PROJECT R in session #6 Charlotte Wilson

My name is Charlotte (Larley, La, Lottie, Purple, Thunder Thighs (I have an ex boyfriend to thank for that one!)) Wilson. I don’t consider myself to be a writer, but I compose rock songs with lyrics attached, so I guess on some level, I must be!

I believe I am qualified to contribute to Project R, having experienced a fairly expansive spectrum of relationship-related emotion, from absolute despair to pure, undiluted, joyful love. I am grateful for the experience at both ends, as they made me who I am today and it’s all part of what this life has to offer. 

I am in the process of creating a new human being at the moment, and so the music stuff is somewhat on pause, but if you would like to check out my past efforts, please do see my band’s soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/chilsonbones

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

 LL: “How often they suggest that past relationships are failures, rather than experiences that can offer both parties the gift of insight, as if because something was time-limited or brief or is no more, that it was not fulfilling or wonderful or an occasion to learn.”

CW: I’m inclined to agree with LL’s perspective on past relationships; they were all experiences that ultimately led me to an understanding of what I need from a partner and also what I wanted to give of myself. None of my past relationships, by very definition, were lifelong, but part of them all will be with me for my whole life, like little jewels in my personal crown of love.

CROWN

Would this jewel look so spectacular without all* the little ones around it? Possibly not…

     * Number of jewels does not accurately reflect my personal number of past relationships… unless we’re counting the snogs!

          2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?

FROG        CW: The majority of my past relationships were ended by me and I certainly did not consider myself a failure as I was ending them, but then I usually had the next one in my sights, like a line of man lily pads on a relationship pond (without ‘jumping’ on them until I was single, I hasten to add!). The shock came when I was dumped – I didn’t see it coming and the event changed me and my relationships forever. Ultimately for the better.

That experience took me a long time to get over, I can tell you. But, having crashed my car singing emphatically to ‘Perfect’, I took on Fairground Attraction’s advice and decided I only wanted to be in a relationship if it was right for me. This conclusion led to about 5 years of singledom that were equally glorious in their promiscuous, devil-may care, nature and horrendous in their moments of fear and self-doubt –
‘will I ever love again?’
‘have I lost my ability to love?’
‘what if what I’m looking for in a relationship simply doesn’t exist?’
‘what
am I looking for anyway?’

I couldn’t commit, but did that make me strange or unnatural? I don’t think so; I felt more flawed when I was in the doomed relationship that set me off on down the single path in the first place. I believe you really do know if you’re in the wrong relationship, even whilst you’re in it, but that it takes strength to pull away if you’re in love or insecure. Thank goodness for me, I didn’t have to be strong to end it; he took that responsibility into his own hands and I am very, very grateful.

          3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

       CW: Hmmm, tricky one for me to answer at the moment because, if I’m perfectly honest, the years since I met my husband have been the happiest of my life. But my goodness, I had some amazing fun in my single years. They gave me the space and freedom to pursue my own interests, develop incredible relationships with friends, make my own musical discoveries and best of all, said with unabashed corniness, find myself. I no longer felt that I had to compromise who I was to fit a man’s ideal type or expectations and it gave me the confidence to present myself to potential future partners with my own fully formed opinions and ideas for what I wanted for my future.

          4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

       CW: My romantic, ‘The Notebook’-loving self: surely I could never be as happy with anyone other than my husband. But then duh, I’m totally in love with my husband and I have him right here, so of COURSE I feel that way – I’d be getting divorced if I didn’t.

My realistic self: If I had met someone else who had similar life-aspirations as me and I had fallen in love with them and they had fallen in love with me… I could conceivably be as happy.

The thing is, having embraced the digital dating age, I practically downloaded my husband to personal specification. Armed with the aforementioned self-conviction and ever-present Fairground Attraction soundtrack, I joined a dating site:Weird Science

6 foot or taller – tick (just)
Lives on the way to and from work, so I’ll actually get to see him – tick
Earns £££ and above – tick (he exaggerated, by the way)
Sense of humour demonstrated by picture of self wearing a pirate costume – tick

Does all of the above make my husband my soulmate? Of course not. But it made me predisposed to fall in love because it was likely from the offset that we were in a similar phase of life with common goals for both the immediate and distant future.

I sincerely wish for everyone to find someone as compatible to share their lives with as I feel my husband and I are together, if that is what they want from life. As a couple, we are more than just an antidote to loneliness; I look forward to seeing him every day, I enjoy talking to him, I fancy the pants off him and now it is painful to even think about the possibility of life without him… And I do believe that for each person, there are several versions of the above relationship available to find, if you’re honest with what you want from a relationship and what you’re willing to give in return.
          5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

    PINS   CW: If everyone subscribed to the philosophy of having to love yourself before others can love you, I don’t believe any romantic relationship would exist. No one’s perfect and it’s often those who appear most self-assured that harbour the most self-doubt. The trick is to find someone who doesn’t nurture your insecurities or, even worse, use them against you.

Sadly, I have witnessed situations where self-doubt has led to destructive relationships – people convinced that they deserve anything less than mutual respect and enjoyment in each other. Hint: no one does. This situation is unfortunate and obviously less likely to happen to someone who is able to recognise that they should expect more. But perhaps there’s also an element of bad luck involved too – there’s no reason why someone who feels inadequate can’t find someone who makes them feel happy.

          6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

        CW: For me personally, I wanted a husband, a home, a family. But I don’t for a second discount other’s ambitions and assume they are unfulfilled if they haven’t achieved my own objectives in life. OK, so the things that make me tick also happen to be the traditional and socially recognised milestones. But you know what, if I had become a rock star, perhaps I would have felt equally fulfilled in my life. I always felt it was either/or and that I had to do one or the other with all my passion and energy. Of course, I’ll never know. But I do know that I’m flippin’ lucky to have realised at least one of my life’s ambitions. Luck? Who knows – I did sign myself up to that dating site and it was I who ‘winked’ at my husband so I did create a fair bit of my own luck.

I say go forth – have a goal and pursue it with joyful anticipation. Fulfilment is surely about achieving what YOU want, whatever that may be.

          7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?

  KEEP CALM      CW: Ooooh, interesting theory. But no. In my opinion, it’s all about finding the right person for your personality and lifestyle and aspirations. Or, if the case may be, actively not being in a relationship as a result. Perhaps if you’re not communicating those three things to yourself, it could make a relationship a bit tricky in the long term. Do these things need to be articulated to your partner? No, I don’t think so. We humans are mostly pretty instinctive and so if you’re not the chatty type, I don’t think there’s any need to panic.

          8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.

       CW: Definitely a worthwile project. I am going to be so intrigued about other people’s take on the above questions. Life is quite a complicated thing when you add the human consciousness to the mix. Isn’t it wonderful to consider and share our personal interpretation of the whole adventure and see how others view it all from where they’re standing?

PROJECT R in session #5 Winifred M. Reilly

Winifred M. Reilly: http://speakingofmarriage.wordpress.com

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

People often say things like “failed” marriage, “failed” relationship. The trouble with this is that not every relationships lasts, but we learn something from every relationship. Thinking of it as a pit and out failure negates the learning and the positive things.

Still, learning a whole lot of useful stuff doesn’t help the fact that we hurt when the relationship ends.

Does it make the entire person a failure…? Hardly.

          2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?

I’m in a very long marriage so I can barely remember being on my own in the literal sense. But spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, existentially, it’s really important to have a separate self that doesn’t get absorbed into the WE of a relationship.

Relationships are hard. They make great demands on people and many do badly. Lot of people had terrible role models and traumatic experiences as children and replayed them in their relationships as adults. Not to sound like I have my head in the clouds, I do believe people can learn to be better relaters.

So, no, I don’t think people come in two flavors: relationship-capable and relationship-doomed.

We all have stuff to learn and sometimes we need help before we pick partners that will grow and learn along with us.

          3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

Any time we NEED something in order to be fulfilled, we ‘re setting ourselves up for trouble. I’m big on people having an internal well of fulfillment to tide them over when their relationships get rocky, when partner is acting like an ass, when they are alone.

           4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be lacking something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

Oy, soul mates. Here’s my statement about soul mates lifted from a post I did on my relationship advice blog about dangerous relationship myths:

Myth # 4  People should marry their soul mate

Okay, look. Maybe you know some people who are convinced that their husband or wife is the one person on earth for them and that they miraculously found each other. In case that’s not you, don’t sweat it. Most of us marry someone who is a combination of positive and negative traits of our parents; a person who, for better or worse, resonates with our learned experience of love growing up in our family. We pick them, we marry them, and they become our “person.”

Rather than think there must be some perfect person out there and chances are I didn’t marry him, a more realistic notion is this: there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of potential partners to choose from and we just need one. Whomever we choose, he or she will sometimes push our buttons and sometimes touch our heart. http://wp.me/p3KCCM-2Q

          5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself?

Yes. I think of it this way: we get love that matches our expectation and belief about our worth. We recognize love in ways that are similar to the love we got as children, whatever form or fashion it took. The better we feel about ourselves, the higher our standards.

                                     What does self-love mean to you?

Self love means taking good care of ourselves, treating ourselves as if we matter.

                                     To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

Taking good care sometimes means doing things that are painful but will be better for us in the long run. Obviously can mean leaving a relationship that doesn’t serve us.

          6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

Again, we have to be in charge of our own care and feeding. What we get from others is like a supplement to what we must give ourselves.

          7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at people skills than those who are not?

NO!! They may have more opportunities to practice, but look around you– people have horrible, unhappy, conflict-laden relationships. The people who are faring better have learned to navigate their difficulties, but even they have trouble and need to work to resolve them.

          8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of relationships? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.

Interesting questions to think about. I think about relationships all the time since I’m a couples therapist!

My parting thoughts: people underestimate how hard relationships are. Many people just don’t want to put in the work, thinking that tough times mean they’re a bad match.

There’s a lot of terrible advice out there that makes people feel defective. Ignore any advice that implies that you should move on if there’s trouble. Sometimes moving on is the right thing to do, but quite often people have just hit the inevitable relationship rough spots and have to work through them.

We learn as we go. And, like it or not, most often we learn from our mistakes.

Winifred M. Reilly

http://speakingofmarriage.wordpress.com

PROJECT R in session #4 Susan Irene Fox

         1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?
I used to think of ended relationships as a failure on my part. I have a much different perspective now. I may as well state up front that I’m 63 and found Christ seven years ago. That has changed my perspective on a lot of things, including love. I was married and divorced three times by the time I was 45. I called it serial monogamy, but looking back, I can see I had this huge, damaged hole in my heart that no human being could fill.
Looking back, I think most people enter relationships expecting another person to “complete” them. I also think we look at who we hope people can become instead of looking at who people truly are and choosing to love them for the gift they are, or choosing to understand that person isn’t the match for us.  I strongly believe we need to come into relationships as two whole people, willing to give and serve rather than wanting to take from one another. I think that’s what makes the difference between a “failed” and a successful relationship.
         2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?
Now that I have my faith, and know that I am completely and wholly loved by God, I am very comfortable on my own. It took me a long time to get here. I still miss human touch sometimes – the affection, hugging and holding – but the comfort I have in the solitude and time I spend with God can’t be replaced by anything else. I have a peace now that is simply beyond understanding. And, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I do think we were created to be in relationships, but I have loving relationships with friends that sustain me.
         3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?
There are many different types of love, and I’ve experienced them all. I supposed if I never had eros love, I would feel a lack or a wanting. If I have it again someday, I would be delighted, but I’m not searching for it. As I said, I have the love of God that fills my heart, and I have the love of dear friends. Those kinds of love satisfy me, fill me with joy, and give me peace.
         4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?
I’m convinced that our only Soul-mate is the Lord. He is the One who makes me whole. No other human can do that. When I look to someone to fill me, I expect a human being with flaws just like me to be perfect. They can’t. I can’t. We all lack. The myth is that we will, at some point in our lives ever get our s*** together without God.
         5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?
I don’t need to be anything other than a child of God in order to be loved. There is nothing I can do to have Him love me more. There is nothing we can do to have Him love me less. He gives me grace and mercy and invites me into His family. I may still have issues of self-doubt, self-worth, etc…, but if I don’t love myself, I am insulting my Father. He has done so much to bring me back to Him, my own issues regarding self-love are meaningless compared to His love for me.
Yes, love can mean letting go: it means letting go of control, of anxiety, of grief, of anger. It means letting go of a painful situation and giving it to God to handle. It can mean walking away from abuse even if it is scary; it can mean surrendering fears about lack and having faith that God will provide. For me above all, it means letting go of circumstances and staying steadfast in my love for Him, knowing that He will walk me through it.
         6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?
 As I tried to state above, my only complete fulfillment is in my relationship with the Lord. My relationship status has nothing to do with that. My hope is that, if I am ever in a committed relationship with someone again, I would bring that fulfillment to the relationship.
         7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?
No. I interact with lots of people. I am in different relationships with different friends. You learn different skills along the way. With practice, I would hope I get better at all life skills.
         8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.
I think this is worthwhile if it helps others understand that fulfillment isn’t acquired from another person. In my point of view as a Christian, we can’t fill our hearts by sucking love, understanding, forgiveness and compassion from another human being. We must be willing to give in our relationships with people. And the only one who gives everlastingly and fills us to overflowing is God.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

PROJECT R in session #3 Joanne Paul

Name: Joanne Paul / Website: http://pastthephd.blogspot.co.uk/ Twitter: @Joanne_Paul_

If you ask Twitter, it will tell you that Joanne is a ‘Historian of Political Thought. Renaissance Woman. Lecturer @NewCollegeH. Feminist. Yogi. Curator @HumantiesFM. Proud Canadian. And she really likes shoes.’
If you ask her blog, it will tell you that Joanne ‘ recently finished her PhD in History at Queen Mary, University of  London, where she produced a thesis on the discourses of counsel in  Anglophone political thought from 1485-1651 under the supervision of  Professor Quentin Skinner. She is currently a Lecturer in History at the New College of the Humanities in London (nchum.org).’ It will also mention that ‘When she’s not doing all of that, she likes reading, shopping (!!!) and doing as much yoga as she can fit into her week. Whenever possible she pops down to the theatre, opera, or… when academic pressures really are too  much… a burlesque show. She likes to eat vegan, drink wine and listen to any music but country. Most evenings will find her curled up watching a  cooking show, Big Bang Theory or absolutely anything from Joss Whedon. She really likes popcorn and hot cocoa. Oh, and her room is really pink’.
If you ask her best friend, he will tell you that she is an ‘amply complex constellation of dichotomy-collapsing idiosyncracies’. That’s probably best.

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

Love means joy in another. A joining in another. It is openness and light. Warmth and strength. Love cannot fail. But a relationship can lose touch with love, or perhaps never have really connected with it to begin with.

A successful relationship involves connection, communication and compassion. A relationship that you no longer feel passionate about contributing to (what you may want to call ‘failed’) has lost some aspect of those things (or, as they are intertwined, aspects of all of those things). In most cases, it is simply the realization that the connection is not as strong as may have been thought, or can endure. To me, this is not a ‘failure’ as we are each unique beings. Attempts to forge a connection with others means playing with an almost infinite number of variables. The idea that you are meant to have the majority of your emotional, sexual and other needs filled by one person means that this connection must be very strong, which is simply (when you think about it) statistically difficult to forge. It is not a ‘failure’ if one realizes this. In fact it is a sign of strength, self-awareness and genuine care for the other person.

That all being said, of course I have been made to feel a failure because a relationship has come to an end. And this applies equally to romantic relationships as the equally important relationships with friends and family. Interestingly, of course, we are made to feel less a failure if a friendship comes to an end, we see it as a time passing, something running its course and we both move on. But the end of a ‘Relationship’, we are made to feel like we have done something wrong. Are flawed in some way. That we may never be truly whole, successful people, because we could not ‘keep it going’ (even though to do so would be damaging to all involved).

         2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?

I am more comfortable on my own than in the wrong relationship. I think that may address the second question as well.

          3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

I am the sort of person who craves love – both the giving and receiving. I love being in a reciprocal cycle of love. And that is something in me that requires fulfilment.  I do not, however, only find it the ‘Relationship’ and so can find my need love/be loved in other places (such as my spirituality, friendships, family relationships, even relationships with nature). I am also a romantic, so I do enjoy the standard cultural expressions of love. But I would not say I need them to feel wholly myself.

          4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

I do believe (as I said) that finding someone with whom we can forge a long, strong, lasting connection with is so close to being an impossibility, that there is probably only one person with whom we will find that ‘best’ connection. In such a way, yes, there is probably a mate who best matches and feeds my soul out there. I do feel like my life will be very different if I do not meet this person, but I don’t think I’ll be half a person, just someone who lives a life that finds love and value in different things.

But being completely open and honest. I would be saddened by the lack of someone to share all of life’s joys and sorrows with. I am the sort of person who really enjoys companionship and love.

           5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

I do think it is important to love oneself in order to accept someone else’s love fully. As it is all about connection, you certainly have to know yourself in order to recognize connection with another, and to love yourself in order to value those things which have forged the connection. That being said, it can be a work in progress, one that can be a journey aided by someone else’s love (like a light on a dark path). Self love means loving myself as I love the one I love best. Other than that I don’t know, it’s a project to me as well. Love is always letting go. But in order to embrace something else. A different way of thinking. A different way of looking at the world and at oneself.

         6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

Friends, family, coworkers, lookers-on, students, passers-by, teachers, flatmates, etc, etc, all help us to form opinions of ourselves, both good and bad. They can reinforce either, often depending on our own moods and outlooks.

          7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?

No. Not in the least. Communication was certainly one of the three qualities I mentioned earlier, and that helps a lot. But it requires the connection and deeply-rooted loving compassion as well, without which communication is also impossible to truly fulfil. Communication might be the only one that is a ‘skill’, but it cannot be separated from the other elements which are more or less random (or pre-determined if you prefer) and emotive.  

           8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.

Love is a state of mind, not a status.  

PROJECT R in session #2 KG

Name/Website: KG

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

Love, to me, is an emotion as complicated, as much as simple it is or rather it should be. I read somewhere that ‘you like a person because of, but you love someone inspite of’. My views on love have changed over the years. Honestly, it is a little difficult for me to put them in words.

Having been in one, a failed relationship for me is where you lose sight of who you really are and tend to become someone just for the sake of the other person. For me, a relationship of love between two people should never destroy their individuality in any way. Compromises, adjustments, understanding are necessary but only to the level where it is required as a solution to a problem. Compromising one’s nature for the sake of other will eventually lead to heart aches and heart breaks.

A successful relationship is where both parties are content with who they are when they are with the person they love. Sounds cheesy and rather imaginary, but its achievable, at least I wish it, from what I have seen from the successful relationships.

There was a time when I thought that I was a failure as a person because my relationship of almost 12 years ended very badly with both parties not able to face each other without hostility. That was because of the fact that I was emotionally weak and socially awkward and the other person took advantage of that and engrained the thought that I just wasn’t capable enough for anyone at all. I also realized that I (de)valued myself based on the views of this one person when everyone else thought otherwise. I realized ‘You are your best friend and your worst enemy’. No one is perfect and we just need to accept who we are for ourselves and if possible either correct or at least work around our flaws.

2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?

I have ever been in only one relationship in my life other than my friends and family and I was comfortable with that person for some time but I am much more comfortable on my own now.

I don’t know if there is something wrong with people who cannot sustain a long term relationship. There are various factors to it, like the kind of partner you get, the upbringing, your beliefs, your insecurities etc.

3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

Definitely No. At least for the past 5-6 years when I have been by myself, I feel much content and happier than I had been all those 12 years, but then that might be due to bad company J

4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

I believe in partnership and companionship and I dream of soul mates. And I don’t expect my dreams to come true. I do feel the need to have someone (more so in recent times and especially when I hit those lonely times when I am alone) in my life to share but then that feeling doesn’t last long. I am also equally comfortable being alone for most of the time. In short, I am sort of confused J and am still on the lookout for an answer for myself.

           5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

Yes, I do believe that we need to love ourselves first and foremost and by self-love I mean to accept for the person you believe you are with all the faults and positives. We aren’t made to be perfect and we will always fall short of expectations in another person’s eyes. But that difference is what (dis)attracts others. Each one is a unique personality and have their own story to tell. Unless we accept ourselves, it will not be easy to accept or understand someone else.

Letting go? Hmmm… I am not sure if it would be love, but it would be wise, if in case things don’t seem to work. At least it would ensure that you don’t end up with a bad feeling. Having said that, letting go is not a wise decision if used as an escape mechanism when things get tough or just to ensure that if it is worth it then it will come back to us. Not all of us get second chances and it wouldn’t be wise to let go and regret later. Better fight for it and lose the battle.

6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

According to me, fulfillment is an individual feeling. You can have the best partner you might ever get, but unless you feel content or satisfied with your life, it wouldn’t help. I strongly believe that I am solely responsible for my happiness and contentment and trust me , that belief  kept me sane during my worst days in the relationship , not to mention it did drive the other person mad because they couldn’t get me depressed or beaten up (emotionally, so they retorted to do it physically)

7. On Interpersonal SkillsAre people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?

I don’t think so. People skills are more about individual traits than relationship skills. People with almost nil people skills have had great relationships. You just need to find the right partner.

           8. On Project RDo you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.

It is definitely worthwhile. First because it let me let out some steam and also made me think about my thoughts on relationships, which I tend to keep to myself and not let it out unless and otherwise asked (just like this) I am not sure if my questions would help your friend in anyway, but I sure hope you are able to find your answers from the entries that you get. And as usual, I get to learn something from it too.  

Regards

KG

PROJECT R in session #1 Alienora Taylor

FB: https://www.facebook.com/alienora.taylor / Twitter:@AlienoraTaylor
I was whelped on January 9th 1958, and am the oldest of five, four girls and a boy. Having been dragged up my Mad Mother and Military-turned-History-teacher Father, I then went to university in Aberystwyth (about as far away from the Parental Pair as I could get without going abroad – or to Scotland!). An English degree and a mistaken PGCE followed, after which I moved to Weston-super-Mare and became an English teacher…for thirty years, man and boy!
I have been writing since I was scrote high to a dormouse, and started a journal on January 7th 1972, two days before my fourteenth birthday. I write in it most days – not the same volume, you understand (I have over a hundred of them now!) – and have, in addition, written three novels (one self-published on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-leggety-beasties-ebook/dp/B00A0XPUGG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381254853&sr=1-1&keywords=long+leggety+beasties). I have been blogging since June 2012, first on a Blogspot blog (now gone, though I did notch up over 200,000 hits!) – and, since end of July 2013, on WordPress.
I am married with a fifteen year old son, live in Somerset, love music and play violin, recorder and piano.
Although I am raucous and bawdy and have a wild sense of humour, I am prone to severe anxiety and self-doubt.
I am a self-confessed unnatural red-head!
There!
So…

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

Love to me means safety, excitement, being completely the person I am and have the potential to be; it means laughter, tears, emotional closeness, shared interests and times alone; it means mutual support and a way through the emotional minefields of life; it means talking and sharing, forgiving and arguing openly; it means sex and aliveness; it means wanting the best for the other person; it means a song in the heart (even if, inevitably, that song is sometimes a sad one) and a brightening of the colours in the world; it means poetry, hope, inspiration, adventure and pushing oneself beyond self-set limitations.

A failed relationship is one which operates in a system of fear, control, emotional or mental abuse, lack of communication, unfaithfulness or deliberate wounding of any other kind. It is a Wasteland where the Dolorous Blow has been struck, the blood pours out from grievous, often sexual (albeit metaphorical) wounds, and neither partner is willing or able to ask the Grail Question. It is a place without trust, full of the thickets and hurtful briars of anger, resentment and denial. It is a barren landscape of blame and righteousness, cruelty and complete want of empathy. It is the state of mind in which, ‘I want to be RIGHT,’ has replaced the soft roundness of, ‘I want a relationship with you.’

A successful one is the opening of mind, body, spirit and soul to the music, dancing, solace and deep bonding between two people. It is the connection which needs no words. It is nectar and warmth and beautiful Autumn leaves, and knowing that, whatever your differences and quarrels, the umbilical cord of love and desire between you is stronger, more durable and lighter. It is laughter and passion, little names for one another and private vocabulary; it is equality and light-spiritedness; it is going to the depths for someone else’s suffering and not just skating on the surface; it is empathy and humour and sensitivity and sweetness and assertiveness; it is the marriage of minds as well as bodies.

Relationship end hurts hugely; it is like a total vortex of doubt, a hole in the protective layer of the soul; it pulls into question everything you had thought true: your attractiveness, sex appeal, interest value, future, past; it makes you feel that everything you have done, or will do, is wrong, clumsy, thoughtless and stupid; it plunges the world into a wobbling and greasy board of terror, and you become convinced that you will lose all your friends, especially those of the opposite sex, that no one will ever want you again – and that your are deeply flawed.

 

           2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?

I was alone (though kind of seeing someone) for fifteen years – and it had its pros and its cons. Having said that, I love having a special person in my life: I love that deep connection and sharing – but, a relationship just for the sake of it? No thanks! Soul-destroying, that can be. I do not think there is anything wrong with the choice to live, and be, outside a relationship. Relationship addicts worry me more, to be honest!

             3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

I feel fulfilled in many respects anyway – but I prefer being in a relationship because, at its best, the joining of two becomes more than two and brings out the best in both. It can be a transcendent thing, a touch of Heaven on Earth. I love sex and am not the One Night Stand type, so a relationship is preferable from that point of view. But, if given the choice between a dark and abusive relationship and being alone, I would choose the latter without any hesitation.

 

           4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

I think there is a big difference between the soul mate and the conventional partner (though some people are lucky enough to combine the two) – and I don’t think everyone has a soul mate waiting in the ether for them. I think we are whole in and of ourselves – but that sometimes, for no reason we can think of, we link souls with another almost without effort. We know someone instinctively, are on the same wave length immediately, vibrate to the same harmonics – and, despite having only known this person for five minutes, KNOW there is a very deep, and probably enduring, connection. There may never be an obvious sexual component to the relationship, let alone a marital bond, but, if honoured with this kind of friend, one is at ease and can be oneself and is a better person for the connection. There often is a highly charged sexual energy between you and the soul mate, but it is expressed in other ways. You may, for example, share certain creative outlets; you may have little shared codes; you will almost certainly be adept at pretty advanced non-verbal communication.

I have been very lucky: I have two soul mates in my life, both men. Neither of them has ever been a boyfriend. With neither of them have I had sex. But both are much loved by me and we link at a very profound level.

           5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

Self love is VITAL. Without its protective layer, we are vulnerable, in our open-faced low self-esteem, and tend to attract predators and abusers into our bodies, minds, hearts and lives. Self love to me means knowing that you are the best version of you; that you are complete and whole and perfect (albeit with flaws!) and that you are worth only the very best in relationships: that you are worth more than someone else’s sloppy seconds; that you are worth more than a quick revenge fuck, or a desperate end of the pub grope. Self love means you have CHOICES and do not need to grab the first available man/woman out of need, scarcity and desperation.

And, yes, love can sometimes mean letting go. Both love for others and the self-respect element of self-love. Love for my son, for example, constantly involves me allowing him to go into adventures which fill me with fear; it has recently meant my letting him go from my apron strings into his first proper relationship with a girl.

 

            6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

I think the two are completely separate. It is, indeed, possible – and very healthy – to find contentment in our accomplishments, much less healthy, I feel, to seek it only in others. We can only ever borrow another human being really, can’t we? Each one is a gift (or a curse) which, eventually, we will need to repay – and the ideal scenario is to enjoy that present for as long as it lasts, and then let it go. Easier said than done, though.

My writing, music and other hobbies/interests give me enormous happiness – and did do even when I was without a partner.

          7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?

No, I don’t believe they are. Some people with very poor people skills go into relationships for the wrong reasons: because they are insecure, wish to hide behind a more sociable other, because they do not wish to be alone, ever. And some people who live alone are brilliant with others.

 

           8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.

A great idea, Vic – very worthwhile and extremely timely. Part of the reason the world is in such a poor state is because we humans have forgotten how to relate properly, both on the personal level and the global. We confuse need and loneliness with love; we confuse lust with love; we buy into fairy stories and Mills and Boon type books; we are so desperate for connection, that we hook up with monsters – and, too often, we forget, or sneer at, the spiritual element, the soul connection.

PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted – Final Request for Submissions

Image

PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted - Final Request for Submissions

This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.

On a vicbriggs blog-screen near you from the 14th to the 31st of October

Photographers, writers, artists, poets: Let’s talk Relationships!

Why?

Because you can help me help a friend in need.

How?

Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October, that is today! but there is a little wiggling room for the deadline if you’ve only just read this and would really love to participate, so send me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do.

Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to: viki.briggs@gmail.com .

I want to make this a rewarding project both for contributors and readers. I’ve loved the early submissions and look forward to the ones yet to come.

It is up to you whether your answer is prose or verse, stream of consciousness or iambic pentameter. Let your creativity loose!

All for a good cause.

Thank you all!

Vic

Twitter: @shardsofsilence / Email: viki.briggs@gmail.com

Acknowledgements

Project R’s “they” section was inspired by Lucia Lorenzi’s On Being Alone: Rethinking the Single Life: http://lucialorenzi.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/on-being-alone-rethinking-the-single-life/

Project R is also somewhat of a nod and wink to AOpinionatedMan’s Project O, a project on Opinion hosted on his blog during September:  http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/08/26/project-o

PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted on Religion

I’m a philosopher-in-training. To question and to doubt comes easily to me. Certainty was once mine, but I love the fluidity of reality and the relativity of truth. They sparkle alive and enlivening, with humour and love.  

Name: vicbriggs / Website: www.shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @shardsofsilence / Email: viki.briggs@gmail.com

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

For some time I thought of it as a failed relationship: my relationship with God that is. It took me many years to come to terms with my loss of faith. I entered adulthood, however, entirely at peace.

On the subject of love, I am tempted to say that I feel very much the same way now as I did back when. “Love your neighbour as you love thyself,” is something that I still strive towards, even if the endeavour has lost its religious imprint.

As for feeling like a
failure because it ended… No. Like any worthwhile relationship, it was one that I’ve learnt from, and when there was nothing more to learn, for me at least, I chose to move on.

          2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship?

To be human is to be flawed. Our flaws are also a part of what makes us unique, beautiful. I’ve heard mortality referred to as a human flaw. I’m not sure I agree with that. Our mortality is a limitation that is very difficult to accept, yes, but a flaw? Once acknowledged, it can be empowering; it can drive us to great things, or simply ordinary things that are great in their simplicity and persistence. There is Art in leading an ordinary life.

I am more comfortable being without God, than I ever was being with. Faith is a very straightforward affair: you either have it, or you don’t. There’s little else to it.

          3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

There is something very powerful about the magic number of TWO. Adam and Eve: one famous couple amongst many others. Perhaps unconsciously we are forever trying to recreate it. But then… Aphrodite was only ONE, and she did rather well for herself.

          4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

Working from within the paradigm… I always struggled with the idea of Eve being fashioned out of Adam’s rib. He lacks a rib, and she is one? Of course, the metaphor is not lost on me, but still.

Another question of physiology that has similarly troubled me in this respect is that of “the navel”. Did the original couple have navels or not. If yes, what purpose did they serve? If not, how did the rest of humanity get landed with one?

          5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

To be at ease in your own skin, I suppose, is very much what self-love is all about. It makes it easier when you interact with others. It makes it easier not to see endings as catastrophes. They usually aren’t; in life very few things are.

“Because I love you so

I have to let you go.”

Thinking back at my childhood and its Christian setting, the most important type of love was loving one’s deity, which equalled loving one’s parents. Of course, one would always have to be careful not to covet the neighbour’s wife. There are some types of love which are socially as well as theologically unacceptable. Even now, I avoid getting too friendly with my neighbour’s wife. I suppose some norms will linger, try as I might to renounce them.

          6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

It’s Babel out there. We all speak, perhaps more today with social media at our fingertips than ever before. We speak more than we listen. Oftentimes, we think we understand, but the form doesn’t always fit the content. I still believe that relationships bring us the greatest fulfilment (all relationships, of which the romantic ones are only a small part).

          7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?

The communitarian aspect of religion promotes interaction. This however does not mean that if you go to church you are somehow automatically better at people skills than if you don’t. As with every group, there will always be those who mingle more, and those who will keep themselves to themselves.

          8. On Project R. In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”?

If someone told my child-self that at the age of thirteen I would no longer be a believer, I would’ve laughed in their face. If someone told me now that there may come a time when I would be a believer again, I’d still chuckle (internally). Oh, irony might find its arrow’s mark.

I am ready to accept that the agnostic position is a wiser, more mature one to take. Nonetheless, I am not an agnostic. I can argue along the accepted lines and defend my position if challenged, but I have the certainty of the atheist that: with death comes the end and there is nothing after.  The only ground that I can give on this, to both Christians and agnostics alike, is Larkin’s verse:

“Our almost-instinct almost true:

What will survive of us is love.”

*

This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.

Photographers, writers, artists, poets: Let’s talk Relationships!

Why? A friend needs my help to get over a tough breakup. And I need you.

How? Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/

Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to:  viki.briggs@gmail.com.

To be screened on vicbriggs’s blog from the 14th to the 31st of October

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October.

All for a good cause.

*

Acknowledgments

I did not plan on writing this post, until I came across AOpinionatedMan’s latest musings on religion, and decided to reconsider a subject that is usually only of intermittent importance for me nowadays. So, thank you OM, for inspiring this. There are two related OM articles on religion and the definition of shame:  http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/10/11/the-definition-of-shame/ http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/10/10/om-on-religion-part-4-christian-shame/

And here is a link to my original reblog and definition of the same:  https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/the-definition-of-shame/

Link

PROJECT R : A Recipe for Marital Bliss

The Don’t Be that Dude! re-blog, received some criticism due to its failure to acknowledge that there are indeed many males (academic and not) who are doing there best to get it right.

I promised to redress the balance, and what better way than to share with you a link to the blog of one of these men who is not only trying, but getting it right (or so I shall maintain until there is clear spouse-given-evidence to the contrary).

Whilst our adult selves know full well that marriage is seldom followed by the effortless “happily ever after” that fairy tales would have us believe, it is often less clear what could be done to ensure that at least some semblance of contentment is reached and maintained post certificate signing.

Terry McGlynn, Small Pond Science ecologist, proud father and husband, attempts to demystify the working-couple life-balance fandango. It’s a great read, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve already made my list of DOs and DON’Ts. Just sharing the love…

…in the hope that it will help avoid the Desperate Housewife scenario pictured below.

Happily never after…

For the controversial (?) Don’t be That Dude! article you can follow the link below. Incidentally, it has this article embedded as a link under point number 9.Take an equal share in housework and childcare duties at home.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/dont-be-that-dude-handy-tips-for-the-male-whether-academic-or-not/

Because you’re worth it.

This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.

On a vicbriggs blog-screen near you from the 14th to the 31st of October

Single and fabulous? Married and happily ever after? Neither? That’s ok. Have your say anyway!

Why? Because a friend needs me, and I need you. All I can do is be there for them and come up with ways to help.

How? Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/ .

There is no right or wrong way to approach this. Your way is the right way. It is up to you whether your answer is prose or verse, stream of consciousness or iambic pentameter.

 Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to:  viki.briggs@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October.

All for a good cause.

*

Acknowledgements

Project R’s “they” section was inspired by Lucia Lorenzi’s On Being Alone: Rethinking the Single Life. To read her post, follow this link: http://lucialorenzi.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/on-being-alone-rethinking-the-single-life/ It is a beautifully written and insightful piece. Perhaps it may help you with your own.

Project R is also somewhat of a nod and wink to AOpinionatedMan’s Project O, a project on Opinion hosted on his blog during September. Follow this link to view contributions to this project:  http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/08/26/project-o

PROJECT R – Poetic Turn

Today it is all about poetry… Poetry and Truth.

Time to share with you the story that determined me to start Project R.

About: I rhyme, except for when I don’t.

Name: vicbriggs / Website: www.shardsofsilence.wordpress.com Twitter: @shardsofsilence / Email: viki.briggs@gmail.com

There is such beauty in beginnings, and such hope.

They met. They fell in love. Where did it go so wrong?

One said: “I love you so, that worlds I’d turn for you,

For no one loved so much, or had a heart so true.

Want always at your side to fall asleep and wake.

To have you always near, tell me, what would it take?”

The other smiled and lingered over professed love.

“I love you too, but near… too soon you ask to have

My all. I’m young, my love, and want to keep my youth at play.

I am not ready yet to cherish and obey

Your love’s relentless call… Be patient and in time

Perhaps my wishes too with yours will learn to chime.”

Time passed. Days. Months. A year gone.

To wait so long and nothing? A heart to pieces torn.

One said: “I miss you so, when you’re not at my side.

You say you love me too. Then why forever hide?

When I’m with you my world – entire – is complete.

Come. Let us be together. Conditions all: I’ll meet.”

The other said again that time would make all well:

“You burn too bright. On this I do not want to dwell.

You ask too much, forever repeating this demand.

Why not just let it be? Why always reprimand?

Is my love not enough? Why ask forever more?

Why always to the future you open up the door?”

One sighed: “I will be patient. For you will always wait.

When you are ready: come, but do not come too late.”

A day went by, another. And still came no reply.

One felt inside hope linger, refusing yet to die.

At last the message came. The last: “I’m done. Goodbye.”

A world broke into pieces. Another end. Why try?

“I love you so that worlds I would’ve moved for you.

You love me not. It pains me to learn this to be true.”

Days passed, and one day added another hurtful fall:

“Until you love yourself, you’ll love no one at all.”

 There is such pain in endings. Long gone forever hope.

They met. They fell in love. Where did it go so wrong?

*

Relationships, can’t live without them? Whether you are in a relationship or not, you will know a lot about what makes one tick, and how to keep ticking when it is no longer.

I’ve delved into this headfirst. Thank you for your early submissions. Read them. Loved them. Look forward to posting them come Monday for others to enjoy as well.

Photographers, writers, artists, poets: Let’s talk Relationships!

This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.

On a vicbriggs blog-screen near you from the 14th to the 31st of October

Have your say!

Why? To help a friend realise that to be single can be as rewarding as it is to be in a relationship. Help mend a broken heart.

How? Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/ .

There is no right or wrong way to approach this. Your way is the right way. It is up to you whether your answer is prose or verse, stream of consciousness or iambic pentameter.

Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to:  viki.briggs@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October.

All for a good cause.

*

Thank you for being a part of Project R!

Nota Bene

Submissions will be posted on vicbriggs’ blogscreen starting Monday, the 14th of October. One day for each submission if there are seventeen or fewer. If there is a lot of interest and the project takes off then we’ll timeshare vicbriggs’ blog-screen accordingly.

For the Sample Q&A (if you work better with an example in front of you) follow: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/join-project-r-click-here-for-the-qa/

For the commentary on LL’s piece follow: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/project-r-continued/

For more on what motivated me to start this project and for the questions to answer follow this link: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/ .

Feel free to answer the questions and comment on LL’s quotes, but it is absolutely fine if you’d rather do only one or the other. Whatever works for you!

And don’t forget to add your info at the start so that other bloggers know where to find you to follow you! A short bio could be helpful too, whatever you think will hook the readers and keep them coming back for more.

  

Acknowledgements

Project R’s “they” section was inspired by Lucia Lorenzi’s On Being Alone: Rethinking the Single Life.

To read her post, follow this link: http://lucialorenzi.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/on-being-alone-rethinking-the-single-life/ It is a beautifully written and insightful piece. Perhaps it may help you with your own.

Project R is also somewhat of a nod and wink to AOpinionatedMan’s Project O, a project on Opinion hosted on his blog during September. Follow this link to view contributions to this project:  http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/08/26/project-o

Finally, it is a reply to the WordPress Daily Prompt: Exhale. I thought it a pertinent prompt to the subject of relationships and alone-ness, since both can offer us safety and the reverse in equal measure. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/daily-prompt-safety/

And because being in love can be scary: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/daily-prompt-frightening/