Snowball’s Chance In Hell

I’m one of those people who don’t often swear. Sure the odd “For eff’s sake!” might slip out, in general directed at myself for having been clumsy or having made a silly mistake of some sort. But, on the whole, I’m not really known for effing and blinding. In fact, at my old workplace my entire team would stand up and applaud whenever an actual profanity crossed my lips.

But..that’s the Everyday Me, in everyday situations.

Then there’s Ice-Hockey Me.
This is where all of a sudden, swept away by my passion for whichever team I happen to be rooting for in a game, I completely let go of my manners and some pretty shocking phrases get bandied around. There’s an audio-recording from a few years back of me watching a game between Canada and the Czech Republic where I can be heard suddenly shouting “Satans JÄVLA tjecker!!” [Google if you feel a translation necessary]. Being so completely and utterly out of character for me in any other situation, this phrase has naturally stuck with friends and family, and so these days, whenever the Czech Republic is playing they’ll be affectionately referred to as the “satans jävla tjeckerna”.

I’m not entirely sure what it is about ice-hockey that brings out this side of me. I like watching sports in general, but I rarely fire off such heated verbal bullets when watching figure skating or Formula 1. [Although, I do tend to shout a lot of “You idiot!”s at the telly when watching the latter – but that’s more often than not directed at the commentators who seem to be perpetually trailing three laps in their commentary.]

As the Ice-Hockey World Championships are on at the moment it’s really reminded me how much I love this sport. I love everything about it, the pace, the physicality, the fight for every puck. Indeed, one of my favourite sounds in the world is the sound of a player being tackled into the boards. It may seem cruel, but it is SUCH a great sound. It really is!

Tre Kronor, the name given to the Swedish national ice-hockey team, has a pretty fine record as far as the World Championships are concerned. In the 80 years the World Championships have been played, Tre Kronor has ended up with a gold, silver or bronze medal 39 times. Pretty remarkable when you consider the size and population of our little kingdom. It becomes even more impressive when you compare it to the other great hockey nations; Canada, USA and Russia/USSR, who’ve got millions more potential raw talents to pick from.

My tiny little home town has produced a number of very successful NHL players over the years, and although boasting is viewed as a serious offence where I’m from, that’s really not bad.

Needless to say ice-hockey is BIG back home. It’s our national sport, and so when Tre Kronor wins we go all out to celebrate. When we lose, well – let’s not go there..

This year Sweden has not done all that well. We’ve scraped through, and somehow made it through to the semi-finals, but to say we’ve done it in style would be a undeniable stretching of the truth. It’s been more skin-of-our-teeth stuff, really. I mean, we lost to Norway, for crying out loud!

That said, we are in the semi-finals, and so the hope of coming home with gold medals round our necks is still alive. We could still win.

Except……

……we’re playing the satans jävla tjeckerna……

Snowball’s chance in hell!
I’m just saying..

xx

PS. No, I don’t really hate Czechs. Of course I don’t. I’ve even watched ice-hockey with Czech friends. :)

Alice in Wonderland, Jefferson Airplane & The Lighter Side of Grammar

I just finished watching the Royal Ballet’s version of  “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” on the BBC, and it reminded me of how I always loved the hookah smoking caterpillar from Lewis Carroll’s wonderful story, who – in the midst of all the wondrous madness – stops to ask the very sobering question: “Who are you?” A question most of us spend our entire lives trying to answer.

One of my bosses insists on calling myself and one of my other workmates Tweedle-Dee & Tweedle-Dum, but, really, in terms of Alice-in-Wonderlandness I would say that I am a lot more like the aforementioned caterpillar, sprouting questions which at first look may come across as utter nonsense, but on closer inspection has the potential to make us look at ourselves more deeply.

I wrote in another post about question marks and exclamation points, and if I remember correctly, I said something along the lines of finding it easier to live with exclamation points that question marks, and while that is certainly true, I do still like my questions. I like the idea of knowing that I don’t know everything, and I love how one question leads to another, like pearls on the string of life.

While exclamation points can be exciting statements about yourself, a question mark asks you to look further, to get under the skin, to think harder.

That said, my favourite punctuation mark is, by far the semi-colon. Not quite as open as a colon, nor as characterless as the common comma, a semi-colon stands out as strong and purposeful, challenging us to say more.

Anyway, that’s my two pennies for this beautiful sunny morning.

All the very best and more,

xx

On the Alice theme, one of my favourite songs of all time; White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane.


Anchorlessness, Flashbacks & Change

It’s been nearly a month since my last entry. A few pretty difficult weeks have gone by. Went through a phase of feeling completely anchorless – like there was nothing but nothing holding me down, in terms of who I am and where I come from. And that’s a lot to deal with. That feeling of not knowing anything about my heritage.

I’ve spent the best part of my life trying to desperately tell myself that it really doesn’t matter, that I’m not interested in who my parents are. And, in some ways, I still hold true to that; this journey into Who Am I isn’t really about knowing who my parents were. What it is about, however, is which parts of them are recognisable in me? What qualities, good and bad, did I get from them? Or even those people who came before them. What has been passed down through the generations? Things that most other people have the luxury of knowing.

Another crucial aspect of this search for who I am is, of course, that just as the ups and sometimes very severe downs of my childhood has shaped the person I am today, so, too, have the choices my parents made. No matter which angle you look at it, the bottom line is that – as hard as it may have been – my mother did decide to give me up. Yes, there may very well have been reasons – good reasons – for this decisions; I’m  fairly sure that no mother would easily give their child up.

But that doesn’t change that simple fact; that that decisionwas made.

And it’s had a huge effect on me.

Having struggled with these questions, and the feelings they stir, spending a lot of time talking about it in session, I think I got to a point where I couldn’t quite handle it any more. This constant drumming of I have no idea where I come from, it got too much. And I think I needed to distance myself from it.

The issue didn’t come up naturally in therapy; it was introduced. And although I know that this is absolutely something I need to be dealing with, need to work through, I think it was a little too much a little too soon. I don’t think I was ready to work all the way through it just yet. I know that, with time, I will eventually make my way through all of these huge and existentially fundamental questions. But, for now, I think I just needed a break.

Unfortunately a break from one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that everything goes back to being nice and neat. There is always a bit of an emotional hang-over.

Also, in the last two weeks I’ve started having flashbacks again. It hasn’t gone into a full-blown, all-consuming and seemingly endless period of flashbacks, but I have had a few evenings where there has been quite a lot of them, and it makes things difficult, because – apart from the flashbacks in themselves being pretty horrendous – it makes it very hard to commit to things. And so these last two weeks I’ve had to miss out on things that I’d really wanted to do, because having a flashback in public isn’t really ideal.

I do believe that these flashbacks happen for a reason; maybe as a sign that I’m psychologically more ready to look at what actually happened when I was a child. I mean, as far as the abuse goes, I haven’t really got any repressed memories; I remember pretty much all of it – but the flashbacks brings them to life in a way that memories don’t. Firstly you have absolutely no control over when a flashback will happen, and therefore you also have no way of shielding yourself from the impact of the experience. It’s like – for a moment – existing in complete simultaneous reality. [To see a drawing I made last year trying to illustrate what that’s like, check out my entry What Words Can’t Express – A Visual Explanation of Flashbacks].

I have been able to talk about the flashbacks in detail with A., and I think that’s a really big step. Some of the incidents that have come up as flashbacks have been some of the most difficult memories of the abuse. Some of them I have talked about before in therapy. But, as I was explaining to A. the other day, even though I’ve talked about a specific incident before, each time feels like the first time, because in between each time I’ve become more able to stay connected emotionally with the memory. The first times I talked about it; in the police interview and in court it was easy; I was completely and utterly emotionally detached from it, and therefore I could retell things in graphic detail without skipping a beat. The first time I talked about it in therapy I was still switching off emotionally to a degree, and although it wasn’t by any means easy to talk about it, I could do it, because the emotional impact was limited.

This time around I feel that I have been able to stay much more connected. It’s a pretty big deal for me, seeing as my chief defence mechanism has always been the ability to switch off all feelings at will. I still fall into that trap every now and then, but I do work hard at noticing when I’m doing it, and trying to find my way back to that emotional place, because, painful as it is –that’s where change happens.

Anyway, good people of the blog-reading world, I’d best stop there. Time for evening prayers and settling down time.

Be good to your Selfs.

xx

Early morning fantasy; if I could turn back time

Feel like I’m coming undone.

All this stuff that the last several sessions have brought up.. it’s hitting pretty hard, and where it hurts the most. It’s such a big thing, and it kind of challenges everything I thought I knew. I feel lost and dizzy, and – as I said in session yesterday – I wish I could just rewind the tape to that moment last Tuesday after A.’s comment and say “You’re right, I don’t talk about being given up for adoption, and I don’t think about what that really means.. but let’s keep it that way. I’m not ready to go there yet.”

I wish I could just close the door on all these thoughts and walk away. Not forever. But for now. I really don’t feel I can handle this right now. It’s making me question even the things that are most precious to me, the relationships that mean the most to me.. and it scares me like nothing else ever has. I feel like I could mess this up and lose everything.

No, I’m not really desperately down as I have been at other times. Somehow this is bigger than just a state of being – because it’s about being at all. Existential level. Something so huge I can’t even begin to explain it.

So.. erhm.. bleurgh!

xx

Thinking I Can’t Survive What’s Below..

My favourite therapy session of the week – timewise – is my Tuesday session, which doesn’t start until six thirty in the evening. In the autumn and winter this means that it will be dark already when I get there, so there is always that feeling ofnothing exists apart from me, A., the room we’re in and the things we say. And often this sets the tone for the sessions themselves; I tend to be more still within myself, more in the moment, better able to just talk freely.

So, too, this week. Talked about how it’s coming up to a year since I first saw my adoption papers which – among other things – state that my parents wanted to adopt boys and that I’ve not yet been able to talk to either of my parents about this. I have, however, spent a fair amount of time in session talking about this and how I feel about it, so it wasn’t new material per se.

And then, about five seconds before the end of session A. made the comment “..and of course, apart from telling you what your parents did and didn’t want, those papers are also an inescapable reminder that you were put up for adoption in the first place. And that is something you never talk about.”

So I left session with that comment in my head, feeling actually quite upset with A. for doing that to me; bringing something so indescribably big up at the very end of session, when all I could do was to go home and react to those words on my own, with no one to talk it through with.

Now, I have a session on Wednesday afternoon – so in reality there isn’t more than a few hours between sessions. But sometimes those hours can last an eternity.

Spent a sleepless night, basically for the first time ever really thinking about what it means to have been given up. It wasn’t nice and it wasn’t pretty. And, no, I don’t think I was really ready to go there – not like that and not on my own, but I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t change the fact that the dam had been breached.

Yes, I know, this is not A.’s fault. Things don’t come out by chance, regardless of the trigger. Whatever my mind was serving me it came from me. I know this. But, it was still scary as anything. Because I genuinely didn’t know if I’d be able to cope with it. There is a reason why people build protective walls around things that are terrifying.

Still, come Wednesday, I was determined to not repeat my habit of avoidance, of choosing to not talk about things that scare me. So I started out by saying how I felt about A. leaving me with that comment, and then went on to spend the rest of session talking about the thoughts that had been rocking my soul all night.

I’m not going to go into detail about what I said, because it’s all kind of raw, and this feels too public a forum to verbalise the deepest thoughts that I have spent so long trying to shy away from. I mean, this was, literally, the very first time I spoke about any of these things, in fact many of the thoughts and emotions were new even to me, most of them only just starting to take form, to crystallise.

But, leaving session, I kind of knew that..

I’ve spent life hovering above bottom
Thinking I can’t survive what’s below
But I’ve known through the kicking and screaming
That there was no other direction to go

That, eventually therapy.. life.. would lead me to this point.
That I’d have to touch the sorest of sores.

xx

It’s A Bitch To Grow Up by Alanis Morissette
[scroll to bottom of page for lyrics in their entirety]

It’s A Bitch To Grow Up
[from the album Flavours of Entanglement]

It’s been 10 years of investment
It’s been one foot in and one out
It’s been 4 days of watershed
And I feel snuffed out

It’s been 33 years of restraining
Of trying to control this tumult
How I did invest in such fantasy
But my nervous system has worn out

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’ve repeated this dance ad-nauseum
There’s still something to learn that I’ve not
I’m told to see this as divine perfection
But my bones don’t feel this perfection

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’ve spent life hovering above bottom
Thinking I can’t survive what’s below
But I’ve known through the kicking and screaming
That there was no other direction to go

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

Alanis Morissette

 

Lyrics from It's A Bitch To Grow Up © Alanis Morissette

Elections, Shame & Paper Cranes

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am usually very proud to be Swedish.
Not so tonight.

Today general elections were held in Sweden, and I feel utterly ashamed to say that it looks reasonably certain thatSverigedemokraterna [Sweden Democrats (SD)] will make the 4% threshold to enter Riksdagen [the Swedish parliament]. I’m guessing that to anyone not from Sweden this might not sound like much to be ashamed of. Sweden and Democracy – how bad can it be, right?

The answer is “VERY”. (SD) is the Swedish equivalent of the UK’s British National Party, and much like the BNP they win voters through sheer scare mongering, using, what they call “severely restricted immigration” as their main manifesto, and, again, much like the BNP, they prey on people’s fear of the unknown, to gain voters. They market themselves as not being a racist party, despite the fact that many of its members and frontline politicians have backgrounds in both neo-nazi and white power movements. An early SD campaign poster [not used in this year’s campaign] read “Bevara Sverige Svenskt!” – “Keep Sweden Swedish!”

So, in short: I feel absolutely disgusted with the outcome of this election.

It looks like Alliansen [the allied, ie the conservative parties] will be the ones to form the new government, but, sadly, it’s not at all impossible that they’ll need to work with (SD) to push new policies through.

As it currently stands Moderaterna [the Conservatives (M)] is set to be the biggest party, with Socialdemokraterna [Labour (S)] second. Miljöpartiet [the Green Party (MP)] is having their most successful election ever, coming in as the third largest party, surpassing Vänsterpartiet [the Left Party (V)], who have traditionally been the second largest party in the Red/Green block. At a guess, I’d say that a fair few voters have given their vote to (MP), in the hope that they, would agree to work with Alliansen, in order to shut (SD) out.

Now, I’ve never been one to root for any of the conservative parties, but, honestly – if the choice is for them to work either with (SD) or (MP) – I’d be happy for (MP) to take a step to the right, to make that happen.

To counteract my rather dejected mood, I’ll end this entry with something a bit more positive: Had a really good day today. Had soooo much fun at the Special Event we ran at work today. Such an experience. So rewarding. I feel honoured to be part of it.

Also had a blast at my J-Prep class this evening, learning lots and making decorations for the sukkah at my synagogue. Had a go at making apple, orange and lemon decorations, but failed miserably. Luckily there was also origami paper to make paper cranes, and, having taken part in a project to fold a thousand of them for the Sadako Sasaki peace monument in Hiroshima at age 11, this is something I feel a lot more at home with. In fact, I ended up running an impromptu crane folding tutorial with my fellow J-Preppers, and I really enjoyed it. Funnily enough, I’d actually done something quite similar earlier today at work, with a very different group of people.

All the best,

xx