About a year ago, I wrote an article titled, “I didn’t marry my soul mate.” I was very honest about a period of time in my marriage when both of us wondered if we had chosen incorrectly and even if we had settled. During those times I wondered what my life would have been like had I married “the other guy.”
I had not seen him in 12 years, until a couple of months ago.
I was running one evening and passed two bikers on the road. I then heard one of them yell out to me. It took him announcing who he was for me to recognize that it was him. It was crazy that 12 years had passed without seeing each other and suddenly there he was. He had a friend with him and the three of us chatted for a few minutes about our families and our lives and I was so glad to see how happy he is.
As I walked away I thought how interesting it was that a moment I’d often played out and built up in my mind ended up being fairly anti-climactic.
As I continued my run something was bothering me. I began to play out our brief conversation in my mind. It hit me that everything he had asked about me, my kids, what I was doing and even the praise he gave me, was met with a lukewarm response from me. I acted like my accomplishments weren’t a big deal or my kids weren’t as awesome as they are. I thought about that for some time and wondered why in the world I had acted that way.
And then, I could remember vividly our conversations from 12 years previously. I realized that in many of them I had often responded in much the same way as I just had -- something that back then, I never realized I was doing.
His personality was and probably still is larger than life. He was extremely outgoing, happy, charismatic and kind. His presence could fill an entire room.
It then hit me that I simply admired him so much back then that I had let his good qualities and talents shine while sub-consciously placing my own in the backseat -- something neither of us would have ever wanted me to do. And then I knew the answer to what I had always wondered. I knew what my marriage would have been like had he and I married. I would have been content being “Jake’s wife” and probably wouldn’t have felt a need to be more than that. In doing so, I may have un-intentionally lost some of my identity or never discovered that there was more to me. He wouldn’t have done that to me. I would have.
I then reflected on my own marriage. My husband is quiet, a great listener, has a dry sense of humor and thinks before he speaks. In a lot of ways we are polar opposites.
I thought of our 10 years together and of how I have become a writer -- something I love. I thought of all the chances I have taken and limbs I have gone out on. I thought of my confidence and how it has improved and how my failures and successes have largely shaped the person I am today. As I thought about all of those things, I could see the huge part that my husband has played in all of it. All of the support, the help and encouragement he has given me. How many times he pushed me out front while he stood back, quietly cheering me on. I thought of the times I have done the same for him. It became clear to me what a positive thing our differences truly were. They weren’t our weaknesses. They were our strengths.
A huge excitement filled me as I ran back to the house with this new-found understanding. I was all smiles as I grabbed my husband in a bear hug.
I told him what had happened.
“What?! You ran into your soul mate?” He joked animatedly. “Awesome!!”
I laughed as I rolled my eyes. And then I got emotional. “You’re my soul mate.”
“I know.” He smiled.
I loved that response.
Life doesn’t always work out like we think it should. It turns out that maybe that’s just fine and sometimes it’s even for the better. I will always be grateful for the brief but great impact Jake had on my life, but I am even more grateful for the precious insight I received after running into him years later.
“Thank you” I said as I hugged my husband again.
I smiled. “For letting me shine.”