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Sap of Life (Part II)

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

As I fell deeper in love with Sean, my life came into full color in a way that I had never experienced before. Life seemed literally brighter, more textured and vivid and I was available to be fully present to everything and everyone around me. Where I had felt lost, I now felt found. All of the self-defeating mantras that had been circling around in my head ceased altogether and instead I was living from my heart. A heart that felt sweet, tender, carefree and overflowing with a simple goodness reminiscent of childhood innocence.

So this is what all those radio songs were about! I had come into direct contact with the sheer power of LOVE. I was a convert. Almost an evangelist. Not that I believed you could make love happen, but the mere fact of its existence was what got me going. That was the good news as I saw it.

Everyone I knew witnessed my transformation and was happy for me, even if I was dripping sap like a tree and had grown slightly annoying to be around.

The first year of our relationship was intense. On our own, we had both been struggling. Sean had been bruised by his last relationship and I had been aimless and lonely. But when we came together, something entirely new was forged. Our union was like a fighter jet on a 90 degree ascent, driving straight up and out with enough g-force to defy the gravity of our respective miseries. It was a steep climb and we were all in.

The second year of our relationship was marked by longing and anticipation. Sean had been accepted to medical school in Philadelphia and I still had a year of school ahead of me to finish out my undergraduate degree. We didn’t want to be separated, but rationally speaking, he had to go and it just didn’t make sense for me to transfer to another undergraduate program. I would have lost credit for much of my already completed course work and would have essentially paid twice for the same education.

We decided it made more sense to go the long-distance route.

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder and it our case, that was true. As soon as I graduated, I relocated to Philadelphia to reunite with him. I marveled as our life simply sprang up around us like flowers emerging out of the ground after a long winter. We’d made it through our year apart with flying colors and now we were back together and launching our life in earnest.

At that early stage, it was all so very promising. We were in our own home, with a dog and a cat, a garden, some friends, a growing sense of community and most importantly, a shared dream for our future. I had enrolled in a graduate program that would allow me to earn my Masters in Education while simultaneously becoming a credentialed teacher in the state of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Sean buckled down and put his nose to the grindstone as the various pressures within medical school began to mount.

Looking back, it was as if there were two forces acting on us at all times. On the one hand there was the strength of our bond, which was solid and true, and the love that continued to grow between us. That force was positive in nature and had an optimizing effect and an upward trajectory. On the other hand, there were external pressures generated by the dysfunctional systems we had opted into in order to make it in the world. Unfortunately, those forces were indifferent, and perhaps even antagonistic, to our dreams as a couple. Which of those opposing forces had the upper hand mattered quite a lot.

Sean and I had no real idea of what was to come for us as the years wore on. We had been initially carried by the surging power of love, so much so that we had gotten engaged. But given that we were also incredibly naive about what else was needed in the mix alongside love to ensure the successful navigation of life’s many steep challenges, those with more relational wisdom probably could have predicted that before too long we would find ourselves in troubled waters.



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