Changing The Story


I don’t know why it happened this time, but I’m back again
My body ice cold, aching, I can feel each individual cell fighting to survive
Emotionally, I’m experiencing dying
Mentally, I feel blank

I’ve made it alright through an intense day of meetings
Like a dying flower I’ve given it my all
But now, back in my hotel room, the exhaustion is overwhelming and I sink down on the carpet in the middle of the room and let my head rest against an armchair

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It used to happen mainly in hospital situations
Going from calm and rational to fighting for my life in a split second, something no one would believe until they’d witnessed it themselves
Subconscious fear, consciously irrational, leaving me exhausted for days afterwards
But lately: this feeling of dying

I close my eyes, knowing there is hard work to be done
I empty my mind and I let myself travel… 


I see her there in the darkness in front of me, a child lying on the icy road
I kneel beside her and ask her what she needs
“Get me off this road!!!”, a hissing sound, despair in her voice
So I lift her up and I move her over to the shoulder

I put my arms around her and ask her what she needs
“I’m cold”, she whispers, “Blankets.”
So I wrap her in thick woollen blankets

I gently rub her wrapped up body and ask her what she needs
“Is there anywhere safe I can take you?” I wonder
“Is there anyone I can bring here to make you feel safe?”
I make suggestions, but she doesn’t answer
I can feel the bottomless fear inside of her
Nothing seems to give her comfort
So I hold her as best as I can
An unsafe little girl next to a road in the cold winter night

Suddenly a white horse appears out of the darkness, and there is some relief in her voice as she cries out “Shazmir, you came back!”

“Can you light candles all around us?” she asks after some silence
So I light thousands of candles in a circle around us
Brighting up the dark night

I ask her what more she needs
But she shakes her head and only says “please stay here with me tonight”
So I stay with her


Me, a beautiful white arab horse, flickering candles and a petrified girl wrapped in woollen blankets
She, waiting for death
Me, waiting for the morning
And I cry the tears I need to cry for not being able to protect her
For not being able to make her feel safe


Slowly, slowly dawn is coming
A pale winter sun breaking through the darkness
I ask her what she needs
She seems confused by the daylight and her answer comes slowly, but reluctantly she admits she needs to go home
So I put her on Shazmir’s back – it takes some tries to find a position that does not hurt her too much – and we commence the slow walk back home in the crispy winter morning

I ring the doorbell
Her parents open and I ask her what she needs
“I need to lie on the couch in the living room. From where I can see the ocean.” she replies
So we put her on the couch, and I ask her what she needs
“I need my family around me” is her answer
“I need them to talk and laugh and play right here next to me, so that I can still belong. I need to feel their joy that I’m there, not their sadness that I’m hurt.”
So the family gathers in the living room with her, continuing their lives by her side
Whilst she heals on a green couch – not in a dungeon by herself

I stay around for a while, watching her spirit rise, her face shifting, her body relaxing
But eventually I know I’m not needed anymore
I can hear her bubbling laughter as I sneak back into my own world
Knowing that she’s safe
That she won’t even miss me
Now that we have changed the story forever


Standing At A Window Looking In


In Sweden, we celebrate Advent. During the last days of November we dust off the tucked away advent stars and hang them in every window. We go into the frozen woods for cowberry twigs to make wreaths for the doors and to decorate the four-armed advent candle holder, to ensure it is flammable. We harvest advent calendars; this year’s TV advent calendar and Radio advent calendar and chocolate advent calendar, and then we make a few arty home-made ones to give to friends and family as well, to really share the love. After months of cold greyness there is no limit to the excitement of Christmas coming to save us, and we’re determined to make the most of it by opening as many ‘luckor’ and presents as we possibly can, whilst bathing in the warm, safe light of Betlehem stars before January’s darkness once again embraces us.

Finally, on the 1st Sunday of Advent, we gather in excitement to switch on the lights. We unravel the mysteries as we open closed doors and light the first candle in the advent candle holder (preferably accompanied with a profound poem of the magnitude of “On the FIRST Sunday in Advent, the FIRST candle light is tent”. Where ‘tent’ means ‘lit’.) 

Swedes take their traditions very seriously. As we do most things in life.


There are no advent stars in my windows this year. There is no wreath on the entrance door, and no home-wrapped calendars waiting to be opened. I’m admitting I’m resisting it. To me, it doesn’t belong here in the tropical heat. Here, Christmas is a reflection of what I’ve sacrificed, and I’m standing on the outside looking in. 

So I make you a proposal.

I want to be part of, too. I want to give myself the gift of feeling seen. It’s four weeks until Christmas, and instead of chocolate I offer you one feeling a day. Old (and maybe new) stories and poems and thoughts (some that I’ve been too self-conscious to share) behind numbered closed doors for you to open. ‘Luckor’ to my soul. To all our souls.

Today is 3rd of December, 1st of Advent. The first candle is about to be lit, and this is the story accompanying it:


there’s a little girl standing at the window looking in


inside a fireplace is burning, the Christmas tree is lit
family and friends are gathered, laughing and playing
the little girl smiles as she watches their joy
standing at the window looking in


outside it’s dark, it’s a cold winter’s night
the little girl shivers, oblivious
her attention is inside, absorbing the joy through the layers of glass
soaking up feelings like an old dried out sponge


in her heart, she’s in there with them
in the room warmed up by love and fire

in her heart, there is no glass between them
no window to look through

and so she never thinks of asking
if she could come in to the warmth
through the front door