Truth Byte #19: You don’t need drama to have a full life.
I used to thrive on drama. I would live for it and even hunt it out. If a friend or family member would be going through a rough patch, I would be the first one there, front and centre, to listen and support and get in there with my tools to fix it. I loved each and every juicy detail about what went wrong and what went wrong next, and how nothing they tried had fixed the problem. It worked to fuel my life and purpose for a long time.
Until the point that I couldn’t take it anymore and I started getting exhausted.
When the drama started burning me out, I had to look at my entire relationship to drama. If someone had called me out (a few brave ones did try), I would have vehemently denied my addiction to drama (probably in a very dramatic way). I would quickly point out how I wasn’t the one with the problems, I was the one SOLVING problems! And my profession as a psychotherapist made it even easier for me to hide my drama-addiction behind the guise of helping others.
Boy, was I deluding myself.
It all became crystal clear to me a few years ago. It was a random Sunday where there was nothing to do and no where to be. My kids were content, hubby was happy, and the sun was shining. Everyone was hanging out in the living room talking and playing and laughing, and there wasn’t even any housework to complete. There was no emergency and no on-going issue to think about. And I found myself, for the first time in years, extremely uncomfortable.
This was weird.
I had no problems, and that was my problem.
I quickly called up my sister to ask her opinion on what I should do now that I had nothing to worry about. And she laughed in my face. She said “You are so accustomed to drama that you don’t know how to live like a normal person anymore. Welcome to life the way the rest of us live it.” I was stunned. (I was also a bit annoyed because I think I was secretly hoping she would have a problem to tell me about and then I could get into fix-it mode again!)
That was my wake-up call.
For years, I had been running around from one crisis to another, if not my own, then someone else’s. And here was my baby sister telling me that there was a completely different way to engage in the world as an adult. I felt cheated, stupid, but mostly, sheepish.
Drama didn’t have to define my life! Things could be steady and stable and generally fine, and that would be okay! I could even let myself get a little bored. (By the way, I have a cousin who is a classical Indian dancer, and she has taught me that in some types of performance, audience boredom comes right before a breakthrough. For those who have been through watching four hours of a classical dance or music performance, you know what I am talking about).
And now, I have a fine-tuned radar for drama-creation.
Often, we don’t consciously choose what happens to us. However, how we explain what happens to us is completely our choice. Did you have a low day, or was it “the shittiest day ever”? Did your friend forget to call you back or is she “so damn selfish and thoughtless”? Did you miss the turn or are you “the stupidest driver on the planet”? How you speak, whether out loud or in your head, will tell you something about how deeply you are addicted to drama. If you can start making light of things more, and start telling yourself (as they say in a course I teach by the Canadian Mental Health Association): 8 or 9 is just fine, you take the pressure off, and start realizing that a lot of your personal drama is actually self-induced.
When you can stop worrying about what people will say and who is watching you, you all of a sudden get to enjoy your life and the things that make it uniquely yours. When you stop comparing yourself to the people around you, you create a new measuring stick for personal contentment. And then you can actually be peaceful even when there is drama threatening to pull you in all around.
So, like we used to say to my mom when we were teenagers, “Don’t have a cow, man.” Just chillax, and slowly, the drama will starts fading away* for good.
*If you let it!