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Finding poetry in relationships

Finding poetry in relationships

by Andy Howie

This blog is about endings and letting go and creating space.

I’ve been thinking about what happens when work relationships come to an end and reflecting on the emotions that can be stimulated within me.

Sometimes I feel that a relationship has come to a natural conclusion and there is a mutual parting of ways. This may be prompted by a practicality, such as a person moving on, or by a sense that the work we were meant to do together has been completed. Often this point of closure has been anticipated and prepared for, and in these circumstances I can take time to think through all that has passed and review the ups and downs of the relationship, sometimes with the client. The ending is a tidy one, and I can move on with a sense of satisfaction.

In other relationships, I can see that things are heading towards a close, and I have in my mind how the end stages will play out, but then things conclude abruptly. Perhaps it is just that the pattern of closure isn’t as important to the client as it is to me, but it unsettles me and prompts me to ask myself niggling questions. Did I initiate the premature conclusion with something I did or said? Are there any elements of our work together that went unfinished? Could there have been a possibility to collaborate again in the future, perhaps on a different piece of work? Although many valuable outcomes have been achieved in the relationship, my sense of fulfilment is diluted by the untidiness of the ending.

And then there are the relationships that have been a bit more of a struggle. Perhaps something unexpected happens and we realise that, although we have the desire for the same outcomes, we have different ways of working towards them. We have limped along a little and used a lot of energy to make things work, but there is just not the … I’m searching for the word … perhaps it’s ‘chemistry’. The relationship is brought to a swift conclusion, either by one of us or both together, and I feel a measure of relief that things are over before we got in too deep. Maybe it feels harsh, especially if only one of us instigates the cut, but it can feel right too.

I started by saying this blog was about letting go, but it’s something more than that, and I am again struggling to find the right word. Perhaps it’s separation, a disentanglement. These words need to be stated to reach any level of understanding, like poetry. Do poets get their words straight away or do they need to wrestle first? Maybe what we are wrestling with is the real work in understanding relationships, break ups and the valuable spaces in between.  

Recently, some of my relationships have drawn to a close and it has left space, and then out of the blue a piece of work has fallen into my lap – an intriguing, unexpected assignment. Coincidence? Factors aligning? Serendipity, perhaps? Or is it just the poetry of relationships?