soul mates


I tepidly tip-toed into the Al and Tipper split angst at my mommy gig.  Basically falling back on the whole “marriage is work” and that successful marriages – and I am taking the gold standard of “til death do we part”* – are made up of two committed people.  Commitment being key and something that a couple must do over and over again as their relationship rolls on and time/circumstances change them and it.

But I ran across a piece by Leslie Bennets at The Daily Beast that I really wanted to comment on, but didn’t.  Bennets is the author of The Feminine Mistake, which takes to task women who drop out of the workplace to raise children. In Bennets’ opinion, this is idiotic at best and suicidal at worst but as she is working for a world-view model that places material wealth as the most important thing – her arguments make sense.

The Beast post talked about the myriad of ways that marriages die.

There are so many ways a marriage can die.

Some are blown up in a fateful instant; a couple might have been married for years, might appear the ideal couple to everyone who knows them, even believe it themselves—and one day a stranger walks into a room and one partner is struck by acoup de foudre as decisive as a mortal blow. When this happens—and it sometimes does—even the most devoted spouse hasn’t got a chance. Other marriages take years to wither, with love seeping away, bit by bit, as if leaking from a small, fatal hole that can drain an enormous reservoir.

I won’t argue the “withering, fatal hole” position. I have my own theories but won’t share them here as I have done so already in past posts. But I call bullshit on the statement in bold.

The idea that a happily married person or sometimes two lock eyes across a crowded patio at a neighborhood barbeque and are struck by kismet is utter crap. The rationalizing that has to gone on to justify anything so Hollywood High School makes me wonder whether to laugh in someone’s face or just give a patronizing eye-roll.

No one is fated to be with just one other person. Sorry. And any person who has used this sorry-ass excuse on a partner to justify abandoning that person is engaging in classic denial of personal responsibility and was probably the lazy end of the duo in terms of anything requiring heavy-lifting skills to begin with.

Leaving your spouse for someone else is an avoidance tactic of the highest magnitude. It’s one thing to decide – as perhaps the Gores did – that effort, reaffirmation of love and commitment to a partnership aren’t worth the work anymore – but it’s quite another to cop out with “kismet” and “soul-mates” and “this can’t be denied” excusing of one’s very bad, infantile and supremo-selfish behavior.

You’re being harsh, Anniegirl. How would you know even?

Yeah, I heard that. You out there who’s probably pulled this cheesy escape hatch once or twice.

Rob and I couldn’t be more well-matched. In a lot of ways, he suits me better than Will could ever have done. I feel that I have known him always – that we’ve spent the better part of our early existences involved with each other – probably intimately. You can’t get more “kismet” than us.

But, if he and I had met by chance – at one of these across the room affairs – back in the mid-90’s when he, Shelley and the girls were living in Kansas, would it have led to a soul-implosion?

No.

Why?

Because he was a devoted married man who loved his wife and his daughters and knew that marriage wasn’t a trivial thing to be tossed aside to chase sexually fueled mirages. In fact, dollars to donuts that he wouldn’t have noticed me beyond a shared interest in Star Trek and a half-hour’s worth of nerdy conversation.

And me? I didn’t note married men beyond “too bad he’s married”.

There are rules to engagement, and people who disregard boundaries like “marriage” are the least likely to stick with you later on when the going gets tough – and it does for everyone at some time or another.

Those couples exist though, Anniegirl. You’ve heard the stories of the cousin’s sister’s co-workers mom and stepdad, or the neighbor’s best friend’s uncle who left their spouse for a random stranger and spent 30 wonderful years together, right?

Anecdotal urban myths.

People like that exist in so few a number that they might as well be the Lost Ark or the Holy Grail. They are like believing in Disney Princess stories. Most people who leave a partner for someone else – eventually leave that person too. That’s the rule. Haven’t we talked about “exceptions” versus “rule” before, people?

It’s irritating that people like, Bennets – who are quick to chastise people about their relationship choices in general – so willingly feed the mythology of failed marriages by promoting ridiculous ideas like “destiny” and “eyes locking across a crowded PTA meeting”. Marriage is a one of many relationship vehicles that we are presented with in life to work on ourselves in some way or to assist others in their life journey – mostly the latter, but that’s my opinion only.

*Knowing fully well that an awful lot of widowed folk call bs on that as it’s not a standard part of the vows, which can vary a lot depending on religion and civil standards. Although, my personal opinion is that anyone going into marriage thinking they can call the ball on length are living in the Magic Kingdom too.


I was blog surfing among the widowed recently and came across a very touching, heartfelt post about soul mates. As my regular readers know, I don’t really believe in the concept. The idea there is just one perfect counterpart for us in all of existence as we suppose we know it just seems ridiculous especially in light of the fact that many people lose partners go on to happy and fulfilling relationships.

My great-grandfather lost his first wife in childbirth after ten years of marriage. He was crushed. He literally gave away their five children and wandered like a Hebrew for over twenty years. Never settled anywhere for long. Went into and fell out of numerous careers. Spent years on end so out of touch with his family that no one can say for sure where he was or what he was up to for at least half of the twenty years he spent on his own before meeting his second wife, my great-grandmother, and the mother of  his six youngest children. When she died of breast cancer not long after their 19 year old daughter also died of breast cancer, Granddaddy simply allowed himself to be shuffled between my grandfather and his remaining sisters*. Her death snuffed the spirit she’d rekindled with her love.

Who was Granddaddy Christie’s soul mate? Based on his reaction to the losses and my understanding of the term, I would have to say both women were. It flies in the Disney princess theory of soul mates so heavily marketed in our society, the notion that we have just the one shot. It defies the reality that many, many people never mate at all. The numbers of single people who have never married have never been higher and are increasing all the time. Is there a soul mate shortage, perhaps? Does the creator play favorites?**

The blogger, and one of the commenter’s, seemed to think that only a very select group of people are blessed with soulmates, leaving me to wonder what they think the rest of us have in terms of relationships. Are we simply filling voids with warm bodies? Settling? And does this mean that people who never marry at all are lesser beings in the eyes of whatever god they espouse? Is there an unworthiness factor in play?

Not wanting to pursue remarriage does not confer special status on one’s former union, nor  does it mean that, if one chose, one couldn’t find another mate who fits seamlessly – and I understand from experience the difficulties in play. It simply means that, for whatever reason, a person isn’t interested in a future that includes marrying again. It’s not mystical. Why the need to dress it up with soul mate mumbo jumbo? And by doing so make assumptions about other people’s relationships? Is it just the grief talking? Or a Queen Gertrude thing? Protesting too much because maybe the soul mate thing is just a Madison Avenue invention and it’s too hard to go there after a loss?

I am touchy where this topic is concerned. When this “soul mate” thing is bandied about, it feels like judgement. The same way the second class widow status conferred on remarried widowed people by so many of our small peer group is judgement. Either Will wasn’t my soul mate at all or Rob is me just settling, and it’s so much more complicated than that. And it doesn’t take me – the person I was or the person I have become – into account at all. I become a passive princess. Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. Life assesses and assigns based on a mysterious set of criteria that have nothing to do with who I am.

And it also judges Rob and I in terms of our commitments to Shelley and Will, questioning them at best and nullifying them at worst.

I don’t think anyone means to denigrate other people’s choices or lives when they bring up the soul mate topic or go on about being unable to “replace” perfection. When one loses a mate, one wants to feel there was meaning and a point to the other’s life and that their union counted for something more. It’s natural to latch onto ideas like soul mates and heaven. It’s comforting. But the soul mates idea limits and denies and it seems like cold comfort, but that’s just my opinion.

 

*By this point the breach caused by his abandonment of his older children had been healed, in a large part due to intervention by Johanna, my great-grandmother. She made the effort to include them and saw to it that her children had unlimited contact with the children of her step-children (some of the older boys were actually older than Johanna and married with kids by then). Some of my dad’s best friends growing up and as a young man were his uncles’ children and grandchildren. Odd, I suppose, but this is my model and probably why I don’t find remarriage and blending as abhorrent as many seem to. Nothing is impossible where good parenting, respect and love are concerned.

**I actually think that he does. And if you believe in the “created in God’s image” thing, I wonder how he managed to pull off such a image of perfection because a perfect God couldn’t possible create imperfect beings. But then I also don’t believe that perfection was what he was going for.


I met Susan at the bed and breakfast she runs with her husband while Rob and I were on our recent honeymoon trip to the States. She is hoping to retire to soon to Montana. Her favorite place in the world is the area around Boseman. As I listened to her talking, I wondered what it would be like to be attached to a spot/location as she was. Rob’s spot is a bit less fixed, but he yearns for the mountains and the solitude that lets him recharge his inner reserves. Many of my relatives on my mother’s side seem to have an affinity for Arizona around Mesa. My late husband Will loved the Boy Scout camp in New Mexico where he spent his teenage summers, hiking and camping. My daughter’s favorite spot right now is my parent’s home where she can run in and out freely and play with neighbor children. I haven’t any place where I feel affinity or miss when I am away. My home perhaps but I have lived in many apartments and houses over the course of my life. Wherever I was living was my base, but I didn’t miss the structures terribly when I moved on. I have a fondness for my first real house. The one I bought myself, where eventually Will and I lived for a time, but I don’t long for it. I love our house now, but I could move to another location and be just as happy. My blog friend Tanja wrote a piece about leaving her home in the U.S. for her home country of the Netherlands and how difficult it was seeming, and while I intellectually get what she is talking about, I didn’t feel any great loss for the house or the Des Moines area. A few people there truly matter but house is just wood and cement and probably a whole lot of PVC materials.

 

I wonder if this makes me odd? So many people have places they cannot leave. On Easter Sunday I listened to my sister, aunt and brother-in-law discuss a situation involving a cousin and his wife. His company is pulling up stakes and relocating in Mexico. They offered him a position and practically speaking he can’t really turn it down with only 6 years to full retirement and the economy being what it is. She won’t move. She has lived her whole life in the small Wisconsin area that most of her and my cousin’s family has called home for generations. Even for six years. Even when financial security for their not so far away old age is at stake. She refuses to think about. My brother-in-law saw merit in her choice. Snapped at me for suggesting she should “suck it up” as six years in not much time in the grand scheme. But my brother-in-law is also of the vein of those who cannot leave their roots.

 

I left home at 18 for college and never came back but for visits. I felt the initial homesickness of someone that age, but honestly preferred what I found away from my hometown. When the time came to decide where the relationship Rob and I had was heading, I knew that it was with him and in Canada. Relocating outside the U.S. was disorienting for a bit but ultimately there was never a question of not doing it. And though I feel more at home in Canada than I have anywhere in my life, that is Rob and not the geology.

 

Perhaps I find my place with the people I am most connected to? If so, I have scarcely ever been connected. Will and now Rob. My daughter. My niece Julie who I have seen since a family adopted her at age two and taken far away and out of my life. Which brings me to my journey. I have felt for most of my life that I was in a holding pattern, waiting. And while I waited I was there for someone else. My mother as she struggled with her marriage to an alcoholic. Certain friends along the way where my primary job was to listen. Teaching was certainly about others because as good as I was and as fulfilling that it could be at times, there was always a sense that I had another and more personal calling. My life with Will was about him. Being his happily ever after. Protecting him. Ensuring that he wouldn’t suffer at the end of his life. Katy, I think, was sent to help me – give me purpose and comfort in her own little girl way. She was told me that she chose me to be her mother twice, once before and now.

 

Rob is a reconnection. I feel home in him and a sense of union that seems to have been lacking in my life since before I could name it. What our twining of paths means is yet to be fully discovered and the place that will be most significant in our journey is still to be found. Will that place be THE place? The house I will long for when I am away from it? I don’t know. I think I am a people person, which is ironic given the dearth of people to whom I am close and even interact with beyond the most superficial of levels. Rob and I are the same in that way. We really have no friends. Well, I have a couple but he has no real friends – he tells me this often. In the Journey of Souls, it talks about younger souls needing to be greeted after death by many of the souls they were closest to in their lives – current and past because it helped ease the initial shock. Older and more advanced souls had fewer and eventually no one to great them. Does this carry over into our mortal time? The numbers of fellow travelers is in proportion to where we are on our soul journey? Maybe we lose our sense of location attachment. As we progress we begin to focus mainly on those who are important. People are more important than things be they possession or places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I had this beautiful piece about Rob written this morning , but for some reason known only to the geeks at Apple Tech, the program “unexpectedly quit” and I hadn’t saved. Let that be a lesson to us all, I suppose. When I told Rob what had happened and that the topic of the day was him, he wondered if I had used the anecdote he told me last evening when we were snuggled up after just getting in bed for the night. He had apparently been 40 minutes late for a site safety meeting he is on the committee to oversee. It’s one of those committees that no one wants to take part in but they do it anyway simply because it’s a good way to rack up brownie points with the powers that be. Anyway, as Rob walked in to the meeting yesterday morning, more than a little late, he observed that nearly everyone in attendance looked as though they were having the mental equivalent of a root canal. Sour and dour and painfully uptight looking. And as he observed the situation and slid into his seat he thought to himself (with not a little bit of Virgo smugness), “Yep, bet none of you got laid this morning.” It’s moments like these – and there are many – that I know my soul is well-mated.

This morning I was so proud of myself for getting the blog entry done early because I wanted to spend the day working on my novel. Yes, I have started the Nonawrimo thing a few days early but I am am justifying this because we are taking a trip to Rob’s mom in the middle of the month and that will be a good five days of getting nothing done as far as writing goes, so I am actually going to end up two days short of the 30 days anyway. In the end all that matters is the novel, and it’s starting to actually take a shape – and not the one I had originally envisioned either.

So, with my best intentions thwarted, I was going to camp at the Starbucks and write for a bit after dropping my little girl at kindergarten. But, it’s lunch hour and the tiny Starbucks resides in the local Safeway where many people visit the store’s deli and then feel free to eat in the Starbucks sitting area. Yeah, I don’t get that either. So, there were no tables, and though I could have taken my chai latte over to the Fort library, I decided to come home and write in the office Rob set up for us a few weeks ago. Yesterday, the cat sat in my lap as I wrote but today she is angry with me for leaving her outdoors while Katy and I went to the gym. As I explained to her when we returned to find her curled up on the welcome mat at the door, this is what happens to little cats who don’t come when they are called (she’s learning but slowly).

On the way into the Fort I noticed the moon was still up. It often is. Not something I ever saw back in Iowa. I still can’t get over the sky here. Rob says it is the same sky but it just looks so different. Perhaps it is the wide openness or the latitude, but the clouds and the moon and the stars even never fail to catch and hold my attention like they were paintings in the Louvre.

What I had wanted to say today was how I love to watch my husband. In the mornings he is so deliberate in his actions as he dresses for the day. He is a powerful looking man and it fascinates me, the way his muscles move under his skin and how the light shades and shadows him. Of course, my first version was far more poetic. Rob wondered if being so often my topic he would lose his Canadian sensibilities. I am not sure that Canadians are anymore sensible than the Iowan’s I lived around all my life, but he is certainly the least affected man I have ever known. Sensible is certainly among his many middle names.

I am sorry I lost that earlier entry but I guess I was supposed to write this piece you are reading instead. Sometimes things work out better than originally planned.


Kindred Spirits

Image via Wikipedia

A soul mate is a once in a lifetime thing and when this lifetime is through the departing soul crosses to the other side where it waits patiently to be reunited with its mate because it is incomplete without its match. Like a pair of socks.

The patient part alone is more than enough proof that this theory is not true. I can’t remember a time when Will waited patiently for anything. Much as he loved me, he never let me forget that I kept him waiting in the beginning.

Our match was, in some respects, purely an emotional and physical one; we had very little in common in terms of interests in the very beginning, but I knew the moment I  saw him that we would be together at some point. It began as a friendship, and when he decided this was no longer enough, he waited me out an entire summer while I dated other people and got over my fear of the emotional intimacy he represented. It’s impossible to say how we would have held up over time, but had I not met him, I would be never married today.

The topic of soul mates comes up from time to time on the YWBB. One of the first times I put forth an opinion about it in my early posting days, I came down on the negative side. At least this is according to Rob, who is currently cleaning out his collection of favorite posts. He ran across my original reply over the weekend and brought it up when we were on messenger the other night night waiting for my daughter to fall asleep.

I have thought more about the soul mates issue since as I have run across other posts that mention or discuss it. I am still not inclined to believe in it myself. I think that what is meant, when someone refers to their significant other as a soul mate, is more in line with the idea behind kindred spirits. In fact Rob made reference to this term once in our early correspondence. According to the dictionary it means “of similar nature or character”. I do think that sometimes you just connect with some people in a way that defies logic, and that some people are destined to be a part of your life. I don’t think it is a once in a lifetime thing though, and I think that this can apply to non-romantic relationships as well.  For  example, I knew my daughter before she was born, and she has actually told me that she chose me to be her mommy, not once but twice.

Rob and I are kindred spirits. I sensed it a bit in the beginning when I would read his posts. It was a feeling that compelled me to reply to a post of his in the General Forum one night. I offered to be his “evil twin”. I needed to meet him. Learn about him. Know him. I have experienced this before, with Will of course, but also with friends I have made over the years.

I have no great guru-like theory myself about this type of connecting, but I’ve read, or maybe heard, the following one somewhere, and it makes sense to me. This theory is based on the assumption that reincarnation is a fact and that we will live our way through multiple lives on this plane before moving on to the next. It proposes that we go through eternity with a set group of kindred spirits, or soul mates if you prefer, with whom we are always connected. Our relationships change from one lifetime to the next. Husband/wife. Parent/child. Siblings. Friends. There is the inevitable ebb and flow which naturally takes on different dimensions when the vast breadth of time is considered, but the connections are always evident to us.

What’s funny to me is that the people most likely to be spouting the soul mates line are those least likely to be introspective enough about relationships to require likeness of mind in a prospective mate to justify the label in the first place. It is purely a physical thing with them. It is love at first sight with a heavy emphasis on sight. The sharing of ideas and values is less important than the establishment of mutual chemistry. In my opinion that is not what is meant by soul mates, as they explain it, and is certainly not kindred spirits as I know it. A poster on the board wrote something to the effect that she didn’t believe that two people could, or would, reveal their innermost thoughts via email or on the phone. I suppose that is true for some. For me it would be impossible to keep myself to myself and from someone with whom I felt I already knew. I trusted Rob with my first blog entries before we even began to correspond in earnest. My blog was raw and rambling and much of what I wrote could have been easily misinterpreted, but I knew I could trust him and he has more than shown that my trust is well-placed.

When I read about looking for another soul mate, I am puzzled. Kindred spirits seek each other out and with the help of destiny, cross time and space to be reunited. There are 1500 miles and an international border between Rob and I. There was a 10 year age gap between myself and Will. Rob and his late wife, Shelley, were born 2300 miles apart, but in each case it was meant to be; we all found each other. It is not a matter of finding however so much as being found which for the most part means simply being open to the possibility.