Saturday, October 30, 2010

Existential War and Peace

Recently, somebody told me that he didn't want any Drama.
I don't blame him - who wants Drama?  But then, I started wondering exactly what people mean by Drama.

For example, a number of men on state that they don't want any drama when it would probably be more accurate to say that they don't want anyone giving them shit or saying they are wrong all the time.  Frankly, when a man on Match says he doesn't want drama, I figure he's pretty fucked up or else so many women wouldn't have been giving him shit all these years.  Or else he's a baby and always wants his own way.  Or else he's controlling and won't tolerate dissent.

But women don't like Drama either.  A female member of the Facebook Group, Down with This Sort of Thing, posted: Women OVER 40 who cause drama.  Down with this sort of thing!  I suspect that this woman does not object to rational dissent but to needy tantrums. As a teacher with many, many years in a preschool classroom, I have dealt with a few tantrums.  I must admit to throwing a few tantrums myself but I am not a Drama Queen - at least, not anymore.

I absolutely get theatrical and animated when I'm making a point.  I've delivered more than a few soliloquies over the years when I could practically hear the orchestration in the background myself.  Theatrics are not Drama. Granted, some people in this world are overwhelmed by animated, theatrical conversation, but there is a distinct difference between Drama and a Rant.  Rants can be well executed and well delivered - and being on the receiving end of a Rant can be unpleasant even when you must acknowledge that the Rantor makes a valid point against you, the Rantee.

Velvet and I go through the Rantor/Rantee thing every so often.  Those situations might be called Melodrama because my ranting can become extravagant and unintentionally comedic - especially when I'm serious as a heart attack.  Sadly, one of my life-long communication problems is that it's easy to forget I'm serious, but there are times when the existential absurdity of a situation must be recognized.  Besides, who can stay mad at Velvet?  And Velvet would say, "Who can stay mad at Mommy? She's so silly."  Those dang little kids in my class tell me I'm silly all the time, too.  I'm pretty sure they only do what I say because they realize I fixed it so that I'm the only one who can reach the graham crackers.

I'm thinking Drama is distinguished by the belief that another person has the ability to make you feel better.  You may intend to voice Rational Dissent, but you're creating Drama when you present a situation as if you are the victim of somebody's bullshit.   If you realize that you're in command of your own reactions and response, then no matter what bullshit may come your way, you're never a victim.

That's not to say other people aren't problematic.  Certainly, when you're involved in an authentic, intimate relationship there will be conflict.  In my case, Drama has ensued when I was so afraid that a conflict would destroy the relationship that I swallowed my feelings and pretended to be happy.  Worse, I believed there was something wrong with me for feeling angry and hurt. 

When you've become accomplished at pretending nothing is wrong - as so many of us are because most families have idiosyncratic dysfunctions - the other person typically goes about his/her merry way without knowing that you're seething on the inside.  Then you get mad because s/he is so insensitive that s/he can't imagine your feelings.  Eventually you explode over some minor incident, making it into a federal case because you've been stewing in your own resentful self-pity.  You attack the other person, clinging to the notion that somehow s/he could fix you on the inside.  Dashed expectations and hostile complaints come out in a terminally unattractive whine. That's Drama.

I'm not saying that the man who told me he didn't want drama is an innocent bystander, but I was relentless once I was so distressed in the relationship that I didn't care if it was destroyed.  I decided to get in a full blown fight and quit playing the Victim and switched to Valkyrie.  Fights are different from Drama because they are more direct.  There's a manipulative quality to Drama because anger is hiding under weakness.  Victims are weak, after all.  When we fight, we take direct aim at the other person's weaknesses and blast them until the target submits.  At least, that's what I do.  That's why I don't want to get in a fight with somebody I love.

If my relationships with Velvet, Buzz Kill and my mother are any indication, the Drama days are behind me.  Maybe I've mellowed with age, but I think the key factor in Drama Reduction has been taking responsibility for my feelings and my reactions.

For example, we had a situation here at HQ over the summer because Velvet was compelled to test my fortitude regarding the rule I made:  He and Cupcake were not allowed to be in his room with the door shut when I was awake.  I freely admitted that sexuality was entirely appropriate for college students.  It's just that as his mother, I reserved the right to be uptight about his sexuality for a few more years.  It takes time to grow accustomed to some ideas.

Because Velvet is Velvet, one afternoon he was fixing to get ready to go to his busboy job when Cupcake came over.  They hung out in his room, with the door open about six inches, and all was well.   Then Velvet decided to see if I would notice the door shutting, and of course I did.  A few weeks earlier when I was making a point, I had threatened to take his door off the hinges.  I wasn't likely to forget the dang door, but Velvet had to check.  He thought he could get lucky - literally.

I was stunned and furious at his audacity, and I knew I had to do something or I'd lose my shit.  Fortunately, I was reading The Power of Now.  I banged on his door and said, "I notice that this door is shut and I'm not going to calm down about it."
He shouted, "I'm in the shower!"
I replied, "Oh yeah?  Where's Cupcake?" then I went out on the terrace.
I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth, reminding myself that Velvet was not attacking my identity or my parental authority, exactly.  He was just testing the limits, which is what kids do.  The situation had nothing to do with me, per se.  It was all about Velvet being a kid.  When I turned around to go back inside, Cupcake was sitting in the living room.  She wasn't even rumpled. 
It was a beautiful moment.

Before I ever picked up The Power of Now (at the recommendation of Max the Magic of Life Coach who happens to be my hairdresser), I understood intellectually about being in charge of my own inner peace.  I knew all about my patterns and emotional triggers as a result of years and years of therapy.  The idea that Mind and Ego interfere with Spiritual Authenticity was brand new for me.  You can only have inner peace when you are connected to your own authentic spirit.  The Ego/Mind has a vested interest in keeping us isolated from others so that we feel unique in the universe.   It's a big idea and people write whole books about it, so any attempt to explain it in 25 words or less is an oversimplification.  The good news is that once you get the idea, all you have to do is breathe yourself into the moment, and let go of that Mind Bullshit.

Somebody may have made you mad, but no one has annihilated your essential spirit.  War in Real Life is different than individuals and our spirits - even if it's a class war.  When people are trying to kill you in any way shape or form, it's War which is not healthy for Children and other Living Things.

When you let go of the Mind Bullshit, you find you're not a powerless victim.  Forgetting your mind doesn't end anger, and you can choose to fight if you want to.  But you can also choose to move from Fear into Love before you respond.  I still think Biff Rose said it best in Fill Your Heart:


Gail said...


Great post. I am not a drama person by any stretch - clearly I have a flare for the dramatics and I know exactly when and how to put it out there but for the most part I stay off the drama wagon. :-)

I love how yo talk/write about your parenting style - Velvet is a lucky guy.

Happy Saturday
Love you Texas

Susan Tiner said...

I am so done with drama.

I LOVE the way you reminded Velvet of the limits and that is beyond cute that Cupcake managed to get herself back to the living room with poise.

PENolan said...

Susan, it was a great moment. I'll be interested to see if they wind up seeing each other over Thanksgiving even though they are no longer a Couple and he may have some of his boys in town.

Love you too, Gail, but I have to say that when it comes to Velvet, I feel like I'm the lucky one. Of course, it's been two months since I've seen him. I'm missing him pretty fiercely at the moment and am looking forward to Thanksgiving.

MK said...

Nice. Complicated and nice.
Fighting fair and the code of the west.

Blog Archive