And yet we resist…
When the covid-19 pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020, a group of narrative therapists and therapists, members of the HELLENIC SOCIETY OF NARRATIVE THERAPY AND COMMUNITY PRACTICE, tried to explore the ways in which people resisted the difficulties of the pandemic, quarantine and social alienation, as well as what changes have taken place in their lives, how they have dealt with those changes and what all this means for the future.
After a marathon of five long meetings, a questionnaire was drawn up and the research, which lasted for two months (April and May 2020), produced 11 stories of quarantine resistance, which were posted on a Facebook page called “Hellenic Society of Narrative Therapy and Community Practice”.
Each story is accompanied by a piece of music of the choice of the person who published his story, as well as a visual or a photograph.
Consequently, the authors of the research, coordinated by the narrative psychotherapist Margarita Katsikadelis and the narrative psychotherapists Dimitris Katsikadelis, Ioannis Velis and the psychotherapist Dimitra Panta, edited and composed the Collective Text that will be presented to you today, in which we will ask you to connect through the Defining Ceremony of External Witnesses.
COLLECTIVE TEXT FOR THE RESISTANCE AGAINST THE PANDEMIC OF COVID-19, QUARANTINE AND SOCIAL REMOVALATION (1st WAVE-SPRING 2020)
* The consequences of the pandemic in our lives
When the covid-19 pandemic broke out and the measures of social distancing and quarantine went into effect, all the things we had taken for granted were simply overturned.
Our work suddenly ceased, as did all our social contacts. We now had to rely on zero income, with a bad mood to boot because there are no direct resources for survival. Some said: “I feel bad about myself; I cannot contribute to society or at home”.
We were all in a state of confusion. “What should we do now? Remain confined at home?” An unprecedented feeling that we are being limited and isolated from our own people persisted.
After the imposition of quarantine, we felt that there was no freedom anymore. We did not like to go out with a certificate at hand or by sending an SMS to go to work or for a walk, being hurried to return home as if we were prisoners.
For many of us, the fear for the well-being of ourselves and our dearest was overwhelming.
“What will happen if myself and those around me are infected? I hurried to follow the measures”. Home restriction was welcomed for the sake of everyone’s protection.
Schools were closed; thus, we were faced with the issue of children care.
We were forced to resign from our job. We stayed indoors. The house and our children welcomed us after a long while!
The situation in the way it was described by the domestic and foreign media, was terribly grim.
We found ourselves gazing at our grandson from a safe distance, stranded, without even a hug.
The conditions we are facing are uncharted waters and this reinforces the fear and the strong sense of external control but also emerged feelings of surveillance and frustration towards some people who show disobedience in properly observing the measures.
* Holding on hope. Life goes on.
But while all this was taking place, something kindled from within, whispering: “Life will go on”. A primary concern mobilized us as a whole: not to become paralyzed, to feel active, to offer to others but also to evolve our self.
Not to remain inactive was my primary concern.
Some of us continued our business online.
We continued to communicate with our friends, exchanging one optimistic message every day. I even participated in a friend’s online party where some people danced, exchanged niceties, and sipped their drink. Within the quarantine, we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus on our balcony, all the houses were lit up and people were united and joyful once again.
This Easter I firstly enjoyed a welcome break from work after 7 long years, so I was given the opportunity to experience holidays and spend time at home, not at work. I therefore racked up more free time.
Despite transport restrictions, some of us continued to exercise by sending SMS for cycling, online yoga classes or walking for endless miles every day, or just stop by to grab a cup of coffee and rest on the nearby bench.
My main concern was the disinfection when I returned from the supermarket, but I successfully handled it making fewer purchases and reducing my expenses.
Other times, I would just gaze out the window in the spring and begin to write down my thoughts in poetic language.
To get rid of my confusion about the epidemic, I set out to read Thucydides, but also Kafka and modern analysts to understand what is really happening.
While with my family, I would play board games with children who thought they are on vacation, to separate them from the PlayStation screen…. I would work mainly on the phone from morning to noon…. I have established a habit completely new for me; After the walk with the children and playing ball in the neighborhood field, I would always go to my mother’s, drink some tea, go out for a walk together; I really enjoy that.
While arranging the libraries, I came across my notes from psychotherapy training and came back with excitement to my own journey of self-knowledge.
Using e-learning was no easy task. It required technical knowledge and since we had just one computer terminal available, while one of my kids was distance learning, I was helping the other one study. It was hard work; I can tell you! But the children realized that I am there to actively support them in all areas concerned.
We have the power of our team of three! We joined hands, put them atop of each other and shouted on the top of our voices: “We will never give up!”
Hearing all these reports on the media about the cruel exploitation of animals by humans and considering all the adverse effects on our standard of living, my partner and I decided to follow a more nutritious diet, as we further reduced the consumption of meat and this restriction came through knowledge and experience.
This situation was not of our own volition. But some of us thought it was up to us to decide how to deal with it, regardless of the harmful circumstances.
Others saw it as a unique opportunity to appreciate things from a different angle.
And others, holding on hope, cried:
“We will overcome this situation! Our lives come first!!!”
* The acquired knowledge of people during quarantine.
Quarantine, social distancing and the fear, a reflex that comes from inside, have changed the pace of our lives a great deal. We had the time to realize that an opportunity is being handed to us and we should take advantage and cherish it.
We found plenty of personal and family time.
Many of us found ourselves reunited as a family after a long time.
I got to know my child deeper, I was lucky to have my partner, who constantly works in another city, finally close to me because he now worked online. It was a co-existence that evoked memories from our early acquaintance.
Some of us have been able to develop real relationships because we have seen what our friends really mean to us and who we really care about, family aside.
First, there was a rift with the children, as they were not used to me attending classes at home, but the rules we set and the good results they achieved brought us closer. We experienced lots of hugs and kisses… “Mom you are the best! How good it is that you know how to disinfect the groceries!”
This slow-moving period helped us see where we stand and whether we can endure the frenetic pace of everyday life. I also hear from many friends that we were lost in the vortex of everyday life that eclipses our real needs.
However, mother Nature still had to take over.
Another important realization for many of us was that the pandemic was largely attributed to climate change. The man, violating certain basic rules of nature, turned it against him.
Some even discussed about the unhealthy Chinese diet, consisting of consuming not suitable to be eaten animals. Such malnutrition certainly yielded something that escaped them and so the covid19 virus spread all over the world.
I would like to know more about the relationship of the pandemic with the environment and how the epidemic is seen because of the ecological disaster that ultimately comes from man, some said.
Some of us wanted to focus on the side benefits of this global quarantine to the environment, which clearly demonstrates that a change in human lifestyle is imperative.
Crossing streets without many cars and being transported to places with clean atmosphere while an aromatic breeze from the trees and flowers was refreshing our nostrils.
Living abroad in quarantine strengthened my bonds with my country.
Some of us who lived abroad realized that their place is in their own country, close to their families. Through the uncertainty and fear that something might happen to their own people, it became clear to them where they unquestionably belonged.
I set my own terms at work.
The coronation and quarantine epidemic taught me something invaluable: I appreciate my work as a professional, however my kids also deserve to have their mom nearby! I have set my own rules regarding work. I have firmly decided to be in control of my own life.
* Special skills, values, intentions, principles, commitments, life knowledge and qualities that helped us, during this quarantine, to successfully meet the difficulties.
The intention not to let go and prostrate was common to most of us. Just the fact that we were able to find a way within confinement to get in touch with people, see the steps they take in life through the difficulties they face and find their footprints again, all this gave us a new meaning. My inner need for this kind of relationship with others has been present throughout my life to this day.
The search for one’s self and creativity, as an antidote to challenging situations, is an ability recorded in my DNA. It is handed down to me by my grandparents who did not lose their sense of purpose, even though they had to start from scratch all over again.
My quest was for a job that fits my daily routine with children responsibilities, distance working, and flexible schedule tailored to my needs. I am self-made and proud of that. I am not afraid of change; I never ever give up!
A knowledge that I bear from childhood.
In life we have the choice of either cross our arms and wonder about what has happened to us or roll up our sleeves and stand up to fight.
We do not give up, nor do we lose our courage!
For others, it was connecting to the light and energy of the universe by engaging in group online meditations.
Another room for reaction to all this madness of the pandemic is the certainty that we will eventually ride this thing out!
But it is comforting to have something to fall back into for a rainy day, a kind of cushion if something goes wrong.
During this time, I felt even more grateful for what I have, but expressed it in my own way like so many others. This is what we call comradeship.
Practical solidarity from thinkers, artists, webinars, volunteering, all of this inspired us to hold on hope for a more conscious humanity that knows how to recognize what is worth and what is not.
A value that came to the fore was the Man himself and we stopped clinging to the meaningless or the superficial.
A humanitarian goal, health, was prioritized and contributed immensely to a general sense of peace and tranquility.
But we noticed changes in people’s behavior as well. More kindness and patience prevailed, while tensions and fighting diminished.
Trolling; another way to alleviate oneself of the situation, to be playful; I would tell my husband: “COVID, get up to make coffee. -Covid, what’s on the menu for tomorrow?”
And when that burden on his chest reared its ugly face again, I would try to see where he is coming from, to give him space, without identifying, instead, having compassion, understanding, love and acceptance to find peace and solutions to everything that concerns me.
* What we hold for the future, through all this adventure. What do we wish to happen when we find a way out of it?
Some of us would like to keep the feeling of connection with ourselves and seek meaningful relationships with others.
Preserve close contact with our children and grandchildren, hugs with our friends, endless coffee conversations in the plaza with our loved ones; all these are not replaced by online communication.
I will keep the quality time we spent as a family.
Let us not forget that we are insignificant beings in the vastness of the universe, where there are forces that we are unfamiliar with.
We should keep the hope that after the quarantine we will find the way how to deal with the long-term effects of social distancing and isolation.
The connection to our truth will be the compass that will guide us each step of the way.
The side benefit of quarantine to the environment clearly demonstrates that a change must be made in our way of life, our nutrition, and our ecological consciousness.
The know-how that we have acquired about observing the protection measures, as well as respect and interest towards our fellow citizens.
The observance of the rules of hygiene is our own conquest that does not need acts of legislation to enforce us to observe them.
I wish for a future work less stressful, all the while enjoying more vacations and travelling.
Let the masks and antiseptics use come to an end!
I have decided that I want to be in control of my life because it will give me personal and familiar peace and balance.
We should continue to express solidarity between us because solidarity maximizes individual and social power. So, let solidarity persist in the post-Corona era.
We should be united, show life respect and live it to the fullest. We now know that man can act compassionately as they have shown under these circumstances.
-A few words about the Collective Texts
These are texts that gather the collective knowledge of people dealing with natural disasters, genocides, pandemics, physical and mental health issues, etc. and that can be used in groups or individuals facing similar issues. A few words about the outsider witnesses definitional ceremony:
During narrative therapy, it is common for psychotherapists to create procedures and conditions for discussions and exchanging of opinion, commentary, and narration, inviting other people to act as external witnesses to the discussions between the therapist and the interviewee. These processes are known within narrative psychotherapy as definitional ceremonies and the procedure of external witnesses. The group of external witnesses listens, reads, and expresses what is being said by the interested parties and after first connecting with them using their own experiences and knowledge, they are asked to offer a rich description of the stories they heard / read / learned through specific questions being set by the therapists. This connection and description are made with the aid of the questionnaire of external witnesses, handed to them or with their participation in a conversation which, observing to the principles and practices of narrative therapy, validates and contributes to the rich description of the stories about the lives and identities of the individuals.
The anti- covid team
Adam, Arrieta, Dimitra, Dimitris, Evangelos, Fani, Georgia, Ioannis, Kassandra, Margarita, Marina, Neni.