Saturday, November 5, 2011

Unrequited Love Opens the Floodgates to Guilt

Unrequited love also opens the floodgates to guilt. It is experienced as another form of failure. When we love someone who does not return our love, we tend to blame ourselves, even if the one we love is physically or emotionally abusive. We usually feel that we are not loved back because of some shortfall we have, in our looks, our behavior, or our accomplishments. We are not conscious that we do not actually choose who we love. If we do become conscious of it, we may realize that the one we love may not be able to love us for the same reason that we may not be able to love someone who loves us. Love is a mystery. We can be both victim and perpetrator in this mystery, sometimes simultaneously. It is not unusual to have the experience of loving someone who does not love us at the same time that someone we do not love loves us. Someone may cause us to feel guilt at the same time that we are inflicting the identical feeling on still another suffering soul. Unrequited love is the death of love, and like all deaths that are near to us we feel profound grief. And behind our grief we usually find the specter of guilt. We often find a way to blame ourselves for some shortfall or flaw that we suspect caused the loss. Blaming ourselves gives us the illusion of control.
—Pennington & Staples, The Guilt Cure, pg. 44.