To riff off something shared by Bird Uncaged:
“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.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
I think I’ve only used the term soul mate seriously once in my life before I got a little leery of it. G and I clicked like crazy, and he was my great awakening, the one who encouraged my photographic passion and gave me the adventure of a lifetime. (Skinny-dipping in the rainforest, check.) Admittedly, my understanding of soul mate was the somewhat adolescent, HE IS THE ONLY PERFECT ONE MINE FOREVER I CAN BE HAPPY WITH CAN’T MISS MY CHAAAAAANCE. And that, of course, made no sense at all because how could my “soul mate” be utterly lacking in something like, you know, honesty, while working on so many other levels?
So I’ve hesitated to even use the phrase ever since. I certainly don’t think that there is The One for anyone. I think we help each other become The One, or at least that’s the way I see my life progressing. I’m not perfect, and I feel that some (many?) levels of growth are achievable only through relationship. In the immortal, beyond-years wisdom of my best friend, relationship (and the accompanying conflict) increases our love ability, though temporarily decreasing our loveability. And in that, I think Gilbert is right that a soul mate “brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.” When I realize that my actions hurt the person (and people) I’m supposed to love most deeply, even unintentionally, it makes it that much clearer that I need to change.
I want to add a bit to Gilbert’s description of a soul mate, though: rather than revealing my flaws, I feel like G brought to light a brighter self, different from anyone’s expectations including my own, despite (and in some ways because of) the darkness wrought by his dishonesty and desertion. I think soul mates point out the best in us too, whether they leave us or not.
So I guess the only appropriate way I can think of to tie up this little ramble is with a line from Wicked, a good though somewhat overrated (in my opinion) show:
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.