Writing from Maastricht.
Today, my best friend and I had a conversation about love and loss and insecurity. About self-acceptance, moving on, independence, community and vulnerability. It was a magical conversation that somehow entwined my own relationship struggles with Severus Snape; two such unlikely subjects, married by the feelings of fear and love and how they are both so dangerously inextricable.
She reminded me that I have to love myself before I can expect anyone else to love me and I know this so well, yet I often can’t bear the slow and painful process of self-love. The hours and days of loneliness that are essential to true independence and freedom from attachment. I know I must begin this journey, of loving myself in order to undo all of the insecurities I am currently experiencing. I can’t continue to blame others for how I feel because although people hurt one another, sometimes the biggest damage is that which we do unto ourselves. In the end, I think that was Snape’s mistake.
Is it noble or foolish to love someone so much that you sacrifice any other chance of happiness? To be so consumed by someone that the representation of your spirit mirrors theirs? To put yourself through the pain of protecting someone who doesn’t respect or value you in the name of the person you love? To always be a dark and bitter shadow of a person in the name of unrequited love?
I am conflicted about the messages of this story. Harry Potter has always been about love, Rowling made no secret of this; it is always love that destroys evil in these books. But to what end? At a loss of independence, happiness, closure? I think this narrative has made me believe that to show love is to devote ones entire self to another and to sacrifice all that you are to be theirs.
While Snape is a clear cut character, his discernible personality traits are made up of sadness, bitterness and resentment. In some ways these characteristics have engulfed me too. I can’t separate myself from the person I love enough to love myself and to be my own person. I am an extension of her so when she hurts me I break because I have nothing to fall back on. I have come to associate any small mistake or lack of affection for betrayal and spite, when really it’s an attempt to escape my obsessive grasp.
Really, love is the most simple thing in the world; something that our bodies and hearts do without our control and I should trust that. If that is the foundation for what we have, then I am lucky to still have it, unlike Snape, driven mad by the lack of it.
I think perhaps, therefore, Snape never loved himself and so Lily could not give herself to him. And while James was an arrogant douche, he was confident and proud and self-loving. Rowling built us up to hate Snape for 10 years and only in the final hours of the seven-fold journey did she reveal that Snape’s pain was not hatred or anger, it was heartache.
I don’t want that to be me. I don’t want to have loved and lost and remain forever regretful of the mistakes I made. Snape was brilliant, but also stupid. Love over-shadowed his sense of self and that was his greatest mistake.
When someone asks,”after all this time?”, I want us to say “always” in unison.
R.I.P. Alan, R.I.P. Snape.