I realized after suggesting our latest Random Project that it might be confusing or even daunting for some people. This was confirmed when a couple of clients asked some good questions about how to get started. So...
How 'bout we break the project down into some steps. Wendy's already given us some ideas about how to approach it. Let's make step one drawing a line between you and the other person you are thinking about for that page of the project. On the line, write how you guys met, or the nature of how you met (so, if it was one of my clients illustrating our relationship he/she would draw a line and on it write something like "therapist-client" or "came to see her for therapy").
Then, step two can be writing a list (it can be along the line drawn between you guys, or on another piece of paper- however you want to do it) of the things you each brought/bring to the relationship, and you can also add the qualities that you noticed (warm/fuzzy, cold/abrasive, professional feeling...) if you want to. As you get some words down, you may be able to add colors or textures or whatnot. Or, you may want to leave it at words, which is of course fine too.
What you'll see as you work on this is that for longer term, more powerful relationships, the nature of them changes over time- they evolve. More things get added in along that line as the relationship develops.
Because of this, this project needs to be a "working project" (instead of, for all you perfectionists out there, something you can/should do once and have it be perfect/done/complete/static). You can play around with this project for years and years if you want. What you'll see if you keep looking at each of the relationships over time is that they evolve in one way or another.
This can be an interesting, even helpful and fun, project, but I meant it the other day when I said it could also be evocative/provocative. Relationships bring up powerful feelings in us. All kinds of powerful feelings. So, take care in working on this project, in particular, if you're working on a relationships that have proven difficult or painful.
And, it's SO important not to do anything that makes you use this against yourselves in any way. For instance, we don't have control over all relationships. Sometimes, no matter how much we want something, or how hard we work at it, a relationship is simply not going to work or is not going to be ok. I was talking with a client this week about the quality of her relationship with two people in her life. The image that came to my mind was that of ice. This client is about as warm and fuzzy as a person can be, and she had certainly approached these relationships with all the warmth any person can give. But the other two people involved have no warmth to give. All they can offer is ice. So, no matter how much warmth she exudes, it is continually met with ice. Therefore, the space between them has turned out to pretty much be ice. That's not the fault of my client, and it sure doesn't represent any failure or character "flaw" on her part. It's just physics- the shear volume of ice emanating from these two people simply can't/couldn't be melted by even her HUGE amounts of warmth.
As you play around with this project, you need to be scrupulously honest with yourself about how much control you actually have in difficult relationships. The best relationships are built together, with both people contributing actively, consistently and consciously, with the goal of strengthening the bond over time. The worst relationships are those where only one side works to contribute, or where one side disrespects the other or the other's efforts, or where one side actively undermines the other side...
Maybe, for any of us that have had difficult/unhealthy relationships, at the end of the day what you'll end up with is a "healthy" relationships book and an "other" relationships book. The healthy relationships one can celebrate the connections that fill your soul and your lives. And the "other" can serve as an illustration of the difficulties that can be present in relationships and how we can work to either overcome those difficulties or move away from those kinds of relationships.
This is actually quite a big project. Please ask any questions you have and share any concerns with us and/or your support system/therapist. Share successes and things you learn too! These are the kinds of things you want to work on as a community. And, as so many of you say, that's what this blog is about :)