What if the idea of a soulmate is a grand hoax?
No, not a cosmic joke—but a lie that has been told as truth since the dawn of storytelling itself.
Over a year ago, I had an epiphany, and I wrote about it in a post called, “I’ve Met My Soulmate and I’m Choosing to be Single.” I’m going to extend upon this mind-bending fact here—with a new twist.
I’m sorry, not sorry if this bursts your fairy tale bubble. But if it does, then part of my work here is done.
I’ll begin with a short story—my story.
I am still learning how to love myself.
I felt guilty—no, crap-filled and defeated when I got emails and messages that said, “How did you do it? How did you learn to love yourself?” after my “I’m my own soulmate” blog went viral. Why did I feel so uncomfortable? Well, because I realized I left out one very important piece—the human piece—the I’m always going to be getting to know and love myself piece.
I verbalized recently that I’m my own worst critic. I realized I cannot accept compliments from others without thinking there is an ulterior motive—a manipulative bent to said loving affections. I realized this, and I cried. Where did this inner dictatorial voice come from?
I went there. I went to that yucky, musty, dark, and stuffy place inside and asked. It had been awhile since I had actually authentically paid a visit. You see, for years I was trying to cover it up with light and airy positive thoughts. “I love myself,” I would say when I felt a rush of self-hatred and insecurity.
The shadows would suddenly become suppressed, and I would put on a seemingly self-confident smile and roll my tight shoulders back and down, puffing my sternum up high. “Abundance is all around me,” I would say when I felt rejection or abandonment.
In essence, I was candy-coating my emotions with an escaping thought.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good fantasy? Who doesn’t love a vacation from criticism, heaviness, and cruelty?
It was in a therapy session with a fellow student that I became the most vulnerable recently. Two other mental health counseling grad students and my professor were watching our session on a camera in the room next door. Even though our sessions were merely being done for practice—to fine tune our counseling skills before we step out into internship this summer—they turned into real therapy. Every person shed tears and became extremely vulnerable.
Brené Brown was the first to really expose vulnerability to the masses in a way that helped us to understand it, appreciate it, and be able to intellectualize it. But vulnerability is not an intellectual concept—it is raw and real. To be vulnerable is to be emotionally honest—which doesn’t mean talking about your emotions, but rather, expressing them!
So, in my 20-minute practice therapy session, I cried. I expressed my inner critic. I gave her a voice and acknowledged her existence. I admitted that as a mother, I felt so drawn to heal her—simply for my daughter’s own sake.
At the end of my session, my professor came in and cried with me. She identified. As a single mother, she said she experienced the very same feelings when raising her daughters while pursuing her master’s degree and then her PhD.
“Your statements hit home with me, and it was hard for me to step into a counselor role, so your classmates gave me their feedback to share with you.” She cried as she shared it with me. “What softened that inner critic for me was my daughters,” she said with a compassionate air.
“I would never talk to my daughter the way my inner critic talks to me,” I said. And she nodded.
“Yes, that was my turning point,” she said. “Find a picture of you as a little girl, and put it somewhere to remind you of that child who you would never talk to in such a manner.”
A light bulb went off in my heart when she said this.
I knew the picture. It was on my fridge. Just my head of short brown hair and freckled face, smiling in my Christmas dress. I was seven—the age when a sense of self forms, the self we call the ego. It is a tender age—and the age a child’s personality really begins to show.
So I tucked it in my cellphone license case. It’s there for me to see—often—and to remember. When I open my cellphone, there she is, the sweet, freckle-faced, smiling seven year old looking at me with wide, impressionable eyes.
So what does this have to do with the non-existence of a soulmate? It has everything to do with it. You see, when we seek external love—and a person to complete us, we are coming from a place of lack.
I know you’re probably thinking, but what about two whole people attracting each other? Well, what about it? Humans are social creatures. We are designed for coupling. Partnership is a natural yearning—and a healthy one!
Back to my little girl self. She always yearned for a soulmate friend—someone that just got her. And when she became a teen, that friend yearning turned into a lover yearning, and again, for someone that just got her.
The idea of soul is a deep one—it’s that essence of who we are that is already whole, complete, and in tune with all of our gifts—our light—our entire human consciousness. My little girl knew this, and yet sought it outside of herself, because she was taught to by society, by fairy tales—thanks Charles Perrault! Thanks Walt Disney!
There is no love outside of self love. I’m sorry, it’s true. You just can’t experience unconditional love from another, fully and truly, if you don’t have it for yourself. Unconditional love does not mean a constant state of bliss. It means you’re with you in your ups and in your downs. It means you’ve got your own back in the shame-producing, deeply embarrassing moments, just as much as you do when the whole world seems to cheer you on. Soul-deep love is something we are born with, but not something we are taught to hold onto.
Most of this world looks outside for love, validation, recognition, support, encouragement, and the list goes on and on. It’s just what we’re taught—from a very young age—at least in Western culture. We are taught to achieve to please others. We are taught to perform for the benefit of whomever is watching.
And at the end of the day, do those others really care how much we pretended to care about them by liking their social media posts and sending them birthday cards and attending their social engagements? I’m afraid they do not—because it’s just not enough to feed that outward love seeking vortex.
Because we are taught to look outward, most of our culture is very self-involved. We cannot get enough praise or support for our own beingness, because if we can’t tap into our own inner reserve of soul-love, then we will never be able to experience enoughness from that outside love, support, and praise.
And the down and dirty truth I did not speak directly in my first soulmate article was that fact that I seek that outside love just as much as you. However, something has shifted for me since I’ve acknowledged that I need it, I want it, and I deserve it. Something has shifted since I cried in that session and acknowledged (and in that place, I gave space to my shadow) that cruel wicked stepmother voice that echoes through my mind so very often. I enveloped my vulnerability, my needs, my longing from that soul-filled place of love.
You might be asking, as others did when they wrote to me: But how do you love your darkness? How do you love the stepmother without wanting to suffocate her? You just see it. Acknowledgment is enough. It’s like in meditation, when we watch all of our thoughts and feelings—the joyful and the terrible—with a sense of compassionate detachment. That compassion is the soul.
When I say, “Oh there’s my wicked stepmother voice again,” I give her space to breathe—and somehow that is love. Being present with self is the enoughness piece. Just think of how often you can be present with someone else as they suffer. How easy is it to be that and do that for yourself?
I love my need for love. Needing love is part of the human condition—and that’s okay, so says the voice of the soul.
At the end of the day, I am humbled. The soul is even more human than my ego self. My soul accepts all parts of me—all my tired, weary, suffering, and hopeless parts. My soul loves my love-me, I’m awesome moments just as it loves my oh, I repulse myself moments. It doesn’t tell me to change—it holds me like a mother would a small, screaming baby, enraged at not being able to fully express its needs to the world. It holds my impatience. It coddles my fear. It nurses my constant need for sustenance.
And what of my love? My soul expands my love. And when it does, it helps me embrace a love for the world—a love that feels limitless.
So when I befriend my soul, it becomes my best mate—and anyone else who steps into that love tango can feel it—but I know (and so does my soul), that it’s just the two of us, dancing this life dance together. We never limit who can join us, but in the end we’ll be together again—just my soul and I—mates for eternity.
And there’s no love more powerful than soulmate love.
Author: Sarah Lamb
Image: Unsplash/Henri Meihac
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Callie Rushton