If someone "completes" you ... that's dysfunctional, not romantic.
We've been married eight years, and yesterday I told him I wanted a separation. He's my second husband. I loved him when we got married and I still do. But was he, is he, my soulmate? I didn't think so when we got married. Now, I'm begining to think something different.
My first husband was my "soulmate". I loved him, or thought I loved him, more than I loved myself. I moved halfway around the world for him. I would have stepped in front of a speeding train for him. I thought that was what soulmates did for each other.
I thought that was the right way to love. Isn't that a soulmate—no boundaries, all giving, all encompassing?
I never knew where I stopped and where he began. His pain was my pain, his joy, my joy. I lived for him.
The whole time I thought he looked at love the same way as me—after all, we were soulmates.
Plato said this of defining soulmates: "And when half of them meets the other half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment."
That's true love ... right? Uhhhh ...
Sure, we fought like cats and dogs. Because he was the source of all of my joy, he was also the source of all of my pain.
I blamed him for every negative thing in my life. If the kids were difficult, it was his fault. If I felt a lack of love in my life, that was his fault. When he started travelling all but four days a month, my loneliness was his fault. My isolation was because of him, because he held my heart and my soul.
He was my everything, and being without him was like torture—but wasn't that what soulmates felt when apart?
I said, "Until Death do us part." I never thought he would ever not have control of my heart. We were soulmates, chained together forever. I held to that belief even though now, writing it, I sound a little cray-cray-crazy!
Even though he worked 24/7 and was never home. Even when I found panties in his luggage. Even when our lovemaking felt more like assault. Even when he told me I was the most miserable person in the world.
I held to the belief that, as soulmates, we'd get through it.
That is, until the day he said, "I'm leaving you."
My whole belief system around love, how to love and feel loved, crashed to the floor with those three words. It was an audible crash.
He ripped half of my soul out as he abruptly left me. Even though he gave me message after message that his experience of our relationship was smothering, hostile and, yes, miserable—his departure still felt out of left field.
Truth be told, I was also miserable, abused, neglected and bullied by him. But because he was "the one," I refused to let go. I refused to take responsibility for my own life and my own happiness.
He was "the one," my "soulmate" ... until he wasn't.
Several years later I met my current husband. With my belief in soulmates crushed, I entered into our marriage with practicality.
My friends asked me, "But Jennifer ... is he 'the one'?" My response was that there is no 'one.' He is a good man and he loves me and wants to take care of me. I needed that kind of love.
That was eight years ago and I feel like we have grown over those eight years into another lifetime, like a lizard shedding its old skin for something that is different and more fitting to its new, larger form.
It's wonderful and beautiful and terrifying.
My concept of "soulmate" has changed dramatically. How our culture defines soulmates is wrong!
"Soulmate" isn't this overly attached enmeshment. The songs are wrong. Jerry McGuire was wrong. No one should complete another person. We need to come to our love relationships whole and stop buying into the concept of "the one."
Truth be told, we have many soulmates or, as I like to say, soul companions.
Soul companions aren't just the person we choose to have as our romantic partner. I have girlfriends to whom I am deeply bonded. They are my soul companions. My children are soul companions. And yes, my second husband is my soul companion, so much more so than my first ever was.
A soul companion is a person who teaches you great things about yourself, whether the lessons are through joy or pain—it's always growth.
To me, a soul companion inspires an attraction—not necessarily a sexual one. More so, it's a soul connection. A sense of familiarity with each other. A deep desire to create happiness for the other person without being a detriment to your own soul!
Someone who demands you give up your heart, your spirit, your soul for them is no soul companion to you.
My second husband, the one I married out of practicality, the one I just left, is, as I see now, a not "the one" soul companion. I hope to always have him in my life. I'm just not sure I want to stay married. We are taking time to grow seperately right now.
I need to take care of my soul now, and it seems impossible to do so while remaining married.
My husband has modeled for me great love, great flexibility, and acceptance. He and I have both come to understand the contract we made eight years ago no longer serves us.
We bonded over mutual need, a sincere love for each other and a desire to help the other grow. Our marriage has been difficult, however we have both grown tremendously.
He said, "I love you more than our marriage, and if you would be happier outside of our marriage then that is what I want for you and for us." This is soul language.
No chaining one another. No rage. No abandonment. I believe we're connected at a deeper level now more so than by the narrow Judeo-Christian definition of marriage.
So, we decided—if we are better people and do more in the world separately, then we should separate, rather than going down the road of a typical break up which looks more like our first ones. Ugly ... suffering ... litigious, and lots of ... ugly.
Now, as we both practice love, compassion and detachment, we have experienced each other in profound, life-changing ways. We are able to create a stronger soul connection and be each other's soul companions.
The jury is still out on the future of our marriage. We are still separated and figuring out our future together and apart.
When I allowed myself to defuse from the rigid definition of "the one" or "not the one" I've found myself connecting and loving more fully and securely than I ever have before. Most importantly, I'm now connecting with my own spirit and learning to rely on myself in a new way.
I am learning how to embrace sleeping alone and not feel devastated, but actually feel a sense of connection to spirit and to myself. Single. I am sitting in the need for strength and trusting in my own ability to make a life for myself.
I challenge you to question what our culture says about love, soulmates, commitment and marriage. Let no one complete you!
Embrace all of your beautiful soul companions, whomever they are! And stop looking for "the one"! And stop crying because you are alone in your bed! Love is all around you. Searching for "the one" is futile.
Be your own soulmate.
To end, I leave you with a quote from Rachel Cohn: "There is no such thing as a soulmate...and who would want there to be? I don't want half of a shared soul. I want my own damn soul."
Amen to that!