Step 4 – Presence
Presence is a power we all have simply by being in the world. When we show up to life, to others, to an environment we bring a quality of energy to life - our presence. Presence is something we feel. When we become more conscious of how we show up to life, we can bring more of our best Self forward. We can all consciously choose to use our presence to support, heal and honour others.
Presence can also be used to dominate, overpower and threaten. People exposed to threatening environments will often shrink their presence to avoid being seen. As we become more established in steady, loving, grounded presence we can bring to life the true nature of ease, flow and freedom. Presence is a power we can build through conscious intent and here-now awareness of ourselves and others.
Zoe’s story on Presence
For me, when I am truly and deeply connected in presence, I am the most empowered and at ease I can be. With my experience of leaving Luke, this presence was THE BIGGEST turning point in creating the change I needed. There are three components of presence that led to this turning point - Knowing what I stand for; being myself and simply ‘being ‘with others; and connecting with others through pure presence.
Knowing What I stand for
I have a strong core belief that great relationships are built on respect, love, laughter, kindness, support, communication, commitment and mutual partnership. My parents taught me this and I have chosen to take these beliefs into my life and relationships too (Thanks Ma and Pa, you rock and are my rocks too!). What I experienced in my relationship with Luke is that I wanted to ‘fix our relationship’ and I had become attached to ‘us’ and the ‘dream of us’. However, I knew mentally and emotionally that there was something not working for me in our relationship. It was when I stopped trying to fix things and acted with more compassion, something changed. It was both compassion for myself and compassion for Luke. It was extremely stressful for both of us being in the type of relationship we had, we had both gone through stress, anxiety, depression because of trying to make sense of things and work it through and we were both exhausted. However, when this compassion came in because I had slowed down, accepted where I was and worked through the previous three steps – connecting to source energy, generating power, and flow - I felt a deep connection to a deeper truth that I knew I had to leave. It was like my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects all lined up because I cognitively knew I had to leave. I felt I had to leave. I believed I had to leave and then, I could physically get up and leave.
Being Myself & Being Together
I have been told many times that one of my strengths is that I am comfortable in my own skin, have a strong and calm Mana, am present and simply hold space for others, and I’m told it’s a wonderful trait that others appreciate. However, when being with Luke, I would sometimes run through my mind of how to be around him and he would often say, ‘where are you?’ or ‘you’re not here, who are you thinking about or don’t you want to be here with me?’. It was uncanny as at times we didn’t even need to talk for him to say these things – he would simply sense it somehow. He was right, I wasn’t present with him. This was because I’d re-learnt some new behaviors to protect myself around him – be on guard, watch out, hold your body this way or not that way, say this, don’t say this. I was trying to avoid anything that might trigger a bad reaction.
To build my strength at the time of leaving Luke and after leaving him, what I now realize is I was naturally choosing to be with people who had a steady calm presence. I was being drawn to those people, and the wonderful way about them of just being present with me, just a calming energy or something about them, with no need to say or do anything necessarily, but just to be there with me.
Connecting with others through Presence
The most powerfully defining moment of understanding the power of presence in Luke’s and my relationship was when I could be in my presence around him. This meant I would not get drawn into dancing around him or taking my lead from him on how to be. I became totally present, stayed true to myself and simply went with the flow and not his flow. The interesting part too is, I didn’t set an agenda (not this time) to ‘work out what I needed to do in our relationship’ - I simply set an intention to be my true self.
This intention of true self, restored my power and I had the clarity that I needed to leave as well as maintain this clarity in his presence to have the conversation with him that I was leaving. I acted and spoke from the heart and was able to tell him that I loved him and I didn’t want to be without him or leave him, however, as he is subjecting me to abuse and this is a DV relationship I must leave as this is not acceptable for me, and it’s for that reason I am leaving. It breaks my heart to write these things because I know we both loved one another and that just like me, he too was grateful for what we had and didn’t want to end either. I recall him saying to me ‘thank you for showing me the things I didn’t want to see or hear and for being my greatest teacher’. I truly believe we wouldn’t have been able to end our relationship with openness, love and honest if I hadn’t have been able to connect with my true self presence.
Question for Presence What am I doing when I feel most centered?
I feel most centered when I am around others and can talk and act in a way that is naturally me. I don’t even think or consider how to act or what to say and that it just flows. I feel this mostly around some dear friends, family members and colleagues. There are still times now when I am around someone, mainly males, that I don’t feel centered and I think that I shouldn’t say anything or do anything or don’t be too friendly or almost check over my shoulder to see if someone is watching. I do know however, this is irrational thinking as it’s the residual impact of being in a DV relationship. After 9 months of leaving, I am pleased to say that this is infrequently happens these days, and I believe that this will subside all together in time.
Finding my presence in a relationship where P&C was being subjected on me was a rollercoaster.
During the relationship, it was hard and frankly, impossible at times.
To exit the relationship, it was extremely empowering, liberating and it gave me the strength to leave and create the needed turning point in my life.
However, to my surprise after leaving the relationship, I found it super hard to stay centered in my true presence.
After leaving Luke, I was thrown into extreme grief and sadness for so many reasons but I believe one of the biggest struggles was I just didn’t know how to ‘be’ anymore. I was so off kilter as to how to simply be in this world, how to be myself and just generally be. I didn’t know who I was or how to be and it terrified me. During week 8 of the DV programme, we talked about the Journey of Change and I was shocked into reality and gained clarity on why I was feeling this way.
What I realized is because I had been in a P&C relationship, I had come to rely on Luke and how he was that day or moment and what his behaviour was so I could adjust and work myself around him so I knew how to behave. He became my compass and I spun around him. Whilst there may not be an ‘episode’ for a few weeks or months, there was always an underlying knowledge that things could change on a dime. I was ‘controlled’ by someone else’s behaviour (or the threat of this behaviour) and this then gave me the direction on how ‘to be me’ … scary right?!? It shocks me to write that … for two reasons, firstly, because I never thought ‘that would be me’ and secondly, because Luke was the person I loved and the man I wanted to be old, wrinkly, grey haired with and still having our fun adventures and laughing together.
During the DV programme, we discussed the diagram (source unknown) below, and specifically the seeking independence and separate stage, and this was where I had this light bulb moment. The bumps in the circle of the separate stage shows as an individual separate from a P&C relationship, there are parts of them left behind because the other person has determined how they are to be and behave to survive - whether it be financial, sexual, physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual survival. When I recovered from the shock of this reality and the weeks of upset and tears, I stopped, connected and then set my next milestone to reach - to understand out ‘how to be again’ after being moulded by someone else.
The Stages of Partnership Change Model diagramme. We can look at where we are by using this Partnership change model as a way of mapping our journey in the DV relationship. As mentioned in my story, it was understanding the phases of separation that gave me the mental clarity however, reviewing this model and each stage, individuals will resonate with different aspect. A specialist DV counsellor and/or agency will be able to support you (or your loved ones) through this with the right care and support.