juli 29, 2010
On Monday we meet a Dutch psychotherapist who works for Vive Zene, Center for Therapy and Rehabilitation in Tuzla. She lives already for 20 years in Bosnia, she is married with her holiday boyfriend whom she met on holiday in the former Yugoslavia. She also experienced a part of the war, the start and the ending of it. Vive Zene works mostly with traumatised women and children. Traumatised by war, by losing families, by war related sexual violence, and by domestic violence which is nowadays a big problem. When I look in her calm, soft face and listen to her Groninger accent, I imagine all the stories she has been listening to. Her ears and eyes are witnessing almost every day the Evil that crossed the souls of these women that damaged this society so hardly. When I ask about the size of the group that is traumatised, she mentions not only this big amount of women, but also all the demobilized and traumatised men, the children, the new generation that is carrying the past. In a village where she works, three children attempted suicide, one succeeded. Also a woman died from suicide. It had upset the small community. We speak about the generation of youngsters that are born out of rape, but are being told their father is a dead soldier. (The movie “Grbavica” of Jamsila Zbanic is making this issue visible in a very good way). This must be a big group, but she didn’t yet meet any of them in her therapy work. We often think about this when we meet youngsters of the age of fourteen, fifteen.
The big, big trauma of this country is not so visible in daily life. Life is going on, economic and political problems are getting attention. One wants mostly not to see the negative, the too painfull things in life. Maybe especially not here, in this society, where one doesn’t show vulnerability. Or maybe the question of nowaday life, how to earn a living, is asking simply for a first answer.
The evening before we spoke with the aunt of our guest family, who lost her husband, both her children, her brother and sister. She is strong, she can speak about it, she is able to make space for other things in her life than only sorrow. She is afraid of nothing and finds a bit of comfort in God. What strikes me when I thank her for wanting to tell her story, is that she thanks us wanting to listen to her and being interested. It is not only a kind answer on our visit, I think it is really true that generally there is not much attention (anymore) for the fate of these women. For them the war never stopped. Thousands of women are still waiting for their beloved ones to be found. They cannot be found, because the ones who know where the massgraves are keep their mouth shut. In Sarajevo there is written on a wall “Don’t forget Srebrenica”, but over the word “Srebrenica” a new graffiti has been painted.
The Vive Zene therapist gets energy and fullfillment from her work, but the society sometime makes her discouraged. “If people could only soften a bit the negative energies, the polarisations, and give the possitive things and the similarities some more space, then there would be some more balance. That would mean already quite much”.
I think of these words for myself, in my person. The last two weeks I suffered from my own polarisations, the lack of capacity to soften my negative feelings because the work was for me personally a bit though. Now, sitting on a roof terrace in Sarajevo, I experience more lightness again. I can look to the beautifull city, and to people who are strolling around having a good time. I am myself a more balanced person in Sarajevo than in Bratunac. In Bratunac I feel infected by a hidden trauma, and the ongoing tensions it can have on daily life there. Especially in July. We together are less connected, more isolated in our own feelings, the canals are more closed, because we all the time feel a certain atmosphere. One can think “ life goes on” and build maybe a joyfull life on this wounded ground. But in our awareness, simply by witnessing only the landscape, the spots where things happened, destroyed houses, the catastrophe is always there. It makes you somehow split up in yourself.
If I imagine Bosnia as a person, she wakes up in the morning and lies for a moment silent in her bed. She looks under her bed and sees there is still a big depth with pain and unanswered questions. She thinks of answers, but can not find them, because the world outside her window is so complex. She stands up to make a coffee to make the best out of a day that brings her one step further in her future.