The Calling of Your Soul?
Would you know it?
Can you distinguish it from all the other voices in your head?
Where does it reside?
How does it call to you?
Is it a pulling, or a pushing?
Do you feel closer to the edge or does the calling invoke a feeling of safety?
How do you even know it is your soul? What if it is your groin? Your heart? Your mind?
How do we even know what the hell our soul even sounds like?
In today’s world, with all the distractions, all the things that clammer for our attention, how can we even hear it?
Things beeping at us, ding at us, interrupting us from even the slightest of tasks. How could we even know, even hear the quiet calling of our own soul?
For me, the soul calling starts out soft. It is just a whisper that I can barely hear. It is inaudible, almost. It is more of a sensation than a sound. It is this soft thing that floats by me, speaking the truth about something I am missing about myself, or you, or life, or love, or faith, whatever really. And it is like someone passing you in a busy hall, say something in passing, and by the time you know they were talking to you, they are gone disappeared into a sea of humans, doing their thing, and you couldn’t make out what they said. But you heard it still, you think.
This is how it starts for me. Almost silent truths that come to me, briefly, inaudibly, landing in the recesses of my mind, where they are planted like a wind plants the dandelion seed, lying dormant until the spring rains bring forth a budding seedling of my soul’s calling...
But like that itinerant dandelion, my soul’s calling shall not be trifled with, no, if it is important, it will grow louder, until the sound that I am working so hard to ignore become deafening.
I remember the first time I heard it. I was in law school, drinking myself to death, slowly, it would take years to do the job, unless I was fortunate enough to mangle myself in a deadly crash. That one day, I heard it so crisp and clean, like a bell ringing right next to your head. No silly dandelion fuzz that time, no it was clear, and piercing and landed like a thud in my body.
“Why are you doing this to yourself? How many times, Erin? How many times are you going to do this same thing, and pretend that this time you will get a different result?
And like a sacrificial supplicant, I listened to what came next...
“You are going to live a life that isn’t worth living. You are living as if you are already dead, wasting your one precious human life, this experience, this life force, you are pissing it away with every drink you take. Stop it.”
So I did.
It was far messier but I think I have talked of that enough. The soul called and I answered. And thus was born a humbled existence where I am granted the delusion that I am in charge, that I am the one living this life, and so it goes, until the soul tells me something different altogether.
I heard it next when it was time to leave Florida. Too much water under that proverbial bridge. I needed a new start, a new city, a place that bustled with life and was teeming with sobriety. I landed in DC and my life took off like a bullet hurled from the muzzle of a shotgun, buck shotting me out and into the very large life I was about to live.
The soul said, “not here, there, now go!”
So I did.
It was quiet for some time. But then it grew restless yet again and began those tortured whispers in the hall, too quiet to hear, that uneasy feeling all that was left at day’s end.
I grew tired of all the activity. The constant sorting through men, lawyering all the time, the hustle. I have a lot of hustle, even still, but I grew weary. And a chance encounter with a raging Western River, pulled me out and away from big city life, ending that chapter of my life with a rather sudden exodus from all that I knew and had worked so hard to build. Lots of people said, “you are running away!” But I knew I wasn’t, I was running toward...there is a difference.
The soul said, “go, be alone, write, be still, do something else with yourself.”
So I did.
I spent two years alone in the desert, hoarding animals and land. My time was spent alone most of the time, until the weekends came and I could escape to a town with people, activity, life. But my weekdays were spent, living with just myself, the dogs, the cats, the ducks and the chickens. Nestled into a tiny home, in the mountains of New Mexico, where it was cold as hell in the winter, and blazing hot in the summer. And there, for two years, I lived out my alone. Somewhat like a prison sentence, but I was more less happy to do the time.
And I think I was supposed to learn how to do this alone thing, but like a lot of my life, I used that time to find new ways to become distracted,
“Have a baby on your own!”
But my soul didn’t say much of anything about that. I could tel that it was a “my will” situation and not a soul calling. Somewhere that invisible line between not a parent and parent, loomed too dangerous to cross. And my soul supported that decision. It stayed quiet, content to hold its tongue.
I would love to report at this juncture of the story, that I dove deeper into myself and listened patiently for what the soul decided to share next, but my soul sat quiet, driving me mad with no direction, no signals, just a quiteness that felt like I might die from, really.
So I took matters into my own hands, and pushed the baby. Well, I found a man, then pushed the baby. The line between parent and non-parent just too tempting not to cross. Lines in sand beg to be crossed you know?
So I married the man and had the baby and then another. And then he left for Iraq for seven months. I alone to parent a difficult toddler and newborn. I feared that I would not make it. I would perish under the crushing weight of all that mothering. I would not be able to do that which I feared, mother alone.
But I did. I did mother alone. Not perfectly, for sure, but I kept them alive and thriving. And I was only slightly mad from the effort.
Then he came back but I found that I had already left. He didn’t know it, or maybe he did. One can never be sure. But I was gone from that marriage. Proven capable of mothering solo, I didn’t need him anymore but I was too afraid to leave. (I would like to point out that I do not say this as a boast or brag, my lack of feeling for him, something I regret, a part of me that I hate to conjure up, because it is such an ugly part of me).
My soul sat quiet, but over years, grew louder and louder. Showing me through unhappiness how much I needed to leave. As always, the soul voice was quiet, at first. Then it became a recurrent thought in my head that caused me to suffer. I wanted to leave but felt like a fly trapped under glass. Always appearing to have the means and ability to leave, but always feeling thwarted. Each time I would mentally fly off, out of that marriage, I would soar for only seconds, then hit the glass encasement, hurling me back into the middle of that relationship.
One night, I walked across the room, the bedroom I shared with him, he lay fallow in the bed per his now common routine, and as I watched him lying there, I thought,
“Maybe it is me. Maybe I am why he is so depressed and spends all of this time in this bed. Maybe this thing between us that isn’t bad, but isn’t good, is what is wrong with him. Maybe it is me...”
The soul voice very calmly and very forcefully said, “you shall not be a part of someone else’s cause for misery. It makes you miserable too. And everyone that touches you to include your children...you must go, now.”
I told him I wanted a divorce that night. It didn’t go well. It was a long circuitous conversation because I didn’t know how to be direct or really even own my own truth: that I didn’t love him, maybe I never did. I don’t know anymore, I certainly didn’t love him like I wanted to, or felt like I should. And he deserved better. So did I but I couldn’t see that then. Only him and his misery really ranked with me. So my soul used that to move me forward.
It was no easy task the leaving of a marriage. It is hard, arduous, requiring tenacity and strength to withstand the doubts of your own mind. To survive all the fear, the what ifs, the should haves, the if onlys. It is hard to leave a marriage but when it supported by the calling of your own soul, there is no other choice. Leaving is the only path available.
I heard it again when I met Lane. The night I drove to meet him for the first time, I thought, “what if he just walked up and kissed me, and that was it?”
And so it was. That is what happened. Well, sort of.
He did walk up and kiss me, and was it, only it was just for me. We began the love affair that I thought would save me, save us both actually. I loved him so completely with all of myself that was available to myself at the time. I fell hard and not quite so fast. I delayed, tarried even, holding back because I think on some level I knew that once I fell all the way in, I was never coming back.
That was almost eight years ago now. We had a lot of starts and a lot of stops. I still love him. I wish that I didn’t. I wish that I could move on and forget all about him and how I felt, how we loved. I wish that I could take back the parts of me that I gave to him and keep them now forever for myself, but they somehow ceased to be mine the moment I gave them.
It was an ugly ending, a protracted death over years. We would part, then rekindle, then conflagurate again, spread like wildfire, only to be snuffed out again, leaving only smoldering embers of a love that really could have been life changing. I mean, I guess it was, but not in the way that I had hoped.
He left me. Repeatedly. And I too sick from need and want, powerless to stop his coming and going. Always up for another round in the ring with my prizefighting lover. I lost every round, but somehow when the bell rang, and I returned to my corner, my friends and family there to check the severity of my injuries, I always found a willingness to come back when the bell rang again. Over and over again. There might be years between the rounds, but I just kept fighting for him, for us, for a love that I believed in, in spite of what everyone else told me.
My soul was alarmingly quiet which should have been a clue. I am a slower learner sometimes, not usually, but in matters of the heart I have been stubbornly ignorant. And so the pain lasted, and was pervasive for way too long.
I distracted myself with work and dating. Two things that always paid off. Until they didn’t. My soul grew restless again and while I thought she was busy working on giving me information about my love life, she was really building quite a good case for leaving the job.
And in April of this year, she said, “it is time, you must go now, even without another job, even without a plan, or purpose, it is time for you to leave.”
So I did.
Each time I have followed the beckoning of my soul, I have been evolved, grown up through and out of myself. Each time, the things that are holding me back, stripped from me, pulled back and away from me. Eviscerating me with truth that only I know to be true. Not one of the above mistakes. Only soul callings that would not, could not be ignored.
And so I wait in this almost desperate wasteland of myself, waiting to hear, to hear any murmurings from my soul. To see where I go next, what is it I am to do with myself now. Middle aged, solitary, evolving even while it feels that each day I lose more than I acquire. Lost on a sea of myself, again.
I am straining hard to listen to the call of what comes next. But so far, she just mocks me with idle silence and a somewhat peaceful contentedness. Living through the latest season of grief in my life. Missing my child. Sending him away again because I knew that allowing him to remain was likely going to kill us both. Was that another soul calling? I am not sure. I seem to only be able to identify soul callings after they have long since passed, with weeks or months or sometimes years. That is when I can be certain, but in the thick of it, I just feel lost, adrift on the sea of Erin. Fighting for my life, in days. Allowing time to pass, attempting to heal that which still pains me. Too much aloneness but needing more of it every single day. Finding myself more apt to sail towards isolation, than in any other direction.
Soul callings, at least for me, are lonely things. As they pull me away from myself and toward some newer version of myself which bears only a passing acquaintance to my current version. It is hard to live in this place. To hold the grief, the love, the fear, the anger, the sadness, to find a way for there to be room for it all, in my life, in my heart, in my soul that aches with each day. Willing my son to stop fucking up his life, willing my heart to stop loving someone who has long since left the building, to move forward and love someone else that might be more worth my efforts.
But the soul is funny that way. She leaves me with desire but with no motor to put into action and with each day that passes, I become more convinced that solo is my plight, my road, left to struggle to understand that longing, the absences and my own inability to love better.
I wish soul calling were more fun. More apt to bring me relief instead of leaving me feeling less and less free. But soul callings do what they do and they never, ever stop. That place deep within us, kind of a fucker, really. Caring not that we are happy or getting what we want, more content really, to force us to serve some higher purpose, of which we are never sure that it will ever match what we want for ourselves.
Right now, soul callings are exhausting for me. Wandering through my days with an ache, paining from so much soul, and feeling like sometimes it is the loneliest thing in this world, to be called by your own soul.
“It is fine, you are ok,” she says. “You will survive yourself.”
So I do.