…or rather, why they’re not as ideal as you might expect, but may be a lot better for your personal and spiritual growth than you realize.
When most people think about their soulmate, they likely envision someone with whom they can have an ideal, conflict-free relationship so perfect it’ll end up being sung about by troubadours for centuries to come. That’s all well and good, but if you’ve met a soulmate, that really isn’t the type of relationship you’re going to have with them.
Why’s that? Well, because a soulmate’s role isn’t to fill your life with fuzzy bunnies and mountains of fairy floss. Their role is to take a sledgehammer to your ego and destroy all the illusions you have about yourself so you can experience monumental spiritual development… and that can hurt a LOT.
They’ll Tear You Apart
Your soulmate is meant to challenge you. They’ll have traits that push at the tender bits inside you that you’ve been trying to wall off and protect for your entire life. Getting those bits out into the open is important, as those are the aspects of your self that need the most work, but oh you’ll resent your partner for making you face those shadows.
These are the parts that have been set aside, repressed, ignored, and even denied for years, but your soulmate won’t let you keep those boxes in the closet; they want to peer in, and they’ll bloody well empty those boxes onto your bed and make you look, LOOK at what’s inside them.
Personal evolution and spiritual development hurt like hell. We crave comfort and security at all costs, even at the cost of our own emotional wellbeing, but the thing about protective shells is that they don’t just protect soft and squishy things, they inhibit their growth. If a baby bird doesn’t crack through the shell that has shielded it from the world during its incubation, it’ll suffocate and die.
The same goes for people.
Our self-imposed caves aren’t just warm, cozy places where we can hide shadowy bits and stay safe – they’re claustrophobic, damp spaces where old wounds fester because no light has been allowed to seep in.
Your soulmate will go spelunking in those caves (not a euphemism, honestly) and shine a torch into all the places you want to keep hidden. They’ll push you to address those issues, learn from them, heal from them, and become the person you have always been destined to become…
…and you might hate them for it.
You may resent them, break up with them a dozen times over for making you hurt, even though it’s in your best interest to do so. You’ll resent them for forcibly pulling you free from your comfort zone and holding the mirror up to the parts of you that you absolutely do not want to look at, but they see, and they love, and they need you to acknowledge so you can be utterly and completely YOU.
Most of us absolutely hate the feeling of being vulnerable. We cultivate our masks and shields so fiercely because, ultimately, we want to avoid pain and suffering at all costs.
A soulmate will pry our masks off and split our shields and force us to make ourselves vulnerable in order to become real. Veritable Shivas in our lives, they will provoke and encourage us at turns in order to destroy the illusions about ourselves that we’ve cultivated. Once all of those foundations have crumbled to dust, they’ll help us rebuild with truth and authenticity.
In our vulnerability, our soulmates have helped us to find ourselves. That is terrifying, isn’t it? Stripped of any protective barrier, skins sloughed off, our most tender parts exposed to forces that may slice us and stab us through, we are reduced to the bare essentials of who we are at our cores.
There is immense freedom in that, even though it may be frightening at first.
Being vulnerable means that we are exposed and open to a whole world of hurt, because those hopes and wants and needs and dreams that we’ve denied and repressed for so long are suddenly splayed across the floor. Someone might trample on them, and that might just destroy us. After all, it’s a lot safer (and easier) to keep those bundled to our chests rather than risking them being broken, even if means that we never give them the chance to become real.
They might fail, sure. We might fail, but we might succeed as well, if we allow ourselves the chance to do so. A soulmate is one who either encourages or forces us to bring those dreams into the light and pursue them, even if it means that we might fail. We really never know unless we try, right? And ohh, they’ll make us try.
Your soulmate will flay you, strip the skin from your bones and wrench out aspects of yourself that you really are terrified to acknowledge and celebrate, but you will become so much more by doing so than you could have ever imagined.
That’s well worth a solid dose of flaying, isn’t it?
One thing to keep in mind is that while many soulmate relationships last forever, a great many of them do not, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For a lot of people, a soulmate is someone who comes into their life for a period of time in order to facilitate growth and change, but they’re not necessarily an ideal partner for life’s journey.
We develop relationships with people in many different ways, for countless reasons, and we never really know whether a partnership will last a single night, a year, a decade, or for the rest of our lives.
It’s entirely possible that you’ll meet the most important person in your life exactly when you need them to shatter you to your essential elements, but they’re not meant to stick around: they serve a purpose, and then they need to move on. In a situation like this, holding on to your soulmate may undo the immense good that they’ve triggered in your life, so you have to be able to let them go.
You’ll know whether this is the case when it happens, because they will have given you the tools and abilities to determine what you truly need in your life. They’ve given you your authentic self, and as long as you hold true to that, immerse yourself in the lessons you’ve learned while you were with them, then you’ve honored the gift that they’ve given you.
Even if it hurt to learn.
Especially if it hurt to learn.
There’s only one way to become a butterfly,
and that is to grow your own wings.
You can be a caterpillar with a hang glider for as long as you like,
but you’ll only be kidding yourself.
But there is only one way to grow your own wings,
and that is through the cocoon.
But it can be dark and lonely in there – it takes courage.
And then there is the hatching: crawling out and waiting,
vulnerable in the great wide open, waiting for your wings to dry.
But how else will you ever get to fly?
– Lyrics to “Find Your Wings” by Qkumba Zoo
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.