Creating our own drama
It’s been a while and there is so much to discuss (Prop. 8 decision, bar exam, queer kinksters of color, polyamory, scening, upstart fucktards who pretend to give a shit but are really masking their own insecurity and narcissism, etc). But I’ve had a few epiphanies over the past few days and weeks that I think a few of you might be able to relate to, so I thought I would share.
Most of you reading don’t know me quite well. I often make that mistake when writing here. I forget sometimes that this isn’t LiveJournal where strangers become friends through investing in and commenting to a piece of writing that they see in the safe space of “Friends Only”. Here I’m utterly exposed (which should explain the lack of photos on this site—maybe I’ll add one just for some flair) and you have no context for why I’m saying the things I do or what I’ve gone through in my journey. You only get scant pieces of the puzzle. Some of you do know me, but not enough of you to be able to fully relate to my experiences or perspectives. I’ve been very pampered on LiveJournal with a small little following (that once peaked at 500 followers) that were eager to gobble up the latest slice of drama that I had to dish out. Drama Diner Special of the Week.
So here is some context: Once upon a time I was a dating a man in Texas. I was his first openly poly experience and he was my first stable poly experience. He was the first man I ever called husband other than my actual husband. It was a fantastic life, separated by way too much distance. He had someone in his life that was a thorn in my side…sometimes more than that, more often less than that. He had been dating her when we met and dropped her shortly after and now he is back with her after our relationship became flaming shards of the happiness we once knew.
During my relationship with him I had gotten mad about something she said or did and she emailed me. I don’t even remember the full content of what she wrote but the line that I do recall is “You create your own drama”. It set me off faster than anything I had experienced before. Next thing I knew I was raving through my office, unloading my anger and rage on every piece of paper and furniture I could find.
That’s how most of us react when we hear a truth about ourselves that we don’t like. That’s how most of us react when it’s shoved in our face so unceremoniously. It’s a shadowy side of denial.
Yes, I said truth. I didn’t admit it at the time, but I….she….he…all of us create our own drama. We choose to see the world a certain way through our own lens of experience. We justify our version of this vision with the victimization we think we’ve endured. It’s not that I create drama, I would say to the imaginary version of her, if you’d stop bringing it to my door there wouldn’t be any drama. Lookie there, me making myself the victim in all of that. In truth, I was indeed creating it or at the very least feeding it, in that particular scenario because I was intervening in a fight, argument or situation that frankly was none of my business and had nothing to do directly with me. In other scenarios it was because I thought I was defending a loved one. In others it’s because I wanted to make my opinion known (as if somehow my opinion is superior to anyone else’s). And in others I was reacting with the first impulse that came into my head that I wasn’t making conscious choices that would benefit me in the long-run.
I take responsibility for the fact that I built my polyamorous relationships to be inter-dependent, to have a sense that what impacts my loves, affects me as well and vice versa. But I think this was taking the idea of interdependence a bit too far. Too often my partners or I would literally take a statement made to one of us as a personal affront against all of us. We all lost potential partners over this…over this insistence of creating our own drama or at the very least prolonging the already existing drama.
But it’s not just when the “honor” of a loved one is at stake, we do it in our everyday lives. We take it all personally usually because we’re either prone to seeing ourselves as the victim or we are insistent that we are not the villain. We do it in such a variety of ways I’m sure we hardly notice it. That guy who cut you off on the highway this morning, I’m sure you’re convinced he did it on purpose. The bill collectors who won’t leave you alone have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you are overwhelmed with the amount of debt you have; they’re harassing you! The friend who is upset with you for not calling on their birthday just needs to get over the fact that you’re just way too busy and important to be attentive to their needs. I mean, like OMG, can you really believe how horribly mistreated and misunderstood you are? And it’s you and only you, right?
See, everyday we make excuses for our behavior and thoughts. We point fingers at the alarm clock that wouldn’t go off, at the boss who just doesn’t like you, at the overbearing mother who won’t respect boundaries (my personal go-to), at the ex who judges you for everything you say, at the kids who just don’t respect your authority. It’s all excuses. We constantly say how “drama-free” we want to be, but we rarely consider how often we are pulling ourselves into that drama, creating it from the ground up with our reactions and often over-reactions to things. How sometimes we’re making excuses to cover up for our own fears and insecurities, our own mistakes and inadequacies. We figure the world is going to judge us, so we judge them first. We impose our self-righteous rage on them before they can point out that we brought this upon ourselves.
Kids, we let drama get to us because it gives us the satisfaction of feeling like we are right. In this big, bad world of unfairness and inequity we are constantly subjected to people and situations that are out of our control. By giving in to drama and creating it we feel some power even in the midst of an acclaimed powerlessness. We can stomp our foot and stand our ground no matter how ridiculous the issue or insignificant the battle. And let’s face it, drama even when it’s self-imposed is exciting. It brings up rage and anger, euphoria and competitiveness. It gets the blood pumping and keeps us on our toes. And when we get really good at creating it, we know just what buttons to push to make it a show-stopping worthy display. And when someone isn’t bringing it to us, we resort to trolling our own lives to create it. Regardless, it gives us a reason to check twitter every 10 minutes, to ignore the mundaneness of laundry and dishes and fills the space left when our favorite tv shows (like MadMen or Walking Dead) are on an extended hiatus. It’s living on the edge: a maddening, harsh and wantonly critical precipice.
But there is a difference between feeling like you’re right and actually doing what’s right. What happens when you realize that living on the edge isn’t what it’s cracked up to be? What happens when you finally want to grow some roots into solid, soft soil?
The past few weeks have been eye-opening about the bar exam. If you want to really examine a drama of my own creation it is that one. I have made every excuse in the world for why I didn’t pass back in 2003 and 2004. And some of those excuses actually were self-critical judgements of my own decisions and lifestyle choices that created its own massive amount of drama. When a former professor told me two months ago that I could pass the bar exam this year I started really examining what that might look like. It’s not about luck. It’s not about whether I’m smart enough. It’s about letting go of all of the drama I had and was continuing to create about it. Being on the precipice of success and failure was no longer cutting it for me.
I was presented with a choice.
I could choose the same old life: living paycheck to paycheck because my law degree makes me overqualified for most types of jobs and I’m simultaneously underqualified for other gigs. Or I could choose something different. I could go through the hard process of figuring out where my problem areas are and I could get up and try again. I could keep calling myself a failure or I could stand up and create my success.
We each have a choice. We have a choice to step back from the edge, stop listening to the whispers in the wind, start to care only about those arguments and battles that truly have an impact on our passions and well-being and address those issues like adults. All it takes is finally making choices that match our intentions of “no drama”.
Feeding into the larger drama machine only keeps you trapped in a world where there are only victims and villains. Life isn’t a fairy tale. There is not good vs. evil. There is not a battle between the wicked queen and the innocent princess. But our cultural story encourages each of us to view ourselves as the victim of our situation. We even compete with each other to see who is most victimized and therefore most deserving a 2nd chance. But what happens when we acknowledge that we are not just victim but villain as well. What if this whole time we’ve been playing against ourselves? What if we have been playing out this grand drama inside us so we can avoid facing those insecurities, doubts, fears and troubles that have grown from our experiences? What if we are really sabotaging ourselves, our dreams, our relationships? What might you be able to accomplish if you spent that time fixing the drama within yourself?