You laid on my chest,
Counting the beats,
While I counted yours.
Hoping you’d say,
See? They beat the same.
You laid on my chest,
Counting the beats,
While I counted yours.
Hoping you’d say,
See? They beat the same.
“Do you believe soulmates exist?”
My friend asked me this as he was telling me about his impending breakup.
“And if they do, how do we know we’ve found our actual soul mate vs. just a deep connection or fleeting love? Is it really worth the energy and potential pain if we’re not sure?”
I answered the first question without hesitation. “Yes, absolutely.” But the second one gave me pause. How do you know, especially in the beginning, when it all feels magical?
But yes, there is definitely a distinction. Putting it into words, however, is the equivalent of trying to explain how it feels to be loved or to have faith.
But that’s hard to conjure up on a whim, especially while trying to avoid saying all the things that made me cringe when I was in the thick of a heartbreak.
My enlightened response?
“I don’t know…you just know.”
If that doesn’t make you cringe…ambiguities and sweeping generalizations are the last thing you want to hear when your heart is being ripped out. You want fucking answers.
So I decided it best to keep my mouth shut, nod my head empathetically and refrain from rattling off reasons why it’s for the best. All I really wanted to do, however, was encourage him to memorize how he feels right now so he’ll remember the next time this happens: the pain really doesn’t last forever…I think.
Thankfully, I opted to keep my mouth shut.
I saw his relationship unfold from the beginning. There were obvious warning signs, but he couldn’t see them, of course. We rarely can.
We’re too immersed in the present moment, relishing in the excitement of discovery. We finally found someone who fits, who can finish our sentences, celebrate our quirks, shine light on the beautiful parts that get lost when no one’s there to name them. We found someone to play with, to laugh with, to make our hearts fuller, lighter. We found our soul mate…
Or did we? How do we know for sure, if what we found is real, if it’s worth the gamble when the stakes are so high.
We don’t, I guess…until we do.
Okay, I don’t really know that “you just know.”
It makes sense that you would. I’ve heard that’s how it works. But I honestly can’t speak from experience. I’ve never met mine, not that kind, I don’t think. I thought I did. But, I would know, right?
The whole thing got me thinking. Not just about ‘finding my soulmate’, all of it- the different shades, degrees and patterns of connection, love and relationships.
But seriously, I’m still here? 101? I should have a Ph.D. in this shit by now. Or at least be making substantial progress. So why do I still feel like I’m learning how to spell?
Y-O-U A-R-E D-O-I-N-G T-H-I-S A-L-L W-R-O-N-G
No, this isn’t where I want to be- sifting through relationships that are frustrating and unfulfilling. And truly, as much as it might appear to consume me, I’m not on some mad quest to find the one. I’m fine with a break from it all, knowing that I’m still a bit fragile and borderline calloused…not a good place to start from, I’ve discovered.
Yet they continue to surface, and I continue to play them out: these impossible scenarios that turn into an insidious dance- one that gets replayed over and over, making sure I stay a little fragile and increasingly calloused.
So time for a bit more self-reflection (which I assure you, I’m super excited about).
However, I have additional incentive this time; my friend needs some answers.
So I’m doing a little research…
Next week: No assignments. Attendance encouraged, open-mind required.
Extra credit for any shared soulmate encounters.
~ illustration by Rebecca Dautremer
Do you wish sometimes you had never met me?
No. I wish you had never left me.
I had to… you would have never left me.
* Maelstrom: A powerful whirlpool in the sea or river. A situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil.
I think it’s time.
‘It’s easier to leave than be left, isn’t it?’
You know it is. You always leave first
…. you just do it standing still.
He took it from her, studying it closely.
“I think it’s broken”.
It is, she said.
“I can try to fix it”.
They tried, she replied.
“Well, I haven’t”.
No, you haven’t, she hoped.
I decided this weekend I was going to write something funny. (I am, you know. I mean, I can be). But it’s raining, and it’s been raining for two days straight. Who can be funny when it’s raining?
I contemplated putting this off and being funny tomorrow. Forecast for tomorrow: rain, all day.
So funny. Okay, well, I made an honest attempt to ride my bike while holding an umbrella. That might have made someone laugh. I didn’t, though. Because it’s cold, and my rain jacket and favorite boots are at the bottom of god knows what box.
So I arrived at the coffee shop later than I wanted to, wet, cold…and not funny.
I’m sure there is some eye-rolling going on. It rains here like 2 days a year. Most people are almost giddy, relishing in the anomaly and blatant reminder that fall is upon us. And all I can do is think of the last time I was cold and wet.
It was January. I was in Texas, completely alone and utterly heartbroken. And it almost took me under.
I had fallen for someone who changed his mind, risked everything and lost so much more. So there I was, packing up all of my things, yet again, trying to figure out where to go. Did it even matter? There was no home to go back to and no one waiting for me to come home…except Biscuit.
But it’s not January anymore, Brooke. It’s September, 9 months later. And it’s fall. You love fall. It’s your favorite. People associate it with death and decay, but for me, it’s pumpkins. It’s crisp mornings, chunky sweaters and my favorite boots. It’s Halloween decorations and the crunch of leaves under my favorite boots. It’s snuggled up next to a warm fire with the person I love. And it’s Biscuit, sitting on top of a big pile of leaves, his red-orange fur blending in with the autumn colors all around him.
But my chunky sweaters and favorite boots are still in boxes that I admittedly haven’t had the stomach to unpack one more fucking time. And I got rid of most of my decorations because, to be honest, when you’re packing up all of your shit for the 7th time, they seem like the perfect thing to not have to carry up another flight of stairs or cram into a 400-hundred-something square foot space. And the warm fire, well it’s in the house I used to live in with my amazing husband, who is no longer my husband. And Biscuit, well, he’s dead.
So I guess this year, fall is about death because most of the things I loved last fall don’t exist anymore.
This isn’t funny, is it? Like not at all. But shit, it’s still effing raining outside.
Okay, let’s shelf death and heartache for a second. I wanted to make you laugh, not cry. Which I will say is one obvious perk to this weather. It’s hard to differentiate tears from raindrops.
Tears and raindrops. It really is kinda funny. It’s all water, which literally dictates whether life exists or not. But it can also take it away in a matter of seconds. It can wipe out entire villages, kill tens of thousands of people, and take us under with a force that makes breath seem like it was never an option.
But it can also bring us to a state of complete bliss within seconds: a cold sip of water on a hot day, or a hot bath on a cold night, watching it dance across the rocks of a river bed, or hearing it culminate in waves that kiss the sand, lulling us to sleep.
The ultimate paradox; we need it to live, but it’s responsible for so much death. It can bring us sheer joy or cause excruciating pain. It can’t always be seen, but it’s always present. And it never dissipates. It changes- adapts to its circumstances- but it never diminishes. It is everywhere, all around us, but so many die because they are deprived of it.
As it turns out, it is disturbingly similar to the very thing that always seems to end with tears, at least for me.
Which brings me right back to fall. A love, a dream, and a precious puppy all synced up with the season, their decomposition swift. And all I could do was stand by, completely powerless, and watch and cry and completely fall apart as they slipped further and further away…until all that was left was a mound of dirt covering up a hole I so desperately wanted to crawl into.
So here I am, staring at this puppy next to me who is snuggled up under his person’s feet, looking down at my feet, wishing I had my favorite pair of boots on because mine are wet and my toes are cold. And I’m right back to the last time I was cold and wet. And I think of Texas and my puppy sitting in the leaves, and…
It’s funny how predictable it all is, the whole cyclical thing: water, seasons, life, love.
But it’s love that life always circles back to, where it starts; it’s as essential as our first breath, but its absence can feel indistinguishable from our last. And just like water, we need it to live, but it has resulted in so much loss and destruction, at least for me.
Most days, I feel like I’m completely deprived of it. But the truth is, none of it has disappeared. Not a drop. It has changed, it had to; circumstances have changed. It can’t be seen anymore, but it hasn’t diminished. It’s just as it was before, filling me up completely…and leaving me gasping for air.
I know, I missed my target with this one. But I’ll try again next week.
Forecast: Sunny, all week.
An Addendum of sorts: Please take a minute to read Brandewijn Words latest post, Perspective. I’m beyond honored to be a part of it and think his perspective is beautiful and kind and so very needed. It just gets so easy to slip into judgment mode, to drift towards entitlement and self-righteousness contingent on our vantage point.
He ends with this, and it absolutely humbles me, but is also was a beautiful reminder. We truly are all in this together.
I make this promise to Brooke and to all of you. I will dig…deep…into her honest “telling of events” to find her and try to understand her world of this or thats. Because that is her world and her perspective… And those are the only ones that matters and the only ones I need to know.
That sums it up, right? Not his promise to me, but his commitment to question his vantage point, to do his best to know someone’s story and check himself when he makes an assumption or judgment. Ultimately, it’s to come from a place of empathy. Because we each have our story, right, with so many layers. It gets complicated and messy, and we fuck up and do things that we regret. We hurt people, we hurt ourselves. intentionally or unintentionally. But the beautiful thing is, we get the gift of being able to step back and check ourselves, to shift our perspective and do what we can to understand why someone says or behaves the way they do…to practice empathy.
“Those of us who care do so because we can’t but feel otherwise if we are being honest with ourselves. There is no escape from the vulnerability of interdependence. I breathe because you do.”
A little ‘light-hearted’ reading to start your weekend. Okay, it’s not light-hearted, but it might have something to do with that general area.
Hope it at least makes you feel…