Musings on Tragic Love

“You own me! You control me. I belong to you. You think I don’t want to be a better man? You think that I don’t want to dedicate myself to my marriage? You don’t think I want to be honorable? To be the man you voted for?  I love you. I’m in love with you. You’re the love of my life.  My every feeling is controlled by the look on your face. I can’t breathe without you. I can’t sleep without you. I wait for you, I watch for you. I exist for you. If I could escape all of this and run away with you? There’s no Sally and Thomas here. You’re nobody’s victim, Liv. I belong to you. We’re in this together.”President Fitzgerald to Olivia Pope on ABC’s “Scandal”

“I’m in love with you and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been turned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” p. 153

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” p. 125

“Augustus Waters was the great star-crossed love of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won’t be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because-like all real love stories-it will die with us as it should.” p. 239

-John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars

After a weekend of entertainment via television and literature, I thought over these various examples of dialogue on love. My first thoughts were, “Damn, I want someone to say that to me. It must be amazing to be wanted so strongly.” My following thoughts were such, ” What the hell? That is scary. I don’t ever want to be in that position.”

These two thought trajectories have been in constant battle in my psyche-crossing over enemy lines and such- since middle school and sexual tension became a commonality: the yearn for and the fear of romantic love. I yearn for the tragic beauty that love brings. The beauty of waking up to someone you can never get enough of; the touch that makes your spines shiver. A look that makes your day brighter. The possibility that you can’t imagine how you lived without your “other half.” I fear the sense of uncertainty that love can bring, the fear that it could disappear in one moment.  I abhor the sense of losing oneself in favor of sharing your heart with another, or better yet, having your heart grow to accommodate room for someone else’s love. I’m afraid of what love may make me do.

Love made Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald engage in a relationship that  is damaging professionally and emotionally, yet it also made sense because they are “soul-mates.” Love made Hazel revoke her self-imposed mantra to “not be a grenade” and created a beautifully tragic love story for the ages. Love made Augustus throw caution to the wind and be honest with the love of his life. Love may blind us, but when it feels right , sometimes you have to go for it. A relationship is undoubtably complicated, but love in itself, is perfect.

But these are your prototypical tragic love stories, love as a fictional trope. You know it can’t end well, but you watch anyway because there is a universality about it that all humans can relate to. But tragic love stories in real life are never as entertaining because there are true consequences.

I look at Rihanna and Chris Brown and the history of abuse and immaturity that surrounds them and you pray that one of them comes to their sense, but you know that won’t happen because “love conquers all.” I engage with my coworker who has cheated on his girlfriend of many years and I think “isn’t love about honestly?” It seems to me like tragic love in the real world is about self-preservation and keeping up a facade of happiness, along with emotional instability. Emotional maturity seems to be lacking in these tales, but how do you cultivate it? One would think that past experiences and a sense of empathy would help, but it’s not enough.

Love is part of the human condition and while I attempt to be sardonic on love in my day-to-day life, I honestly just want to be part of this cycle like everyone else. My lack of experience in the love department-tragic or otherwise-is not something that I am necessarily proud of, but it has allowed me to ponder these things without going through a crisis on the state of an ongoing relationship. And I’ve surmised this much: one must be open to let love in, and with an open heart and soul comes vulnerability and the potential to be scarred by someone you love, intentionally or not.  That’s just a fundamental truth of life and love and you have to determine if it is worth the risk. And for many it is. It takes a lot of soul-searching to determine if you are ready, but even then, it could come unexpectedly. But, personally, I’m still searching the depths of my cold soul.

*You all should read The Fault In Our Stars. Tears for days…

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