We all grew up watching movies like Garden State and 500 Days of Summer, where the free-spirited woman helps the brooding male counterpart achieve some sort of emotional development. This became the template for those of us who didn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd. I seemed to fulfill that trope, right? I was quirky, unstable, and experienced life intensely.
Growing up, this is what movies taught me. So that’s subconsciously what I became. This works in movies. Not in real life.
What happens in real life?
As a 28-year old with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and codependency (yes the resume is impressive), a lot happens. Typically things that are not good for either party.
In the beginning, he adores me. He puts me on a pedestal. I feel uncomfortable from all the positive affirmations—vulnerable to them, even. When a negative self-script has been developed your entire life, whether it’s from abusive parents or abusive partners, it’s next to impossible not to crave external validation.
I’ve then fallen in love with the way he sees me—how he adores me. And it becomes addicting.
How is this problematic? Because duh, no human is perfect. He (again, subconsciously) begins to see me as more than a secondary character, and there’s not room for that in his story. He begins to see that I have complex feelings, that I’m not always “on”, and that my depressive episodes are just as intense as my manic ones.
Yet the fucked up part is that I see this unraveling, but I still play into the part. I still want to encourage him to experience life in ways he couldn’t. I need to help him realize his full potential. All the while, none of these things are being reciprocated to me. I’m never the main character, always secondary. He no longer sees me as his Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The facade begins to fade for him; texts become sparse. He faces the other way when we sleep. And eventually the gap becomes so large it’s possible to ignore.
I panic. I grasp for any semblance of the beginning. But he can sense my desperation, only pushing him further away. I convince myself that this is our relationship evolving. That I just need to get interested in everything he’s interested in. I need to develop him further. I need to see him fulfill his destiny, and helping him attain that was the sole reason I was put on the Earth. In the process, I lose my identity. Who am I without his validation? In the end, I lose myself and I lose him. (This reeks of abandonment issues—did I forget to mention that one? Whoops!)
The grief of loss when fresh leads to anger, swearing off love forever.
Then it leads to depression. The things spiraling in my head more or less echo the thoughts, “I’m never going to be worthy of love.” And “I’m incapable of love.” But that’s where the problem lies—I am.
I get to be the main character in my own life. I’m still trying to figure out how.