When I was young, I believed that once I found my one true soulmate, the love of my life, everything else would fall into place naturally. We’d adore each other, support each other, and move through life with effortless happiness. All I had to do was find my partner, and everything else would turn out wonderfully.
After a litany of failed romances, I can now admit beyond doubt that I was wrong. Another person will never complete me, no matter how desperately I try to make that happen. In fact, I am guaranteed to end up single as long as I believe that my relationship is the marker by which to measure my own value.
The first time that I came to terms with this, I thought I’d hit rock bottom. I spent over three years living as a single woman, with only short dalliances here and there, nothing to take seriously. The idea of learning to love myself finally came into view, and I thought that I’d accepted life on my own. I dipped my toes into the waters of self-love, but unfortunately never found my way to the depths of the trauma that I needed to heal in order to triumph.
With this false sense of security, I allowed myself to fall in love with someone new, someone exciting, someone who I saw in my future as my permanent adventure companion. Caught up in my idealization of him and of us, I missed all the red flags and the warning signs. Maybe I saw them and dismissed them, deciding that we were far too happy to let a few small issues trip us up. But then, trip us up – and break us up – they did.
I was devastated. After all that time alone, I thought I’d chosen someone different, someone mature and emotionally available. Instead I realized, far too late, that I was still stuck in my usual patterns. Without him, without that idea of a beautiful partnership, I found myself once again completely lost.
As always, I am left with only me, something that in the past I have refused to accept. I realize now that even when I claimed to be single, focused solely on my own goals, I always had some object of affection to distract me. Never in my adult life have I given myself one hundred percent of my own concentration. It feels incredibly difficult and painful to focus inward this way. Terrified to confront the discomfort, I find something, anything, to take my attention elsewhere.
Now, as the circumstances of my life continually conspire to narrow my range of sight, I feel the universe sending me a message. Until I learn to embrace myself fully, all aspects, every bit of shame that I have not faced, I cannot move forward. I will always run in circles. I will feel stuck wherever I go, because it is not about external circumstances. It is about the wounded soul that I carry with me. As long as I refuse to sit with my sadness, to travel down deep into the hollows I fear I’ll never rise from, I can never be satisfied. For a short time, perhaps, but inevitably my pain bubbles up to the surface.
This is how I am learning to become my own soulmate. I am finally telling the relentlessly persecuting voices in my head that I’m not listening anymore. If I am ever to grow, I must stop talking to myself with hatred and disparaging words. I’m slowly grasping the concepts of compassion and kindness turned inwards. I am breathing into the idea of facing down my decades of learned dysfunction and ingrained patterns and saying, no more. I am not going to treat myself this way any longer.
I deserve better. Not from anyone else, but from myself. I acknowledge that I am the only person who can give myself true love that lasts a lifetime. I am my own soulmate. Embodying that worth requires time and patience, but it is a journey worth taking.
(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)