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03 January 2015
Found Her Own Life
Source : VG Weekend
English translation by Tef Johs (www.lene-marlin.info)

2014 became the year where she stood face to face with the death of close friends. And then her very own. However, 2015 will be good, Lene Marlin (34) believes.

THE MEMORIES are not entirely back, but frequently just as surprising and overwhelming flashbacks. They are coming to her when she least expects it.

- I can recognize a feeling and then I just freeze, Lene Marlin says, and holds her breath. Equally rapid as when it appears the echo from the painful times is gone.

- It is unpleasant no matter how quickly it passes. I can get a glimpse from when I was at my weakest. This is not fun. Other times, I don't get overpowered, but may look back on the bad times and know that I am not there anymore.

THE PLATINA BLONDE hair is like a halo around her face. The things she speaks about are almost half a life ago. The memories are scattered, hidden in a great darkness.

She could never believe she would fall so deep - and in a time where she appeared the most sucessfull of us all: The 19-year-old Tromsø girl had become a pop star. But all she wanted was to sleep. Disappear.

There were days when she could not manage to rise from bed. Days where all she had done was failing in taking her own life. She knows there were TV-appearances and concerts with a dazzling smile and soft voice. But she hardly remembers them.

Now time has passed. She has walked the road all the depressed ones need to take, backwards from death towards life. In the time following the depression she has released an album, gotten a boyfriend, released another album. Have become enganged with the boyfriend Kåre Conradi. She has been close to the death and sorrow of friends. It was time to tell.

ONE DAY SHE sat down and started to write. The hands moved almost by themselves on the keyboard. The story had been completed in her head for many years, and she wrote without thinking or editing.

"So I might as well say it out loud: I tried to end my own life. I couldn't handle the pressure", she wrote in the chronicle in Aftenposten last autumn.

- I was looking at the society we have created and I thought that perhaps it would be of help that I'm writing what I have been through, she now says, three months later.

- I had never foreseen that I would get so deep down in darkness, but I did - and I came through to the other side. I'm not embarrassed about what I have experienced. I am not ashamed, to the contrary I'm proud. This is my story. And thus I could very well be writing it.

The months after the publication of the chronicle have been strong. Both professional environments and individual persons have praised her for the courage she has shown by openly telling about what would become almost four years of exile in the beginning of her 20-ies.

- After writing the chronicle there are many who have contacted me. They say they are good seen from outside, but not on the inside. Life is seldom perfect, still many insists on keeping a facade.

FOR A LONG time Lene was living the life of others. Her dream had been releasing a record, period. "Now I get to sing with a sound!" was her reaction when she got a record deal as a teenager.

However, the popstar and the utterly profitable project Lene Marlin became huge just too quickly. Her dream was not to be traveling on a world tour or be talking to a couple of dozen radio journalists in a single day. Her dream was not to be losing track of where she was in the world. Still this is what she did.

"Where have you been?", the police man was asking at the passport checkpoint at Gardermoen. She looked blandly at her guitarist, Bernt Rune Stray, and they started to laugh. Where had they been? Did they perform a transit in Copenhagen or in Frankfurt?

On the promotion tour in England in 1999 she was visiting 25 radio stations in one day. She did one interview, fell asleep in the car on the way to the next and awoke with a message that they were in another location than what was agreed upon before she fell asleep.

- At the start it was all just fun. There were fabulous experiences and meeting with fans that I would never be without. But it was madness at times. The tempo never let up. When you rise from bed at five and go to bed at midnight during a longer period you don't manage to get what is going on.

SHE DIDN'T GET what was going on, neither outside nor within herself. Until Asia.

- Then it happened. First I got food poisoned in Seoul - that's always a feast. We had to cancel everything while I was in bed for four days. Then we had to go to Taiwan. Then I felt...

She gets silent, thinking.

She was still exhausted and feverish, but nothing more could be canceled from the tour. She slept the whole flight to Taipei, and was barely awake when the door was opened. A wall of people, cameras, and microphones. They had forgot to tell her that right outside the whole press corpse was waiting.

- I got panicky. I turned totally like this, she says and draws her breath heavily.

- We tried to get away and some of the journalists got agressive, and there were huge cameras and people everywhere, and I was thinking "I need to get away, I need to get away", but there was no way out, I was surrounded no matter where I looked. That experience fastened well into my system.

When she got into the car the tears came. They had to quickly get away because by the hotel the staff were waiting for greeting her.

- Then I had a bit of freetime before the press conference. Which I can't remember at all. After meeting a stream of people it got kind of blurry.

THE BLUR LASTED a long time. This happened in 1999. That much is certain.

- Because I was 19 years old. But at what time in the year this happened...I can't remember.

- What happened following this?

- I did continue, of course.

However, something had happened in her. It didn't get to be as easy throwing herself on a plane and let herself be lead throughout the world, surrounded by the press and fans and industry people who all wanted a piece of the one they wanted her to be. Slowly, but surely everything got heavier.

- It's strange how a psychological problem gets a physical reaction. My movements, it felt like moving through syrup. It became heavy picking up the phone, I couldn't open a letter. I just wanted to be lying at home sleeping.

For long she attempted overlooking it.

- I was talking a lot with myself: "Up and running, this will be a nice day, this will turn out well!" If I just don't give a damned and move on it will all pass by itself, I thought. The scary part is that it worked, and it made me overlook the signs that I should take a pause. But I wanted to be professional and do a good job.

- IT IS STRANGE thinking about that the Spellemann Awards in 2000 would be my last appearance in almost four years, she says.

She was on stage receiving four awards.

- I don't know whether I remember due to having seen myself in recordings or whether I actually remember it by myself.
"You shouldn't have been there", Lene is thinking when she views pictures of herself from that evening.

- I look so small. I had no clue of what was to come afterwards.

She locked herself inside. There were times when she was not out of the apartment for three weeks.

- When you realize that you don't manage life, and it just lasts. It's a strange feeling. This period of my life is pretty dark. Even the good memories from that time are gone.

- This says a lot about how hard your brain was working at that time, with whole other things than what was going on around you?

- Yes.

- How did your family and boyfriend react?

- I can't remember. But it was kind of... You just get to be like... Losing your energy completely.

"YOU COULD COME TO GET HER, you could have. You could come to protect her, you should have", she sings on the last album she's released, from 2009.

- Is there anyone you blame because they did not help you?

Lene is drawing her breath heavily.

- I did not understand myself how I was. Then it's difficult for others to discover. I should have had the strength in myself to stop. But this is what's so hard: You must help yourself getting up when you are at your weakest.

"I heard about your story from a friend. To let go and make an end, that’s what you did", she sings in the song "Story".

- There and then...I was fighting all along for my happiness, but in the end I had no more fight in me. Then it felt it was no point in continuing. But it is, she says today.

- That's why I wrote the chronicle, to say that it's worth it holding on.

IN THE SAME WAY as others attempting suicide, Lene experienced the absurd thing: When she finally had decided to end it all, the joy returned.

- This is what's so scary, because many at that time probably thought I was doing so well. But this was because I had reconciled with the thought of what was to come.

She gets silent for a microsecond.

- To think that I was down there, she says, almost mostly to herself.

- This is strange. But that is why I can tell all who is having a bad time now: It will pass. I know it sounds strange, and it's probably not what you'd want to hear. But it will be better. You just need to give it time.

Slowly she learned taking place as herself. She understood she needed help and met with a psychologist who gave her the safehouse she needed.

- I learned listening to myself again: Am I doing this because others want me to, or because I want it myself?

If the answer was the former, she canceled.

- I received a lot of bad mouth in that time period, when it was things I didn't want to show up for. However, it's an important lesson I have brought with me from that time: Saying no. Sometimes I probably say no a bit too much.

TODAY SHE ROSE from bed at half past eight. She had breakfast, answered some e-mails. Many are asking for help from her after the chronicle. Many wants a piece of the artist Lene Marlin. Most of it she says no to. She has gotten better at that now.

- And I'm making attempts at writing a bit of music. Now I haven't done that for a while. The last time I was on the plane to Los Angeles. Then I wrote and completed a whole lyrics, which doesn't happen so often. Usually I start with a few lines I like.

The melodies may come to her anywhere. Then she needs to get them saved as quickly as possible, she doesn't trust her memory. If you have seen Lene Marlin in a corner at the girl's room in a restaurant while she's humming shyly into her cellphone, you now know why.

During the absence from the limelight she has built herself a career as a sought-after songwriter for others. She has written music for Sissel Kyrkjebø, Aleksander With, and the Swiss Lovebugs. She has been working with songwriters like the American Autumn Rowe, Gary Louris, and the Norwegian super producers Stargate. The title track on pop star Rihanna's album "Good Girl Gone Bad" Lene Marlin wrote in cooperation with Stargate.

When the next album is coming from herself she doesn't know. But finished as an artist she is not.

- It doesn't feel like it. I have a lot of songs. But I need to be ready for it, and I'm not there now.

- What is stopping you?

- Nothing. But it needs to feel right. In a couple of years, perhaps? One year? No, not one. I don't know. But I do know I will live life different than back then.

IT HAS BEEN a strong year for Lene. At Christmas 2013 she got engaged with the actor boyfriend Kåre Conradi (42). It was in the midst of the last time for the girl friend Anbjørg Sætre Håtun, who died of cancer in January one year ago. One week earlier Per Eirik Johansen had died, the record company boss that discovered Lene in 1999.

- There were too many funerals last year. My dear friend Anbjørg. And dear Per Eirik, who gave me the record deal. We had so much fun together. This latter year has been a year with great contrasts. It has put its mark on me and have made me see life different. I get to feel extra on some parts in life. That there are some things I should not postpone.

What will happen further into this year, she does not know. The press whispers about wedding plans, but Lene just laughs.

- There is nothing to confirm. I don't make plans, to the irritation of many. The summer vacation we plan in May. What will happen in the rest of the year I still don't know.

Lene's comment to her life curve:

- Secondary school is never a party. But everyone feels like shit in that time period. Then the record deal came, and thereafter the great darkness and the struggle for getting myself back on feet again. It was superb getting to be 30 years old. In January one year ago two of my closer friends died. It was rough. Then the autumn came and the chronicle that I wrote, and made the last time period different and far better than what I had imagined.

LAST SUMMER the final confirmation came that Lene is doing just as she wants. Together with a couple of friends she and her co-habiter had rented a house in France. On her way out to the garden she meets three masked men, in the process of entering one of the bed rooms.

- You don't know how you will react in such a situation until you're in one. I understood that if I don't react now, something much worse could happen. It was almost instinctively.

Instead of running way in panick she calmly walked towards them. This what all that was needed to make the thiefs chicken out and run away. Lene against the Rokle.

- It's almost unreal thinking about it now! But it happened so quickly. Afterwards, when the police arrived with machine guns and everything, I got pretty shaky. Good thing there was wine in the fridge!

- You are taking good care of your friends?

- Hahaha, yes! In my thoughts I've gone through what happened a whole lot of times. I'm just glad it went well.

She is looking at her life curve, with the deep well which is dividing the last year in two.

- 2015 will be a good year, she says firmly.

- Now I'm 34 years old and safer. I have been through a nice journey, from believing life could never be good again, to being where I am today. If I could live it over again there are many things I would have done differently. I would have said stop earlier. However, you should be careful about what you want removed from your life. Life is a like a puzzle board, and what will happen if you remove some pieces? The good experiences go hand in hand with the bad ones.


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