Have you ever known someone who seems like there’s a floating cloud of drama over their head? That speaking to them is an investment? You can’t get a straight answer of how their day is without feeling like you’re watching a soap opera. Somehow, their life is built on a foundation of crisis.
Let’s be realistic. Some of it is out of your control. Maybe your child steered a difficult course as a teenager, and you’re all reeling from their choices. Maybe your mother had an affair. Maybe your best friend wound up pregnant with your ex-husband. Life, for all intents and purposes, is complicated. And the severity of drama is a sliding scale. Some of it is consequence. Some of it is happening to you.
But if all you’ve ever known is drama and crisis aversion, how can you possibly be expected to live comfortably when everything is (checks notes) going right? Is that a thing? Is it possible that for thirty seconds – everything is okay?
Researchers at the University of Texas have outlined a drama llama personality trait – more commonly referred to as “Defining A Need For Drama”; NFD for short. It’s an extreme reluctance to accept calm shores. It’s the necessity of causing chaos for personal gain. It’s riling people up. It’s looking for reactions. It’s commonly synonymous with people who are narcissistic, or perpetuating neuroticism. They’ve even got a new metric to gauge your probability of playing the persistent victim in your own narrative.
But where does it stem from? Why do some people feel the need to “fuck things up” in order to feel, well, normal?
Bolde notes 15 Ways To Stop Attracting Drama. And a quick Google search pulls up millions of hits on how to avoid drama llamas. Or how to prevent becoming one. But this isn’t what I was searching for today. It’s simple to say – if you don’t want drama, don’t create it. Don’t become it. Reject it. Live for today, and don’t sweat the small things.
But what if you can’t function unless you’ve learned to live by simply surviving?
I found “chaos addiction”. The idea that unless everything is going awry, or out of control, you can’t feel normal. Because chaos and anarchy are the normal. They are the way of life. And that cyclical pattern of behaviour is what calls the shots in your day-to-day. Your brain is no longer wired for calm. What do you do then? How do you accept that you’re okay for once. And how do you break away from the addiction of creating drama?
Rita Barsky is an addiction counselor. She writes the following:
Addiction to chaos can be very damaging. Once engaged in someone else’s crisis we abandon ourselves and often develop resentments, especially if it is someone we love or are close to. Family chaos is the “best” because it’s so familiar and we can really get off on it. When there is a crisis with family or friends we feel compelled to listen to every sordid detail and/or take action. We are unable to let go, we need to be in the mix even though it is painful and upsetting. It requires tremendous effort to detach and not jump in with both feet to the detriment to our well being.A Sober Mind: Addicted to Chaos, Rita Barsky 2007
How about you? Were your formative years built on a foundation of rocky days, angry nights, chaotic outcomes? Do you feel nervous, or anxious when there seems to be peace? Are you worried that the current state of calm is actually just the calm before the storm, so to get ahead of the clouds, you stir up a hurricane?
Permission to come aboard the peace train, Captain.
Be gentle. Stop and question. Look and analyze. I began running away from home when I was 14. How do you stop running? How do you forgive yourself for running your mouth? Running a dialogue laden with damaging rhetoric? How do you tow the line between pitching a fit, and standing for your convictions? How do you choose which hill to die on without it becoming another foray into a field of drama?
I think it starts with being self-aware. I think for all of us stuck in this pandemic-causing lock down that are forced to slow down, we’re looking for anything that excites us out of mediocrity. Even if it’s to our own detriment. Something worth fussing over has got to be more entertaining than sitting around another movie on Netflix, drawing pictures or knitting.
Growth, then, will come from exercising good, healthy approaches to staying mentally alert; not creating toxic traffic to keep ourselves from becoming mundane.
Back to the farm, drama llama. Back. To. The. Farm.
— c ☆