Soul Mates, or What?

I spent my life hoping to find a soul mate, the one person who would feel like pure cosmic energy was zapping between us when we were together, even when we were apart, and still going long after death. I have been both blessed and cursed with many loves, and I always believed there could be many beautiful mates to my one passionate soul. I believe, you know, life is a river, always flowing and evolving, not an isolated lake. But that was all before I found him. As a woman in her mid-fifties, I have come to find that this one is definitely my soul mate. I am not sad it took so long. I am thrilled it happened at all.

Some part of me always knew, deep down, and sometimes declaring to the world, that the men I have loved have never been my true blue. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love them. It did mean I spent a lot of time wishing it was different in key ways. It did mean that when the chips were down, I was utterly alone much of the time. I don’t regret it. It was all necessary, I suppose.

It didn’t mean something was wrong with me. Although, there were lots of things wrong with me. It wasn’t about that. It was about the solid fact that I may learn a lot from this relationship, but we were not meant for an eternal time together. I’d still take a bullet for a few of them. Most of them meant something important to me.

It didn’t mean something was wrong with them. Although, there were plenty of things wrong with all of them. Being my soul mate has never required perfection, nor actually anything even close to that. Perfection is boring and repulsive to me.

It’s just that now, it is different. I don’t know if I found him so late in life because I took this long to love myself. A lot of people believe in that. I am confident you can find your soul mate long before you learn to love yourself, and I have seen it happen. Perhaps our soul mate helps us get there.

Yet, there is something quite lovely about finding someone when you finally understand that you are worthy of such an ecstatic love, a love that feels safe and constantly thrilling all at once. A love that will spend an entire day eating and lounging and playing and maybe even challenging each other, if need be. A love that you can just tell is never, ever going to ditch you, or betray you, or think you are embarrassing. A love that erupts in serious belly-aching laughter, in a vessel you can’t seem to stop touching. A love that takes dancing lessons for you. A love that feels exactly that same way you do about that love. The sort of love that makes you smile when they have a funny walk or stupid jokes or likes a song that sounds like a chainsaw.

A love that feels like you just came ashore after epic battles with mythic beasts. A love that is simple but never boring, even when you are doing nothing at all. A love that you just know can never be replaced, no matter how great other people can be.

If I lose this love, to another, or to illness, or to some dark fate, I will be done looking elsewhere. I would keep living, since that is my right and my duty, but to try to love this way again would be a great disservice to anyone new. It would be far better to find other ways to find joy than to spend a single hour searching for something I was blessed to know at all. It would be greedy. I am a realist. I spent a long time thinking he was possible, but knowing I might be karmically fucked. So now, I intend to treat him like a king. I will count that blessing every day, after he is gone, and thank the gods for the fact that I finally got what I had always hoped to get, for however long I could hold it. And for someone like me, a woman of raging fire and unwavering ice, that should say a lot.

Struggling to Love – Expected Flaws or Epic Fails?

In response to a friend’s question: How do I love my husband, despite his flaws?

No matter how much we love someone, they will eventually frustrate us to some degree. And if this is a long term, daily relationship, this challenge is likely to become a regular thing. Therefore, it is crucial that we understand what is a small annoyance, what is worthy of fair battle, and what is a deal breaker. Our love relationships are unique and personal and the variables are great. Still, there are some universal truths.

A wise coworker once told me that a marriage should be 90% fantastic and 10% challenge. I admired his marriage and could see that my own marriage was more like 30% pretty sweet and 70% horrible.

People have a lot more grace with divorce these days, but it is by no means an easy exit. It is rife with loss and a painful sense of failure, and yes, there is still judgment from others. Yet, with divorce and major break ups now a more common experience, I have learned that there is a big difference between what conflicts I know are almost nothing to what I know is seriously threatening our earnest promise to exclusive and lasting love.

Let’s begin with the obvious. If someone is living in a way that is soulfully damaging US, such as gambling to the point of unpaid debt, cheating sexually, or using violence to control me, I am out. Most people would agree that this level of behavior must have a hard line NO. Some people will stay due to the vows they made, but let’s all agree, the person destroying the relationship is not the victim. It is the person who first broke their promise to be your support, your ally and your protector, leaving you in this horrid position, forcing you to save yourself.

Then we have the other side of the continuum: The small stuff. Honestly, I have gotten to the point where certain issues are almost not worth a single breath of my time. Leaving crumbs on the countertops, toothpaste on the towels, and snoring. If this person is vegetarian and I love beef and pork, I just get creative. I mostly take care of these issues in silence. Why? Because I love too much about them to give a damn. If my partner tends to laugh nervously when we meet people, or they grow silent at dinner parties, I think my loyalty should override their idiosyncrasies. If my partner likes to watch football and I prefer a foreign film, or he seems more invested in hunting than playing with the kids, it is not a difficult thing to ask for what I need and establish what I can expect. If these are the sorts of things that bother me, perhaps I am overlooking the real problems. It seems like this level of complaint is either smothered by our love, or inflated by the fact that I don’t really want to be in this relationship to begin with. The small things can become big as a decoy from the scary stuff that is being ignored, avoided, deflected, or denied. If I am in a safe and loving relationship, these little contentions are easily resolved.

However, things are not always so big or little. There are subtle ways to threaten the harmony of a significant partnership, and over time can burn away the affection we once held. This grey, gone unchecked, is a growing cause of torturous angst. Perhaps this person misses work too much and spends hours a day sleeping; they’re not pulling their weight in the duties of the home and finances. Perhaps they overspend in unnecessary ways. Maybe your partner has emotional affairs with those who are attracted to them. Some partners hide their whereabouts, or become unreliable with mutual social commitments. One of the most damaging and elusive behaviors is sarcasm and calloused criticism, even the painful experience of being told you are unworthy of love; often these messages are only implied. Some partners grow possessive and accuse us of things we have not done. These grey areas can leave us confused, and we hope the deterioration of our trust and esteem will not ultimately ruin our love. These are the areas in which we wonder how long we must endure it, or if there is hope of change.

I would contend that long term experience with the grey can become unbearable and generate such a level of contempt that one begins to dream of one’s freedom, however that might occur. If we honestly approach them and our partner listens and agrees to change, then continues to do the very things that cause us pain, it is unlikely in today’s world that we will endlessly suffer. We know today that we can leave. We know that we have a choice; unfortunately, it will still come at a price. We spend much time and energy deciding if the price is too high, or if we are better off being half-content.

It seems important then to establish the spiritual nature of a love relationship. Love is not living under the same roof. Love is not having someone around so you don’t have to be alone. Love is not paying the bills and sitting at your mother-in-law’s table. These are the things that happen to support the love that is already there.

The spiritual nature of love is to honor something that occurs between two people, beyond the grave, beyond their choices, and beyond our petty desires. Love is an unconditional grace and resolve. And most importantly, this sort of true love must be matched by how much you love yourself. If someone is hurting me, I must love myself enough to assure my health and safety is first. If I love someone, I must measure my capacity for tolerance. If my partner does not honor my safety and trust, I must love myself enough to leave.

It comes down to these honest questions: Is this person I love doing their best? Are they sincerely trying? Am I also doing my best? Has it been made clear what is going to be enough? Is it clear what is not enough? If you don’t know where the line is, do not expect your lover to know it.

This is all that we can ask of each other in this messy world, and if his best is not enough for me, then perhaps I should step aside and let someone else love him instead.