As a woman terrified of full-blown intimacy – a legacy from a childhood where it was terribly unsafe to let anyone into my bubble, but I still yearned to be loved, and in love – life offered up a spectacular solution: I have been gifted an unending parade of platonic soulmates.
Because of this mysterious and baffling gift, I have the great honor of being a serial platonic soulmate. I have been blessed with love that transcended all my terrors, and kept me in great company during the deep darkness of my early life. I am totally aware of what a rare privilege that is, and have learned something inexplicable through this experience.
Now, we humans have a tendency to hide or feel guilty about the gifts that are offered up to us in seemingly discriminatory ways. However, I believe that if we inhabit and share our privileges, we can inspire others to begin to inhabit those same privileges. After all, we are one.
Personally, I love being inspired by the greater privileges of those who appear to have something I don’t, and if I can stay clear enough to not get threatened into a story about “not me” or “left out” – or the stickiest for me, “injustice” – I am invited to rise up to claim those same privileges as my own, realizing they are in fact indiscriminate.
And so, I would like to share my experience, with the invitation that you could rise up in 2019 and claim some angelic love for yourself through this very extraordinary and rare privilege of mine.
A soulmate is someone you love, madly, the instant you meet.
Plato defined this type of love as a love that goes beyond the personal self: a mysterious recognition of what is good, beautiful, and true.
My first platonic soulmate walked into my life when I was 16 years old. She was standing in the doorway on my first day of work, and I felt this mysterious transcendence, a presence that rocked through me. I tried to push past it, as I had first-day appearances to keep up. But at the end of the day, as I was just about to pull out of the parking lot, she approached my window. I had forgotten something at the office, and as she leaned into my car window to hand it to me, it was palpable that she saw me as unearthly beautiful and would love me forever. It was something much louder and clearer than a ‘normal’ or even ‘great’ friendship, and gratefully our feelings were mutual.
We were inseparable for years. She was engaged to her college sweetheart, but we were young and the love between us was confusing. I didn’t know how to make it something other than platonic, and she didn’t know how it could be platonic. So every evening she would tuck her boyfriend into bed, laying with him until he fell asleep, and then come and sleep with me in the other room. He knew our love was not something he could fight, that it was totally platonic, and that if he pushed it he would lose her. And I think it was as awe-inspiring to him as it was frustrating. In our youth, all three of us were too awkward and immature to handle these gifts with any diplomacy or grace.
On her wedding night, she slept with me. She caressed my face like I was an angel, descended to earth to remind her that we are just made of stardust and love. I never felt so wholly seen as when I was with her. Our love was sacred, holy, and innocent. But in the end, I had to move away, and her husband, so relieved to finally be the sole focus, encouraged us to cut ties when I moved, which we did.
Within two years, her missing space was filled in my heart.
I came late to the theatre lobby after my performance. I was slow to change costumes and I never loved slipping into the lobby to say hello to friends and family after a show; I was always too raw and too open after I stepped off the stage. It felt awkward and strange to collect pleasantries, but it was expected, and my boyfriend was waiting for me. We had a deeply fulfilling relationship, but even in the depth of its sweetness, it didn’t have the same signature as that of “soulmate”.
She was near the exit, where I usually stood. And from a distance, I didn’t know her name, or who she was, but I knew I loved her madly.
As our eyes connected, I could see that she felt the same thing; she didn’t know who I was, but she was feeling a love sweeping her open in a way she had never known.
For ten years, we were inseparable. She got married and later became a mother. My boyfriend became a serious contender for “husband”. And through those years, we were each other’s recognition of what was good and beautiful and true.
This love landed us beyond all our personal entanglements, and even though I was an emotional basket case everywhere else in my life, with her, my inner storm calmed. She knew how hard life was for me, but she never had much direct experience of that, because in company of each other, a kind of safe haven opened up, and life was smooth, simple, and expanded.
In hindsight, I can see that it was the platonic nature of these friendships that made it possible for me to transcend my own pain and suffering into a love so deep and mysterious. Soulmates don’t get jostled by the bullshit of the other. Patterns and preferences that irritate and aggravate normal loving relationships mysteriously slide away from soulmates, while the beauty and truth of the other remains brilliantly clear. It is something like a presence, a deeper connection, that you never have to work for; it keeps you in sync, and you never feel as whole, as good, as seen, as in each other’s presence.
I remember being at a party, and while I was enjoying talking to everyone, my soulmate became irately jealous; she wanted to be in my bubble with me alone. But all I could feel was love. All I could see was how adorable she was. If my romantic partner was this jealous, I would have been angry and felt the possessiveness instead of the love.
Soulmates deliver to us a kind of transcendence of our personalities, habits and painbodies.
And yet they end, in much the same way as all relationships do.
With her and I, our lives simply went off in very different directions, and it stressed the relationship too far. In our last phone call, I told her it didn’t matter how long we were apart, I have always loved her forever. It was the truest thing I knew.
Almost immediately, my third soulmate came along. And if it could be said, it was a love even higher, even more transcendent, than I’d ever experienced before. It so blazingly clear that our love was always here, regardless of who we have been in our many lifetimes. Our love was a solid anchor that could never not be, it didn’t even need us to be together.
Sadly, it was a very tough time in both my life and his. Because of our own struggles, we tended to be heavy and bitter, and we couldn’t always be lifted up in the other’s company. We could have some big battles together, although behind those fights were huge smiles and this impenetrable love—something smooth, calm, and pulsating with purity. But we were both so mired in our own challenging situations that we could not push it aside, regardless of this love’s invitation to do just that.
In the end, I left him. Ironically, it was because the love was too big, too hot, too much. I didn’t know how to sustain such engulfing love. When we were together, I couldn’t even hear what he was saying sometimes. His preciousness and beauty would just take me over, and I would be kind of swept into worshiping every cell of his body. His perfection touched me so deeply that I could barely speak to him. I couldn’t bear to be away from him, and yet I was totally blown out around him. I didn’t know how to love another person as if it was always a god before me, and I didn’t know how to be seen in that same light. I didn’t know how to be One brilliant flare of love, transcendent of all human foible and all separation.
It had nothing to do with what he looked like, or who he was, or how he made me feel. It was transcendent of all of that. Some kind of presence just connected, and knew itself as whole. And with him, there was no need even for personal connection; it was just this whole brilliant love that shone beyond our lives, beyond a thousand lives.
On the day I left him, in that last call, I said that our own pain is just too much to sustain our connection. He and I were one, and he was always inside of my being. But we couldn’t find harmony as humans. It was all too much for me. He asked me not to walk away, but I knew the love was bigger, and I knew I didn’t have to be with him to be held in that love, and so I hung up the phone, ending the blazing heat of it.
Yet when I hung up the phone, a pain ripped through my being, tearing me apart. As it tore open, the love burst forward. There was a storm blowing wildly outside, and the neighbors dog burst through my gate and began scratching and gnawing frantically at my door, but I was unable to move. The old version of myself undid itself, and I was never the same again. I had learned an invaluable lesson from the love of my platonic soulmate, and I was transformed by it.
Soulmates continue to walk into my life. When one ends, another one will grace me with angelic transcendence the next day. That mysterious pattern remains true for me, but I am better at keeping my soulmates now.
The very next day, after the storm passed, I went to a friend’s house for consolation and understanding. And K was there. He came up to me at the end of the night, and I loved him right then and there. I didn’t know his name, or who he was, but I loved him, and I could sense that he was in love with me.
Neither of us are perfect people; we certainly both have annoying habits and deep imperfections. And from the human perspective, we don’t necessarily get on well together, but soulmate love doesn’t really trip up on that. However with K, it was a softer love, and I knew what a soulmate was by now, which made my relationship with this soulmate more manageable and more sustainable.
The funny thing about soulmate love is that it is so beyond the personal self.
I often say that it wasn’t until I had my first major boyfriend at age 25 that I learned that I was capable of loving someone. Until that point, I really didn’t know that I could do romantic intimacy—the key being that “I” could love another. I was already two soulmates deep before that lover came into my life.
But soulmates are angels, although strangely only we can see the angel in the other person. Seeing it, we can’t help but be madly in love. It goes beyond ourselves, beyond how we love our mates, and later our children. It is something beautiful and good and true, something instant and obvious and always present—that beyond our human suits, we are pure love, just as Plato described it. A soulmate is someone who you effortlessly see, beyond their human suit.
I remember a dream I had when I was eight years old. There was a line of girls vying for a boy’s attention. The boy stood at the head of the line, and as each girl approached they batted their eyes or made alluring postures. When it was my time to approach, instead of flirting or trying to win his attention, I just pulled out my inner self and laid it down on the floor, inviting him to do the same, so that side by side we could see if our insides fit together.
It is so lucky to find another who fits together with you—making you greater, making you one pure expression of Love—regardless of your jagged human edges. I can only tell you that it is possible, and that you are intrinsically just as lucky as I am. And when your soulmate shows up, it won’t matter how long it took, because clearly they were always here anyway.
I can’t offer you a pathway to find a soulmate. I don’t know why I have been gifted so much angelic love. I don’t know why some people don’t get to have this experience of mirroring so directly that we are just pure love under all our human foibles.
All I can do is offer you this invitation. I invite you to reach for fulfillment, instead of lingering in that subtle fear that you ask for too much, that you desire too much, or that you must settle or you will be left out. Don’t get caught in Fear’s narrative that there is something rotten about you and you are just not going to make the cut. Don’t get hooked by the myth that you are alone, separate, and not good enough.
2019 is going to be a year of actualization for each and every one of us. This is a year for risk and for courage and to know that you are pure love. And that will find its own expression.
Be bold. Be unmanageable. Be clear that you are pure love, regardless of how painful or challenging or stuck your human suit seems to you.