I think I’ve found you. More soon.
I gave a TEDx talk a week ago in Phoenix! It is a super vulnerable, rock bottom to recovery kind of talk about addiction to work and external validation. It is also about the time I was hijacked by my soul and rerouted toward a sense of inner fulfillment. The internet will soon be the judge. When I got home I felt a little high and speedy and then I started a swift and humbling descent. Something was brewing. I started to feel agitated, hungry, and horny. I found myself back on Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid, judging and swiping away. I ate a giant Cinnabon. I don’t eat Cinnabons. Three days later I went to see my therapist and surprised myself by bursting into tears talking about you.
A new waving of longing was moving through. Longing for you. The return of this longing made me realize that I have been without it for the first time in my entire life these past six months. I was floating in a space of fulfillment and faith that I would find you. I was free. So when the wave of longing came through I judged it. “Oh no, not again, no more longing.” I thought I beat it. It became clear that the particles making up this wave of longing are all the rad, life moments spent without you. I’m sitting Shiva for all the memories we could have shared. For example, I would have liked for you to have been there in the audience when I gave my TEDx talk reminding me that if I peed myself and burst into tears your love would remain same-same. I grieve every missed New Year’s Eve, my best friends’ weddings, and waking up with you in the middle of the Serengeti on a crazy, awesome Safari in Tanzania. I grieve all the moments I could have been touched by you. I grieve all the “yous” you have been as you stretched into manhood. And the weddings of your best friends’ and siblings and possibly their first born. Most of all, I grieve the relationship you would have had with my father. He would have breathed a deep sigh of relief to see me loved by you. I grieve the marriage he will never witness and the speech he will never give.
This longing is sweet and animal and only knows longing. I know it well and in all its forms. Right now it is about you but it is just the aching, empty space that follows any desire. I think, next to death, it a universal human experience. I can’t beat it when the wave comes through and instead of distracting myself with real or virtual sugar and judging it, I want to harness it. According to Einstein, “Feeling and longing are the motive behavior behind all human endeavor and human creations.” So even though I can’t wait for us to project things each other and realize it and make-up and have tons of sex, I’ll lean into this longing and see where it takes me.
Isn’t it wild how we tell ourselves stories that aren’t true ALL the time? An anthropologist friend just called it “constructing meaning.” I feel like the ego thinks its’ full time job is to write our lives into after-school specials for Lifetime. I find this especially true when it comes to the stories women (and their friends and their Mothers) tell themselves about being single. What is even more sad-funny is that newly spiritual women (ahem, yours truly) can come up with even more nuanced and often contradictory stories like…
I am single because…
I am sooooo special and whomever is meant to match me must be equal in their specialness, thus, they are rare but oh so worth the wait.
There must be something wrong with me. It has been forever. I am too picky, want too much, am too intense, too transparent, etc.
Who needs a man? I have very important work here to do. Maybe when the job is done…
Men are wholly unaware of themselves, can’t articulate their thoughts or feelings, and are only interested in preserving their ego, playing video games, and being admired by young women who don’t challenge them.
It is too late. I sleep splayed out in an X that covers the entire bed. I am a blast, have an incredible crew, and can always have younger lovers.
If I haven’t met my soulmate yet then it must mean I have some unresolved issue to heal. It is my karma or spiritual curriculum or whatever. Once I heal “x” then he will appear.
If I “do” one more thing then it will happen.
Am I taking care of myself? Loving myself? Oh, “not enough”, well that’s why he isn’t here yet.
I have been single for so long I am clearly being punished by God for something I did in this lifetime or another.
Jeez. (See #3)
When I bought into these stories as truth it was torture. Each story served as a belief prison of my own construction that caused serious suffering. Now I can look at this list with wincing amusement. The truth “I am single” is just a neutral fact. No story necessary. Instead of just feeling lonely, when I felt lonely, I made up a story about it and spent days or weeks or even years spinning a tale that gave my mind a chew toy.
Loneliness is just energy if we don’t tell a story about it. Easier said than done I know. Who the F knows why we remain single? To imagine that God is some “bubbe” (Jewish Grandmother) in the sky waiting till just the right moment to initiate the perfect Tinder moment or dinner party intro, is hilarious. Another story that feels really true is that this loneliness has served me. It has led me to get to know the inner recesses of my mind and heart and body in a way that I could have never imagined. My loneliness guided me home to myself. Is it true? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? No.
I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I have probably met you a few hundred times and just wasn’t ready to see you yet. I confess I likely judged the shit out of you. My bad. It wasn’t always conscious. I felt “nice” and “open” and you would have felt that too but underneath there was something else. A few years ago during my first few months studying Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica I stood up in front of 250 people and sheepishly said, “People are crying and feeling all these emotions and talking about their unworthiness and I feel the exact opposite. Well, I kind of feel better than…everybody.” (Insert Teeth gritting emoji) My teachers, in their infinite and loving wisdom, smiled knowingly, “‘Better than’ is just a protection, it is the other side of the same unworthiness coin.” Of course I felt disconnected and lonely, I was actively separating myself from everyone. Here I thought I was super skilled because I could choose to feel my feelings or not feel them. I now know this is called “spiritual bypass”. It works great in the film business where everyone is superior and no one takes time to feel anything (except in the movie theater, oh, the irony). I was productive and in business productivity is next to godliness. And then 7-10 years in people start burning out, getting depressed, and having existential crisis that show up as fatigue syndromes. So I now know that whenever I feel unworthy or insecure I immediately overcompensate by judging others and making them less than or wrong. I see how it is just my ego’s Pavlovian response to preserve the myth of itself.
So, I apologize. My expectations have been titanic and mostly unfair. I haven’t taken responsibility for it until now. I have been looking for a soulmate to meet what felt like a bottomless longing. I set a trap for you. My theory is that this deep longing/needing/desire comes from the binary nature of the ego (this or that, black or white). Beyond duality, in my soul or whatever you want to call it, I am everything. In duality, I become the battle between good and evil tethered by the aching memory of being one with the universe. Soulmate, you can’t be the universe. Well, you can’t be my universe. No person or thing can ever satisfy the dual mind, at least not for long. Phew. Are you relieved? I know I am.
I apologize that I have blamed you for the current state of the world; ie. patriarchy and the biological underpinnings that often make communication and emotional expression a challenge for your gender. I see how hungry you are to be understood. I also see how counterproductive blame is. I am sorry I was too afraid to get vulnerable and tell you the truth of what I wanted or what I thought. I am sorry I played accomplice in propping up ridiculous male archetypes (See Force Majeure & Channing Tatum). I am sorry that in my fear and longing I chose pseudo overconfidence and righteousness instead of truth. What I meant to say was…
I’m sorry for all the mixed signals. Tie me up! Don’t tie me up! Gag me, but lovingly. The truth is I am just figuring out what I want. I’ve never really be honest enough with myself or valued myself enough to really inquire within. I think I was waiting for your permission. I’ve been inside the matrix of conditioning for 34 years and I am just starting to find my way out. I hope you can be patient with me.
(I’m sitting in a coffee shop with brown boots and a little flowery dress just in case you are here). I have a confession and given you are my soulmate you will know it someday. When I turned 30 (a few years ago) I developed an out of control hunger for romance movies. Did you know that has you age, your palate and taste buds actually change? Well apparently my hormones changed like my taste buds and I was addicted to anything Nicholas Sparks and Masterpiece Theater. I have actually seen them all. I have seen EVERY ROMANCE MOVIE on Netflix and Amazon Prime, literally hundreds of them. I couldn’t get enough of English propriety, unrequited nonsense, and tragic endings. I call it Love Suffering. The body aching, mind-spinning, loin-titillating, heart-stomping, tear-producing, formulaic, anti-feminist, bullshit made me feel “alive” and sure that romantic love isn’t actually real but a false high like Diet Coke but the high was much, much better than the idea of staring into a mirror of mediocrity. I spent a few years watching them all and longing for you. I gave up on dating entirely and would MUCH rather spend a night in bed love suffering and cuddling up with the idea of you than with another idiot, Ok-Cupid curated man. It is really the definition of self-abuse but I couldn’t help it. But don’t worry Soulmate, I’m much better now. I mean I did go see Sparks’ latest film by myself a few weeks ago but I didn’t enjoy it. I think I’m officially in recovery from love suffering. It is funny to think I spent my entire 20s convinced I didn’t need a man and was in love with my job and then in my early 30s I was obsessed with Sense & Sensibility. I used to be really ashamed of this.
I mean it isn’t my fault that somewhere in my biology there is a part of me that still longs for a castle and driver and man with the ability to hang people or save them. Even though I am a staunch feminist I am discovering these very bazaar, old school, anti-feminist tendencies. I always thought I “should” be able to transcend girly day dreaming. When I was seven I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be a lawyer like Martin Luther King Jr. I was on a mission to save the world and didn’t have time for silly stuff like wedding collages and reality tv shows about dresses. I thought it was anti-feminist to fantasize about men and marriage. But of course this part of myself, this sweet, human, teeny-bopper part has been there in my unconscious all along. Tied up and gagged, my abused, inner wannabe wife was eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie and pointing my Amazon Prime arrow toward The Notebook. She was in there, insidious, like an undercover KGB agent poisoning the rest of my ego with stories of star-crossed lovers. But one day in the therapy chair I discovered her just under the love suffering and she hung her head in shame, knowing how much I despised her predilections for monarchy and sexy vampires. But here she was, revealed. I couldn’t force her back into my unconscious. She was young and bright eyed and believed in romantic love and soulmates and had Britannica length diaries of her longing.
After I judged her a bit longer I just allowed her to exist. She was a part of myself I had abandoned and was now struggling to own. As she re-joined the cast of characters in my consciousness I felt her innocence and her pain and I cried. Once I could just allow her to be, the crying stopped and the pain turned into energy and excitement. Would I really allow myself to dream? To buy wedding magazines and watch reality tv shows and think about bridesmaids dresses? Hell no! After much negotiation I decided I would allow myself a wedding dream Pinterest board. She squealed. Fine, I squealed. I found myself googling and collecting images of giant stone and maple cabins on farmland and long tables and dripping candles and different rooms with stringed trios and eclectic, curated experiences. Part party, part carnival, part masquerade and lots of Chuppahs — Soulmate, our future wedding is going to be the jam. – Bristol Baughan