It was American author Joseph Campbell who said that “marriage is a recognition of a spiritual identity”, and new book Soul Mate Sh*t by Melissa Yvonne perhaps attests to this timeless fact more than any other.
An absorbing, arresting memoir presented in fictionalised form, Yvonne’s debut is a raw and honest insight into relationship difficulties, and the importance of confronting them head on.
Already an Amazon bestseller, it offers a unique story based on painful yet transcendent experiences from the author’s life (and former life, as we come to discover) that will speak to anyone and everyone who has ever been in love, and who has been torn over whom to give their heart.
This is exactly the distressing situation that the author, who like Campbell also hails from America, found herself in.
Married to Chase for more than a decade, Melissa finds herself growing increasingly lonely as the pressures and demands of their careers result in them spending less and less time together.
This has only become more pronounced since Chase’s promotion at the local fire station, a significant advancement with the downside that it sometimes keeps him away from home for days on end.
And when they do see each other, their exchanges are nothing more than routine, with the smouldering passion of their earlier years now a distant, bitter memory.
It is in this vulnerable state that a colleague of Chase’s, Brayden, contacts Melissa, offering a lifeline to a woman clearly drowning in frustration and sorrow.
Their relationship begins by text and rapidly develops into something physical.
While still living at their marital home, Melissa becomes more distant towards Chase, who begins to suspect that there may be someone else in her life.
Yvonne, whose story, while semi-fictionalised, is based squarely on four months’ worth of journals she kept during this rocky patch, is entirely frank about why Brayden, who has a reputation as a womanizer, is winning her affections over Chase.
For instance, confiding to her mother, she says:
Remember how you told me once that you didn’t get to have both the responsible provider and the man who writes poetry?” I asked.
“That you have to choose? It’s why I chose Chase over David all those years ago. The provider was the safe choice. I told myself I could live without the poetry.”
She replied, “That sounds like something I would have said.”
I turned to look back at her smiling face. Dropping my tone to almost a whisper, “Brayden is both, ma.”
She explains how being with Brayden has rekindled a passion long absent from her relationship with Chase and, needing space to think, she leaves her husband to stay with friends.
It is that same night that Melissa experiences an uncanny dream of another woman in a similar situation which may be much more than the phantasmagoria of imagination – it may, in fact, be a previous incarnation.
For Melissa is not just witness to the life of this other woman, Abigail, but the inhabitant of it, sensing and feeling everything that she does.
A princess in 12th century Wales, Abigail was loved from afar by a man called Hayes, the captain of the guard and a loyal companion who was a redoubtable pillar of strength.
As the book progresses, the narrative continues to swap between present-day Melissa and 12th-century Abigail, with the former spellbound by her counterpart as she enters into a secret relationship with a man far below her station – a blacksmith, Alexander.
There is undoubtedly chemistry between the two but gifted with a wider vantage than Abigail, Melissa also bears witness to the lasting longing and regret that overshadows Hayes for the remainder of his life.
Working with an intuitive, Melissa is encouraged to take these vivid dreams as a signal to abandon Chase, the reincarnation of Hayes, and fully pursue her fledgling relationship with Brayden, the reincarnation of Alexander, whom the medium believes to be her soulmate.
Her recollections of this other life, however, suggest more than one interpretation, and she is aware that it might, instead, be her husband – who wishes to fight for their marriage, and who is still watching out for her despite their separation – who is really her soulmate.
For, as she has learned from the intuitive, everyone has a ‘soul circle’ which accompanies them across the ages; a network of individuals who form a mutual support group from one life to the next.
Whatever the actual provenance of her dreams may be, they nonetheless allow her to reflect on her actions and make a more considered life choice, where the chemical urges of infatuation are balanced by rational contemplation.
Melissa comes to understand that while Brayden is part of her wider soul circle, he is not the soulmate she is destined to spend eternity with. His real purpose is to be a mediating force in the reconciliation of her with Chase.
The unusual twin-narrative approach to the author’s story is highly effective in relating a relationship in crisis from multiple angles, as opposed to the narrow view that is usually offered in books.
And the sharing of Abigail’s journey continually enhances our understanding and empathy with that of Melissa’s.
Many of us wish that we had a greater power to call upon for guidance in challenging times but here is someone who has been gifted it, and who has come through the other side to relate it to the world.
The greatest lesson she learns by Soul Mate Sh*t’s close is that marriage requires constant effort and communication, and the honesty in which she documents her soulful education – the tears and torment, and the lustful dalliances vs the virtues of true love – makes that precept all the more noteworthy.
It’s a different take on relationship reads for sure, but one that every couple would benefit from reading together, following Melissa as she makes costly mistakes before seeking to put them right.
Although names have been changed in the book, for obvious reasons, it has been written with the full consent of the key parties, and their commitment to reporting the devastation and chaos that an affair can cause from the inside is to be commended.
Its ultimate resolution, while certainly unorthodox, is told authentically and memorably, holding nothing back – both in the ecstatic highs and crushing lows.
The chapters focused on Abigail, meanwhile, ascend into the poetic, with beautiful prose that captures the mystery and allure of another time. For instance, Melissa writes of her first encounter …
When I finally fell asleep, I found myself experiencing the life of someone else, somewhere else. Lush colors of the forest came into focus, I saw a young woman with long, dark hair and eyes that matched the foliage of the ferns.
Whatever your views on past-life regression, Soul Mate Sh*t reminds us that we must make the most of our time on earth.
And, thankfully, reading the book certainly counts as a good use of time.
Soul Mate Sh*t by Melissa Yvonne (Onion River Press) is available on Amazon, priced £13.99 in paperback, £3.20 as an eBook and £7.99 as an audiobook. For more information, visit the author’s website, www.melissayvonne.com or follow her on Instagram.
Q&A INTERVIEW WITH MELISSA YVONNE
Bestselling spiritual author Melissa Yvonne discusses how she came to write Soul Mate Sh*t, her experiences of past-life regression, and her advice to others about this unique form of therapy.
Q: Soul Mate Sh*t must have been a difficult book to write, being so personal. What motivated you to share it with the world?
A. Stepping into complete authenticity. Chase, Brayden and I experienced our story on a soul mate level that seemed ingenuine not to share.
Q: How did you come to choose past-life regression therapy as a means to rescue your marriage?
I chose to work on my marriage with a therapist. Past-life regression was the means by which the guidance I needed came to me.
Q: Would you recommend the same therapy to others going through relationship difficulties?
A. Look for therapy within your soul circle. They will ultimately love and support you and although some may present as activators of turmoil, trust they always have your best interest in their heart. Sometimes the turmoil brings the deepest learning.
Q: If someone does choose to undergo past-life regression, what advice can you offer to prepare them?
A. Accept that it is painful, scary, confusing and that it reflects every level of beauty that exists.
Q: Past-life regression is one of those areas outside of our current scientific understanding. What would you say to someone who doesn’t believe in it, and the concepts of souls and reincarnation?
A. I never examined my regression work with a scientific lens. This work comes from the heart and once you experience the powerful impacts, the results become your proof.
Q: How has past-life regression changed your perspective on the world?
A. The concept of death no longer has any fear. The perception of power, money and stature being meaningful is gone. The noise of people outside of my soul circle has lost any hold they had over me before the regression work.
Q: What do you think is the most important lesson to emerge from your experiences?
A. I found a way to experience love in the expansive way it is meant to be felt.
Q: What inspired the book’s intriguing title?
A. Brayden and Melissa coined the phrase early in the affair. They were perplexed, puzzled and at a loss for how to describe their connection or the emotions they were experiencing. With no boxes to put it in, no one word to pin it down, they trusted their unexplainable situation just had to be some sort of ‘soul mate sh*t’.
Q: How does it feel being a published author?
A. Incredible. I got my first writing award in fourth grade and vowed then to be a published author. Brayden was an activator that pushed my marriage with Chase to a better place, but as my soul mate, our affair created this story that made my dream come true.
Q: What are your plans as an author moving forward?
A. I have a series of short stories that build out characters from Melissa’s life in the first book and add in new ones. In these, I will complete some of the storylines from the first book and start some interesting new ones.