Opinion

Soul Mate

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mate’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, then introduce you to your spiritual master…

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

When I saw Little Switch Bitch’s quote for this week, I went on the hunt to find out more. I’ve always been an Gilbert fan, and I’ve read Eat, Pray, Love a few times.

The quote prompt as it stands is just the first paragraph of the text I have shared here. but the second paragraph makes things a bit more uncomfortable, and I’ve got some things to say about that, too. And then the third, kind of pulls it back, in a rather manic sort of way.

Everyone seems to have their own idea of what a soul mate is, but I’d wager that Gilbert’s assumption is fairly accurate in the first line:

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit…

“Perfect” is such a troublesome word, so in this context, I’d replace it with “right.” The thing that is right for you. The word “right” leaves room for discomfort and growth and interpretation. What is right right now, may be wrong tomorrow – and what is right doesn’t always feel good or happy or light. Right isn’t always easy.

A soul mate is a person who is the right fit.

Let’s go on…

…a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.

A previous marriage therapist, I can’t place who, once told me that purpose of marriage was growth. I can’t quite remember how she explained it, but it made perfect sense at the time, and I have a vague recollection of it now. Her point was really that a partner’s job is to help you see where you need to grow and then to challenge you in helpful ways to become what you were meant to become.

Allow the poet in me to wordsmith: We are the water to each other’s soil…the sun to each other’s leaves…the cool of the night that allows us to rest so we can get up and grow again the next day.

A soul mate has hard work to do, because it is the work of honesty and truth. Mirrors don’t lie, and what they reveal isn’t always what we want to see…but is always what we need to see. Because of this, the relationship between to souls who come together for the purpose of growth (even if they didn’t or don’t realize it at the time – the universe has its plans and will have its way) is not always placid. Change can be messy, painful, and traumatic. Catharsis and epiphany often come at some cost, and certain things, both tangible and internal, must be left behind for us to metamorphose. A soul mate can be a part of this process at any stage. They can be the catalyst, the guide, the muse.

They must help us to see ourselves as we are, so that we can become who we were meant to be…

And Gilbert is correct in saying that this can be a painful relationship. Not all soul mates are meant to stay with you. Some come in for a purpose, to shake things up, or cause the painful crack that will allow your essence to breath, and then they leave. And often, we don’t realize the lessons these people’s actions were meant to teach until years later when we are ready to receive it. Much like Frost’s yellow road, way leads onto way, and we lose track of where we’ve come from – but every person, like every fork in the path, and every decision we have made – has brought us here.

…and go where we were meant to go.

A soul mate’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…

Yes, yes, and yes, again. A soul mate is an earthquake to your complacency, a rock skipped across your stagnant waters, keeping you fresh and clear…a mirror for their own truths.

But here’s where I don’t agree with Gilbert. I don’t think a soul mate has to hurt you, cause you pain, or leave – although they can and do. 

Soul mates come into our lives, as the old saying goes…for a reason, a season, or a life time.

I have mine. And He’s been everything to me that Gilbert promises. He is my…

…mirror, the person who shows [me] everything that is holding [me] back, the person who brings [me] to [my] own attention so [I] can change your life. [He] is…the most important person [I’ll] ever meet, because [He] tear[s] down [my] walls and smack[s] me awake…. [He] shake[s] me up, tears apart [my] ego a little bit, show[s] [me] [my] obstacles and addictions, break[s] [my] heart open so new light can get in…

He is a true soul mate, in every regard. The yang to my yin. The heavy to my soft. The dark to my light. He does not make my life easier. He does not make things simple or less confusing. He muddles and stirs and rocks and spins things, and only lets me rest for short periods of time. He keeps me moving and changing and reaching and growing, sometimes pulling me kicking and screaming into change. But, that is His role. Not to fit perfectly. But to fit…right.

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