I could see how easy it would be to fall into loving Bella. It would be exactly like falling: effortless. Not letting myself love her was the opposite of falling—it was pulling myself up a cliff-face, hand over hand, the task as grueling as if I had no more than mortal strength.
Why Frank Castle Doesn’t Just Deserve Love—He Needs It
This meta COMPLETELY got away from me and is seriously long, but at @76bloodytrombones’ request, here is why Frank Castle deserves love. Except that my conclusion is not that he deserves love, but that he must find it in himself to love again or he will be gone forever, and only the Punisher will remain.
1. In the beginning, Frank’s grief and guilt have distorted his memories of his family.
In his fantastic book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Auschwitz survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl talks about one of his patients, a man who had lost his wife, who was consumed with grief. This man stopped going to work, stopped seeing his friends, stopped taking care of himself. He could not move on, he missed his wife so desperately, and he didn’t understand why he lived while she had to die.
Dr. Frankl helped this man to recover from his grief by reminding him that, if one of them had to live and one had to die, this man should want to be the one who lived—because he is the one who must now suffer, who must go on without the person he loved. If their positions had been reversed, it would have been this man’s beloved wife who suffered grief from the loss of her husband. By seeing the truth—that the living bear the pain that the dead have been released from, and that to be the one who lives is not necessarily the winning hand in a game of “who lives, who dies”—the man was able to finally come to terms with his grief.
Like Dr. Frankl’s patient, Frank Castle has lost his wife and his children whom he loved desperately, and he is so consumed by grief and guilt at their loss (while he alone survived), that he punishes HIMSELF first and foremost. For Frank, who is caught in the emotional aftermath of his loss by virtue of both head trauma and self-torture, his penance for living when his family did not is to deprive himself of love, of friendship, of any pleasure of enjoyment that life may have to offer.