Singer/Songwriter Alanis Morissette Explains Why Relationships Come First

You’re one of the founding members of Relationships First. How did you become involved with this organization?

I have always been obsessed with connection. It’s the priority in everything I do. In the professional context, if there is some level of connection and respect, it’s great but if there’s no felt connection, it’s hard to work with someone. I’ve had every version of connection and disconnection in my life. I’ve been obsessed with finding out what would need to happen to have the most profound level of intimacy available. That’s been my journey my whole life. There’s the relationship with Other, relationship with my very own self, and my relationship with God. I can tell that when something is off, there’s a lack of connection in one of the three areas.

What are some of the goals of Relationships First?

It will start communication and offer resources, support and video logs, making it an epicenter for the therapeutic community and then it will open up to us laypeople at large. My personal vision and along with many others is that it would start with couplehood and then open up to every version of relationships, such as parent to child, colleague to colleague. There’s support needed around friendships, and then I’d like to go with one’s own version of spirit or God.

What made you think to do this?

Superficial is safe and I can understand why people would want that. I always believed, with music and writing my new book—as well as being with Relationships First—that my number one intention is this kind of service of illumination or distilling complex subjects in a vernacular that makes sense to people.  I feel like I can bridge both worlds; the academic world and the pop culture world. I’ll use it using my own life as the case study to prove the point. It would be my own experience.

 

Is it hard to have that level of transparency?

It would be hard not to do it that way. Not to say that I’m 100% transparent but I have no reason to be secretive.

How is your little boy, Ever?

He’s amazing. It’s a unique challenge, being a parent. It bonds me with other moms, but I am committed to full-blown attachment parenting. The stages of life being attended to is a huge deal for me, combined with this planetary service vocation I’ve committed to, plus the marriage which is such a commitment to me.

How have you incorporated attachment parenting into your own parenting style?

One big piece is how important community is. I breastfed, and my son weaned himself a few months ago. I was prepared to continue on for a long time. I also believe in co-sleeping and following his lead; keeping him safe and free at the same time. It’s setting boundaries but exposing him to paint and musical instruments. He came on tour with us last year and we were on tour around the planet for seven months. That was a wild ride not only for the parents but the village that we created to be around Ever. We wanted to create as much consistency and routine as possible in that context. It was a lot; coffee has become my new best friend. I never drank it before but it became a mandatory liquid after Ever was born! [laughs]

 

I love how you include your son in your work life, too. I think having your kids involved in that aspect of your life makes life so much easier for you, and more interesting for them.

I agree. The whole idea of having to have a fragmented, departmentalized version of life is dangerous. I think integration is key. I built a makeshift studio in my living room to record my new record. No matter what your job, there is a way to do it. It’s a commitment to be creative to one’s lifestyle and one’s schedule.

And it’s also crucial to have a large support system, whether you’re a single parent or not.

Absolutely. I remember being in Fiji and their village living is my fantasy. There was a cute little boy there and I asked him where his grandma was. He swept his finger around to point to everyone. Everyone was a part of his world, whether they were blood related or not. You have to have that, otherwise both children and parents are challenged. We become beleaguered.

What do you do to decompress?

My girlfriends are everything to me, and I love spending time with them. But to take care of myself, I like to escape and bury myself in a book, or go to the beach or spa. I realized that it’s impossible to have everything revving at 100% on any given day. Every day is a challenge to figure out the priority of the day. My son takes priority over everything, though.

 

Let’s talk about what you have going on musically?

Havoc and Bright Lights came out last year. The first song was “Guardian.” “Empathy” makes me cry every time I hear it. I’ll be writing records until I die. There’s this essential quality in me that likes putting emotions and complex concepts and ideas to distill them to make them pithy and clear to people. I believe knowledge is empowerment and I want to support people to be who they want to be.

 

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