M’s Story: When the Wall Came Down

Thinking back to my perception of events that followed the night of 9/11/1989. A reminder to self that there’s no point in wasting time and energy on building barriers; whether by mounting physical boundaries, perishing relationships or giving into self-limiting beliefs. 💜☮️

I woke up to the news that the Berlin Wall had fallen. Never before (or after!) had I observed mum operate more swiftly and efficiently than this morning. I don’t even know how she got hold of my brothers so fast (most households didn’t have a phone) or how she managed to obtain my travel documents that very day. Fact is that the four of us headed towards the inner German border in the evening and crossed it around 3am.


Dad was touring somewhere with the orchestra and so it was down to my mother’s sons to help her drive us all the way to the river Rhine. Her sole objective was to embrace her other daughter again whom she had said farewell to six months earlier – one of the last people to have fled the country legally and permanently. (Once you had taken that train, you were never allowed back.) My sister, however, had managed to MISS the news and gone to bed in my aunt’s house the night before, oblivious to any of it.
What woke her at 7am was the belling sound of our notorious Wartburg (typical East German car). She almost fell down the stairs in a doze and we had to reassure her that she wasn’t suffering from hallucinations for about 15 minutes while she sobbed. The rest is history. #rememberthat #berlinwall #boundless

M’s experience, aged 14, is quite remarkable. She talks about experiencing the sensory overload of the shops – smells, lights, mass amount of things, her mother’s legs giving way. She has grown up to be a remarkable woman, bringing up two boys, working in Germany and now settled in Scotland, having gone back to university and found a good job and a home here. She is funny, brave and resilient. I am proud to call her my friend. I am struck by what she has to say about building barriers. Connecting with others across national divides is one way to prevent new walls being constructed. Listening to yourself and moving on is one way to get past the emotional blocks which hold us back.

Thanks to M for permission to publish her story here.

This song is for M, my daughters S and E – and maybe for me too though I’m no longer a girl! Girl on Fire Alicia Keys

You can comment or email me privately at: timewithelinor@gmail.com

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