“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 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
I sat numb across from him on my therapist’s couch, breaking the court-ordered restraining order and seeking closure; someone to pacify the leftover pain from our last night together when we fought, the gun went off, and then the police came. The moment surreal, flashes of days prior when we flirted with surrendering to the goodness, the promising future created from a messy past. With shaking insides, I listened to the therapist talk about the life forces within each of us and how whichever one we fed dictated reality.
There is life and there is death.
“Some people’s life forces are so great,” she said, “the highs match the lows—the pendulum rocking violently with each decision made. The duality so great, it could consume a person.” She paused. “Or two people.”
I glanced at him, face flushed, eyes swollen, hands tightly clasped and head down; my own heart painfully aware these very mannerisms were what kept me coming back to him again and again. Although she looked at him, I knew she spoke to me, too. The battle he faced, and always had, was also my battle: a unique vitality and deep sensitivity to life, a yearning to overpower self-sabotage and shame. We marched to the same unrest, wanting the former but succumbing to the latter, unable to fully commit to our fullest potential. The Universe provided ample opportunities for us to change our destructive patterns and make healthy changes to ourselves and the relationship, but humans like us don’t listen until the sirens are blaring so loudly we’re left empty-handed and at the mercy of a court system. The truth was, we had ripped the rearview mirror off months before, ignoring blind spots, rising and falling on our own accord. We fought the same internal forces and pointed the same fingers, secretly hoping love would save us.
I knew the extent of my wounds – three years of therapy told me unhealed childhood pain would create similar agonizing stories with different actors. The external circumstances may disguise themselves but the lesions will be torn open regardless of who we manifest to fill the void in each moment. We beg and fight and plead with each person, not realizing we have chosen and applied unrealistic standards to them in attempts to heal what’s locked away beneath our own facade. We pretend they’re the broken ones so we don’t have to be. We deny our own fears and pain, hand them to our partner on a silver platter and secretly pray they can undo years of trauma.
This never works. Instead, you’re left with two manic seekers hoping to outsmart the universal law that darkness must be brought to light to be healed. In turn, many of us stay in these relationships to avoid the most excruciating work on the planet: facing darkness in exchange for consciousness, truth and self-inquiry.
That girl; I only saw it clearly when I became a shell of myself, casting aside my gifts in favor of detachment from Self. And truth be told, he was that boy, chasing an unavailable girl. We were both unreachable, even to ourselves, afraid to sit with the abandonment we both faced years ago. We used each other to seek wholeness; each fight and plea for change chiseling away at the concept. Although we fought valiantly to heal in the arms of one another, our relationship held more projection than protection.
One of the first times we hung out, I noticed how my ear aligned perfectly with his heartbeat when we embraced. His arms around me, our bodies fit like a puzzle, and each time I heard his heart thrashing in my ear I knew this love was real. It meant something. It was bigger than either of us. The sound of his heart echoed what I longed to hear in my own body: a life force bigger than the 5’3” frame encasing it.
We both entered and left the relationship messy, flawed, imperfect. His mother wound fit like a glove around my daddy issues. Each fight held a childhood story begging to be told. We were mirrors to each other, two gypsy souls unearthing the deepest of wounds.
There is nothing more exhausting than battling the person you most want love from and most want to give love to. The duality of our relationship drained us. We had convinced ourselves we were available for love to the other but nothing could be further from the truth. We were as addicted to each other as we were terrified. We were always standing next to the fiery truth within our souls, wind blowing, gasoline in one hand and a match in the other, eyes closed, heart guarded and each wound from our childhood bleeding at the slightest familiar trigger. Although I never wanted to say the words out loud, the mundane, simple path to healing could never be ours—not together, anyway.
Two people with such intense dueling life forces can never spend a lifetime together. Just enough time to bring those forces to an excruciating battle so we could both choose life: independently and with unwavering purpose. Just enough time to crack each other open and shine a light on what needed to be healed within each of us.
We were two people running toward each other to escape ourselves. And we were both out of breath.
Teary-eyed, I looked over at him, knowing our counseling appointment and time together was almost up. I thought about his tattoo, a moon encased within the sun on his upper shoulder and how when we first began dating I proclaimed it a mark of destiny considering my deep connection to the moon and his outward fondness of the sun. This was a sure sign we were the other person’s half. As our time together progressed I began noticing how the sun and moon rarely existed simultaneously in the sky. And when they did, the moon looked strangely out of place, dulled and ostracized for not belonging.
Two objects that profound couldn’t possibly share the sky, especially with the world beneath them. But when they did, in the early morning, I thought of our connection, wondering if the universe was sending me a sign this love was possible. That we could not only exist together, but be beautiful and stand on our own. And although people may say it didn’t look right, the evidence was in front of them— magical, terrifying and forcing questions of what they thought they knew. Maybe we could share space together in the sky; take turns shining light on the earth and rise and fall as the planet spun beneath us. Hope swirled around me at this revelation. The sun and the moon could be together. It happened with eclipses, too.
Maybe our love was possible.
As fast as the epiphany divulged, I crashed back to earth, realizing even during an eclipse, a beautiful manifestation of nature, one always covered the other’s light.
This realization set me free. I was whole on my own regardless of how alone I felt amongst the world as a single woman. I had to show up, open-hearted, fully present and in awe of my own light before I could take up space with another. I was not broken or incomplete, just beautifully human.
A Montana native, Rachel is a writer, dance teacher, moon lover, yogi, seeker, board certified holistic health counselor and mother of two young daughters. Always learning, sometimes teaching, Rachel believes she was put on this planet to tell the truth through her words: raw and uncensored. Having suffered from an eating disorder for over a decade, she writes to awaken her own soul and hopes others will discover pieces of themselves through her honest accounts of a sometimes messy, yet beautiful life. You can find her on Facebook or connect with her on Instagram.