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Addicted to Drama
When a person is raised in a tumultuous home - ongoing arguing, violence, fear and emotional uncertainty - that becomes her (or his) basis for believing what 'normal' is. It also sets the stage for what she will seek out in life and in her partners; even if she doesn't realize it.
Just as a woman raised in a calm family with a strong, loving father will naturally be attracted to the same qualities in a man when she's an adult, one who came from one where the father was emotionally unavailable or abusive in some way will eventually find herself in drama-soaked relationships with men who bring out all the volatile emotions she experienced growing up.
It's what she knows. It is the only direct connection she has to the first man she loved - her father. Most likely, she will model herself after her mother in the ways she copes with these types of people.
She will either become defensive and argumentative or she'll find refuge in being a fearful doormat - terrified of everything. Both are unhealthy ways to live. But you can't know that if it's all you've ever experienced.
This addiction will permeate every aspect of a person's life. Because when you are addicted to drama, you become an expert at creating it. That usually means that given an opportunity resolve a problem, you will choose the one that causes the most disruption, emotional drama, arguing, alienation and the constant feeling of anxiety.
It's one thing to generate this negative energy in your personal relationships, but it's another to have it become the way you do business.
Are you at the center of every storm?
Does it seem as if you get all the difficult customers? Are you constantly surrounded by gossip and stress among co-workers and friends? Do you go home after work exhausted because you're drained from the emotional turmoil of your job? Does every conversation end up in a confrontation or complaint session?
It's possible you are creating your own problems. Drama-addicts just can't help but stir the pot, push those buttons or tempt others into an argument. Notice the rush you feel the next time you see a confrontation coming. Does your heart start banging with excitement at the thought of winning that argument or proving the other person wrong? If so, you are hooked on drama.
In marriages, friendships and other intimate relationships, the same holds true. You look for reasons to get upset. The feelings that roar to life when a situation arises, such as jealousy, anger, resentment, fear are all based in a deep, dark need for drama. Inside you truly believe those silly lies: "If he really loved me, he'd fight!" "I get excited when he grabs me." "A gigantic fight in front of our friends shows them how much we love each other."
This is childish on every level. But again, how would you know if that's all you saw growing up? The real issue is do you want to replace this immature behavior with a healthy one or are you not ready to trade in your addiction for peace?
The key is to understand that this is destructive behavior. While it may be exciting for a little while, you're basing all your most important relationships on negativity and dysfunction. And if you have children, you're passing all this craziness on to them. After all, one day they'll be repeating what they are seeing and learning today. Is that what you want for them?
We are all products of our environments. But that's not an excuse to continue in the same unhappy footsteps as those who went before you. Anybody can change if they know what they need to correct.
- The first step, of course, is to understand that a drama-infused life is not a healthy one. Crying, worrying, manipulating others or being hurt by another person just to prove a point is not a normal way to live. There can't be true happiness where there is constant pain and uncertainty.
I've found that forcing myself into circumstances that are different than what I'm used to always opens my eyes to how other people handle themselves in various situations. This is very healthy. It's too easy to spend your whole life with people think and behave just like you. That is your normal but it may not be good.
- Try hanging out with some new people at work, church, school or wherever you spend your time. Watch carefully how people function in the world. Look for those who are the most relaxed and happy. What are they doing to maintain their peace? Learn from what you see. Make this a habit where ever you are. Most people are so wrapped up in their own thoughts, they have no idea what's going on around them - unless it presents an opportunity to create some drama!
Just watching other people isn't enough to create change for most people. We need someone to teach us new skills. It may be that you'll meet someone who is willing to share what they know, but for most of us, a professional is in order.
- Find a counselor who is knowledgeable in the field of addiction, codependency and early childhood issues. Most churches have lay counselors who will help at no charge. In time, it may be beneficial to get couples and even family counseling to work out anger issues.
- Start reading everything you can on codependency. It's usually at the heart of these types of issues. My book, "You're Not Crazy - You're Codependent" (Amazon) is a solid starting place.
Once you make the commitment to emotional wellness, you're going to have to make changes.
- The urge to 'start something' won't go away, so you'll need to learn how to monitor yourself and choose new behavior.
- Learn new ways of coping. In regards to the workplace, search the net and find resources to help you cope with difficult people and creating win-win resolutions to problems. In personal relationships, honest conversation about what is and isn't appropriate behavior is necessary.
- Stick to your guns but be patient. Others may not be as committed to changing as you, so the burden is on you to gently turn things around by encouraging good behavior and discouraging old, dysfunctional ones.
- Sadly, some people you care for will have to be let go. If they're not willing to respect your boundaries, you'll have to make those tough decisions. Not to worry. As you grow new people who share your values will be attracted to you.
If you can see yourself as peaceful, balanced and loving rather than tense, out of control and fearful all the time, you can create a whole new you in time. In may be true that the only way anyone ever showed you love was in a painful way. But once you realize they were only functioning out of their own misery and that none of it has anything to do with true love and happiness, you will finally be free to become the drama-free adult you were always meant to be!