I recently read Maj-Gull Axelsson’s ‘Jag heter inte Miriam’ (My name is not Miriam). To me, a heart-breaking soul-touching reality-pinching love-filling story of a young girl’s way through WWII concentration camps and into the Swedish post-war society. It’s a journey of never feeling safe due to who you “really are” and the constant battle with memories too painful to live with. It is also a great portray of the Swedish way of dealing with emotions, and anything that could – God forbid – trigger them.
Although I’ve lived abroad for soon a decade, my hands are still tied with Swedish ropes. I‘m afraid of making anyone uncomfortable with my feelings. I’m afraid of being judged, I’m afraid of being misunderstood and labelled. I too want to be liked and included. Consistent lightheartedness and happiness is the ticket for that. Emotional authenticity is not. As a result, I’ve all my life withdrawn with the feelings not fitting the template. But the only thing more painful than to suffer, is to suffer alone.
People don’t need to be felt for, they need to be felt WITH!
Both in pain and in joy.
In order to feel WITH someone, to share their emotional experience, we need to be brave enough to face the reflections of their feelings within ourselves.
I need to dare going into the burning war zone to fetch those suffering, if I want them to laugh with me in the sunshine. And I need to be brave enough to share with you my war, too.
Stilla Dig, Själ (Swedish): Calm Down, My Soul
—— # ——
Stilla dig, själ, I know there’s a riot
A conflict is growing, this place is not safe
The “us” has been split into opposite forces
Rubbing intolerance, blood in the chafe
A world that is slipping through fingers like lava
Burning the naked red flesh on its way
Chafes turning wounds turning holes turning craters
Hollowing me, but resistant I stay
A gunshot too close, dead gaze of the loveless
A taste of true fear and my feet start to run
Leaving all safe to flee back into safety
A refugee born, an exile begun
—— # ——
Aimless wander on roads of no country
Stealing my needs, drinking hope from the well
Shadows accompanying, absence defining
Moonlight illuming both heaven and hell
Stilla min själ, you see my eyes begging
I’ll make you feel loved if you hold me tonight
To stop me from shaking for only one moment
Please make this world safe, please make it allright!
You take all my love, you keep all your safety
I wake up and sneak past your soldier with gun
Fear stronger, wound deeper, trust sold for a penny
The war zone expanding, it can’t be outrun
There! Village Of Love with high fences, barbed wire
Boarder control playing chess with all lives
The safe girl can enter, the unsafe deported
To build her own village – if she survives…
—— # ——
Gone is the dream there’s a place that is safety
Gone is the dream there’s a place to belong
I’m back in my war zone, there is no more running
Stilla dig, själ, and sing me your song
And angels sing hymns as I watch the bombs falling
From crispy cold infinite skies oh so blue
My arms wrapped around me, my love as my shelter
I wish you were here, I wish we were two
My arms are only just better than nothing!
They can’t keep me warm, I’m cold to the bone
I know now – past running – that all that I wanted
Was not to be left in my war all alone