Updated: Dec 4, 2020
We slept in bunk beds. There were probably 16 children in each room. I was often scared, and I felt the whole world had abandoned me. They had taken me from my mother. I didn't know where she was. Everything was gone. I was 2 years old. I was placed in one of the biggest orphanages in Sweden. Vidkärrs orphanage.
Vidkärrs orphanage early 1960 at the time I was there. It was horrible.
The insecurity was overwhelming. One day to the next you could be shipped to a family asking for a wonderful little child. Instead they got a nailbiting, bedwetting, restless, hyperactive and anxious boy that would suddenly disappear when they for a few seconds turned around.
In my search for love even a stranger would be better than being locked up in the orphanage. Superficial smiles and even promises of a lollypop could melt my anxious heart. But wherever I went I could never find my mother. And my father was angry and he was drinking from a strange bottle. The shear memory of his threats and violence made me wet myself. Longing to hear a song I always fell asleep alone. I was cursed of being alone.
In the corner of the the great room, there was a wooden sofa. It was my lookout spot. Silently I could overlook the daily life of the staff and all the children. It was there I developed my poorly understood defence mechanisms of silence. Silence was the only weapon that would work on a long term basis. I was far too small to have any physical abilitites thaty could defend me against what I considered an unloving and cruel adult world. But I had a good understanding of psychology, and I was a superfast learner.
Like this boy at Vidkärrs orphanage I was abandoned. I was on my own.
I could be soft, smiling and obedient, but my inner world was full of wars where i constantly had to battle those who ignored, abused, bullied and disrespected my little being. It was not until I had started school, I one day realised that I was cruel and unkind myself. From that moment I convinced myself that kindness and love was the only way forward, no matter how unfair my experiences were.
Of course, I hear your thoughts. Did you for a moment think it was easy? That I was superior in any form or shape? No, it would take many, many years to transcend the inner world of abandonment. A world so often void of true love. To love unconditionally is in fact amazingly hard.
When a child has been taken away from what it loves, a sadness threatens to engulf the childs whole being. And yet anger just creates more anger and punishment. It was clear that I needed something much more powerful. I became a soldier of silence.
Silence can be a blessing when the world is too chaotic and noisy to endure. After a day it starts feeling uncomfortable for those subject of these almost autistic defence mechanisms.
After a few days, those who have been cruel, unloving and abusive, ask why you don't speak. They tell you that there is in fact nothing wrong.
After one week they turn weak and soft. The strong adult becomes weak, whilst the small child becomes strong. There is a change of energy, a real tangible shift of control. It can create a false sense of safety. An illusion and strategy that becomes misplaced in the adult world. Such a strategy does not work when you have grown up. It must be replaced with a more mature behaviour. The only way silence can transform is through love. Unconditional love.
'Talk to me! Why do you look like that at me? What is wrong? What have I done?'
Suddenly you realise that it is working. But you have to be strong and patient. Time shows you that the human memory is short. Time shows you that the person who was abusive and cruel, will surrender to an invisible weapon of silence. You have just discovered that your invisible weapon is far more powerful than talk. You start talking as a gratification to those around you. You try to change their behaviour by handing out small nicetys like candies. Suddenly you realise that those are just as short lived as anger. It simply doesn't create long, lasting love. It creates confusion, rejection and fear.
Little did they know that I was far from autistic. Inside my soul I was a boy that wanted to laugh, sing and play, but no one wanted to listen. No one paid any attention.
'Sleep or you won't get any chewing gums after lunch. You have not been a good boy', were words I would often hear. I couldn't sleep because I had so much energy. I wanted to explore so many things, but where was my mother? Where was my father?
When I looked out through the window of the taxi, it had stopped in front of a white big house. It was a farm. I was excited and curious. I always wanted to know more.
A couple in their late thirties received us, and the two women from the social services, introduced me. No endless meetings. No trails of paperwork. The case was settled.
'You will stay with us.'
I was amazed by everything. I had never seen so many cakes, and they were all home made. I loved the ones with red inside and sugar on the top. From that day I was secure.
I could go outside, and no one was worried. I stopped bedwetting. I stopped biting my nails. I could sleep, and I was not scared anymore. Why? My father loved me very much. He saved me. He was me.
My father loved me very much. He gave my life meaning. He gave me strength.