The second component of what is commonly referred to as heartache is guilt. We blame ourselves for the loss of the loved one, and regret everything we did and said that might have contributed to the waning of love. Especially painful are memories of our insensitivity, neglect or even unkindness towards the loved one, who seems to us with hindsight to have been remarkably generous in loving us despite our shortcomings. This self-criticism invariably takes the form of questions we put to ourselves: ‘How could I have been so neglectful when he (or she) needed my help? How could I have been irritable with him (or her) when all they are doing was trying to put me in a good mood? Why I stupidly flirt with someone else when I knew it would make them suffer? Why did I let that idiot chase them without doing anything, as though I were so sure of myself or, on the contrary, so unsure? How could I have refused to respond to their references to our future together when at the time that was what they were dreaming of and all they wanted was to love me?’
During this reminiscences, the loved one appears as a shining example of tenderness, honesty and generosity towards us, while we reveal ourselves to be neglectful, selfish and indifferent to our lover’s happiness. These guilt-ridden thoughts can prompt us to write long letters full of remorse and promises of our undying love to the loved one. Writing these letters brings us great comfort, but it is brief, all the more so because the loved one doesn’t usually reply.
Hector and the secrets of love – Francois Lelord