“Carrie – You are everything to me. When will you realize you are my soulmate? I look in the mirror and I can practically see you, because we are so much alike. I will do anything to be with you. Always yours, John.”
I set aside the old love letter I’ve been reading, and only one thought is in my mind, albeit a pretty critical one.
John? Who’s John?
One of the joys of the cleaning project I’ve been working on is discovering old gems, and the shoebox full of love letters and notes I passed in middle school (way, way before the introduction of Smart Phones) is a true treasure. As I expected, it contains plenty of notes passed between my girl friends and myself, complete with check boxes and different colored ink and sparkly hearts to dot the i’s. What I didn’t expect was to see so many notes from guys that seemed pretty into me – including the aforementioned note from John.
Memory is a funny thing. When I look back at elementary, middle and high school, I don’t remember a lot of interest from boys. I had my share of crushes, but I never felt that those feelings were reciprocated. Rather, I tell myself stories about how unlovable I was, and how insanely long it took until I got my first boyfriend (Aaron McNally, a cutie I met at a cheesy teen dance club when I was a sophomore). I lament to my friends how I never had a “real boyfriend” that lasted more than three months until I met my college sweetheart. I moan about getting my heart broken again and again by boys that I really felt a connection to, and wail about how unfair life could be that I just couldn’t find my soulmate.
Love, soulmates and “happily ever after” have always been hugely attractive concepts for me. I was a magnet to princess stories as a child, and couldn’t get enough of sappy chick flicks as a teen. I watched Luke and Laura’s wedding on General Hospital and cried right alongside my mother. I sang like Ariel, dancing underwater, looking on every shore for my prince. I’ve also always been drawn to the spiritual and mystic worlds, playing “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” and taking Ouija boards extremely seriously. Naturally, the first and pretty much only question I ever an Ouija board asked was, “Who is my soulmate?” No other questions seemed to matter. The movie “Only You” was like my holy grail – a chick flick with Ouija boards in its opening frames and destiny as its main theme? Are you kidding me? I must have watched it a hundred times.
Reading through my old journals has been an eye-opening experience for me, much more so than even reading through old notes and letters. On virtually every page I mention a boy in some fashion. “Does Brian like-me, like-me, or just like me?” “Will Chris call me? He said he would, but will he, really?” “The way Paul looks into my eyes is incredible. He is the one. I just know it.” Frankly, it’s embarrassing, and boring. I roll my eyes after every few pages thinking about my desperation and complete and total focus on boys. How much time did I spend obsessing about finding a soulmate? Was it worth it?
I wanted all along what John thought he had with me, and I can’t even remember who John is. I dismissed his emotions just as the boys I had my heart attached to dismissed my own. He didn’t look like what I pictured in my head as my soulmate, so I didn’t even give him a chance.
The extent of my hypocrisy is mind-blowing.
I sit here today as an adult woman that loves truer and deeper than she ever thought possible. I’m a girl that sees beauty and love in storms and rainfall just as surely as I do in rainbows and sunshine. I’ve experienced not only romantic love, but love of my children, and love of friends, and overwhelming love of and for my family members. These things are true and real. Maybe my obsession about finding my soulmate was really just a bunch of baloney.
The dangerous part of my sole focus on finding one soul mate is that it has closed my heart off to all the other forms of love that there are out there. Maybe Aaron, my first boyfriend, wasn’t meant to be my husband, but the love he added to my life when I was 15 is irreplaceable. Maybe I didn’t marry my college sweetheart, but does that negate the impact he had in my life? Couldn’t I consider both of them my soulmates?
For me to say that love is amazing is too much of an understatement. I truly believe that love is everything. I simply feel that my vision of love was too short-sighted as I grew up. The idea of one boy and one girl finding each other is beautiful and wonderful, but it’s not the only meaning of love.
Love is all around us. Love is as true and deep when it is between friends, siblings and neighbors as it is when it’s between a husband and wife … it just looks a little different. It fills a different gap in our souls. We need all the kinds of love, not just the romantic type. If we spend our lives searching for Our One True Love, we close ourselves off to the other things that are staring us right in the face.
Do soul mates exist? Maybe. Lancelot is my soul mate. Maybe John was one, too.
Love shouldn’t have limits. Let’s not trick ourselves into thinking that only one person is out there for us. Let’s not dismiss the importance of every kind of love.
Maybe it’s time to stop thinking there’s only One Perfect Soulmate for each of us, and instead, open our hearts and let every kind of love in.