27 Aug Is a tragic love affair better than no love affair at all?
Dasha kept the letters of the boy she fell in love with under her pillow all her life.
She never forgot him. She created an imaginary life with him – the one she could have had if they had both been ‘healthies’ instead of ‘defectives.’
This fantasy of hers is what is known as cognitive dissonance and is not uncommon among those who are suffering from trauma. In Dasha’s case it was the trauma of being perceived by the public as mutants; the trauma of having a dominant, abusive sister; and of course the trauma of unbearable grief when the one person who understood her and loved her for who she was died unexpectedly.
Her dream of a life with Slava in a village where they both worked and had a family, was, she told me, just as real, if not more real in her own mind than the existence she loathed.
She drew energy and created a reason for living from the power of her imagination. It helped her cope and it gave her joy. If hadn’t had that glimpse of passion and love in the four years she spent with him in their school, she would never have had that romantic fantasy to draw on.
Most of course live a reasonably happy and fulfilled life so when we suffer heartbreak we may weep and tear our hair out but eventually we are able to react appropriately and move on.
We may look back on a love affair which ended tragically (whether that be the agony of being abandoned by someone we loved, or having a lover die) and regret it because of the terrible pain it caused. But what we should is take the positivity out of that experience, not the negativity. A lost love should – and often does – act as a catalyst to reassess our lives and move onwards and upwards to happier relationships, both with ourselves and others.
Dasha was unable to move on to another man because Slava was the only shot she got at true love.
But she was able to find joy in the world of illusion she created from his memory, his letters and their love for each other. She took his letters with her when she was taken in the ambulance before she died.
They were probably disposed of by cleaning staff but that’s OK. They’d served their function.