Book Excerpt: Melissa Etheridge

The following is an excerpt from Melissa Etheridge's new book: The Truth Is…: My Life in Love and Music.

Chapter 1: Lonely is a Child

In the mid-eighties, as a lark, I had a past-life regression. I was trying to find out why I'm a musician. Music didn't run in my family, and I don't believe that musical talent or ability is inherited anyway, so I just wanted to know if I was Mozart reincarnated, or something fun like that, in a past life.

So one day, my doorbell rings and in walks the classic Crone, a big old wise woman who sat me down on my floor and began talking to me, gently and quietly. It was hypnotic. The rhythm of her voice took me back to five years ago, ten years ago, fifteen years ago, and then ages three, two, one. I'm back in the womb, looking for a light to be born into. I follow the light and start talking about being a half-Indian man in the 1800s. A doctor who died of scleroderma, a disease that hardens the skin. Then I go back farther and I'm an actor in a German cabaret in the 1600s. I was a woman dressed as a man, performing for a group of townspeople.

Who knows where all this stuff was coming from? It was bizarre. But very entertaining, very amusing, clearly all in fun. I just went with it. Then the woman began to bring me back, step by step, pulling me out of the regression, part of which is to guide you back into your current life through reexperiencing your own birth. She starts talking me through, saying, "You're in the birth canal." And I was feeling it. I could feel what it was like to be in the womb and then in the birth canal. And then, all of a sudden, I couldn't breathe. Out of nowhere, I was feeling this great pain in my legs. I started screaming and hollering and breathing really hard. The therapist was startled by my reaction, and she brought me out as quickly as she could for fear that I was really in pain. She said, "Whoa, okay. Okay, now you're being born-one, two, three, four-five-six-seven, eight, nine, ten! Okay, you're born. Whew!"

She asked me if my birth had been difficult. Not that I knew of. I had never heard anything about it. I called my mom as soon as I got home, and I explained to her that I had done this past-life regression and I wanted to know if there were any problems when I was born. "Well," she replied. "You were held back." Held back? What did that mean? My mom sort of fumbled through her words, and then, for the first time in twenty-five years, she told me the truth about my birth.

I was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, at Cushing Memorial Hospital, on May 29, 1961. My mother went into labor at home. As soon as she arrived at the hospital, they sedated her. That was the protocol in those days. It was one o'clock in the afternoon and all the doctors had just gone to lunch. My mother was ready to push and I was ready to be born, ready to enter the world and start my life. But it couldn't happen without a doctor being there. Of course, this was before there were pagers or cell phones, so the nurses held my mother's legs together so that I could not come out until someone could get the doctor. They held her legs together for fifteen minutes. Fifteen desperate minutes of struggling and straining to get out. Her uterine wall was pushing up against me and, as hard as I tried, I was not allowed to enter the world as planned. And so my first experience in this world was that I was being crushed. I was in terrible pain.

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