Over the last many months, I have found myself on a solo adventure managing and taking care of my home on a small acreage in rural Saskatchewan. Having grown up as a farm kid, this is just fine with me. I also love to troubleshoot and solve puzzles - of which there are many.
One of my recent adventures involved re-spooling the trim line on the weed trimmer. Because really “how hard can it be?” (There's that's sentence that often precedes a detour on any adventure!). So I headed down to the local store that sells all things weed trimmer related, bought myself 50 feet of new line and headed home to take care of this easy, peasy task.
I got myself settled in my garage and took my trimmer apart. I tried this, tried that and then set it down knowing full well I wasn't going to ‘just figure this out’. And so off I went to summon the Google for better instructions. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in business.
Yard work is some great pondering time for me. It offers me the space and time to sit with the juicy, random questions that show up in my consciousness. This time it was the question of ‘Geez what did I do before Google?’ (Yes, I am older than the Internet.)
You know what I did? I got on the phone. I started calling people asking my questions - sometimes because I was trying to figure something out and other times just because I had a burning question that I wanted to know other people’s thoughts on. These phone calls most often transformed into a little visit, a check in and a way to reach out to people to say ‘hey I'm thinking about you’.
The Google gave me my answer but it didn't give me connection. Didn't give me a ‘hey… I have a question…’ opportunity for conversation. Sometimes I will post my curious questions on Facebook or send a text here and there. There's a little more interaction but it's still not the same. It’s a transactional exchange. There's no depth. There's no heart. There’s no presence. I still have plenty of questions but very seldom have the deep conversations I used to.
Part of this solo journey I'm on also includes rebuilding relationships and re establishing a circle of support for myself. As I work to build my own natural supports, I think a lot about our shared work focusing on strengthening natural supports to assist survivors of gender based violence and their families. Building deep relationship these days is much different than it was 25 years ago. It challenges me and my introvert nature and I find it difficult at times. I think about people who are in situations where they are experiencing violence, likely isolated and mentally and emotionally exhausted. All of this is further impacted by the past several years of COVID isolation. ‘Get out there and meet people.’ It’s not as easy as it sounds.
And so the string on my weed trimmer has opened up an exploration into what building natural supports really looks like these days. In the busy-busy of day to day life, made more intense by the zip, zip, zip of transactional exchanges, are we really hearing each other? Are we really seeing each other? What does it take to build deep, caring relationships in our current times? When we become isolated, how do we reach out to others? Who do we even reach to?
These are all questions that we're looking to explore with our Network Partners in the coming months as we dig into what it means to strengthen natural supports for people who experience violence and people who use violence. A UK Study released in June 2022 called ‘Protocol, Informal social support interventions for improving outcomes for victim-survivors of domestic violence and abuse: An evidence and gap map’ offers insight into the critical roles and high level of influence that natural supports provide. Check it out at this link.