What is this gripping feeling in my chest that settles into the space above my lungs? It seems to come in waves, unbidden and ferocious. The intensity is hard to articulate beyond simply ache, and always with it, the perception of loss.
This is a familiar feeling, it evokes an unnamed longing deep within me. Last year I wrote about a similar ache that comes around Christmastime, here. I thought that writing through it then would help resolve whatever was stirring within me; maybe it offered some quiet then, but it just hasn’t eradicated this feeling altogether.
Longing must always be explained in the Christian world; find the root cause of discomfort and make it about faith (or lack thereof). Although, they’re not the only ones prone to reckoning. Counselors can be even worse (and I am both)! We connect E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Trouble sleeping? Let’s talk what your brother said to you on your third birthday. Stubbed your toe? Tell me, when did you realize that your cat had a personal vendetta against you?
Naturally, I decided not to keep my therapist in the loop during these experiences of pain (see above. And yes, counselors have counselors. Whatever, it’s a thing), until I just couldn’t talk myself through it one more time without feeling as though I was losing a piece of me. I finally divulged my secret (of course she already knew and let a look of triumph appear briefly) ready to approach a real heart issue. As I worked to describe what this ache is, that it comes without warning like a sensation crashing down and catching the breath in my chest, her response was so simple:
This is grief, the aching of the soul.
I had been giving it the name Soul Ache, so I decided not to fight her for once (What? It’s a poorly kept secret that counselors make crappy clients). Naturally, I came to a conclusion that both reinforces my know-it-all posture, and brings to attention all that I have yet to learn. INFJ personality types are notorious for a ‘both-and’ type of thinking.
Anyway. Have you felt it? Or am I the outlier yet again? Seriously, is this a sensation unique to the empath?
Either way, what I know (and what I am learning to give words to) is this: soul craves deep connection, it withers beneath the weight of superficiality. True human connection is balm to this malady, to this Soul Ache.
I had a need to look at this Soul Ache through the eyes of attachment. If my soul is grieving from lack of connection how do I resolve this? Do I resolve this?
Know this: there is beauty to be found in learning that more than anything the way to heal is through relationships with one another; relationship with other humanbeings facilitates physical, emotional, and spiritual change. Relationships with people we are confidently and healthily bonded to are necessary and healing to our hearts, our minds, and our bodies alike.
Here’s the thing about relationships, we get to experience all that is good about God through the eyes of those around us. I know I’ve said it here before, but it needs to be said again (I need to see it again): peeling back the layers of soul reveals the need for intimate relationships.
We hold the capacity for few soul friendships, or Anam Cara, but the ones we create last a lifetime and point us to the presence of holy within. These friendships are an invitation to experience deeply the depths of our person.
My counselor was teaching me as she encouraged me to make eye contact as she spoke, “I love you.” It nearly broke me. I know I am loved, but this woman. She connected with my soul in a way that acknowledges the brokenness inside of me and heals me from the inside out.
I have received the message that I am too much, (Truly, I probably am for a lot of people). But the few who are my Anam Cara? That tribe speaks life into my way of being, I am whole in the presence of these few.
The soul longs for things unspoken. This presence we share with one another is vital to our very make up.
It is a longing that deserves our attention. Relationships with people [can be] reflections of God’s grace, mercy, connectedness. God is essentially relational, and we are made in His image. Let human relationships be a glimpse of heaven on earth. Allow true soul connection to be holy, and without shame.
Don’t be afraid to embrace the few who will step deeply into your story and restore your soul.