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  • Megan Rose

Elastic Heart

I've been on a big Dance Moms kick lately, and I recently got to the episode where dancer Maddie Ziegler releases a new music video with the artist Sia (after her first video Chandelier). The song is called Elastic Heart and the video features Maddie (a young girl) and Shia LaBeouf (a grown man) dancing together in a cage. A lot of people on the show felt the video was inappropriate. I don't think they understood it, and I think that's because many of them had not experienced the situation that was being depicted in the video - not being stuck in a cage with somebody, but what the dance represented.


I believe the song and the video is about Sia's struggle between her vulnerable self and her addiction. Maddie and Shia go back and forth between fighting and embracing, which I believe to be the love-hate relationship between an addict and her drug.


As I watched the video, though, I felt it might be representative of something else as well: the struggle between a patient and their mental illness. You wouldn't think a love-hate relationship could represent someone who was dealing with an illness, but with bipolar disorder there are aspects that some of us tend to love - mania that makes us productive and creative - sometimes even more fun than our normal selves (which is what addicts sometimes feel their drug does to them).


We're fighting off this thing that's bigger and stronger than us - we feel as if it's controlling us and has a hold on us, and sometimes all that's required is for us to let go, but we don't. Whether we stop taking our pills because we're enjoying the mania or because we feel nothing will help and it's easier to wallow in our own depression, the disease doesn't necessarily always have a hold on us - we have a hold on it.


Sometimes Maddie tries to get away from the intimidation of the man, but he scoops her up, cradles her, provides comfort, and soothes her until she realizes the man is a beast in disguise and is only supporting her so that he can destroy her once again.


She pounds on his head as he makes silly faces, a tactic he uses to taunt her while inviting her to join him in his misery and splendor, making him less threatening, and giving her the illusion that she has some control over him. But she doesn't.


At the end of the video, Maddie slips through the bars of the cage as Shia is left inside, crying, holding onto her, pleading for her to come back, and Maddie tries to comfort him as she makes her way into the world without him looming behind her. She doesn't want to leave him, she doesn't want to deal with life without him, she doesn't want to let go of something so familiar that she's known for so long.

The whole time, Maddie was able to slip through the bars of the cages. The whole time she had the option to leave. The whole time she could have said goodbye to this monster, this friend, this foe, but she had to fight the battle before she could leave. She had to know that she could beat him, know that she had experienced all the glory and all the gloom, know that she had done her best to hold onto something and eventually let go of something that was slowly killing her but also making her feel more alive.


She had to fight him to discover she could win. She had to fight him to discover he was the problem. She had to fight him to discover that she could live without him. So she slips through the bars, mourns the loss of the life she knew so well that had somehow both slowly destroyed her and comforted her. She could go back into the cage, she could embrace him once more, she could fight him all over again, but she knows the result will bring her right back to where she was - trying to flee but afraid to leave while this monster controlled her, punished her. The comfort she felt from something she had known for so long had finally been overshadowed by the damage she felt from its presence and she knew she had to heal alone and leave him no matter how painful it may be.


Let your disease die. Follow your treatment plan. Listen to your doctors. It's scary to be vulnerable. It's scary to change your way of life. It's scary to know that your whole life is going to change just because this uncontrollable element wants to consume you, something that could be comforting in the long-run as you would never have to worry about taking responsibility for yourself again. The disease could run your life and you could be comfortable having it take credit for your decisions and actions. But you know better. You can fit through the bars. You can make your way out. You just have to be brave, push the monster aside, and take a step outside of the cage. It's work. Sometimes it feels like torture to face our demons and take control of our life, but it's what's necessary to conquer the monster inside of us that is feeding off of our insecurities, that is telling us lies, that is making us feel as though we need it to survive.


One step through the bars is all you need to make it out alive and start anew. Take a step. Take a breath. Take your life back.


"And another one bites the dust Oh, why can I not conquer love? And I might have thought that we were one Wanted to fight this war without weapons

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad But there were so many red flags Now another one bites the dust Yeah, let's be clear I'll trust no one

You did not break me I'm still fighting for peace

I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard I may snap and I move fast But you won't see me fall apart Cos I've got an elastic heart

I've got an elastic heart Yeah, I've got an elastic heart

And I will stay up through the night Let's be clear won't close my eyes And I know that I can survive I'll walk through fire to save my life

And I want it, I want my life so bad I'm doing everything I can Then another one bites the dust It's hard to lose a chosen one

You did not break me I'm still fighting for peace

I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard I may snap and I move fast But you won't see me fall apart Cos I've got an elastic heart

I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard I may snap and I move fast But you won't see me fall apart Cos I've got an elastic heart

I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard I may snap and I move fast But you won't see me fall apart Cos I've got an elastic heart

I've got an elastic heart."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWZGAExj-es

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