Manic Pixie Scream Girls
Unmedicated, undiagnosed bipolar, my mother raised me under the interplay of shadow and light that governed her mind. She couldn’t see how I needed help because I was just like her. I didn’t know that other homes looked different on the inside. I didn’t know there were such things as calm, and peace, and quiet. That some kids grew up without screaming, without frantic bursts of impulsivity. Without the highest highs and the lowest lows.
My mother danced and sang. My life was a musical and a movie that never stopped playing. She made art with images and words. She brought magic into life by the conviction in her voice. We acted and played and explored. I didn’t know other kids weren’t taught to invent songs and dances, weren’t encouraged to twirl or shriek simply for the thrill of it. There was nothing she couldn’t do. If she needed something she invented it. She could fix anything, do anything, be anything, and she showed me how to be like her. How to be her.
My mother raged and roared and her anger was terrifying. There was no escaping it. It poured over everything like lava. It overturned furniture and threw dishes and shook you. It upended carefully organized toys and rang in your ears long after it left. It hurt in the body and in the mind and there was no predicting it. It was no, please, no falling on deaf ears and a war where I could only be an enemy to be utterly destroyed.
My mother had her own gravitational pull. She warped reality around her. As she drew nearer it strained into the mobius shapes she demanded. She had impossible requirements I jumped to hurl myself against. My mother’s laughter was my favorite sound, infectious and heartening. My mother’s tears were a torrential downpour of agony. My mother’s hate was the stuff of nightmares.
And I was just like her. People loved to be around me when I was flying high. But sometimes I’d cry alone for hours in my room and not know why or how to stop. My anger was explosions buried shallow only waiting for a misstep to upend and ruin all careful creations.
A boy lives in a gray world until one day he meets a girl, a manic-happy girl made of magic. And he thinks the sun shines inside her. And he thinks she’ll make it all make sense. Make him feel more alive. Make him able to make real his dreams. He forgets that the sun shining inside of her is an ultra-hot white star that burns and burns. Sometimes she transforms into the darkest creature, a monster from the deep and he realizes that she is too much for him to handle.
She is too much. Too hot. Too cold. Too cruel. Too loud. Too unpredictable. Because the same girl who makes up songs and dances for sheer joy will scream and tremble for the earthquake inside her that has to get out.
The girl who has so much more to give, she needs more, too. She takes more time and energy and understanding and grace and forgiveness and space to fail. She is a wild thing. She is exhausting. She has scars.