I am not your villain.
This happens to me a lot. Whether it’s because I’m a little rough around the edges, or whether it’s because I’m a person of color or Jewish, or because I’m trans, or because I’m a narcissist with borderline and bipolar and all of those other terrible things, it really stops mattering. It always happens the same way. I will make, perhaps, a friend. Sometimes we’re not that close! Sometimes we’re super close. Sometimes – more than once – a horrible number of times – this is a significant other, a loved one, a boyfriend, a girlfriend. Sometimes they like me more than I like them. Sometimes I like them more than they like me. Even when it’s a little uneven, it’s usually mutual.
But here’s the thing: They will like me – you will like me for what you call ‘honesty’, ‘straightforwardness’, a willingness to be uncompromising about my morals while also caring about nuance, a ferocity when it comes to my principles. You cheer, perhaps, when I chew out somebody you think deserves it. Maybe they did. Sometimes they didn’t! Sometimes I’m uncomfortable with others’ glee, unhappy with how my symptoms have overtaken my sense in a particular situation.
And they are symptoms. I struggle with anger. Anger, and sadness, and euphoria – both my borderline personality disorder and my bipolar makes every emotion stronger and louder and harder to hold, and being autistic (and, apparently, ADHD) on top of it means that I’m all the more limited in how I express them. I mirror others, copy them, and try to muddle out for myself how I want to act. That’s why my own principles and codes are so important; I made them, all on my own. They’re knitted together from the pieces and scraps of what I’ve been able to borrow and steal and learn from others, often only through observation, sometimes through direct conversation. Sometimes I am too angry at somebody. Sometimes I do cross lines. I try to apologize and make it right when that’s true.
But because I’m so open about this, because I’m a person of color, because I’m Jewish, because I’m trans, because I’m disabled, because of whatever reason you’d like to use, because of the fifty million intersections that make up my day and my life and my existence as a person, my anger is both a weapon and an inconvenience for you. You cheer when I rip into the people you want to see hurt. And when I have criticisms for you, when I am unhappy with you, suddenly you fall back on the exact words that have ripped holes into me. I’m abusive. I’m cruel. I’m insane. I’m uncontrollable. I mistreat others, I’m self-absorbed, I’m too angry, I have high standards – And so often, it’s without warning. It’s the act of criticizing you that gets these reactions. It’s not that I’ve actually crossed a line. It’s that I have not given you the grace that you think you deserve, because you are better than “those other people”, and you believe that it is owed to you.
It is not.
It certainly isn’t when these are the reactions I get.
I am not your villain. I am not your weapon. I am not your pet. You do not get to ask me to sit down and behave and roll over and then throw every stereotype that has ever injured me at my face when I don’t stick to the company line. You do not get to secure my support through BIPOC solidarity and trans mutual aid and then decide that I am transphobic or secretly white for calling you on horizontal or diagonal – or sometimes just vertical – violence against others. You do not get to find my mental illness or my neurodivergence in general entertaining or funny or satisfying when I’m holding your enemies accountable and then find it abhorrent and disgusting and unfair when suddenly I am asking you for an iota of recognition.
I’m sure people will decide this is targeted. It isn’t not targeted. But this has been my entire life. One friend supported me through waves of harassment, then used my plurality to tell me I was overreacting to racism in a show we both cared about and told a mediating friend that I needed to adjust my medication. Another accepted my help and my advice, until I asked them to reconsider their wording in a post about “glorifying transition”, and when I blocked them after the conversation went badly, they block-evaded exclusively to tell me I was a horrible, aggressive person and that they hated me. My breakdown in 2016 included a (white) person deciding that I was a manipulative, toxic friend who was ‘marketing my writing’ to them, and that accidentally misgendering them twice (and apologizing and fixing it) was clearly on purpose to unsettle and control them. It goes on and on. Romantic partners emotionally abusing me and holding my mental health episodes over my head. White cis women bringing up that I’m a man during fraught conversations and telling me that they can’t help but be afraid of men before trauma-dumping on me.
It’s true that I could speak more softly. I could try. But here’s the secret: I have. And I got this anyway. That tells you that the problem isn’t my behaviour. The problem is that people decide that I’m a villain and not trustworthy the moment they meet me. You make your decisions long before I do anything questionable.
I am not your villain. I am not your evil, cackling supervillain or cartoonish abuser with a secret plan and terrifying manipulative powers. I am not your stereotyped psychopath pulling strings to cover up for the fact that I don’t have a heart; low empathy doesn’t mean that I don’t fucking hurt. I am not your puppetmaster or your Lex Luthor with slick words covering up bad intentions. I am a person. I am a marginalized, traumatized, complicated, yet surprisingly simple person. I bleed when I’m cut. I cry when I’m treated badly. I shouldn’t even have to say that. But you so, so desperately want a nice, easy, arrogant villain. You might as well grab the crazy one who swears a lot and tries to be super direct to cover up their debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. And if you need support, you can always just grab something I write or read or ship or support as evidence. Just in case.
I am not your villain. Stop putting me in your stories. Take my words out of your fucking mouth. If you’re not going to respect me as an actual person and not a cardboard cutout of a strawman, easier to punch than whoever you’re actually mad at, the least you can do is stay away from me.