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Unrequited Love

Updated: Jun 25

A text message on Christmas Eve with the treasured words ‘I love you’ followed up on Valentine’s Day – of all days – with the same statement made over the telephone, led me to believe that the love I had expressed in the two intervening months was not unrequited. It’s true, it wasn’t exactly unrequited, but the man in question wasn’t particularly interested in hanging out and definitely had no intention of inviting me into his bed, so loved in a spiritual kind of way, but still lonely and somewhat confused.

This experience of falling in love had felt like a coming back to life after a long series of bitter events had made me yearn not to exist. It was so enlivening to feel desire after the drudgery of getting through life just putting one foot in front of the other to survive. It put me in touch with poetry again and the beauty around me. It filled my heart with joy and unlocked a creative stream that had long been stifled. It also occurred at the same time as a mystical experience opened my meditation onto rapturous love that hallowed everything I encountered in warmth and light and good feeling.

As time diminished the direct experience to memory, the desire not to exist on this plane resurfaced with the longing to re-enter the experience of the all-that-is Love and be done with the partial, flawed and downright confusing versions available to us here.

I’ve carried two burning questions with me over these last few months – 'Why live?' And ‘What is Unconditional Love?’

The last time I had a question that burned with such ferocity was about thirty years ago. As a student nurse encountering death in children from different religions, my question was, ‘what happens to children when they die?’ I asked it at all the church groups I attended. I was committed to finding an answer. Ministers and house group leaders would admonish me – ‘we’re not talking about that now, Rachel!’ But I couldn’t let it go. My faith was utterly meaningless without an answer. I never got an answer that satisfied my hunger from the church, and my search took me to university to study healing, religion and theology.

Now, years on, life has brought me two more questions that consume me. I'm like a dog with a bone, although this time I'm more mindful of my fellow seekers and I have managed to restrain myself from asking why we don’t just kill ourselves, every Sunday morning. I’m part of a group studying A Course in Miracles – which is certainly open to, and not offended by, gnarly questions – unlike the evangelical church of my youth – but suicidal thoughts are nonetheless a bit grisly week in, week out. On one particular Sunday, I stepped away from Zoom, quietly congratulating myself on my restraint, only to hear coming from the kitchen a snippet from YouTube – ‘Why we don’t just kill ourselves was the question that underpinned his whole career …’ My daughters were sitting round the breakfast table listening to a TedEd video on Albert Camus!

This lovely coincidence introduced me to Camus for the first time. I felt heard by the universe and given a considered and thoughtful answer to my burning question. For Camus, Algerian philosopher of the absurd, while life had no meaning, killing our selves would be equally meaningless. Comfort came from the experience of, among other things, sunlight on skin and women.

I’m with him on the sunlight bit. As soon as the sun shows its face, I take my meditation to the beach and soak up the glorious rays.

And, yes to the play between the sexes – I’m inexplicably drawn to the Daoist understanding that sexual energy is the life force aka God aka Holy Spirit. But love is a tricky business. What I’ve taken to be love in the past turned out to be a combination of lust, co-dependence and myriad other micro ingredients that contributed to desperate heart ache when the whole thing imploded. I’ve experienced abuse within intimate relationships that has left me reeling with self-doubt, self-loathing, fear, and bitter disappointment.

The other day I was listening to an orange clad monk talk earnestly about how a mother expresses unconditional love in what she feels for her children. Bless him! All I can say, is that we are all in trouble if the divine loves us like I love my children! I love them, don’t get me wrong. L•O•V•E them! But, it’s conditional on them being my children, it wavers a nanoist bit when things aren’t going exactly as I think they should, some days I lean more towards one as I navigate disputes between them and some days I’m just plane exhausted by the demands that being a mother places on me. Good enough is good enough for this plane. Let’s not burden mothers any more than they already are by expecting them to show God how to do God’s job.

The man behind the I love yous has committed himself to a life of forgiveness. He shares my belief that to see the divine beyond the form is an act of true love and healing – Unconditional Love made manifest. And, I have felt seen and safe under his gaze and feel profound gratitude for everything he has brought me. I was sharing this with a friend as I picked over my confusion. ‘Forgiveness is all well and good,’ she said, ‘but sometimes a body just needs to be held at night.’

As I process my feelings over the outcome of this brief flurry of love, I am grappling with how to express the relationship between form and energy in my life. The form that is the body, both me and not me, and the energy that is both sexual and Unconditional Love – something that draws me to the form of another and takes me beyond the form. On some days it’s tears, some days it’s dance, some days it’s chant, some days it’s rest, some days it’s eating and others fasting. Some days I make things to adorn the body in the shape of earrings and bangles and bikinis. Some days I make things to nourish the spirit – prayer beads, mantra, gratitude rituals. I notice that creativity is the divine impulse that makes me want to live – embodied, with my bare feet on Mother Earth’s cool sands and my longing to be held in the arms of a kind man, and transcendent with my heart tuned to the music of the spheres where the soul knows its grandeur and divinity. The map that has helped me unearth this place of creativity is the Grief Recovery Method – the tools of this programme can be used over and over again as new relationships and experiences of loss arise.

If unrealised hopes and dreams of love have been your experience, I welcome you to book a free call with me to find out how the Grief Recovery Method can help you find peace in the face of unrequited love.

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