December 14, 2015

Why Soulmates Can’t (and often Don’t) Stay.

Vincent Anderlucci/Flickr

I grew up believing I would marry He-Man.

Not some tough, macho guy’s guy  with an unfortunate hair cut, but the actual cartoon character. I carried the action figure around in my pocket, certain I had found “the one.”

I never saw myself as a princess. I never imagined our wedding. I didn’t plan the kind of dress I would wear. I didn’t consider the flower choices, color scheme or time of year.

I just wanted my person, my soulmate.

It didn’t take me long to realize that He-Man and I weren’t going to ride off into the sunset together. Mostly because he was plastic (on his best days) and imaginary (on his worst).

But I never considered that the idea of ending up with my soulmate could be imaginary as well.

It’s been close to three decades since I was forced to face the harsh reality of my first heartbreak. And in that time, I’ve been fortunate to experience two great loves. Not just casually dating or “talking to” a person (what does that even mean?), but two committed relationships that deeply affected, and drastically changed, the course of my life. Two men who I considered then, and still believe now, to be my soulmates.

And here’s what I’ve learned:

Soulmates are the ones who break our hearts in such a way that they can never be put back together the same again.

They take the bits of us that have never been offered to anyone else, and they change them.

Rearranging and whittling grooves and cracks into our sense of self, the changes often too small to notice at the time.

But suddenly, the pieces just don’t fit.

We are left irreparable. And yet, nothing has ever felt more right, more fated, more aligned.

We think we are happier, but really we’re just more awake.

We see a future with them, but really we’re just learning to see past our own limitations.

We feel it’s meant to be, but really we’re just admitting to ourselves that we deserve the kind of love and appreciation that’s finally being offered.

We believe that life will never be the same, but we’re simply standing at a precipice between the “us” who fell for this person and the “us” who will rise up in their absence.

Because soulmates leave.

To stay would be too much energy expended and ingested by both parties.

The shattering and building up of expectations, the death and reemergence of dreams, the rise and fall of a love so deep that when we are finally out of its grasp, we can’t quite recall what reality felt like.

Because it has shifted, and so have we.

Because how do we survive in the world with someone who takes our breath away?

Our bodies, our hearts are not meant to answer this question.

We don’t end up with our soulmates.

If we’re honest, if we’re committed, if we’re patient, if we do the work, we end up with the person who is meant to bring us home. We end up with a partner who sees our damage and recognizes its value. We end up with a friend who chooses to walk through the messy, beautiful, uncharted path that our lives will take.

We end up with someone real.

At least I hope we do.

If not, I’m sure He-Man is still packed away in a box somewhere…

“A soulmate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)


Relephant read:

I’m Always Late, Figures You Would Be Too: A Preemptive Letter to the One.

Drowning in 4 a.m. Maybes. {Poem}


Author: Nicole Cameron

Image: Vincent Anderlucci/Flickr, YouTube screenshot


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