Grey’s Anatomy season eleven has barely started and Arizona Robbins was put on the hot seat once again. For the last two seasons the woman has been called ‘bitch’, ‘cheater’, ‘whore’ and now ‘a selfish person’. This is not an attempt to defend the honour of a fictional character but rather an attempt to provide an understanding for the audience that struggles to understand Dr. Robbins’ psych and for those who sympathise and/ or relate to Arizona’s character one way or another.
First things first. Like any other character on Grey’s Anatomy, Arizona Robbins’ personality is complex. She is made of layers- some of them are easily peeled and she shows them with confidence. Other treats of her personality are very hard to crack, let alone have a closer look inside. Arizona Robbins has been a work in progress since her introduction in the second half of season 5. She is a secondary character to Callie Torres and mostly we see and learn things about Arizona from Callie’s point of view.
Who is Arizona Robbins?
Arizona Robbins was introduced as a happy, perky, bright and shiny person with authority issues, radiating positive energy with her charming smile. Quite a contrast compared to the other characters and yet she came across as cold and heartless. But the job she does requires many feelings and emotions to be stuffed deep inside. Probably, an easy task for her to do, considering the fact that she comes from a military family. And being raised with a military discipline, well there isn’t much room to show your emotions and talk about your feelings.
What’s more, Arizona Robbins is confident and comfortable in her own skin. A lady lover with a pinch of a player’s attitude who apparently knows how to sweep women off their feet, comfort them and take care of them. She offered comforting words and a kiss to Callie, just because Callie was upset. She didn’t want anything in return from her; she simply gave from her own happiness and hope to Callie. And because she is a caring person, she even made sandwiches to Leah.
The way Arizona acts and the things she says make her look a confusing and contradictory person and sometimes hard to be understood- she kissed Callie and turned her down the first time; she works with kids but doesn’t want to have her own children; she was a faithful girlfriend and yet she was unable to commit completely in a relationship; she is an easy- going person but struggles to open up and talk about her pain; she loves and gives in the most selfless way and yet she runs away when it gets hard; she processes her feelings internally as opposed to Callie. All this makes her human with her own insecurities, vulnerabilities and rough edges. This is where Callie came into the picture and started challenging Arizona. She turned Arizona’s perfectly ordered world upside down and made her reconsider things. This is called growth.
What else… Arizona is supportive, understanding and really cares about Callie’s happiness. She supported Callie when George O’Malley died; she supported Callie when Callie came out to her family. Arizona was the first person to stand up for Callie and confronted her father. Because she understood Callie’s desire for children and because she wanted her to be happy, Arizona had to make the most difficult decision not once but twice. It’s not easy to let go of the person you love, it’s not easy to leave behind the person you love; it’s not easy to set free the person you love and watch them find their happiness somewhere else. As painful and devastating the two break-ups were, Arizona didn’t do it out of selfishness, she cared for Callie being happy, and she wanted Callie to have what she wasn’t able to give her at the time. The whole Africa affair was refreshing for Arizona and made her realise that Callie was an important part of her life, that she didn’t want to be anywhere else but where Callie was. Sometimes in life people learn things the hard way and usually we pay a price, even doors are slammed in our faces.
And somewhere in between the baby disagreement and the Africa fellowship there was the constant presence of Mark Sloan, which Arizona tolerated and later accepted Mark as part of her and Callie’s family. She didn’t do it just because Mark happened to be Sofia’s father; she did it for Callie’s sake, for Sofia’s sake and for her own sake. How does that sound selfish?
After a year of a blissful marriage, the horrible plane crash happened and the dark side of Arizona Robbins emerged. Tables turned and Callie and Arizona swapped places.
Arizona practically hit rock bottom, spiralling further and further down the rabbit hole, she was devastated; she became indifferent. Life ceased to exist for her. She didn’t just lose her leg, she lost herself, she died inside, and the happy and caring person was slain by coldness and darkness. She got angry with Callie, she got angry with herself. It’s a very big deal for someone with A-type personality, a control freak to not being able to do even the simplest things, to rely on someone else’s help. Yes, she was abusive and harsh to Callie, Callie was her punching bag. Surely, nobody deserves this kind of behaviour, but in this amount of pain, anger and resentment one’s reasonable thinking and judgment is clouded most of the time. She came across as a heartless bitch, but we saw glimpses of remorse and regret as well, glimpses of the old Arizona that proved that even after this horrible traumatic experience a person can’t completely lose the very essence of themselves, the very essence that makes who they are. And yet a trauma changes a person for good or for bad. With baby steps Arizona regained her strength again, started living again, started to want things again, started to be a wife and a mother again because Callie and Sofia needed her. Then the miscarriage happened. Another loss was added to the mix. Arizona withdrew herself from Callie once again, went back to her shell and when Dr. Boswell showed up, she completely lost it and hit the bottom of the bottom. Quite unexpected turn of events but one doesn’t always know when the storm is really over. She committed adultery. Why? Maybe because she wanted to feel something new and different, to feel herself whole again, to feel that she still can give something and that something will be enough. The cheating had nothing to do with Callie, it wasn’t some sick revenge, and she didn’t cheat on Callie in an emotional kind of way. The only thing, that Arizona accomplished by cheating with another woman, was hurting herself even more and losing Callie. She turned into an addict who craved for pain, completely disorientated in the maze of loss, tough on the outside but fragile on the inside.
In a nutshell, that’s basically the woman Callie Torres picked to share her life with. The woman who does and gives whatever makes Callie happy. A woman, who isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, a woman who loves and cares, a human being, who is also entitled to have desires and needs.
TO BE CONTINUED…