Mary, 62 years old
Beneficiary of the Individual Counseling & Psychotherapy Service, Athens Solidarity Center
“I want everybody to learn that they can get free support here; I am very happy with the work being done for the Greeks here. My psychologist helps me to find peace with Mary -myself- and deal more calmly with the situations and anger that I often fail to control“.
The sunny morning and the bright room fit perfectly with Mary; the 62-year-old openhearted blonde with the vivid eyes, who wanted to share her experience as a beneficiary of the organization’s Solidarity Center in Athens.
The room’s high windows let the light come in and Mary let her heart open. She spoke concisely about her life; her children, love, misfortunes, worries and challenges – the challenges that led her to seek psychological support.
Nikos, Elina, Panagiotis, Orestis and Maura.
Mary is the mother of five adult children for whom, firstly and foremost, she says proudly “I am lucky because my children do exactly what they like!” and then she introduces each one of them: “Nikos, a citizen of the world, Elina the joy, Panagiotis the independent, Orestis the risky, Maura my little one”.
The three older children are from her first marriage – Mary’s marriage to Nikos, “my Nikos” as she calls him during our conversation, probably without realizing it; it is said as for granted. Mary was a widow at 24, already a mother of three. So young she was forced to face a devastating experience – Nikos’ fatal accident.
She worked hard all the years until her retirement, having two jobs for long periods of time to raise her children and never left them to feel weak due to their father’s absence. She made it. Mary didn’t let this to prevent their progress, and Nikos managed to remain alive for his children through her narratives. “I stood on my feet with courage, as he wanted, as he had taught me. He taught me a lot for as long as we lived together – he had a beautiful mind; a mind to admire!“
Mary’s love for the family and the need to move on emotionally led her to the second life partner with whom she has her two younger children. Every time she talks about her children her eyes tear up. Of love.
Today, Mary is confronted with another challenge. She must overcome some of the standard negative perceptions, the stereotypes, that concern others, including her own children. She knows she cannot ask them to be like she wants or has learned as right; to have specific characteristics and behaviours based on their social role. But she has difficulty practising her good intention and that has led her to seek help.
“I don’t want to be prejudiced. I want to change and do my best for my children“. She is afraid that this is the barrier that currently undermines her communication with one of her children and wants to overtake it.
Now, however, the intimacy and comfort that she feels with her psychologist at the Solidarity Center are the foundation of her progress as the two define it. Mary wins back her calm that will help her overcome simplified perceptions for the benefit of her children and her relationship with them.
*Mary is one of the beneficiaries receiving pro bono services provided to vulnerable population groups (Greeks, refugees and migrants) in the SolidarityNow Athens Solidarity Center. Find more about the Athens Solidarity Center: https://www.solidaritynow.org/en/kentro-allileggiis-athinas/.