I just watched the movie (500) Days of Summer. And, there it was, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (TM) trope. Like, you know, the fae girl who exists to transform the guy's life, and even though she is enchanting, she is still pretty much a plot device, there solely to teach the male protagonist about the beauty of the world and how to embrace it, blah blah blah? I was being annoyed about this as I was watching the movie until I realized:
I think I may also be that Manic Pixie Dream Girl (TM).
Ok, I am not very fae. And unlike the movie girls, I am very opinionated, and I am pretty cerebral, and I am not always bathed in soft lighting. Or, like, have cool, alternative, emo-but-not-too-emo music accompanying me throughout my days. But I realized that I am othered by my partners all the time because they make me out to be this ethereal, magical creature.
It is rather unlike the movies. In that it sucks.
Let's talk about this trope in real life, my life. When I was in high school, you know what my nickname was? "Angel." People referred to me as this all the time. I was magical. I was other. I was different. I was valued for being different, and let me not give the impression this was all bad, because this was a wonderful thing, too - I mean, how many awkward teenagers who feel different and like they don't fit in get told how appreciated they are for it? A friend of mine once told me in biology class, "Dude, you're totally not like everyone else. You're on, like, a different plane of existence. But that is why everyone loves you!" So, you know, yay! I am valued for being different! People talk about me in their life-changing youth group speeches and call me their "angel!" People who swear they've never written poetry before in their lives are suddenly writing poetry about me as an "angel!" And, you know, yay!
Holy shit was that lonely. Being on a pedestal robs you of your basic messy personhood. It robs you of your self. I felt like I couldn't cry in front of other people, I couldn't be sad or moody. I believed I always had to be there for people who were so overly kind to me in saying such things about me; it was my job now to offer wisdom, offer a shoulder to cry on, listen and understand, be that magical creature in their lives I kept being told I was. I was so good at being ethereal that I had a hard time allowing anyone to see my pain, or help me tend my wounds. I think it also meant that people sometimes forgot I could get hurt. After all, statues on pedestals don't have souls. And when you cut them, they don't bleed.
I think people were careless with me. I think people are still careless with me.
My partners have been. Not all of them, but many of them. Some of them fall in love with me quickly, and I am suspicious of that love, because I think they are in love with the Magic Pixie Dream Girl (TM) and what she brings to their lives, instead of me. And I think this, because I have yet to show them all of me, so I am unsure of who they have fallen in love with. But they're sure I'm the One. I have been asked to marry more times than I will ever admit.
Other partners have left because they are "afraid." No, really. My being "scary" is the number one reason I am not capable of being partnered with (and it's not just romantic partners; I have had friends throw up walls between us and speak of me as becoming "too dangerous.") Do you know I have been broken up with not once or twice, but thrice, when I was not actually in any relationship whatsoever with this breaker-upper-person? YES. But they were so sure of the deep, magical connection (which, huh?) and they were just overwhelmed by me and I was "too much" and they didn't think they could handle me or "this relationship" or this kind of "intensity" in their lives. I was "too much!" And sadly, none of these guys had it really even occurred to me to date! I barely knew them! It was bizarre! Yet here they were, breaking up with me (this has thankfully all three times been over the phone, so I am free to make faces and put the phone on mute and yell at it, "What the fuck are you talking about????). But I was the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (TM), and they did not want me as a plot device to further their lives at the moment. I was a little too magical for them to handle. I was inconvenient, just then.
My last partner, he was atrocious to me. We had to have conversations about how I am a person. With feelings. And he would say things like, I'm sorry, I forget you are not invincible. I forget you are just human. Because you are like a divine thing. And I would make a joke, and say dude, if I was a divine thing, I would have smote you down already, and we would laugh, and it would feel like my heart was bleeding into my chest. In the end, this partner left me because he said, "I was never able to believe that you were quite real. I was so busy waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the dream would be over. I just never allowed myself to really give in and love you. I kept waiting for the magic trick to end, and you would disappear in a cloud of smoke."
The tears just fell while he told me this.
I had a partner leave me because she told me everything with me was "too good" and it scared the shit out of her. Another partner said she always felt like she'd never be good enough for me, and I gave her a chip on her shoulder, so her breaking up with me was really my fault. Another partner was always fearful I would leave him, because I was going to do great wonderful things in the world because of course I would, because that was my destiny as an angel (he also calls me an angel), and so he never really committed. Or the friend who thought I was so mighty, when I told him I was still dealing with my rape, his response was, "Really? You're so strong. I thought you would be over that."
I cut. I cut to show I hurt. That I bleed.
I recognize that this little blog post here could come off horribly wrong. Someone could read it and think that the poor little girl who gets called magical and angelic all the time is whinging about how terrible that is, poor thing, awwww, someone call a WAAAAHmbulance for her. And, if I were reading this post, given that I have shit self-esteem, I might want to punch me in the face, too. But of course, that's the thing. I am not whining about this because it is true. In fact, I think it is not true, I think it is the opposite of true, I think it is totally false and I can't understand who the fuck it is these people think they are seeing in me. I am writing about it because it is dehumanizing. I am writing about it because I think there must be something wrong with me, how easily I am dehumanized. Because it happens again, and again, and again.
It makes me not want to go on dates with new people, lest they fall for some person I don't even recognize. I am afraid to get too close to someone, lest they hurt me later because they think I am invincible or extraordinary. I am petrified to show anyone the wounds and the scars once they have started on that angel shit, because they have already rendered me in their minds smooth and marble and cold. It means that every time someone tells me they like me, it makes me just ache beneath my ribcage.
What is this post about? I don't really know. It is about me playing connect-the-dots with my life and coming up with a disturbing pattern. It is about me watching a movie with a two-dimensional character, and realizing I am often treated as a two-dimensional character by other three-dimensional people.
Or maybe it is just about me wondering why, if I were really so magical and angelic and dreamy, I was watching that movie alone.