An artist with severe Bipolar Disorder examines her own infidelity and her wreck of a life. This character is the protagonist in one of my manuscript’s mother (who is actually dead by suicide before the manuscript begins) and wrote this in order to understand her better. I hope you like it.–
My husband thinks I’m lazy. Ha! If only he knew what I go through on a daily basis. Most people’s brains only process one or two things at a time. My brain processes at least a hundred, it goes so fast I can’t slow it down. So I’m Bipolar. I feel things more. I experience more creative inspiration. I feel more sexually. There are days I can’t keep off my husband, I actually tire him out. He’s trying to quiet me down, I’m straddling him, nipping and biting him. He likes the biting somewhat; the first time I did it he said it was different, not good-different, not bad-different just different. Then he developed a taste for it, sometimes he even asks me to do it. I sometimes tell Brad I could have done better than him when I’m pissed off, to punish him for being an asshole.
I know it’s a horrible, bitchy thing to say. I know he cares about me. He’s not unattractive either. He’s a man’s man, but gentle. I was attracted to him right off the bat, I just pretended I wasn’t. I made him work to get me. But I also feel like I could have done better. I was a very beautiful woman in my early 20’s. I looked like an actress, blonde hair, long legs. I walked with purpose and confidence. I slept around, once I had four different men in a week, and I didn’t disappoint any of them. All three of them young, all three of them attractive. I went to art school for a few years but I had a mental breakdown. All these strange voices and sounds were coming from the TV. I thought demons had hijacked the signal. I hadn’t been taking the medication I had been prescribed for weeks, and it had finally taken it’s toll.
I couldn’t pay attention to what was going on around me, it was like I was underwater. One of the demons was telling me to kill myself in my mother’s voice. I loved my mother, and the demon on the TV had stole her voice. I felt like maybe it was also wearing her clothes and wearing her face, like Ed Gein. I called her to see if she was all right. When I didn’t immediately get ahold of her and Daddy, I swallowed a bottle of sleeping tablets and they threw me in the nuthouse.
I’ve had two affairs; I’m not proud of it. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t know. Probably. Sometimes I wish Brad cheated on me so I wouldn’t have to feel so fucking guilty about what I did to him. I had sex with one guy in his car while his kids were in school. His name was Alan, he was the dad of one of my daughter Charlotte’s classmates. He was rough, at first I liked it, but then he was hurting me. He squeezed my breasts, he pulled my hair, he stuck his tongue in my mouth aggressively and lovelessly. I realized I was crying, but I let him finish. I was praying the condom wouldn’t break.
The second guy was a man I went to school with. He contacted me on Facebook and told me how much he admired my work and what a huge crush he had always had on me. His name was Steven, he was recently divorced. I had always thought he was gay, but I was proven wrong when Steven invited me over to his hotel room to show him my paintings. I’ve always been a sucker for flattery. I told Brad I had some emergency with my family and I met Steven wearing a dress I had bought just for the occasions. I’m crazy for buying dresses and shoes. They make me feel rejuvenated. Steven really seemed to like my art. Like it like it, I mean, not just pretend to because he wanted to have sex with me. He was a very attractive man, very respectful and gentle. I could tell it had been a long time for him.
It felt like it was better than with Brad, but I think it was just because it was different. Afterwards, when I lay next to Steven watching lights of the traffic and street lights outside the window I cried, because I knew what I was doing was wrong and I had to stop. Brad loved me and I didn’t believe he would have an affair, why would I do that to him? If I caught Brad with another woman I’d probably kill him. Why wouldn’t I expect him to do the same thing to me for betraying his trust? Sometimes I get out of control, I need something different. But I never had another affair, instead I threw myself headfirst into my art. My specialty is the natural world, also cityscapes and architecture. I’m not great at portraits but I’m trying to do better by painting my kids. I’ve painted them so many times I think they’re sick of sitting still for portraits.
Teddy’s fourteen, he looks exactly like Brad did at that age. He’s smart as a whip but a terrible student. Charlotte’s ten, and the perfect mix between Brad and me. She’s a beautiful little girl who dresses like a boy all the time. I don’t really have a problem with it but I wish she would dress nicer. I sometimes wonder if she’s a lesbian, especially since she insists on being called ‘Charlie’ all the time. Brad suspected the same thing about his sister Janet but then she got married. I don’t care; I just want grandkids so I can spoil them and I imagine being gay must be hard. Growing up is hard anyway, I know it was for me. I love my kids no matter what; I wish I was more dependable, but I’m not. I don’t have any neutral moods. I can’t do the whole soccer mom thing.
All I can do is love them, imperfectly. The thing is, I’m not sure I love Brad. He’s a good man, but he and I have been pretty distant over the past couple of years. But I know without any doubt I love my kids. I hope they know that, even though I can be so tough on them sometimes. I want them to know it’s not their faults. I feel like a failure sometimes. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed, I have to lie with the blankets pulled over my head waiting for the dark mood to pass. I don’t even want to get up to go to the toilet. My paintings elevate me. My kids elevate me. Sometimes it feels like all I have. I think about the good things I have to keep from feeling empty, like I screwed up absolutely everything in my life. I wait to breathe again.