.
I am happy to be alive and experience the abundance and beauty of this embodied life. Now that I have experienced that I am not limited to this body and that I continue to exist after death, I am much more relaxed about so many issues and at peace with my self and my life.
Most of all I am excited about getting well enough so that I can get on with the reason for which I decided to return to my body and continue my life. I want to learn to love which means to die to my ego rather than to my body. I was presented in my “death state” while I was out of the body with the choice of leaving my body permanently and dying to the body, or returning to life in the body and learning to die to my ego and all its fears and learn to love all unconditionally, especially my wife Maria.
I haven’t told her much yet about my experience and about how I realized how much I love her and that I realize that I have been so aloof and closed all these years. It is difficult to express such feelings here in the hospital, but as soon I get out, I will sit with her and tell her the great news.
The door opens and Maria is walking in. How incredibly beautiful she is. Not that she has changed, but I can now perceive her beauty, not only physically but also her inner beauty.
She doesn’t however seem to be very enthusiastic today. She was more cheerful in the previous days.
“Good morning Petro,” she says with half a heart.
“Maria, is there something wrong?”
“Petro, I need to tell you something, but I do not know how. I realize that this is the most difficult moment of your life and I do not want to add to your pain, but I cannot suppress my self any more. I do not know what to do.”
“What do you mean add to my pain? How could you do that? Why would you do that? What do you mean?”
“Petro, I do not want to hurt you. I love you and we have passed through much together, but there is something wrong, something missing from our relationship. I am not happy with you. I do not feel that you really understand me or even care for me. Even though I sense that you love me, you seem incapable of expressing your love to me. I think that since you are here in the hospital now, it is perhaps an opportunity for us to try being separate for a while to see what we really want. For you to see if you want to be with me. And for me to see if I want to be with someone who doesn’t express his love to me.”
My mind is spinning. Thousands of uncontrolled thoughts simultaneously surge through mind. Am I dreaming? Is this a nightmare? How could she do this? What will I do? She doesn’t love me. This is totally humiliating for my manhood. My wife isn’t sure if she wants to be with me. I have to protect my self worth. I am afraid. How can she be so heartless so as to leave me now when I need her. I have returned to life in order to show her my love and now she wants to leave.
I am feeling pain and anger alternatively and simultaneously.
“Maria, What are you talking about? Is this your revenge? How can you do this? How can you be so heartless? And you wonder why I don’t show you love. Why should I love you? You are so selfish. You are always thinking about your needs and whether they are fulfilled or not. Who could love you?”
I am not sure at all that this is what I want to say, but my reactions are automatic and uncontrolled.
“Petro if that is how you see me, then it is better for us to be separate.”
“Fine, get out of here now. I do not want to see you, any more.”
“Petro I am not saying that I want to divorce you, but only for both of us to see what we want. Whether you really want to be with me and can give me the love I need and believe I deserve.”
“Well that is a strange way to get my love, to leave me when I am here in bed almost dead.”
“I have no intention of leaving you. I will come and help you as much as I can, but I would like you to stay somewhere else when you get out of here, and I am telling you this now so that we can find a place for you to stay.”
“You are forgetting that the house is mine. You can leave if you want. I am not leaving my own house. Get out of my sight. No, I do not love you and I do not want to see you again.”
Again I do not seem to be saying what I really want. My emotions and habitual way of communicating are stronger than than my intent to love and communicate my real needs.
My real need is to ask her forgiveness and explain to her how much I love her, and how much I need her, especially at this time of my life and how I have made a conscious choice to free my self from the obstacles to expressing my love to her.
Why is this happening? How could God be so cruel so as to allow me to return to life and then not give me a chance to do fulfill the purpose for which I have returned?
Wait! Something is coming to me from my experience.
I remember my realization when I was out of the body, that life gives me in every moment exactly what I need to learn my next lesson in my evolutionary process.
Maybe this is the opportunity.
It is logical that I would now be presented with various obstacles to love in order to connect with the truths which can liberate me from fear and allow me to love others regardless of what they do or say.
I cannot learn to love without conditions if others are very pleasant and loving to me. I am being given now an opportunity to love Maria even though she doesn’t want to be with me. But how can I love her if we are not together, or even worse, if she is with someone else.
Wait, maybe she is seeing someone else. This is horrible. How could she do this.
“Maria, Are you seeing someone? Tell me the truth.”
“Petro,I am not having an affair, if that is what you mean. I have, however, been seeing another man. We talk and discuss things which interest us both. He too is married and does not want to leave his family. The truth is that we are beginning to grow closer. I feel that he understands me. We communicate about our feelings and our relationships with our spouses. I feel cared for when I am with him. I feel my self worth. I feel affirmed as a woman. I am sorry to tell you this Petro, but I cannot suppress my self any more. I need more from a man than you give me. I deserve more than you give me.”
I am looking at her with no expression whatsoever. My heart hurts deeply and is closing. I am moving into my cold and angry state. How could she do this to me? What is happening here? My life is falling apart. How can I love my wife when she tells me she loves someone else and that he gives her more than I do?
“Maria, please leave me. I do not want to talk anymore with you. I feel very angry and cannot control my feelings, please leave. Now! Get out of here!”
As she walked out the door, my heart sunk even deeper. I had expected her to at least resist and try to stay. This is perhaps the lowest moment in my life for my ego. I have been totally humiliated as a man. I have no self worth.
For about two hours my thoughts are cyclical and painful. I hurt. I can feel a clenching in my abdomen, a weight in my chest and choking in my throat.
Finally, when there is no one in the room, I break down and cry. I have never cried like this. Not since I was five years old. I have always been strong. I am crying like a baby. My soul is in agony. I hurt, because I feel rejected. I feel insecure. I also am crying because I feel that I am also to blame and that I have messed up my life.
I have allowed my self to fall into the trap of the “strong man”. I have identified love and affection with weakness. My self worth was dependent on being strong, indifferent, and of course,never needing or vulnerable.
This is the result. I have no one to love or to love me.
What can I do?
Again I remember my death experience.
I realized there that my reactions and behavior are the result of my emotions and that my emotions are the result of my beliefs which in turn are conclusions which I made as child in my childhood experiences.
Can this be the solution? If I change my beliefs, can I feel differently and then behave in the way I would really like to? It is worth a try. But how do I start? I feel totally lost.
Again the answer seems to be in my death experience. There I was observing the totality of my past choices and behaviors and without guilt or shame and each case determining the beliefs which caused me to act in those ways.
I guess I can do that now. Let me try. Let me start with what happened today.
What was I feeling which caused me to act in that way?
Well, I guess I was feeling hurt, rejected, worthless as a man, alone, afraid of the future, and injustice that now I am not going to be able to fulfill my purpose.
Then what are the beliefs which cause me to feel that way and react in that way that I did?
I am not sure, but let me see:
I guess I need to be respected and loved by my wife in order to be happy and to feel worthy as a man. It seems that my feelings of self worth and security are dependent on having exclusivity on my wife’s love and respect.
Okay, so that explains my hurt, fear and feelings of injustice, but why was I so angry?
Perhaps I consider her responsible for my reality, for how I feel. I believe that she is to blame for my pain. I believe that she is at fault for my not getting what I want from life.
But I remember from my death experience that I and no one else create my reality and that each of us attracts from the others exactly what he or she needs in order to learn the next lesson. If this is true, then I am creating my wife’s reaction to me at this moment.
Of course, I have created it! I have pushed her away from me by not giving her the love and affection she needs, and now I am angry because she is seeking from others what I haven’t given her.
But on another level, I am also attracting this event as an opportunity to see my self and get free from my inner obstacles which prevent me from loving as I would like to. This is exactly what I need in order to be forced to understand and transform my self.
I also remember from my experience that I am not this body, which means that I am a soul and that my self worth is dependent on whether Maria prefers me or not. Maria is a sister soul in the process of evolution and she does not belong to me. She is not a possession there for my pleasure. She does not exist to satisfy my needs and is not responsible for my happiness.
I am safe and secure without her. I am worthy of love and respect exactly as I am.
Do I want to be with her, because I need her in order to feel safe and worthy or because I love her? Do I want her to be with me simply because we are married or because she loves me and wants to be with me? What is more important for me, that she be with me to satisfy my needs or that she be happy?
Here is the great test. If I really love Maria, I will want her to be happy, regardless of whether she finds happiness with me or through someone else.
That is very hard. It is hard to love her if she is with someone else. Then what is it that I feel? Do I love her or need her? This is strange and scary. Have I ever loved? Have I ever cared only about what Maria needs to be happy and not what I need from her? No! Never! I am not even sure I know what her needs are.
Maybe I can understand them if I put my self in her place, as I did in the “death experience”.
So what are her needs?
I am now Maria. I am a woman. I am sensitive. I feel my feelings much more. They flow through me unobstructed by the mental gymnastics that men use so as to not feel their emotions.
As a woman, I have no protection from my feelings. I cannot suppress them. I must feel them. However, I am more alive, more real and more present.
But I need care, I need attention. I need love and affection. I need someone to hold me and caress me. I need affirmation of my self worth and that I am attractive and desired. I need to know that I am respected and loved. I need to communicate and share my feelings and needs. I also need to know what my love partner is feeling and thinking.
But wait; except for the need to communicate and to know what the other is thinking and feeling all of her needs are actually the same as mine. I also need love, affection, affirmation, and respect. I need all these, but have never allowed my self to feel or express these needs, because they are “unmanly”.
By not accepting my own needs and distancing my self from them, I have become indifferent to Maria’s.
But why do I not feel the need to communicate as much as she does?
Probably because she wants to talk about emotions and feelings and I do not feel at all comfortable with that subject, because I either do not know what I feel or am ashamed to admit what I feel.
Also, she has a tendency to criticize me and I do not like that at all. Why do we men give so much importance to our wives criticism? Why do I give her so much power over me? I guess I must doubt my self and must need her approval. But she always finds reasons why what I have done or not done is wrong or not as good as I could have done. Is seems like she is never satisfied.
Rather than being attuned to her needs I am deeply aware of her criticism and even imagine it before it comes and even when it does not come. I often suppress my self from doing something because I do not want to hear her complaining or criticism.
Now I understand why I distance my self. It is because I feel limited and suppressed. I see her as an obstacle to my freedom to be who I am and do what I like. She in my mind has become the enemy of my freedom.
So we are living in a vicious circle. I distance my self, and thus, do not give her the love and affection which she needs Then she is unhappy and becomes critical and nagging. Then I feel more rejected and limited, and distance my self even more, becoming totally indifferent to her needs. Then she becomes even more unhappy, more critical and negative.
We have become like strangers, and at times, even enemies. No wonder she is looking for affirmation from other men. I am getting affirmation from my work, but she is getting it from no where.
So what do I do now? I can not solve this problem alone.
Communication is the only answer. So life is now forcing me to do exactly what I find so difficult; to admit the truth about who I am and how I feel and what I need.
I see no other solution. I need to tell her what I have discovered and what is happening in my mind.
I am so tired. I want to sleep.
It is morning. I have slept deeply. I feel better, stronger, more relaxed about what is happening. I will communicate as honestly as possible and then I will leave the results in God’s hands.
I have lived and have been happy before I met Maria and I will be able to do so again. I want to be with her if that also makes her happy and not only because it makes me happy. Also I want to be with her because I love her and not because I need her. I want to be honest, open and even vulnerable in necessary.
Here she comes. My God, guide my words and allow me to speak clearly and with love.
“Good morning Petro, How did you sleep? How are you feeling today?”
“Good morning Maria. I am fine .How are you?”
“Petro, I want to ask your forgiveness for yesterday. I was a bit cold and abrupt. I did not want to hurt you, but I guess I have been suppressing my feelings for a long time.”
“Maria, sit down please and do not interrupt me. I have much to tell, and if you interrupt me, I will lose my train of thinking. As you know I am not good at communication. So sit.”
Maria was surprised and sat somewhat hesitantly not sure of what was going to happen.
“Maria, I have been doing a lot of thinking since my accident and my experience with death. As you know the doctors had declared me dead. I had no heart of brain activity. Yet I was alive, Maria. I was very much alive.
“I saw all my life and how I have acted. I was guided by an extremely loving being of light who although he knew how selfish a person I had been, loved and accepted me as I am. I have never experienced something like this before. No one has ever loved me as I am. Not even you Maria. I have always felt that you would have liked me to be different. I always felt that you were judging me. But we can get to that later.
“So this unconditional love allowed me to relax enough to want to see the truth about my self. Maria, the truth is that I have not been a very loving person and that I have not expressed to you the love and respect that I have for you.
“Maria, you are the reason I came back to life. I could have continued on and died also mentally to this life. But when I saw you sitting next to my dead body, I felt pain that I had not expressed to you the love that I have for you.
“I realized that I could have died as a body or come back to life and die as an ego. You are now helping me with that death. So, Maria, have no guilt about what you told me yesterday.
“You are giving me exactly what I need in order to grow more emotionally mature.”
Maria sat in disbelief. I had never spoken to her in this way. I had never admitted that I could make a mistake and I have never told her with words that I love her.
“Yes, Maria you are that important to me. Yes, I love you very much. I hope that you can forgive me for being so self-centered and indifferent to your needs.
“On the other hand I want to forgive you for your being critical and always wanting me to be someone different. I can understand now that criticism was the only power which you had. As I was not willing to listen to you. But I do not think you have ever realized how much your criticism has affected me. I am afraid of you. I need your affirmation, your approval. No matter how much I prove my self in work, if I do not have your approval and acceptance, I feel I am worthless. I have given you much power over how I feel.
“Petro, I had no idea.”
“Please do not interrupt. Of course you had no idea, because my male ego would never allow me to admit that I was hurt by your words and that I felt so suppressed by you. I preferred to distance my self from you and stopped even the little affection which we shared when we first met.
“You had become my enemy, the obstructor of of self worth and my freedom. I didn’t want to get close to you or share anything with you, because you might criticize me.”
“Now that I see that, I believe that I can consciously overcome that fear and recognize my inner self worth and freedom to be who I am. In this way I would like to open up to you and be more expressive of my feelings, love, affection but also of my needs.
” I need from you to accept me as I am and support me in my efforts and not criticize whatever I do.”
“I need your love, your affection and I need for you to love me exclusively, more, or at least differently, than you love others. I realize that this is my ego speaking. But I need to accept my self as I am, along with my needs so that I can move on.
I believe that I can be much more loving and caring to you now and would like another chance to show that. That is the reason I came back to life.
“But I will need your help in this process. I will need you to be totally honest with me and of course with your self. I will need you to forgive the past and live in the present so that we can put all this behind us and develop a conscious love relationship based on honesty and grow as individuals and as a couple in this way.”
Maria is crying now. She is confused. She is happy that I have realized all this.She is also fearful to believe me or trust me and open up again, as she does not want to be hurt again.
I let her cry for about ten minutes without saying anything. This is progress for me. I have always tried to stop her crying, because it made me feel guilty and uncomfortable.
I actually felt that her crying was good – cathartic and healing, so I let her be.
When she was calming down I added,
“Maria, you do not need to answer now. Think about what I have said. Take a walk or go to some church and light a candle and ask for guidance. Let your heart guide you.
“Maria, I want very much to be with you and share my life with you, but only of that makes you happy. I will be very hurt of you chose not to be with me, but I will gradually overcome it and will live my life. Do not make your decision based on what I need or how I will survive, but only on what your heart tells you.
“I would like however to share one more thing from my experience, before you leave and think. I had a vision of my mother with the embryo which would be my body in her womb before I was born and realized that I chose her and my father and even this accident before I was born so that through these stimuli in my life, I would have the opportunity to evolve as a soul. Then, I saw you sitting by my bed after the accident and realized that both of us had chosen to be a couple in this life and also we chose this accident and for me to die.
“Then I realized that I had a choice to die or to come back to life and learn through our relationship. In my experience, I discovered that no one is in our life by chance or accident. Everyone is there because we have chosen them either before our birth or after. Those we have chosen before birth are even more so our teachers on the spiritual path.
“Maria, I have experienced beyond doubt that we are not these bodies. We live after death and the only thing we take with us is our character. That is why I wanted to come back and change mine before I leave again.
“We are together to teach each other. I need to discover what I have come to learn through you and especially through your behaviors which bother me. You have come to learn through my behaviors which bother you, and of course also through my love.
“We are here to become one being and free our selves from our self imposed limitations and fears and I would say even our needs so that we can be together because we love each other and not because we need each other or because we are getting what we need from each other. That is not love.
Love is wanting the other to be happy in any way that the other is guided from within to find his happiness. Love is forgiveness and understanding. It is putting our selves in the other’s place and feeling his needs and doing what we can to help our loved one be happy. Love is letting go of fear and going beyond our selfish ego needs. Love is developing enough inner self worth and inner security and freedom to be our selves so that we can be totally honest, open and vulnerable in a relationship.
“Maria, love is the death of the ego.”
I couldn’t believe what I was saying. Neither could Maria. She fell into my arms, disregarding all of my injuries and we cried together.