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


Quadrilogy Of Silence


There’s a pain within me
It feeds on my teenage soul
Pain is contagious, I have learned that
My pain always becomes their pain
And I want to shield them from this pain
My family
This pain needs to be controlled

They shall never feel my pain
Because I love them


My pain finds me hiding places where it can breathe its heavy breath
I move into the house next-door
Their house is for laughter, my house is for tears
Sometimes I have to run the last steps at night to make it
The tears overflow before I put the key in the lock, and I fall to the floor as I close the door behind me
Safe in silent solitude

Some pain can only exist at certain temperatures
It naturally evaporates in an environment warmed up by love and connection
Somewhere on the way from their house to my house the temperature drops and the pain rains down on me

They shall never see my pain
Their love is too warm


My pain has no beginning, no middle, no end
No story, no thoughts, only hazy intangible feelings
Real pain should have reasons, I know that
Reasons other than ungratefulness and guilt, spiralling away
Because I am blessed with all I could ever want!
It would break their hearts to know that was not enough

They shall never hear my pain
My pain has no words


Only if I’m silent can I shield them
Only when I hide can I be me
Only if I’m silent can I shield me
Only if I run will I be free

So I run
Further and further away

and before that…

The Dungeon

I am chained to a hospital bed
Chained with a metal pin through my shin, attached to a structure with weights stretching my leg away from my tattered hip
To give it space to heal


They drilled a hole
I was high so I laughed at the tingling vibration as it pushed through my shin bone
Until it hit the nerves on the other side
Skin bubbling out
And I cried out in pain
Mum holding my hand

And then they chained me

Bruised and battered and broken they chained me
Until I have healed, the doctors said, vaguely
Until the pain is gone
As if the pain would ever go away…


I’m fourteen years old and this room is my dungeon
They bring me food
They treat allright
They allow visitors to come and to leave
And all I can think of is leaving, too

Doctors ask me how I’m doing
I play their game

Only if I’m silent will I be free


I share my dungeon with three other beds
Sometimes there are small, small people in them, parents holding their tiny hands
One three-year old boy with epilepsy stays for maybe a week
Having seizures every night
But then he goes, too

But I’m staying in the dungeon
Chained to my bed
Not feeling
To eventually be set free, too

I dream of running almost every night
I wake up from the pain of having pulled my leg towards me with all my strength in a dream attempt to run away
No one holding my hand


Finally, the day they take me out of my chains
The test
Not of my body, but of my willpower
“Does not hurt” I say
And they set me free

and before that…

In Transfer

I guess I’m lucky
I’m sure they told me

I should be grateful


A cute young doctor rolls me out of the intensive care yard
I’m being transferred to the children’s hospital
He seems hostile
I feel shy

Mum tells me I screamed and swore at the doctors the night before as she brought me in to the emergency yard
I went havoc when they tried to put the IV in
I did not make a good impression, apparently

I look at my blue arms
I cannot bend them due to all the bruises from punctured veins
My body is sore and battered
Numb and in pain at the same time
I feel the embarrassment amongst her fear, relief, chock
Her trauma

So I bury my experience under a layer of guilt and shame
And I leave it there


No one asks how I feel
What I felt

I, least of all

and before that…


Blue monitors shining a pale light in the dark yard
Humming noises from machines
I’m gone again


Fluorescent light
My body shut down
The numbed presence caused by pain too strong to handle
A blurry awareness of a black leg
I’m gone again


The sudden burning pain of a tube being shovelled down my throat
Needles in my arms, in my hands
Every cell of my body trying to push the foreign objects out
But I cannot move
I’m gone again


Car lights on the road in front of me
Magical power lifting me up
The inhuman strength of a mother saving her child
The excruciating pain of being moved shutting down the short glimpse
But before that: relief?
I’m gone again



Three remarkably clear thoughts:
1: no one will look for me
2: I’m in the middle of an unlit road, the next car coming will kill me
3: I have to MOVE!!!

I try to drag myself off the road, but I’m incapable of moving even an inch
I fight to stay conscious, to stay in the glimpse
To save myself
I’m gone again


There is no accident

There is the before:
The point of insight that this is not going to end well
The low January sun is still up
And the after:
It’s dark and I’m on the road

I don’t have the in between
The place where all change happens


Swimming 🔊

ian-espinosa-311604To you
It’s a beautiful ocean

To you
It’s warm waves rolling in
Caressing your feet
As they sink a little into wet summer sand

You wave at me from the shore

You shrug as I do not wave back


But I’m caught in a rip
And my arms are frenetically swimming and swimming and swimming!

To stay where I am
To not drift away
Out into nothingness
Out to where no one will wave from the shore!


Was I born swimming – was I born in this rip?

I don’t even know anymore…


So I swim towards shore
To stay where I am
To not drift away
To see when you wave

Here, in my rip
I feel safe when I swim
Swim towards shore
Swim towards you


And not until he suddenly appears behind me
Not until his strong arms reach for me and pull me out of my rip
Not until he brings me back to the shore, although I’m kicking and screaming
Not until he sits me down on the warm sand and tells me that everything is going to be fine
Not until he holds me – silently, patiently – for minutes and hours and days and months
Not until I finally let go and my body stops swimming

Do I realise
I’m exhausted

Do I realise I was never safe in that rip
Swimming – to stay where I was
Swimming – to belong in your life for a second or two
As I saw you
See me
From your shore


Until he pulled me out
Your wave pulled me forward
The rip pulled me back
I stayed where I was
I knew nothing else
But MY rip and YOUR wave

I knew nothing else
But swimming


War 🔊


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

Hurricane Grief 🔊


you announced your arrival a long time ago

I was waiting for you


and so you finally came, my storm

you rip all leaves off my majestic trees
you destroy the shelter I carefully built
with merciless power you force everything to the ground
in pieces

I try to stand tall but you want me on my knees
I shout into your wind, shout ‘I’m stronger than you!’
but you swallow my words
and you laugh in my face

I finally sink to the ground
as my weak body buckles and surrenders
I close my eyes
and I hold on to the bare, brown earth underneath me

there is nothing else to hold on to


‘storm, are you killing me?!?’

you roar in the wind

and so I breathe you in
and I breathe into you
I’m in my storm
my storm is in me
and that is all there is

a song of breath, of life, of death


but I hear distant voices reminding me that I’m not alone
and your gusty winds whisper truth in my ears
reminding me that everything changes
saying no wind is a storm forever
telling me to be patient

so I breathe
I hold on to the ground and I trust

I trust that you tear only that which is weak
that Old is destroyed to make room for the New
that this too is good, that this too will ease
that there’s love in your force, my Hurricane Grief

you calm down

I raise my head
I slowly straighten my cramped up body
and look around

grateful for life

and sunbeams find me through the now naked branches
the fallen old leaves become food for my soil
my shelter is gone, and I will not rebuild it
I leave it in Past, where it belongs

I breathe in the Now with my clean and strong lungs
I look at the Future and then I start walking
I carry my faith, my trust, my song
and my heart on my sleeve

(Dedicated to the distant voices and the whispering winds.)