Something that I've been really getting into lately is watching Black web series. Some pretty cool ones are The Put Down, To Each His Own, The C-Word, Staged and the entire Issa Rae Presents YouTube channel. While I was wrapping up the season finale ofThe Land of Milk & Honey, something was said that reminded me of my all-time favorite quote on love, as it relates to self-love.
Let me set it up for you a bit. A woman had to choose between a bomb internship in New York or staying where she was in order to be with a man. A man who 1) Refused to give her the title of girlfriend that she wanted and 2) Unbeknownst to her, had a newly-pregnant girlfriend.
As she was grieving over the fact that the guy didn't "fight" to keep her in his life, her homegirl said something that, quite frankly, a lot of us could stand to hear: "I love you enough to tell you the truth. You have such a big future, God couldn't find space for him."
That right there? It complements my favorite self-love quote exquisitely:
"As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming."
— Leo Buscaglia, professor and author.
What does all of this even remotely have to do with soulmates? Chile, I'm so glad that you asked.
If there are two words that seem to trigger a ton of different emotional responses and reactions, it's "fairy tale" and "soulmate". The first one, I personally can't stand; especially when I hear women say, "I'm living for the fairy tale." Are you? I wonder how many people know that a fairy tale by definition is "a story, usually for children" and "an incredible or misleading statement, account, or belief". A "childish misleading account" is not my idea of a beautiful (or realistic) love story. But soulmate? I dig that word all day long.
Only, it's probably not for the reasons that you might think.
I grew up in the church. And the church, as a whole, isn't all that big on soulmates. I find that to be weird because there is a clear example of soulmates in the Bible — Jonathan and David. In fact, there's a scripture that says, "Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul." (I Samuel 18:3—NKJV) This was not a romantic or sexual covenant or connection. It was a powerful bond of friendship. It's also evidence that soulmates can be platonic. OK, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
Something that I've been studying for a few years now is the Hebrew language. I really dig its definition of soul and soulmate. The Hebrew word for soul is "nephesh". It's a complex word, but it basically means that our soul is not just the spiritual part of us; it's all of us — our mind, heart, and body, our desires, our life overall. The Hebrew word for soulmate is "bashert"; it means our destiny. It's all about being joined to a life partner who will help us grow as spiritual beings. By definition, that literally includes going through the good, bad, ugly, challenging, and annoying things with someone else in order to become who we were truly meant to be.
It's not about butterflies in the stomach or feeling good all of the time. It's about being connected to someone who will make us better individuals.
This is why I believe that a soulmate can be someone who broke our heart. When I think about the man whom I loved more than anyone else, he's also the man who devastated me the most. The story within itself is a novel — well, at least a novella — that I will probably write one day (heads up — always be cautious about getting involved with a writer; you will see yourself in print). For now, I'll just say that during my journey with him, I learned more about love, patience, forgiveness, personal growth, and even acceptance in a way I know I wouldn't have had he not been a part of my life. No one can convince me otherwise.
When things came to an end, heartbroken doesn't begin to describe how I felt. For months, it was like I was in a daze, trying to figure out how to make sense of it all. But as I began to heal, the Leo Buscaglia quote started playing on repeat in my being. "Love is about continual becoming." Love is about having the people, places, things and ideas in your life that are suitable, appropriate, and proper for the individual you are becoming. In order to become that person, sometimes you have to let certain things go.
Since a soulmate is our destiny and one definition of destiny is "meant to be", as painful as it can be to accept sometimes, sometimes our soulmate comes in the form of someone who leaves us broken so that we can rebuild ourselves into who we were truly meant to be all along.
Just think about it. If a soulmate was only someone we always got along with, never caused us to step out of our comfort zone, and/or face some of the "ugly truths" about ourselves, there's a good chance that our souls would never grow and evolve.
We wouldn't become our best selves because it's not the easy things that mature us; it's the hardest ones that do.
It's kind of like the chick I mentioned in that web series. She always wanted to be a fashion mogul and was offered an internship with a top fashion designer. She needed to leave who she loved in order to become who she was meant to be, while the object of her affection needed to stay behind to get his heart and house in order. Staying together, at least in that season, would've probably proven to be detrimental. However, if she chose her future over an unpredictable relationship, the impact of making that kind of decision would change her life for the better. The sacrifice would've improved the condition of her very soul.
As for my real-life situation, I don't know what the future ultimately holds as it relates to me and my "soulmate". I do get why we need this time apart, though. I need the space to become more of who I was created to be — so does he. At least for now, trying to soul-evolve together would stagnate us.
At the same time, it is because of our time together — and the heartbreak that I experienced — that I am the woman I am now. Someone who can clearly see all of this for what it is. Someone who fully embraces that the journey is just what my soul, my life, needed in order to reach my destiny (and to even write this article).
It might not be the most conventional take on soulmates, but I hope it's one you'll consider. Is there anyone who altered your life in such a way that they ultimately made your soul better, even if it shattered you for a season? It may not be the kind of soulmate you wanted, but it was sho 'nuf the kind that you needed.
You may not see it now, but time will reveal. Give thanks.
Featured image by Getty Images.