“Maybe some relationships are so strong your Soul can never forget them.” I wish I could claim these words as my own but they are not. They belong to my wonderful friend @Shannynsteel and were uttered this morning while we walked through a nearby forest.
We were talking about love and soul connections and I was musing on the topic of past life hangovers – this is how I describe instances when we reconnect with someone strongly in this lifetime and feel it deeply because we have done so in previous lifetimes as well.
This has certainly happened to me a lot and to be honest, it often creates far more drama, sadness and confusion than a romantic heart might want to believe.
If you haven’t experienced these types of connections then I don’t necessarily recommend them unless you are prepared to pass through a ring of emotional fire and explore parts of your psyche that will make no logical sense at all.
Metaphysicians such as Carolyn Myss talk of souls drinking from a river of forgetfulness (or words to that effect) before they return for their next life in human form. Firstly, they make agreements with other souls about what they will help each other learn, then they drink to forget those agreements and finally they are born here. This seems a very sensible and wise approach considering the many lives we have traversed before.
But what happens when you’re someone like me who has past life hangovers? Did I not drink enough from the river? Or is it part of my lesson to sometimes straddle the divide between this and previous lives?
I’m still wrangling with these questions.
Past life hangovers have manifested in my intimate relationships far more often than I would like.
While I feel an incredible intensity and depth with these men, I am usually unaware of the past life connection while I’m involved with them. But hindsight inevitably directs a blazing light on the truth of it all.
In one relationship, I found myself saying a particular phrase of love to the man and placing my hand directly in the middle of his chest while I said it. It was curious because the words and the way they were spoken were not my usual way of expressing myself. As that relationship crumbled to the ground, I had a vision of him and I in medieval times and saw myself place my hand in the middle of his chest, just like I had done only days before. He and I had done this dance more than once in other lives.
In another connection (this time with a man much younger than me), we were powerfully drawn to each other but it caused us both feelings of confusion. It was never consummated although I suspect we both thought about taking it further. Much later, I realised that while we had been having one of our more volatile conversations, I had looked at his face and seen a much older man – not the young man he currently is.
In another situation, I found myself remembering a man I had loved very deeply. Every time I thought of him, I saw his big blue eyes looking straight at me. When we reconnected much later, I realised his eyes were another colour entirely and it felt, for the first time, like I was seeing the man fully in this lifetime, rather than the one I had known in a previous life.
Past life hangovers had wreaked chaos in my personal life. Clearly my soul recognises them and they recognise me – that is why we are drawn together. But then it disintegrates into a mess because our souls want to stay connected but our paths are to be separate this time around.
I am getting better at spotting these patterns earlier these days but it has certainly been a strong influence in my love life over the years.
Did I not drink enough at the river of forgetfulness or is it just that some relationships are so strong you can never forget them?
I’m sifting through the interviews for my book on partnership and as I read the thoughts of men and women of all ages, the overwhelming desire is for connection. Whether in marriage, dating, polyamory or choosing to be single because you can’t face another brush with rejection, we all want connection.
Our reasons may differ but our desire is the same.
There is a beautiful vulnerability in people when they talk openly about partnership with me. The anonymity of being able to share their story entices them to reveal their innermost thoughts, beliefs, perceived failures, joys and love, so much love. There is pain there too. Of course there is. My primary motivation for beginning this work was to relieve my own pain; pain born from a decade littered with men who had little to give and me, a woman who wanted to give everything. I wanted to know how to do it better; how to create something that was more positive, sustainable, supportive, embracing and loving for myself. So I began talking to others, seeking answers.
My only question has been, what does partnership mean to you? And then I have simply followed the conversation wherever it has led me organically. Men, women, gay, straight, single, not single, young, retiring, so many interviews and so many perspectives. The magic of their thoughts touches me when I read them through. We’ve talked about divorce, parental disapproval, trust, having children, losing children, managing ourselves better, sex and sexual dysfunction, working out our previous traumas, choosing to isolate, choosing monogamy and choosing others to fill emotional holes that can’t be filled within a current partnership.
Every person is different. Even when I have been privileged to interview both people in a partnership, their answers have been different; sometimes their views are in complete opposition from ‘being on the same page’ to ‘ marriage is bi-polar’. Yet, for them it works.
And every single person has allowed me, for a few precious minutes or sometimes an hour, to glimpse inside their Soul and see what is truly important to them. What a treasured gift they have given me, all of them.
As I now edit and begin tying their stories together I wonder, “Can I do their stories justice? Can I honour the trust they have endowed on me?” I hope so.
Have I worked out what partnership means to me yet? I don’t know. They are all so clear but I, I feel like I am still seeking the answer. It’s as if it is still hiding within my Soul, waiting to rise to the surface when the right person should ask.
Over the past ten years I’ve noticed a trend that doesn’t seem to be diminishing and it’s played on my mind. I’ve tried to twist my perspective this way and that and I still haven’t come up with a definitive answer.
So today I thought I’d write about it and see if you had thoughts to share on the matter.
As a divorced woman in my 40s I’ve watched the relationships of numerous friends and acquaintances break-up. And it’s what has happened next that has me most perplexed.
Invariably the men move on to other relationships quickly while the women generally spend more time in recovery before even dipping their toe in the water again. Most men seem to barely draw breath before launching into something new. They can be emerging from a 10-year relationship or an intense affair and just a few weeks later they’re out there again, ready to repeat the experience. And they do. Within a very short space of time (often weeks or months) they’ll be ensconced in another relationship.
Most women on the other hand seem to take time for more self-reflection. They allow themselves the space to heal and are, often, not the least bit interested in trying on someone new until they’ve sorted through the mess of the old.
When I see this happening time and time again, I find it a little disconcerting.
Is it that men simply don’t need to process what went wrong? Do they truly have the capacity to just compartmentalise their past, stick it in a box and get on with it? Or are women just more inclined to navel-gaze and mull things over for extended periods of time?
As a woman, I can’t claim to know what goes on inside a man’s head when it comes to these things. However I can’t help but think it’s not a healthy pattern to simply go from one relationship into the next without giving yourself the space to think about what went wrong. I also wonder why many men appear to find this type of self-contemplation so hard to do.
Is it that men can’t be alone? Or are they conditioned through our culture and societal expectations that they must have a partner to be considered successful? And so their first thought is they must find someone new and simply forget what came before – they just have to ‘get on with it’ because there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’.
Now, I’m not advocating that humans are meant to live without companionship. As a wise man once told me, ‘No one really wants to be alone and if they say otherwise they are lying.’ Relationships with other human beings with the accompaniments of companionship, acceptance and physical touch are a vital part of our existence. And like all human beings, I desire that for myself too.
But surely there is more room for the self-awareness that comes from being alone, outside a relationship. And why do most women seem more willing to have that experience and to grant themselves the space to do so?
Are women more adaptable? Can they more easily fill their own inner well? Have many men not been taught how to do this and instead look to have it filled by women?
One of my male friends would tell me it’s all about the male ‘lizard brain’ that is purely motivated by sex and not much else. But I know many women who also value sex highly as a vital way to connect with their partners, so it can’t all be about that.
Like I said at the start of this post, I don’t have an answer to all this. But I do question the behaviour when I see it time and time again. I also know that those emotions that have been shoveled under the carpet will eventually re-surface in a not-so-healthy way in a later relationship and the new partner will have to deal with the male’s unresolved issues from the past.
And, as a woman who’s been on the receiving end of that experience, I have to tell you it’s no fun.
The things we collect in our lives say a lot about who we are and what we want our lives to look like. If we look closely, they also say a lot about our desires, hopes and the things we are holding onto.
My friend Meaghan recently offered to help me detox and de-clutter my home. She runs a business specialising in detoxing and improving the flow of energy in home environments.
I prevaricated and made some excuses. My house was fairly tidy and I didn’t think it was worth her time. But a few days later I realised it was time to shake things up and perhaps my home (a bit like me) had settled into a comfort zone that was a little too comfortable. I was stuck and it was time to shift things around.
A few hours later Meaghan was on my doorstep and what followed was certainly eye-opening and unexpected.
We began with a briefing session. I was keen to start straight away so we began in my study/storage/ironing room.
Meaghan headed straight for the wardrobe. ‘Why do you have so many bags on top of the wardrobe?’ she asked. I had six suitcases plus an assortment of other bags.
‘Um. I’m not sure,’ I said.
‘Does one person need that many bags?’ she asked.
It was a valid question.
Then Meaghan pulled open the doors and discovered (yes, you guessed it)…more bags. I was a veritable bag lady.
There were plastic bags (kept because I might need them later), an assortment of cloth shopping bags (they might be good to carry groceries in but had never made it to the boot of my car where they would be easily accessible), and a couple of sports bags too.
‘Lucy, you have a lot of baggage in here,’ Meaghan said with a kind of puzzled wonder as we pulled them out in handfuls.
Eventually the wardrobe was relieved of its collection and we moved the suitcases and other bags into the kitchen to sort into keep, maybe, and donate piles.
I’d been feeling pretty comfortable with the process until that point but things began to change when I had to decide what to keep, and what to give away.
I found myself feeling upset about letting go of some of the suitcases. I had two the same size and there was also a big one I hadn’t used for years and wasn’t very practical. Yet I could feel my anxiety growing by the second. I didn’t understand why I was so upset. They were just suitcases and I am only one woman. I don’t need six suitcases…who does?
I also have to say that Meaghan wasn’t pressuring me to give away all or any of them. She just asked the questions, ‘Which of these suitcases do you need to keep? Which ones are you undecided about (we’ll put them in the maybe pile)? And which ones would you like to give away?’
I made the decisions and my anxiety bubbled away beneath the surface while my rational brain wondered what all the fuss was about.
It was only an hour or so later, when we sat down to de-brief, that I finally clicked. The large suitcase, which I thought I was happy to let go of, had a few strong memories attached to it. It was the suitcase I used on my first trip overseas. That same trip was my honeymoon. And although I don’t want to be with my ex-husband now, that suitcase was symbolic of all the love, hope and joy I felt at that time.
I knew it was time to let that part of my life go (in fact, I thought I did that years ago). But for some reason I was holding on to that part of my history. I was holding on to that baggage and stopping myself from moving forward. My emotional baggage was in the suitcase. And all those other bags were symbolic of the rest of my emotional baggage; those things I was still holding onto but no longer needed.
It may sound silly but it took me a couple more days before I could take those suitcases and bags to Lifeline. It was like I had to process and say goodbye. When I finally dropped them off at the charity shop I felt good. I was ready to let my baggage go to allow the new to come in (whatever that might be).
Meaghan and I have been continuing my home detox and there have been a few more unexpected revelations for me along the way. I’m sure there will also be more in the future.
But for now, I have a lot less baggage in my house. And that has to be a good thing.
I had an ex flashback this week. There I was, minding my own business when I looked up and wham! there he was.
Well, it wasn’t actually my ex Gerry. But for a moment my heart stopped because this guy looked just like him.
After my brain registered that it wasn’t him and my heart started beating again, I found myself thinking about Gerry and the connection we had.
It was one of those highly sexual connections where quite frankly, we could have ripped each other’s clothes off at any moment. But sadly, possibly because he forgot to mention he had a girlfriend, our relationship didn’t quite work out the way I hoped.
In hindsight, this was probably a good thing.
I’ve been single for a while now and the Gerry story is not the only negative male-related scenario I’ve come across. In fact, my whole book (The Men I’ve Almost Dated – currently being edited) covers the bizarre and often dysfunctional behaviour I’ve witnessed on the dating scene.
Unfortunately, these experiences have had a rather nasty side effect for me. I now find myself being just a little too cautious and often a little too defensive around men. In fact, sometimes I’m so busy playing defense that I forget to open the door and let the good ones in.
I was out last night and I did exactly that with a man who definitely has possibilities. I shut him down. I was just a little too much of a smart-mouth. It was reflex thing and I’m not exactly proud of it. But hey, like most people, I am a product of my experience so I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much.
Instead I’ve decided to change course and try a different tack.
So tonight I’ve made contact and opened the door just a little so he can walk through it.
Who knows, he could turn out to be rather fabulous. I’ll just have to trust that he’s not another Gerry and wait and see what happens next.
A few years ago I found myself in a particularly dysfunctional relationship.
I guess you could say I decided to deal with all my bad boy issues in one hit.
It lasted for a few months and during that time my idea of normal relationship behaviour became a bit skewed.
And when I look back now, I can see that clearly.
But at the time, I thought it was normal. I thought it was okay.
Jamie* had a range of issues, including drugs.
When I started seeing him, he said he wasn’t into that kind of thing anymore. And I believed him.
But Jamie was lying. Or perhaps he was straight for the first part of our relationship and then relapsed.
Either way, his behaviour rapidly became the opposite of normal.
He worked away sometimes so we spent a lot of time talking on the phone. Some nights it was like talking to a stranger; a stranger who wasn’t very nice.
But he always apologised the next day so we worked through it. I worked through it.
Sometimes he would tell me stories to deliberately scare me or make me worry. He was even transparent about it and once said he liked hearing that sound of worry and panic in my voice.
And yet I stayed with him.
I’d tell friends what was happening and some of my stories were so far from normal I can’t believe they stopped themselves from physically shaking me and yelling, “What the hell are you doing?? Run!!!”
Eventually Jamie broke my heart – what a surprise…not.
And it took me a long time to recover. It was a toxic relationship and definitely not healthy/normal.
I was lucky to get out as easily as I did.
I’ve met a lot of women whose idea of a normal relationship has become warped because they’ve stayed too long with a dysfunctional partner.
I’ve watched too many friends disappear and be replaced by women who think the most unacceptable behaviour is acceptable…and normal.
And these types of relationships don’t just affect my social group.
I met a woman called Jamillia* recently who told me the story of her ex, his alcoholism and how she eventually walked away because she needed to do what was best for her.
Then she told me about his threat to kill her if she dated anyone else. She said it was, of course, just a joke.
Jamillia* had spent so long in a dysfunctional and toxic relationship that she couldn’t or didn’t want to see his comment clearly for what it was.
I asked her if ‘normal’ people generally make threats to kill others.
She stopped and thought about my question for a few moments and said…no. And then she decided to manage all contact with her ex a little more carefully.
Jamillia’s experience is pretty extreme and of course there are lots of healthy relationships out there.
But sometimes smart women find themselves in relationships that develop into something that is not healthy, and not normal.
And it is one area of our lives where we need to be vigilant.