Maybe a soulmate is a person that forces your soul to grow the most
Almost 44 years into this life and I’m still searching for that “ideal” person, that soulmate. I was young when I got married, 22, and can’t really say if my wife at the time, Kate, was helping my soul to grow. I never expected her to do that for me.
But my ex-wife gave me the gift of my two daughters, the very best things in my life. More than anyone, they have helped the good in me shine through. And more than anything else, I am trying to be a much better father with this second chance at life I’ve been granted.
I thought I had it all
When I met Kate as freshmen at the college we both attended, I thought that she was the one. At 18 I was still so naive with relationships but I fell hard for Kate: her green eyes looked through me, her pale skin, her sparkling intelligence, her lilting laugh, her pretty smile, her innocence. I didn’t really think my soul needed to grow back then. I thought I had it all and greatness was just waiting for me.
When I returned to college as a sophomore after summer break, major depression first reared its ugly head. I would rarely attend class, sporadically socialized, and did not like what was staring back at me in the dorm room mirror. Not one bit.
Major depression rears its ugly head
I felt overwhelmingly sad, anxious, ugly both inside and out, stupid and alone. Alone with these never-before-felt feelings that I could not rationally explain. No one could. Not my parents, my sisters, my friends. For 18 years I had been supremely confident, popular in school, outgoing, a state champion in high school basketball, girlfriends since 7th grade. But all of those things came to a grinding halt that first month sophomore year in college.
My roommate in the dorm was worried about me, and talked to my mom about it when she called on the pay phone one evening. The next day my parents drove to campus to discuss with me what was going on, how they could help. I didn’t see even the faintest glimmer at the end of the tunnel I was in, so I decided to take a break from school and accompany my parents home.
A week at home, away from school
Being away from school seemed to help. I was still sad and anxious, but after a few days at home it didn’t feel overwhelming like it had back at college. I thought it was getting better, that it was just a matter of time before I’d feel like my old self and everything would be pretty much “perfect” like it had been.
After a week at home I was back at college, in my dorm room. I was nervous but kept saying to myself, “you can do this.” I had been back only a few hours when I remember looking through the closet for my favorite pair of jeans. I couldn’t find them, they weren’t there! I removed all my clothes and slowly went through them. No jeans!
True panic set in. It felt like I was having a heart attack. Nothing my roommate said would calm me down. In a few hours my parents drove back to pick me up. A few days later I called the college’s provost and requested a leave of absence, which was granted.
Letters that changed my life
At home, I was spending a lot of time in bed. Nothing was raising my spirits. One afternoon my mom was telling me in a loud voice that I “had mail!” I sauntered down the steps from my third-floor bedroom and found a letter postmarked from the college, from Kate. My eyes widened and my heart skipped a beat. We had met freshman year in a Spanish class and some days walked back to our dorms together with a group of friends, talking. We had never dated.
That letter from Kate was the first of several I received from her the next few months. And I always wrote back to her. I started feeling somewhat better. She gave me hope in my life, hope that I had thought was lost. Looking back on it, I would have to say Kate most definitely helped my soul to grow 25 years ago. What happened after that I’ll have to write about another time.
The soul is growing because I’m alone
Being alone now, after marriage and divorce and a few long-term girlfriends, is good for my soul. Maybe what I need to get my life straightened out fully, finally. No more drugs, no more false hope, no more settling when I should keep searching.
To no longer look into eyes that are merely housing ambivalence, or austere nostalgia, not really love or affection. At 43 years I still have a lot to learn about relationships. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to help my daughters have happy(ier) marriages from all I’ve learned, the good and the bad.