Tuesday 14 October 2014

Alone / Together.

The days are growing shorter. 
The green leaves, overnight it feels, are gracefully bowing into the gold of their exit. We wake early in the darkness, now the sun, too, like the birds, is leaving. The expanded plenty of the summer is pulsing to the work ethic of the autumn. There is much to be done. 
My morning conversation with Johanna, as she prepares for school, has to do with the online chat-site she discovered last night.
The Wiki-community. I am in full alert when she wakes and immediately asks to go online. We all recognise those early signs, when the dopamine kick of a thrill has set in and we want more.
'But it's so easy mom, they're my friends!!!'
'They are virtual friends sweetheart, not real'.
'But it's the only friends I have got!' She is in tears and very emphatic.
These words cut into my soul.
The many moves we have made, not only across the world, but in Sweden itself, have been uprooting for the children in the past. Johanna especially has found it very hard to let the memory of her Stockholm friendship circle go. The Waldorf school with all its gentle creativity met her soul needs, and when she hit the brutal and bullying reality of the new Falun school, it was a shock. Small attempts at friendships had sometimes horrible outcomes and we have had to work hard to heal her sense of trust.
Now, a few years later and at Gymnasium in the neighbouring town of Borlänge, she has taken on a 'tough-gal' image, and often says- 'I don't need friends. I'm a lone wolf.' The teachers are concerned that she prefers her own company at lunch, sitting by herself.
The world of the 'Special school' is not a simple one. Many kids of varying abilities and disabilities jammed together to meed the previous conservative governments hierarchical division of schools. Johanna is at the 'bottom' level now. This pains me as I write this. However, she sees herself as normal, with normal dreams and aspirations.
On Wiki last night, she had what was probably the first 'normal' conversations, with people that were cool, and responded to her comments in a positive way.
I am wary though.
'Sweetheart, if I see that you are open to making friends in the 'real world', then its ok to spend some time online chatting. But I don't see that happening.'
'But mom, how can I let my old friends go?? Wiki is my new friends.'
Here we hit the rock.
'My love, in the real world, sometimes if you really want something, you have to learn to give what you really want, in order to get what you want. And it is like that, with making friends...You have to be open to the possibility'
There is a long silence.
She is listening.
'It's like this, See my hand, it's closed. Like a fist. I am holding onto something. It could be the past, it could be a friendship from long ago, that maybe isnt there anymore. It could be a way of seeing something that I don't want to let go.
Then I open my hand....
I've let go what I was holding onto..so now I can receive.'
Her face is intent.
'But I don't want to let go, Mom.'
'I understand that angel. It's not easy to let go something that meant a lot to you. But if your thoughts of yesterday are stopping you from receiving the gifts of today, and its causing you pain, then you need to let go.
I know your friendships were important. But it seems your friends have moved on. They haven't responded to your messages for a long time now.''
There is a long silence, as we rest in this truth.
'You see, in life', I say, ' we are in what we could call Sacred Hoops of friendships, of relationships.
Right in the centre Sacred Hoop of One: there is you, and the relationship, the friendship you have with yourself.''
Her face is concentrated with listening.
''Then, the next Sacred Hoop is the one you have with another, the Sacred Hoop of Two
You could say that for now, that is you and me, 'cos we are so close, we are teaching each other very important lessons about life...and that could change when you meet someone you want to spend your life with. Just like me and Paps.'
She smiles. She is both fascinated by our romance and also possessive over my attentions.
'The next Sacred Hoop could be you and Pappa and Ralph and Gabriel. Your close family who really love you and are there for you, come what may. who are there to teach and learn from each other, sometimes really hard lessons on loving and accepting.
And then it grows into a Hoop of those that will be there for you, just next to your close family; like Farmor, your aunts and uncles, Katrin, Lydi, Temma...'
There follows a list of good people who love this girl born with an extra chromosome.
''And then there's a big, wide Sacred Hoop of people you know, who may not be so close, but whom you like and who like you, maybe only for a while...they can change and move on..and that big circle spins around and around...
And then a really, really big circle, that is the world out there. And that can be the Wiki friends, the people in our concerts, the people we meet in passing, but that can also make a difference to our lives., that we can also help.''
'Mom,' she says, 'You see, no one in my life talks to me like you do. No one. '
Her gaze is so fierce and direct it pierces to my heart.
In the silence, I know she has followed the lesson and deeply absorbed it, as much as she is able.
I let her go online as she is waiting for the taxi to fetch her for school.
'I just want to message my friends. You're the best, mom!'
The taxi pulls up just before she can get the internet switched on.
I watch for a reaction. No problem.
She closes the computer, swings her rucksack onto her back and walks out of the door with a happy gait. She is singing softly to herself.

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