In Step 3 we look at how the flow of our lives is working or not working. Like a river which flows freely when the volume of water is high with an active propelling current, we are more likely to be in flow in life when our heart, mind and emotions are in harmony. One of the ways we can observe our flow is to examine where we are out of flow.
ZOE’S PERSPECTIVE OF OUT OF FLOW
A tool that we use at work for brainstorming is if we find we are having a block and can’t define what we want or why something works, we flip it to get the creative juices flowing, and start with what we don’t want or what doesn’t work. So, this is where I’m starting with Flow. What I observe when I’m out of flow are the following images, descriptions and outcomes:
1. A big boulder has rolled off the cliff and into the river = the boulder is the heartache, stress, pain, and the water, my flow, is splattered everywhere, outside the river onto the riverbed and the water is weak and thin and may in time make it back to the river or evaporate. This then makes me feel confused, my mind is scattered, and I’m disorientated and not sure where to go/what to do/how to be.
2. The river is flowing too fast = this is me when I want to get away from where I am right now so it might be the ‘hurry up and heal and move on’, ‘quick, I need to achieve this or do that for it to be okay or feel good’ or ‘if I keep being busy then maybe I can fight off or ignore this feeling of sadness or whatever it is’. It is like the water that overflows and spills out of the river as it takes the bend. As a result, I miss things, I flood things or in other words become overbearing, I retreat, I miss connections, I’m not present, I’m rushing, I’m at work before I’m at work, I hurt myself, I spill things … etc.
3. The river has turned into a little stream = I’ve overdone it, I’m low on energy, I’ve lost my mojo/motivation. This ends up with going into hibernation, so I lay low, recuperate and recharge.
4. The river has become a dam = I’m frightened. The water is stagnant, still, almost frozen. For me, when I was subjected to emotional or psychological abuse and at times now when I’m reminded of it, my typical response is to freeze.
CHANGE TAKES ENERGY
At times I still live these out of flow experiences however I feel I’m more aware when they start to appear, and I feel better equipped to get the flow back to the state of optimal experience. What I am also more aware of is, how change requires energy. Even if it’s exciting and desired or heartbreaking and dreaded, it takes energy.
I intuitively and cognitively knew something had to drastically change in mine and Luke’s relationship. We were happy most of the time and we thought we are working things through - although we weren’t really, as we were getting the wrong counselling and support and not addressing the core problem. It wasn’t until another part of my life changed, my work, that this required more of my energy that I hit breaking point. Essentially, it felt like my hand was forced on what to do in Luke’s and my relationship because I was spiraling out of control as I didn’t have the energy to cope with both
I considered what was most important – my relationship or my job. I quit my job. I recuperated first, relaxed, slowed down. I gave myself time, space and learnt to be present again and go with the flow. I started to simply allow the arguments, the happy times, the abuse just to happen. I no longer tried to stop it, resist, attach myself to it or hope that he would stop using power and control behaviour over me. I simply accepted. I recall at that time, us chatting and him telling me of a story of something his Mum, at 82 years old, had done to him that week. It was in my state of acceptance that I really FELT the impact of the story. She was again, using a form of power and control over him and he didn’t see or understand it – it is the upbringing he had from both his Mum and Dad and he has not taken responsibility for changing this behaviour. It struck me – I could be 82 years old myself, still in this relationship with Luke and still be subjected to abuse. By slowing down and accepting what I could now see, I regained clarity, perspective and reality. It was at this time, I knew in those next few months what I had to do. I had to leave someone I loved.
RESTORING FREE FLOW
The time came when Luke and I had ‘the chat’ (about breaking up and separating) and even though it didn’t go too well i.e. yelling, unsafe driving, having to walk home etc, I recall how I felt after we finally broke up and he had driven off – the feeling I experienced was - it was like almost nothingness or peace. Sure, I still cried my eyes out, got angry that day and for months afterwards but at that defining point, there was a feeling of confirmation that this was right. I recall when I got home, I scratched my head, spun around in circles as in a ‘what do I do know?’ state. So I slowed down and stopped, then laughed at myself spinning in circles scratching my head and then from there, I jumped in the car got out into nature and visited friends. What I realise now, I was intuitively gathering my energy and power (step 2) as nature and connections/relationships do this for me. This was because I needed to rebuild my power and get back into flow of the bigger life around me. I continued to keep this as a focus and as a result within 4 months, I had packed up and left my home, relocated to another town, found a job, started the DV programme, built new friendships and connections, found my new home and was on the path to rebuilding myself back to me being me without someone else’s power and control on me.
Cameron's closing comments
When emotions are all over the place, to slow down and connect with what we are feeling offers perspective. Zoes moment of recognition “this is over” came with the feeling of acceptance. The resistance/blocks to flow/boulder in the river finally shifted and she could finally see what she had been avoiding.
· I want to ensure that anyone reading this who has, is or knows of someone experiencing any form of domestic violence (emotional, psychological, emotional, sexual, physical, financial or spiritual) - there is support out there for you.
· Safety from all forms of abuse should be the priority.
· The most high-risk time is when someone leaves an abusive relationship.
· I would not like anyone to think that the only option if in a DV relationship is for the relationship to end. There are couples seeking support together, by both attending the men and women programs separately.
· The men and women who subject others to abuse and genuinely want to change (and are not just a bum on a seat e.g. there cause they want to please their partner or the court order says, etc) and have awareness and self-insight into abusive behaviours and commit to the change, can actually transform rapidly.
· I would strongly recommend that you seek support from a domestic violence agency or group, or a counsellor who is experienced and knowledgeable and specializes in domestic violence.
The Family Services Directory page here is a great resource, search by choosing Family Violence and your region.