Thursday, October 2, 2008


I have decided to open up a discussion on unrequited love. Well, it's not really a discussion, it's more of a lament. Unrequited love frustrates me so. There is no cut so deep, so real, so raw as the realization that an object of affection does not feel affection in return.

I remember once touring a museum which had on display a number of ancient torture devices. One consisted of a colander-like contraption which would be strapped over the victim's chest. A rat would be trapped under the device where its only means of escape would be to chew a hole through the victim's heart. It would be a slow, painful death both physically and psychologically as the victim watched the rat gnaw its way to freedom. Yup, I understand.

And yet the irony, (as my friend A decided to point out) is that the longing for the one we love is what drives great things. As I have discussed before, much of my art comes from this deep sense of wonder, the longing for what might be. I dare say unrequited love has been the basis for most great art across history.

And I wonder where it all stems from. I don't think we ever quite get over the original wounding of the loss of a parent's love. Somewhere along the neural pathway, abandonment creates such a deep yearning within us, an unquenchable thirst which we seek out in the most unavailable of partners. We pour salt on that first wound over and over again. And oddly enough, we reject those that are available to love us openly and truly. There is this theme of wanting what we can't have, a striving for the unreachable.

These recent brushes with unrequited love have raised to mind some outstanding issues I have with the God of my youth, the JW version of God I was raised with. I recall again and again having my choice of loves dissected, first by my mother, then by cult elders. "God wouldn't want you to love that person. He's not one of us, " or he'd be a JW but there was still something unacceptable about him--not tall enough, old enough, mature enough, good-looking enough. Yes, apparently God always knew better. He had a pretty narrow mind for what constituted an acceptable partner, but I was supposed to accept His judgment over my own every time.

Last week, when the rat of unrequitedness began chewing his way through my bare flesh, I found myself cursing God, a God I don't even believe exists. I was shouting at the sky: "Damn you! Why can't you just give me what I want?!" I cried for all the times my wants were substituted by someone else's; for every desire that was deemed inappropriate by "God", by the cult, by my mother; for every time I was diverted from going after something I wanted because someone, somewhere decided they knew better than I did. I cursed the heavens. I cursed every man who didn't love me. I cursed my mother for not seeing me then, for not seeing me now. I cursed myself for every breath I held believing that there was someone out there that gave a damn. And I cursed my foolish, foolish heart for loving again and again, knowing full well the rat lurks behind every ounce of longing. I cursed until they was nothing left to curse.


Today, the sun is shining in the sky. I still love the man that does not love me. (What good is love if it exists only when it is returned?)

The rat has found his way through my heart.

A sunbeam streams through the hole.

tall penguin


Aaron F. said...

"One consisted of a colander-like contraption which would be strapped over the victim's chest. A rat would be trapped under the device where its only means of escape would be to chew a hole through the victim's heart"

Something tells me whoever invented that wasn't getting laid.

tall penguin said...

hahaha, and here I thought you were going to say something profound.

Flonkbob said...

Gee, I have such a wonderful list of platitudes and bromides to toss in here. So many that I just can't decide. But then, they're not really helpful, so the hell with that.

Here's hoping you find your way to a real and lasting love. Sometimes it's very hard to wait.

I waited about 40 years.

tall penguin said...

Hey flonk, it seems it was worth the wait so I'll take comfort in that. Thank you.