manipulation

Manipulations

John Cameron Mitchell, the writer, director and lead actor of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, has come to visit us at our house and talk to us. Unfortunately Liadain and I are living with my mother and sister so I have to wait until really late at night to get some time alone with John to talk to him about things. I can't really remember what I wanted to talk to him about, I just had this feeling from seeing the film that he was a very interesting person so that's probably why he popped up in my dream.

We're talking in the living room downstairs, and for some reason he has taken his top off and approaches me from behind. I'm sitting down on a stool, and he leans against me from above, gently, like an enquiry, "Do you want to do this?" I feel kind of attracted to him, but it's mostly just because I like him a lot, and besides in the dream I'm just as in love with Liadain as in real life, so I just don't move, and he gets the message and walks away again. There's an awkward silence, and then he says,

"I want to know what kind of person you are. Are you aware of what you do? Do you understand the complexity and sensitivity of other living human systems?"

I think for a bit about what he means, and I realize that he thinks I'm toying with him - trying to be all attractive to make him fall for me, and then ignoring him. He thinks I don't believe other people are as real as me. I don't want him to think I'm that manipulative, and I find his question interesting, so I think carefully and start to reply, but then my mother and sister come running down from upstairs.

"Alan, watch out, he's an eighth house sun, he's ruled by Scorpio, he wants to kill you!"

I reassure them that John doesn't want to kill me, and they go back upstairs. Next Liadain comes down, wondering why I haven't come to bed with her. I tell her that I'm talking with John, and she glares at him suspiciously before going back to bed.

When everyone's gone I say to John, "I wasn't trying to toy with you. I know how people react to me but I wasn't trying to use that to make you like me."

I woke up repeating, "I don't want to toy with you," and the dream must have had some kind of effect on me because I kept thinking about John's question when I was on the bus on the way in to work. My first reaction was to feel guilty - yes, I am a bad person, I was toying with his feelings and trying to manipulate him to like me through sexual attraction, I've done this with many people and they've been really hurt. But I thought about it some more, and I realized that I wasn't lying when I told him I wasn't toying with him. And I realized that I had no reason to feel guilty about people who've accused me of this in the past. It's a game - someone is attracted to you or becomes obsessed with you, and they want you to give them something to make them feel good, like a relationship or sex or whatever they think they want from you. And if you don't give it to them, they get angry with you and call you manipulative or bad, because obviously you did something to make them fall for you. Their obsession gives them a claim over you in their own minds.

I've had people pull this number on me several times, and it has really confused me because my instinctive response has been to blame myself. So John's question is something that many different people have asked me in different ways, because they think I've hurt them or neglected them in some way. They accuse me of not believing, in some way, that other people are important. My mother and sister, friends, ex-girlfriends - many people have accused me of this, just because I won't play their emotional games or pander to their soap opera dramatics.

So I ended up feeling angry with John for pulling the same number on me. Shame I woke up out of the dream before I thought of it that way and could tell him to his face.