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Two Trees: Lessons For Relationships

For the past I-can't-count-how-many-years, I've enjoyed taking pictures of plants. I like to get super close, hold my breath, and try to capture the most intimate details as possible. As a therapist, it's clear to me that my process is the same: I like to get close to people, see them at their most vulnerable and beautiful, and then reflect back to them their unique identity. There's just SO MUCH that can be learned about life by studying the metaphors provided by plants, and nothing teaches us as much about ourselves during times of crisis as our friends, the trees. Breakups just suck. They hurt and are uncomfortable and they require a re-writing of both history and the future. We lose friends, gain friends, lose family, gain freedom... Despite the possibility of something better--a better sense of self, a better relationship, a better future--breakups mean change and change means growth.

The Banyan tree grows remarkably fast and sends roots out from nearly everywhere. For some of us, a breakup means that you can be like the Banyan tree--and immediately start reaching out for something different. You can re-install that online dating app; you can apply to grad school or eat what you want on a Thursday night. You can use your post-breakup time to start digging deeply into your dreams and re-rooting yourself into your newest identity.

The Tamarack handles change a little differently. During the summer, it appears to be just like every other spruce: It has green needles bunched together in such a way as to look lush and soft. In autumn, however, the Tamarack turns yellow, like its neighboring birches, and the needles fall right off.

If you're not the type of person who leaps into single-hood with energy and vigor after a breakup, you might be the kind of person who has to wait until there's an appropriate time to change. Then, you might have to shed the life you had, along with its hopes and plans, and start over. Emotionally, that means you have to take stock and then build yourself back up from a place of raw bareness. Of course, I could probably go on all day about tree metaphors and breakups (I so totally could!), but I'm curious what you think. If you're in a transition period in your own romantic relationship, which kind of tree better describes your reaction? Neither are better than the other; both serve their purpose of decoupling.

Or wait -- maybe you know the story of a different type of tree that captures your transitions better!

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