One of the offshoots of writing a popular blog is that I get strangers writing to me with their life stories (though surprisingly, I have very few public engagements on the page – I suppose life stories are deeply personal and not for public consumption). I have friends too who write to me, a line or two sometimes, more at other times, reaching out, trying to engage with me on a regular basis, trying to pull me into their lives, sharing with me their day and their thoughts.

I sense they have stories they want to tell, conversations they wish to make happen. I wish I have time for all them, but sad fact of life is, I often reply with a sentence or two, followed either by a ❤ or a x.

Moreover, I am just a proxy for the important people in their lives that they are unable to have that important conversations with.

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Important conversations need to take place, not stories about heroes and villains in our lives that we tell hundreds of times with no positive benefit – most of our social chats are that over-told heroes-and-villians stories to justify ourselves.  There are actually very few “real” conversations, yet real conversations need to happen for resolution.

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A few months ago – in November, I think – the shoe was on the other foot. I met a young Swedish doctor whom I really, really wanted to talk to.  I don’t know, I just want to be in his company, talk, walk, listen to him, just BE.  He told me about running after an autistic teenager in his care, who was chasing a lady who had a can of Coke in the basket of her bicycle: he chasing the boy who was chasing the bicycle, through the streets of Stockholm. A simple tale, but I started crying like I would never stop. He put his arm around me – oh, so professionally! – and wiped my tears.

“Look, the beach dogs have come to join us,” he said gently. All around us, the world stood still.

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And when I talked, I told him the deepest things about me that I don’t even share with my partner, probably because those things happened so long ago that I thought they were no longer important. My tears, as we sat on the beach, proved the contrary: those things still mattered, and they mattered a great deal.

As this trained doctor (who is also a psychologist) was young and attractive, my friends teased me mercilessly.  Even I began to wonder at my motives.  Was it sexual attraction? He was masculine yet gentle, strong yet delicate. He could lift me easily yet he moves with such balletic grace.  My partner looked at my ‘new friend’ dubiously, and his message to the Swede was clear: “One false step, and you’re dead meat. I might be older than you but don’t push it with me.”

But he, the Swede, was serene and above all that was going on.

“You must realise,” he said wisely, right in the beginning. “It’s not me, the man, that you are drawn to.”

“Who then?” I asked.

“You just need to have the conversation that’s locked away in you.”

He put on a t-shirt I lent him, a t-shirt with lots of history for me, and from then on, we moved to another plane, across time and geography.  He fell asleep exhausted on the daybed in my house, and when I woke up the next morning and came looking for him, he had already left, the t-shirt neatly folded on the daybed.

Two weeks ago, with my partner’s blessing, I flew to Stockholm and began my journey into family constellation with the Swede.  That night in Stockholm, the sun was up all night and I felt reborn in a sense when I emerged from his apartment to catch my flight to London. On the plane, I began working feverishly on a new book that simply needed to be written, a children’s picture book about a special little boy with special needs, to shine light on something that had been in me, ignored and in anguish.

Like the stories you need to tell, the children’s book that I am writing is actually an amazing journey into myself, born on the beach of Phuket and given life in Stockholm on a night the sun did not set.

My advice is, have that conversation, but with the appropriate person who can help you move on and forwards, upwards ❤

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