How to Kick your Drama Addiction
Once Upon a Time…
I’ve told a story before on this blog, but I feel it’s worth repeating. It’s a story of a conversation I had with my therapist a few years ago.
I’d been in therapy before, but this time, I was determined to really get over my hang-ups (ha!).
I’d just broken up with some guy or another and I needed to figure out why he had done me the way he did. (You can see the flaws already, right?)
My therapist was an insightful man, who bordered on psychic in his ability to read me like a James Patterson novel (though he would hate the comparison as much as he would hate the term “psychic”).
He said to me, “Erin, people use all sorts of addictions to escape reality. They use drugs and alcohol, books and television, sex, work, exercise…”
I nodded along.
“What do you think your addiction is?” he concluded, looking at me expectantly.
“Do I have to pick just one?”
He deduced, on that fateful day (though probably long before he shared it with me) what my true addiction was.
“You’re addicted to drama”
If you didn’t have a pang of, “Oh, yeah. Me too.” then you’re either:
A: one of those naturally even-keeled people
B: fully recovered
C: in denial
I tend to think that we’re all a little hooked on drama, although it manifests differently for different people.
If you’re constantly in a state of:
– hating your job
– discord with family, friends, co-workers, people on the internet
– hopping from one shitty relationship to another
– complaining about the relationship that you’re in but never leaving it
– talking about all the great work you’re going to do in life when the above-noted is all cleaned up
Then you, too, may be a drama-addict
Can we agree upon the premise that things like dating assholes or drinking too much wine on a Wednesday are symptoms of a larger life issue? (not to minimize these symptoms or their power to f*ck up our life).
I would like to argue that drama is the stuff of ego, but that obstacles are the stuff of love. These obstacles present themselves so that we can overcome them – so that we can choose differently next time around.
If we keep choosing drama, we keep choosing ego.
And we all know that ego just loves to keep us from our true purpose.
“I’d love to start working out but I’m so stressed out about work”
“If only he would treat me the way I deserve to be treated, I could feel better about myself”
“I just don’t have time to write” (subtext: because I’m busy arguing with people on Facebook)
I’m exaggerating a bit for effect here, of course, but we all have some sort of discord in our lives that we’re using to keep our goals way out in front, in the ethereal future of Never Never.
And the most painful thing about this is that we know we’re doing it
We know that life has so much more in store for us. And this knowing causes us so much pain.
That very same therapist once told me that I was very intuitive. I seemed to have a knack for reading the unspoken signals of the world. I knew what people were hiding and was a pro at seeing the unseen.
I was just starting to feel a little bit chuffed about myself when he dropped the bomb on me.
“But what’s the point of being intuitive if you don’t apply it to yourself?”
It’s all well and good to notice other people’s hang-ups. But if we hand our intuition over to our egos, all we accomplish is harsh judgement and zero insight. All that accomplishes is a continued spinning of our wheels.
The only way to kick our drama addictions for good, is to acknowledge that we have them. To acknowledge that, at least on some level, we are a cooperative component for the shitty stuff that dances in and out of our lives.
That conversation a few years back wherein I discovered the underlying cause to most of my trouble was most certainly pivotal.
I’d love to tell you that I immediately kicked my drama addiction, accessed my intuition, took responsibility for my shit and stepped into a life of fulfillment and purpose.
In reality, it took many more detours and a lot of self-forgiveness before I was ready to live the life I’m currently enjoying.
These days, my drama is a lot more minimal than it used to be in my wilder twenties.
I have a very low-drama romantic relationship (which is lovely and not at all as boring as my ego would have had me believe) which allows me the space to fulfill my purpose (sharing my lessons with you fine folks in the hopes that I can ease your way a tad).
One way that my ego still shows up for me though is through lifestyle envy.
Especially in my thirties when I feel like I should have accomplished certain career goals rather than just the intrinsic satisfaction that comes with having learned some hard life lessons.
Yaaaaay intrinsic satisfaction…
These days, when I see someone (especially someone younger than me) enjoying a lot of success at the things I thought I would have done by now, I feel a surge of inadequacy.
It makes me want to quit.
And eat a bag of Doritos in one sitting.
Sometimes I do quit (temporarily) and cry and eat a bag of Doritos, but more likely, the love in me is able to say, “Good for her” and I usually even mean it.
And then I turn back toward myself. I use my dramatic response to other people’s success to inspire me, rather than hand it over to my ego and have it drag me backward.
That’s how we kick it. That need. That addiction to drama.
We throw some love at it.
We turn inward.
Yes, sometimes it requires us to leave relationships and quit jobs and move across the country. But leaving a dramatic relationship does not automatically preclude the drama.
If we still have the craving, then our next relationship will be equally (or more) dramatic.
We have to turn our own insight at it and realize that, like everything else we see reflected in the world, drama always comes from us.
From our willingness to participate in it. From our permission. It’s never just “out there” just like nothing else is ever just “out there”.
The really freeing gem behind this concept is that it allows us to take responsibility for cleaning out the junk.
If we begin instead with clearing out the internal need to give over to our egos rather than the love that helps us move through life with purpose, the outer shit is going to fall away quite naturally.
So the next time you find yourself internally arguing with people who will never see your point of view at three am (just me?), try to accept that everyone is doing his or her best.
Try to throw a little love at them.
And don’t let anything get in the way of the glorious life that Life wants for you.