The Kings and Queens of drama, we celebrate them as artists with a rolled out red carpet, with gazillions of dollars, with shiny awards and with our devotion, our interest, our engagement and spare time. We watch their movies, their television, their plays. We celebrate and not just celebrate but invest in the stories they have to tell and in how they make us feel. Entertainment is an emotional experience. We follow their lives, not because we are superficial and material and petty, I mean, obviously we are all of these terrible things, JK, but because we are intrigued and compelled by the magic that they work in our lives. Let’s face it, we need help with feeling, period. We live in a culture and a world that tells us our hurt and our pain are shameful. Someone is more deserving of it than us, has a more challenging set of circumstances, and if we really want to rise above, we need only switch to that channel with the starving children — flies flying in their faces, or listen to a horrific tale of what the latest survivor has endured in order to feel better about our lives. What!? I can’t believe I was going feel sadness when I am not even covered in flies and starving, or had to eat my friend’s leg in order to survive my tragic plane wreck earlier in the week. Phew. That was a close call with actual grief.
If you’ve met me, you will know by now that voting your grief off the island because it’s not as tragic or glam as Joe or Jenny’s makes about as much sense as observing the fuel light come on in your car, and immediately looking out the window to avoid seeing it ever again whilst driving god speed toward the next rural center where there is not a single service station in sight, whistling a jaunty little tune all of the while you comply with your imminent demise because who wants to be seen needing gas, literal or emotional, gasp. And THIS is where I am going to break it to you.
Feelings, my friend, are not DRAMA.
When you hear the voice of the world chiming in that it can’t handle all of the drama, well you want to be careful not to just assume that your feelings, your hurt, your grief should be stomped out and shut down and shamefully crushed because it lacks the red carpet glamour, the Julia Roberts smile, the appropriate lighting and soundtrack, the packageable, palatable, SATISFYING ending, tying it all up in a bow of meaning or resolution, or comeuppance or vindication, because no one has assigned an award winning team to the inside struggles of being you #prispricey.
DRAMA, rather, is the word we use for the intentional stirring up or creating of conflict. And that has nothing to do with feeling your messy or inconvenient feelings. Drama, or the creation of it, is what folks do when they don’t know how to deal with their feelings, their vulnerability, their trauma, their hurt. They engage in a process of projecting all of that hurt, which becomes toxic the second it’s projected, into and onto and in the general direction of outside people and circumstances and events. Drama happens and is engaged in because the Drama Queen or King is in pain, and feels shame about it. And the ‘safe’ path is to hot potato it, to throw it AWAY from oneself. Drama creators have often spent a lifetime or their early lives navigating their way around very toxic individuals. Police arriving at the front door while Mom is bleeding out in the bathroom or Dad is punching holes in heads and walls indiscriminately, is the norm. And what happens after that is the norm for a LONG time is that destructive behaviour becomes normalized and LACK OF CHAOS feels threatening. It feels like ALL of those extremely painful emotions will come rising up from the black and drown us all in black sludge from demon hell if we don’t keep the shit hitting the fan. Well that doesn’t make for an okey dokey Saturday, so Drama Q or K stirs up some actual shit to pick up the slack and to expertly DIVERT attention from the inner sludge factor. And it works. It usually starts with an attack, a REASON that someone has done someone wrong. DQ is a MASTER at this, which looks a lot like playing bystanders against each other to up the conflict ante. “Did you know that so and so did such and such” (the shit), most often blanketed on soft green lettuce which looks like “I love this person so much, if only they didn’t suffer from such terrible shitiness which I have woefully had to witness alone (cough spurt sniffle) what is a poor soul like me to do when I need to selflessly protect the poor innocent others from their of course unintended but very black hearted and punishable treachery” (shit on a bed of lettuce makes shitty shit and shitty lettuce). And then toss in some shit croutons “Well you know what I mean because they are always doing it to you, you poor dear I don’t know how you manage here is some candy”. Rinse and Repeat. Rinse and Repeat. They tell two friends and they tell two friends. And so on and so on and so on.
Drama Queenery or Kingery is manipulation. It is the those girls and guys in the Bachelor/ette who feel the need to report on the others in the house and their unsavory reasons for signing up for The Hunger Games Romance Edition; ummm attention, publicity, notoriety, or for their inability to “just get along” with 24 other suitors of the SAME romantic conquest. It’s a compulsive need to point a finger, call out, and JUDGE the wrongs of everyone else, and there is always a long list here friends. And if the list wanes, well trust DQ/DK to build it up.
This is toxic behaviour. And you can’t answer it on its own turf because its own turf is toxic wasteland. You will be poisoned. It is designed to provoke you, like my 6 year old sister standing in front of the TV to block me from seeing it. Her pay off was my freak out. DQ/K needs you to freak in order to win. As soon as you react, or defend yourself, they receive a download of thirty new opportunities to persecute you via the read herring, the deflection, the projection and the indictment. Before you can say “w’fuck” they will have your head spinning with no priest in sight. We can all learn to disarm the DQ/K by not feeding into the drama fund. We can let our sanity speak for us and their instability destabilize their tactics.
But wait, there is another PROBLEM borne of the whole dramatizing dynamic, and it’s THIS:
We confuse DRAMA, aka intentional manipulation to the end of conflict creation, judgment passing, and allying against a perceived enemy, with FEELING FEELINGS.
We don’t want to be the Dramatist, we don’t want to be lumped in with them, and out of our fear of what they do and how, we overcompensate by mischaracterizing all of our basic emotion as DRAMA.
The amount of times I have heard a blessed client tell me “I don’t want to be that gal/guy who creates drama” or “I can’t handle the drama”, or “Relationships are so much drama”.
NO. THEY. ARE. NOT.
Feeling your feelings can FEEL inconvenient if you are not accustomed to it.
Feeling your feelings definitely feels shameful when the second you are sad, or scared, or hurt a giant loudspeaker screams to the world at large and in the ears of your date, partner, beloved that whatever it is you are experiencing is blown up and fabricated and indicative of your emotionally overindulgent character. HOW ON GOD’S GREEN IS ANYONE CREATING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP IF EVERYTHING THEY MIGHT FEEL IS CLASSIFIED AS DRAMA *cue Psycho shower music? What this says is, please ignore your gas light, don’t ever ask for anything, don’t work toward getting your needs met and meeting your partner’s and avoid discomfort like the Coronavirus because that is the recipe for a good relationship. You shouldn’t care because you don’t want to look like drama is kind of like worrying that you are batshit crazy, in that a hallmark of madness is reality distortion. You don’t know you’re doing it. If you’re really crazy you won’t be asking if you’re crazy. If you’re really dramatizing you won’t be asking if you’re dramatizing.
You aren’t going to have a healthy relationship nestled on a bed of eggshells, or emotional nails for that matter. And the basic A,B,C’s of healthy relationship are going to appear like a labyrinth or the Matrix if you —we—give so much power to our fear of being needful, or emotional beings. We can’t just hide our emotional drives in movie theaters and Netflix series and walk around like Siri or Alexa around our future husband and wives.
And the Oscar goes to everyone else for expressing all of the messy emotions I will not let myself feel with a cathartic intensity #Judy #marriagestory. Meanwhile, I’m like that’s not an elephant in the room, no, I’m pretty sure it’s just a hamster, a baby one at that, a baby dwarf one even to be sure.
Sometimes, I can’t handle all the drama, really means “I am scared to feel things because I have been taught that it’s shameful, and because hurt is scary”. And sometimes we are very scared to have hurt someone else because someone told us it means we are not perfect, or we or downright evil. But you can’t solve a hurt without looking at it. You can’t stop the bleeding by walking away #firstresponderrules. Let me chime in and remind you that you are love. Evil is rooted in pain, so even if you are the Joker, let’s just start to fix you, shall we, before the creepy shit goes down.
The neato fun thing about fearing DRAMA, or fearing being judged as dramatic by your inner voice or your friend or your date, is that is tends to actually create the thing you are fearfully avoiding. Take Susan, feeling left out by her new beloved who has been making life decisions and not sharing them with her, can you believe it? After they have been talking about moving in together. Uncool. Truly we all know that it doesn’t feel good to FEEL left out, regardless of whether you didn’t get picked for gym or marriage. Susan doesn’t want to sound needy or dramatic about the fact that she is hurt by this behaviour, so she HOLDS IT IN. Then, when she and her BF are chatting about some topic under the sun, she starts to quiz him aggressively about what might be wrong with him. He is obviously stressed about work. SOMETHING is bothering him. But I am here with the behind the scenes direction letting you in on it that she is not in fact worried about his work stress. She is looking for a side door into the heart of the actual matter for her, his decision making which has NOT been shared with her. Needless to say, it does not go well. HE gets defensive about his non-existent work stress and accuses her of smothering him, she chimes in with something about something, he cancels their plans and in a shining moment, she tracks him at the pub where he is bro-ing down and embarks on a stake out in order to have a talk. NOW before you feel tempted to laugh AT my friend and her extreme behaviour, PLEASE CONSIDER that my friend is a wise, independent, smart and successful woman who is not stalking her BF out of innate madness, but rather the MADNESS that is produced by suppressing ordinary hurt at aggressive levels. It can happen to anyone.
How to make a Drama Queen or King my friend? Have them hold tight to ordinary emotional pain so that nothing can resolve and challenge them to avoid purging that pain in passive aggressive behaviour.
Most fights, most relationship shit disturbing, is on account of lacking the skills to express your basic needs in an non judgmental manner and buying into the notion that it is shameful or weak or indulgent to try, stir in a tablespoon of fear.
Consider this crazy notion. We could just help each other out…make vulnerability just a bit easier on everyone. Help our loved one express themselves, ask for their needs to be met. Throw them a rope. Their hurt or need does not have to mean something terrible for us.
And when the real shit disturbing is going down by the Q’s and K’s of disturbing shit? When you’ve been labelled with the scarlet letter, or had a sign stuck on your back, or THEY have told everyone you care about how black your heart is or how granny your panties are on the office loud speaker?
Change the effin channel. Do not engage. Do not become a willing participant in your own demise. If a tree is ridiculed in the forest but no one is there to slow clap, does it make a sound?
The answer is no. In other words, it’s only humiliating if you are humiliated.
— Love Erin
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.