The Power of Fantasy

by Misha Krynauw (they/them) | Edited by Janine Samuels (she/her)


Image by Jr Korpa


I’ve learned the most about myself, in the last while, by reckoning with the circumstances of my childhood. I’ve realised the value of acknowledging the consequences of my survival. The parts of myself that were shaped by it, for better and for worse… I’ve realised that even the best intentions and efforts can fall short under the terms of our society, and the suffering that comes from this can completely shroud the rest of your experiences in this life. It really can.


Pain is so consuming, and if these last two years have taught me anything it’s that we don’t have a lot of time, do we? At the beginning of the new year, I made the decision to dedicate myself to make the best use of my time at this time: my healing. There is no true way of going forward for me without it, and I am a conversation worth having, same as you.


I’ve recently gotten into tarot. I’m still timid with the idea of it and don’t yet have a deck of cards, just a book by Chani Nicholas, and another by Jessica Adore. I am grateful for the empathy and the thorough patience of their insight. The thing that holds me to the concept of tarot the most is the visual language it developed over the generations of tarot readers, and what this offers us psychologically. I was fascinated by the idea that the image of something can be a safe space to project yourself onto, to unlock and deconstruct aspects of ourselves or our circumstances through the symbolism and inference of these various cards and ‘archetypes’. Also, what these details can glean from the present moment when drawing a card, prompted by chance, if you will.


Images have always held a power to me. I used to have a lot of nightmares as a kid, and these were all just pictures, with meanings I couldn’t yet grasp, suspended instead by an awful terror and confusion. As a writer, I yearn for the peace of the perfect word, the perfect sentence for my sentiments. As a person, I yearn to understand, to see and be seen in return. What we see, and what it seems to be, affects our understanding of and our relationship to, quite literally anything. All this to say that I realised that I was already doing what tarot could be used to do, as Adore suggests in her work, but using other people – not images painted carefully onto cards onto which to project, and inspect myself – completely habitually, without questioning my behaviour. I asked myself a thousand questions. Did I even really see anyone, or was I looking at what I could recognise of myself in them, uninterested in knowing the difference? I thought about the network of this behaviour, and how it has shaped our treatment of each other, and our relationships. There are consequences that I think are going largely unacknowledged, and there are truths that may remain uncovered if we allow these behaviours of the status quo to go unchallenged. When I realised what I was doing, I was immediately confronted with another issue: my fantasies.


I had imagined and maintained an idea of someone, for a very long time. I took the moments we had and with it, I made the perfect vessel and version of them in my head. It functions similarly to the way in which I would daydream, or consider my options when presented with information, choices or ultimatums – whenever deciding, I would let my thoughts taper off, seeking out the eventual end of each of the courses I could take – but this specific use here redirects the functions into creating something else entirely. Some strange amalgamation of myself and what I knew of them, became who this person was in my head, and of course, I enjoyed that caricature more than I did their actual company. My own rules, and my own truths spoke on their behalf, in a conversation I was better off having, and in fact was having, in my head.


The more I unpack it, the more embarrassing it becomes, and the more human, I guess. It explains a lot. Each dream where we mirrored each other, wasn’t some kind of symbolic gesture of fate, but rather, an echo of what I was doing. I still don’t think I’ve grasped the magnitude of it, frankly. Then, it occurred to me that there’s something to be learned about myself here, even beyond this realisation… What my fantasies were, what I made of this person, could tell me a lot about myself. Fantasies are quite revealing, actually.


What I found myself fixating on, became points of interest to me. The thing about introspection is that it has to go further than the epiphany. The epiphany is the starting point, not the coordinates for the solution itself.


In the second bridge episode of Euphoria, the character Jules tells her therapist, “I fall in love so easily because half of every relationship is in my head”. In my case, it was like I was playing a game of Pictionary where I made all the rules and would always win, because the answer was bound to me, it was mine. My head is a place where I’m more sure of myself, where I feel the safest, and instead of pouring myself out into the world, I poured myself back inside, not minding that I was already underwater.


There’s a tenuous exploration of ‘control’ that I’m going to have to undergo after this, but for now, I’m satisfied with the groundwork I’m laying down to put these parts of myself to rest. I know that ‘living in my head’ was a form of reprieve and safe-keeping for my well-being, but, in protecting myself from the harshness of my reality, I didn’t consider the consequences of my choice to feel safest alone. To not honour my deepest wishes to see and be seen. I didn’t think about all the ways in which it would separate me from the better parts of this world we share.


The more I give myself time to think about it, the louder the urge to grieve becomes. So, I let myself cry, I watch myself scratch out the abstractions I’ve made in my mind’s eye, of the people I don’t actually know, hopefully freeing us both. I brace myself against the hollow of the wide, open spaces left behind. I let this feeling remind me that I actually don’t want to be alone. I let the open space remind me how to run.


I think also, about how this was a convoluted, and flawed, roundabout way of finding ways to love myself. I find an appreciation for the admittedly messy effort, and it makes me smile, because I didn’t know any better, and even then, I was doing the best I could with a broken, and untrusting heart. I mark this epiphany as the beginning of a new relationship with myself, our world, and my fantasies. It’s from here that I go off on a new quest to push past the threshold of my own limitations, and let myself free-fall into the chaos of everything I can still become. Every way I can still love, and be loved.


 

Misha Krynauw (they/them) is a non-binary art and creative writer living and working in Cape Town. Their debut play 'The Infinite Woman' premiered at Suidoosterfees 2021 at Artscape Theatre, and their poem 'hey, i wrote this for you' was published first in Ja magazine and again in them online. Their digital portfolio can be found at @madeformisha on instagram.