I know I’ve already reblogged this before, but I can never get over the pain in his eyes and on his face as he considers what has happened to him, what it made him into, and all the failure he sees in himself. He doesn’t believe he deserves anything worthwhile anymore. But because he is human, he still craves the things he supposedly doesn’t deserve.
Love, forgiveness, kindness, understanding, compassion, friendship. These are the things Oliver doesn’t think he deserves. And he believes that even into the present moment. Unto the present moment in his life, Oliver still believes he deserves nothing good. But he is human and no human being can truly live without these things in their life; their minds and their hearts crave and need these things like the body craves and needs oxygen or water.
In the last gif, you see Oliver’s ongoing mindset. From the moment he returned home in 1x01 to the moment he was drugged and left for dead in 2x08, Oliver sees only the vigilante as his future. In his eyes, in the mirror, in his heart… he always sees the Hood obscuring everything he wants and dreams of. Everything he would love to change about himself, all the things he would like to stop being, he doesn’t believe he truly can change. Because those things he would like to change are necessary to fooling the world into believing he is not the vigilante, a wanted man, a hunted man; and to protecting everyone he loves.
And Oliver Queen loves a lot of people. Because he is a loving man underneath it all. His heart is so much softer than he can ever show. He loves too easily. That is his great weakness. Oliver loved Yao Fei, he loved Slade, he loved Shado, he loved Sara… Oliver understands people, and he loves them, even though he tries not to so he can protect himself from pain. The island stripped him of this humanity in a soul-crushing way. His experiences on Lian Yu made him believe that loving so richly only ended in being stabbed and broken and betrayed and killed in the worst ways.
So Oliver sees only the ongoing battle, the ongoing loneliness and pain and brutality. He sees himself forever chained under lies and secrets and constant war. No one should live through that, and this is why he doesn’t want to be with anyone he “could really care about.” Because he doesn’t want them to be burdened with the same exact chains he bears.
And because, after all this time, he still can’t help caring about people and loving people. He loved Robert, Yao Fei, Slade, Shado, and Tommy. He loves Moira, Thea, Felicity, Walter, Laurel, Sara, Diggle, even Roy a little. Oliver keeps loving people, but forever shutting it away because he fears not only burdening them with the utter depths of his chains, but also losing them. One more person lost, one more person suffering, one more person to bury in a long line of burials.