This week’s Random Writers prompt is to write about something you learned the hard way.
In all the times I’ve written before about the many blessings in my life, I’ve always included, either directly or implicitly, the fact I’ve never had to battle an addiction. Alcohol, drugs, and other vices; I’ve seen how they can consume a person and destroy a life. My dad was an alcoholic, and I still have the vague memories as a young child of how his actions impacted me and my family.
But not all addictions are so clear cut. Not all vices come packaged in a container with a conspicuous label that declares it is hazardous to your health. Hazardous to your life.
As hopeless romantics go, I am board certified. I love love and the idea of being in love. I love the stories of couples that have been together for over fifty years and still write each other little notes of thank you and appreciation. I love hearing kick-ass stories about wedding proposals, in part because I like to interject and tell the awesome story of how I proposed to my wife. In short, I’m a sucker for Gary Marshall movies.
It was this hopeless romantic gene that lead me down a certain path a decade ago. It was a path that saw me walk away from my wife and two kids in pursuit of what I felt was my soul mate.
Soul mate. The idea of the one person in the entire universe that makes us complete. The one being in all of eternity with whom we are meant …. correction, DESTINED ….. to share our lives. It’s an idea that is born out of fairytales and mythologies of old. It’s the pinnacle of what true love and romance ought to be. It’s the spring from which infatuation is born, and in the end, the concept of soul mates is just that. A concept.
I was infatuated not only with the woman that represented my soul mate here on Earth, but also with the very idea of a love pre-destined and greater than any love the world had ever seen before. At that time in my life, nothing was more important to me than my soul mate. And as it turns out, that was my addiction. That was my vice.
My infatuation guided my heart toward the woman I swore destiny herself had selected for me. My friends would tell you my infatuation blinded me from the rest of reality. My infatuation justified my pursuit of a new life with a new person. After all, she was my soul mate. It was meant to be. Others would say it was a tsunami of ignorance that washed away the relationship I had spent the previous twelve years building. My infatuation made me feel alive every day, with my heart racing and my mind floating in the clouds of happily ever after. Those close to me would tell you I was no different than a junkie needing a fix.
Heroin addicts are revealed by their track marks, but you can’t see the scars infatuation addicts leave on their own hearts, not to mention the hearts of others.
No, I don’t believe in soul mates anymore. It’s not because the relationship I pursued ended in a glorious, mushroom cloud of an ending. But rather, it’s because I believe great love is possible in all of us. To borrow from what one of my closest friends once told me, I needed that relationship – that infatuation experience – so that I could grow up as a man and a person. So that I could wake up and experience what is true and real in life. There are over 7 billion people on this planet, and it is wholly illogical to think we can find happiness with only one of those 7 billion people.
Math and logic aside – because we all know love can be illogical at times – I believe that at our core, we all long to be loved. When we find someone with whom to not only share that love, but also receive their love without condition, we find those moments of completeness our hearts so desperately need.
I look at my relationship with my wife and ask myself if it’s possible to feel and experience the same feelings with someone else as I do with her. Not only is it possible, I think it’s very probable. However, what binds my heart to hers is the fact I have no desire to find out. I have no interest in wanting to achieve the same level of trust, confidence, and intimacy with any other human being. We fit together. We share together. More importantly, we continue to grow together.
If there’s one thing my relationship with my wife has taught me, you don’t need a soul mate in order to have a fairytale romance.