Just a little reflection on relationships (and s’mores)
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
This is my first counselling website. Well, truth be told it is my first website of any sort. The creation, and still creating, of this counselling site is very important to me. It is the first glimpse you will have of me as this site is in many ways a reflection of how I view the world. Aspects of what you see may be part of why you decide to pop me an email, or perhaps why you don’t. Let’s error on the side of optimism and assume you reach out and we speak. At that point a small metaphorical ember has been ignited and this ember could be seen as the beginning of our potential relationship. A therapist would likely say a “therapeutic relationship” or even a “therapeutic alliance” however let’s keep this out of the classroom and keep it a gentle conversation; so for all intents and purposes it’s a relationship. Relationships....
I don’t know what this word evokes or means to you? For me relationships are about a connection between two people. Now I am taking a huge liberty because in my mind relationships, connections and connecting with others, are positive. I have, maybe like you, certainly had my share of bad...well downright destructive relationships...but in reality they were not REAL relationships. Perhaps that is why one often modifies the word before relationship if it has been negative. We say such things as, I was in an “unhealthy” relationship, a “bad” relationship, or even a “toxic” one. Don’t misunderstand me as I know REAL relationships...good...even great...relationships have their challenges but those are a far cry from the bad ones.
Okay after two paragraphs maybe I should explain why I’m talking about relationships. Well for a few reasons. Firstly, I am a psychotherapist and I believe strongly as Irving Yalom (an influential therapist/author) says “It’s the relationship that heals”. Which I suppose is ironic as it can be the relationship, or one in disguise as something else, that wounds in the first place; maybe why we seek a counsellor. However, keep in mind I am American by birth so not great with irony. More importantly though I deeply love connecting with others - building a relationship. Taking that small ember, giving it oxygen, fuel and watching it grow in concert with another living, breathing, soul. One can have an incredible time once that ember is a flow-blown fire. You can keep warm, tell stories around it, cook food, make snacks like s’mores (if you don’t know what that is it’s a campfire treat popular in America and it could change your life), and maybe even disperse the midges. Of course you can have the ups and downs a fire can bring such as smoke in your eyes, running out of wood, etc, but in staying with the metaphor this is normal in REAL relationships. If you are being burned by the fire, cannot escape the heat or find yourself consistently sitting alone besides the fire then it may not be the right fire for you.
Four paragraphs in... where am I going with this you might ask? Relationships... connections. Therefore, back to the beginning then of this “essay” where I spoke about this being my first website. Let’s talk more about this. I did NOT design it! A wonderful man did named Grahame whom I’ve “known” for all about three weeks now - well might seem like a lifetime to him! Grahame asked me recently if I would write something for my blog as a kind of first for my website. I thought of explaining why I named my practice Twinflower Therapy; which I promise you is interesting and full of personal meaning. I even contemplated writing about “fun” games we often develop overtime in our very close relationships like I have with my partner. You know the one where you make a rule whoever opens the dishwasher has to unload it and then spend an embarrassingly amount of time trying to get the other to do just that. This amuses my 9 old who rejoices in seeing her parents revert to a child’s level of playfulness; you know not taking the world so seriously. Yet, what made me chose to write about relationships when I could have written about dishwashers or about a flower? The answer is Grahame… well and the before “Grahame” and the future ones as well.
I was recommended Grahame by someone who I could write a whole blog about as well but that is for another time. I did not know Grahame, but I knew I had one job for him - design me a website that could act as a bridge between those who have concerns and me, a therapist, who offers support. Me with my cotton, bits of paper, matches and kindling gently saying let’s get an ember going and hopefully a fire (and then some s’mores). However, what happened is over the last few weeks is I became interested in Grahame on a deeply human level. An ember perhaps? I believe we began our conversation, via video link, very formal but slowly we both seemed to close that interpersonal gap and became informal. Yes, we spoke about the website, but we also dipped in and out of seemingly checking for a connection. Overtime we smiled easier, shared in a different way, etc (no we never spoke about marshmallow and chocolate loveliness… s’mores… but we will). Now keep in mind it’s only been three weeks so is it a relationship? The honest answer is I don’t know the time limit on when one can call a meeting between two or more people a relationship but perhaps we had a connection. The point is it felt… good… human. Yes of course I have been burned by some fires. Well enough of the metaphors, I have been in some “bad” or/and even “damaging” relationships; especially in my childhood. Maybe you can relate? However, in my time I also had, and do HAVE, some absolutely, get ready for an Americanism, awesome relationships...REAL ones...the sitting around making s’mores types. Will Grahame be one like that? It’s unlikely and not for any sinister reason but probably because of some practicalities as he lives down south and me up here in the north. Also, our relationship began in a professional sense in developing a website so there is a different context. Did we have a “relationship” ...a connection? I can only say for me it is a yes. I felt connected to his passion for what I wanted to express on this website. I was taken aback on how he seemingly reached into my messy mind and teased out a beautiful logo; the Twinflower design. Thing is even if our relationship does not continue, or perhaps there is a break where it sits on a shelve to be relit/rekindled at some future juncture, the process of forming a relationship in whatever guise (remember there are many different “types of relationships) was absolutely worth it. In closing I have mentioned it is understandable that some “relationships” end up with qualifying words in front of them, “bad” “terrible” and this can leave one feeling there is not a Grahame out there; or other people such as, for me, my wife and friends. However, I assure you there are...let that process...there are…and you deserve those connections...those relationships.