The term “soul mate” makes me want to hurl, but that’s a (relatively) recent development. I personally think it contributes a lot to the whole trying-to-keep-a-death-grip-thing on relationships even if they’re unhealthy. It’s the whole Hollywood story thing: true love will prevail. Or maybe Cinderella: some day my prince will come.
For the recent development part: I completely sucked myself into 2 very unhealthy relationships believing they were “the One”.
The first time I thought I’d found the One, there was an instant, visceral reaction the first time I saw him. I literally got weak in the knees and I think I forgot to breathe for a few seconds; he was so charismatic, confident, sexy. It was about the time the movie “The Butcher’s Wife” came out… (sorry, gag reflex kicked in again). He would tell me I was his soul mate, his split apart (… okay, back again). When he asked me to marry him, I was on cloud nine. The belief that he was the One lasted until he started very adamantly refusing to let me transfer to the private college where I’d won a merit scholarship. It’s amazing how quickly I decided that my soul mate would not refuse to let me study at one of the best universities in the West.
This did nothing to sway my conviction that there was a soul mate out there; I convinced myself that I had simply been wrong about the guy. Enter stage right: Sam.
Again, he was gorgeous, and while his good looks weren’t a slam to the solar plexus, he was very easy to admire. Not only gorgeous, but athletic; he knew so much about sports, sports medicine, seemed to be a steady kind of fellow…. (I say this knowing the first time I met him, he was sh-t-faced drunk. Ha.) He was nothing like my first fiancé. He was quiet, didn’t seem quite confident of his appearance and how he affected the girls around him.
And how I fooled myself with him. Initially, I felt so safe with him. I look back now and it was always his friends, his mates, who did anything to protect me. We’d go out and some drunk a– would take it into his head to follow me around relentlessly. It was his teammates who invariably stepped in and told the guy to get lost; Sam just sat there and drank, maybe he’d grin/smirk as he watched me try to get the guy to get lost.
At the start he was oh, so good at letting me think things were my decision. He didn’t want to drive to the game or to the party, so he’d ask who should drive and then mention casually, that such-and-such needed to be replaced on his car, it seemed like there might be a problem with the brakes…. So of course, I’d drive. That’s just a little example. Minor. Nothing. Constant.
Fast forward: It changed to subtly discouraging or just cutting out the options. This also seems so small, but my favorite pair of boots: tall, black, lace up Dr. Martins (think Abby from NCIS), mysteriously disappeared after I kept getting compliments from guys whenever I worn them. You multiply that and add it to the constant little verbal jabs from Sam intermixed with “loving” endearments, which in retrospect weren’t about me at all, but about him getting his rocks off, and life was so freaking confusing.
At the end, it was h-ll to pay if I did anything that he didn’t think of, and sometimes if he did think of it. I’d get the cold shoulder; would have to deal with him brooding, pouting, ignoring my very presence; he’d pick fights; he’d coerce s-x; he’d force s-x. When he decided that I needed to be ignored, I could stand right in front of him and ask him how his day went and get nothing from him. No response, no eye flick up to my face to even register that he’d heard me. If I stood in front of the TV that he was watching he wouldn’t even shift to the side to be able to see around me, but keep staring “at” the TV through me.
16 years we were together. 16 years…. The first few were great; the middle years were okay; the last 8 – definitely the last 6 – after Max was born – were hell. 8 years. How did I put up with it?
Throughout the relationship with Sam, my favorite saying was by Blaise Pascal “La coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas.” (“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”) From this side of the verbally and sexually abusive relationship with Sam, IMHO, if you can relate to that quote, and use it to gloss over the cr-p parts of any relationship often, as I did, it’s safe to say it’s not a good relationship to be in.
I really like the definition of “soul mate” that I read on another board: some one who comes into your life to teach you something and then leaves. Makes it a bit easier to swallow that I thought Sam was my soul mate, because I definitely learned a few things during my relationship with him; things I do not care to have to re-learn, thank you very much. Now if he would just leave.