Saturday, November 23, 2013

Soulmates are like Zombies.

Evo's Coffee Lounge
12oz Soy Soma Mocha
Heart-shaped Biscuit
(and a hot cocoa for my co-writer)

This will probably be brief and distracted since I have my little astronaut with me.  So let's jump right to it and see how far we get.

I have said before that soulmates are like zombies: Even though I know they're not real they still haunt my dreams. 

I really should have had a lot more supervision when I was a kid because I never should have been watching those horror flicks.  When you're that little, your brain believes everything no matter how much you tell it something isn't real.  As you grow up, you can only correct those childhood illusions so much.  It takes a long damn time and your efforts never quite erase what you've experienced.  After all, the experiences and information you receive as a child shapes the architecture of your brain for the rest of your life.  Think of remodeling a house.  How easy - how costly - is it to tear up the foundation?  Most of us are lucky if we can afford to replace the linoleum in the kitchen.

But no amount of supervision could have spared me the horrors of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and every other damn story about The One True Epic Love.  We have a cultural fixation on the idea of soulmates.  The narrative goes that there is one person out there that you are meant for, that you will know them when you meet them, and that you will only really, truly, for-reals be happy with that one person.  Any other person will fall short.  You will always be incomplete and never quite happy unless you are with The One.  Even if you thought you were happy and were engaged to someone already, once The One comes along, you just have to be brave enough to leave the person you had thought you could be happy with for the rest of your life.

There's another confounding factor in globalization.  We are so easily connected to everyone that it's not inconceivable that our One True Love could be halfway around the world.  So, we must be vigilant and scour every glimpse or scrap of media that passes before us, just in case we see The One in a graphic in a reposted story about the effects of sea level rise in lowland Asian countries.

This is a far, far cry from how we evolved.  Until the Industrial Age most people never traveled more than a dozen miles from the place they were born.  That's not a lot of opportunity to meet new people.  In fact, the person you married was almost always someone you knew and had know for most of your life.  (Or, the person your parents arranged for you to marry was someone they had known...). 

In other words, it was way more likely that you married a friend than a stranger.  There was no epic moment of meeting.  You had a relatively small pool of familiar candidates that you had years to evaluate before you eventually took a chance and picked one to form a family with.  Does this mean that people weren't happy when they didn't have as much choice?  No.  Flat out - no.

There have been articles previously about how too much choice can actually make us less happy.  Some choice is nice and everyone is different, but there comes a point when you stop being content with anything you choose because you know there is more out there.  And we are forever being promised that there's a better, new and improved product that will solve all our problems. 

So, between Cinderella and intercontinental travel and Ron Popeil, how can we ever be happy in a relationship?

This soulmate mythos held me back for a long time.  As much as I told myself it's irrational and self-destructive, I couldn't quite rid it from my psyche.  I also had the specter of divorce before me since my parents split when I was very young.  I had this background fear of choosing the wrong person so I held myself back from fully committing to anyone.  The specter of someone better would haunt me, even when I was engaged and really believed I had found the person I wanted to marry.

It took a long time for Cinderella to die, but it finally happened.  Well, maybe she's just in a coma... that no Prince Charming could awaken her from.  Either way, I reached a point where the fear abated and I realized that you can love many people in your life.  No one of them has to be perfect, or even perfect for you, since none of us are perfect and we will, hopefully, continue to change and evolve over our lifetimes.  Some people fit you better, some fit you worse, but the truth is that your odds are actually pretty good that you can find someone to be a great partner, to help you throughout the ups and downs and radical changes of your life.  You don't want to talk yourself into settling if, deep down, you know that it's not a great fit but, at some point, you need to open yourself to the joy that's there beside you.

I'll throw one last bone to the romantics out there... I do believe in intuition.  I do believe that you can have a sense of knowing about a person.  That doesn't happen every time or for every person.  And having that intuition or not having it doesn't make a person your soulmate or not.  With the cultural cloud of the soulmate fetish before our eyes, it's very hard to know what we're really feeling anyway.  Just do your best to be honest with yourself and the one(s) you're with. 

Be honest and be happy.


  1. Well thought out and well said, my very mature, grown-up step-daughter. ;-)
    Love ya, Chandra!

  2. I think Blogger ate my comment. I said something to the effect of:

    I like to think that we have several soul mates. Hey, if the Octo-mom can have 8 babies, why can't I have 8 soul mates?