“I’ve got issues, you’ve got ‘em too
So give ‘em all to me and I’ll give mine to you
Bask in the glory of all our problems
Cause we’ve got the kind of love
It takes to solve them”
-Julia Michaels “Issues”
What makes a good love story? Two attractive people share a clever meet cute, forever changed by the moment in time when their eyes first meet. Sound familiar? Well that’s how most love stories start. It’s also, how most devastating love stories start as well.
However, there is an element of the forbidden or an immense obstacle that is presented surrounding the circumstances of their meeting and they soon realize it won’t be all rainbows and butterflies. We immediately think, they must be together, but how? You root for them from the beginning in hopes that they overcome the trying circumstances and end up in their happily ever after. When so many reasons present themselves, as to why two people may not be together, the more you wish for it to be so. Why do we do this? Simple supply and demand, the less likely or the less accessible something is, the more we want it. We’re greedy and pine for what is just out of reach because it is tantalizing us with its obscurity. The first thing that probably came to mind at the phrase Devastating Love Story was Romeo and Juliet. While it is a tragedy and by nature is devastating to a certain extent, tragedies end in downfall with and ill-fated destiny that you hoped wouldn’t come but did anyway. Call it blasphemy, but I think tragedies are the easy way out of a star-crossed romance. Romeo and Juliet know each other for a matter of days before they end it all with a poisonous concoction that sends them into lover’s eternal oblivion. While you are heart broken for a moment, you get over it rather quickly because that just the thing, it’s over, done, the end. So, tragedy yes, but devastating? Not quite. Devastating would require one to keep on existing while being completely ruined by the effect that this love has had on them. As the reader or viewer, we are smitten, destroyed and forever laid to waste by the immensity of the love story set before us. The heart and mind are so affected that they will never be what they were once before. What truly make a devastating love story are the lengths that lovers are willing to go to be together but also that they get to be together. To see lovers beat the odds and come out together is what knocks us off our feet. The profession of love, the endurance of pain and the reunion, are what make it devastating and we love every minute of it.
1. We Like Pain
You know, the hurts so good kind of pain, it’s the kind of pain that leaves such a mark we go on feeling it for a long time to come. Pain is the most noticeable feeling that we have as humans; we know we are still very much alive when we feel it. Not many experiences move us quite like pain does. Pain is emotion and sensation wrapped into one and amidst its duration, we do whatever necessary to relieve it, sometimes that means even more pain. In childbirth, the precipice of pain is felt right before the relief. Do we like the feeling of pain? Hell no, but it’s the result of the pain that would make us do it again and again if we had to. In Dragonfly in Amber, Diana Gabaldon’s second book in the Outlander series, Jamie sends Claire back through the standing stones to her own time. He does this to protect her and their unborn child from the ravages of war, a war he is about to die in. Jamie sacrifices himself and his needs to save the woman he loves knowing that in doing so, he will experience the most immense pain he has ever felt. The only thing that brings him comfort is knowing that his wife and child will be safe. The sacrifice brings separation but it also preserves life, a life that will be devastated by the pain of loss only faintly muted by an expanse of time. Completely contradictory. Now that’s a devastating love story.
“Cut me,” I said urgently. “Deep enough to leave a scar. I want to take away your touch with me, to have something of you that will stay with me always. I don’t care if it hurts; nothing could hurt more than leaving you. At least when I touch it, wherever I am, I can feel your touch on me.
~ Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber
2. We Love the Relief
What knocks us off our feet more, the pain? Or finding out that we did not suffer in vain? To hold your newborn babe in your arms after the pain of childbirth and the nine months it took to get there. You feel your heart break with love into a thousand tiny pieces only to be put back together instantly as you gaze intently at their tiny face. The pain was worth it but the relief is more than the absence of pain it is the awakening and the insertion of joy. The vividness to which we experience joy is in direct relation to the pain it took to get there. The harder we worked the more satisfying the outcome. Jamie and Claire were separated for twenty years. For twenty godforsaken years, they lived separate lives. The life they once shared together became a haunting memory where the other person was nothing more than a ghost of a time long gone. That is, until Claire decides to journey back through the standing stones to reunite with her one true love, Jamie.
Their reunion is nothing short of glorious and knocks the reader right off their feet. Your heart is broken and repaired in a moment, a moment of long-awaited anticipation ending in a culmination of victorious togetherness. A moment that is just so good that you CAN’T EVEN.
“I had found him, and whatever unknowns life now held, they didn’t seem to matter. I felt reckless and indestructible.”
~ Diana Gabaldon, Voyager
3. We’re Dramatic as F***
Drama is the spice of life and whether or not we like to admit it, we enjoy it immensely. I myself prefer the fictional sort of drama as opposed to the real life actualization. What makes you turn the page? What makes you binge watch 17 episodes in a row on Netflix? It’s the drama; the absolutely-needing-to-know what in the heck is going to happen next. How will this all play out?
Humans are curious beings by nature; we need answers to our questions. We are in constant search of a catharsis; we want things to be tied up into a neat little package so we can move on with our lives. Or so we think. It is the untidy and the devastating that drives us mad with the need for more. It is the unanswered questions and unfinished business that is the most tantalizing and most desirable and most romantic of quests. We soak up every ounce of drama and beg for it to devastate us, simply because we are dramatic as F***.
“Does is ever stop? The wanting you? Even when I’ve just left ye. I want you so, much my chest feels tight and my fingers ache with wanting to touch ye again.” – Jamie
~ Diana Gabaldon, Outlander