On the shared destinies of the Love Drive and the Death Drive

On the shared destinies of the Love Drive and the Death Drive

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I think one of the biggest fallacies of our time is people constantly claiming to “be over someone”- or not quite yet.

I think you can never fully “be over someone”, nor actually erase all the memories, the joys, the excitements, the expectations, the hopes, the aspirations, and even the downs you once shared together. Nor can you erase the feelings you experienced and which left you struck by their strength and intensity- for you had no idea of your own capacity to grasp them in the first place.

In fact, when it comes to feelings, you can try and deny, ignore or repress them, but you can never effectively fully erase them. Nor do I think that you should really try so hard and erase this once-part or yourself- either.

As Freud’s theory of repression, the foundation of psychoanalytical theory, reminds us, abnormal repression is not only self-destructive and anti-social in itself, but the object (be it a feeling or a person) of repression always comes back to haunt us. How can we “be over someone” if s/he is constantly haunting us? Can we ever escape, run away, from the ghosts of our past? And if it is destructive and anti-social in the first place, should we even try?

I think that instead of “being over someone” as we like to proclaim it so proudly and so often, we simply learn “to live without someone”.  We get used to their absence, we realize they have left, and that they may probably never return. We realize that our lives have to carry on, that we are prisoners of our own freedom that somehow we are doomed to live, that choosing always means renouncing and that renouncing is a matter of choice.

Halas, nothing more than a breakup resembles death so much. Learning to live without someone is a journey which, I came to realize, resembles very much the grieving process: it starts with denial, followed by anger, then bargaining, (potential) depression and finally acceptance.

It becomes even more ironical when we come back to the Freudian concept of the ‘death drive’ as a “drive toward self-destruction” and destruction as a “cause of coming into being”, and that we wonder whether the ‘love drive’ could also be apprehended in similar terms: love as a drive toward self-destruction, where our feelings can only lead us to apocalypse and devastation- but also self-destruction as a redemptory and self-fulfilling journey to better discover/un-cover the self.

Acceptance, which is stage 5 of the grieving process, does not mean “to be over” or “coming to terms with” someone. Nor does it mean to fully renounce the “other”, and what they have once meant for you. Claiming to be over someone is like claiming to be over the loss of a relative or a dear friend. It is also like claiming that all the shared moments of incommensurable joy have simply ceased to exist, by a struck of magic. Both are a fallacy.

Acceptance is, instead, never ceasing to carry “the other” with you, and within you. Acceptance is seeing yourself in the mirror and knowing that you will never be the same again. Acceptance is letting “the other” grow with you, and within you, as they become part and parcel not only of who you once were, but also part of whom you are meant (or, rather, doomed) to become. Acceptance is never a zero sum game. In the game of love as in the game of death, there is no winner.  Not you winning over “the other” or your own grief. Nor the superego winning over the ego. In love as in death, we all loose and we all learn. And then we all grow. Acceptance, finally, becomes like an embrace in a withdrawal, and a withdrawal in an embrace.

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Maha Tazi
Maha Tazi is a Ph.D. student in the Communication Studies Program at Concordia University. Her research interests focus on the recent developments of the feminist movement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Currently, Maha is also teaching a Media Criticism course at Concordia University. Previously, Maha studied International and Middle Eastern Studies in Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Women’s Studies at Sciences Po Paris. She also worked and volunteered with several women's NGOs in the MENA region, such as Association Solidarite Feminine in Casablanca, Ananke Mag, an online interactive platform based in Dubai and engaging women across the MENA on issues pertaining to women’s rights. More recently, she also held the position of Program Manager with Empowering Women in the Atlas, a social initiative which aims to engage rural women in economic growth and sustainable development in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.