AUGUST 1984: I am swimming against high waves and am already four hundred metres from the shore even though the flag has been raised. I experience an indescribable feeling of power, strength and freedom and learn to love the sea. I fight and don't give up till I reach the sandbank, where I can hardly stand up. I am not alone.
JUNE 1986: Sunday, 2.53 PM there's a ring at the door and my brother is standing there. He is sixteen years older than me. This is how I find out I am not an only child. From now on I have to live with the fact that I have been lied to. I investigate and discover a total of eight half brothers and sisters by six different women who were in relationships with my father. I decide I am going to find and get to know all my siblings no matter how long it takes.
SEPTEMBER 1990: I now know my first great love Frank for five months. We feel a very deep connection and start a new life. We go where he happens to find work. I leave my family home with a suitcase full of books, a few clothes and 120 DM. I am eighteen years old and do not know what awaits me. I never want to go back.
APRIL 1997: I am sitting next to my dead father. The artificial respirator has just been turned off. He is seventy-three years old. I let the rucksack of lies, alcohol and all the other things slip from my shoulders. I am relieved and free at last.
FEBRUARY 1998: I am lying in our bed at home next to Frank, holding my daughter in my arms, to whom I gave birth five hours ago in hospital. The sun is shining on her tiny face. She has soft dark hair. I have a family. I am boundlessly happy.
DECEMBER 2001: My son has just woken from the anaesthetic. He is almost one year old and has come through his second heart operation well. Now we know that he will live. I am boundlessly happy and relieved and hold him tight in my arms. He looks into my eyes.
MARCH 2003: The doctor stands across from me and informs me that I have a serious hereditary disease which can cause cerebral haemorrhages. I also discover that I have passed this disease on to both of my children. My life will be quite different from now on. Suddenly I cannot breathe properly.
APRIL 2010: I am sitting cross-legged in a Buddhist temple and have just meditated for the first time. I can feel spirituality growing as a new force inside me which will never leave. After four years of yoga I am now on a path which will show me my place and my purpose in the great whole, allow me to let go and find acceptance. I am grateful.
JANUARY 2012: My daughter stands in front of me in her brand new ski suit. She's holding her dog in her arms and is laughing at me. I take a photo which I will carry in my heart from now on. It is a year and a half since she has had a cerebral haemorrhage. She lost half her sight, had to learn to speak and find her way in the world all over again. She has fought her way back to life. I am full of love.
JANUARY 2014: My husband and I are walking hand in hand under a brilliant blue winter sky. When we look back at our lives, we find it hard to talk. We have had twelve operations between us in the last sixteen years. We are looking for a new way. In the last year I have got to know two more half-siblings. Only one to go now. I feel complete. I am totally myself.