Everywhere I turn, I hear about relational drama. It’s either “I don’t do drama,” “too much drama for me” or “she’s a drama queen.” Not only have I heard it used in melodramatic tones. I’ve walked into the trap.
For all of its’ negative connotations, RD (relational drama) is an energy source, a thruster for take offs and a fuel for many a gossip circle.
I have entertained a mix of reactions toward this type of drama, from bothered to bewildered – enhanced by the lack of an agreed upon understanding.
Like a Sherlock without the luxury of a Watson, I have probed many people for their understanding of RD and all I manage to extract are illustrations rather than definitions. People can tell when its’ going on, but few are able to understand the source or the purpose.
Often described as heavy, burdensome, draining, lacking rationale and filled with tragedy, heaves and sighs, RD makes the movie “Imitation of Life” pale in comparison.
There is, however, a strain that runs throughout every illustration. And it has to do with power, or the lack thereof.
RD seems to always unfolds it’s napkin at the table of insecurity and low self-possession. When people are at a loss, either of self-discipline, self-control, self-direction, those at the table, or anywhere nearby, are called like firemen to not only put out their desperate internal fires of self-deprecation, but to give of their own water supply.
Not just manifesting insecurity, it seeks to find a source from which to drink, a well that will quench the thirst for safety. RD is steeped in a default fear of a meaningless existence.
RD arises out of one’s insecurity with self, limits of self and acceptance of self. When my life lacks meaning and purpose, I then have to find a way to buffer myself – a way to compensate for my deficiencies. And what better way to prop myself up than to bring another person down? What better way to make myself feel better than to make someone else feel worse? What better way to deflect my faults than through the insidious escalation of another’s?
Such might be a rational behavior if the object of one’s gratification needs were not a human being who is being asked to give of his or her life force in order to sustain the insatiable quest.
The antithesis to charity and compassion, RD breeds contempt, resentment, bitterness and guilt. It feeds on escalation of emotion but finds only a partial satisfaction from the other.
Like a vampire seeking a constant supply of blood, so too does RD.
Simply reflect on bullying in school by kids who believe security is found by taking it from another, schemes by financial wizards who use other people’s money to garnish their wages, marriages that “tit for tat” with “you did this” responded by “you did that,” friends who play a game of put downs instead of pull ups, battering husbands whose greatest source of self-regulation is through physical abuse, drug addicts who blame the world for their problems and always have a circumstance with which to explain their fallen nature.
RD is a world of take, take and more take. And those who fall prey to it find that with enough practice, such a pattern can take root and spread.
It’s a disease of extraordinary proportion. Our lack of ease (disease), our lack of comfort, our lack of assuredness leads us to do what has been done since the beginning of time. We violate another. We become violent – verbally, emotionally or physically. The tragedy is that we are not seeking a war victory or even a battle victory. In the fight itself, we are filled with enough renewed energy until the next shoe comes off.
Violence begets violence as RD begets RD.
RD is the result of a perceived lack of oxygen to the soul, which leads us to grab the person closest to us and in that moment of desperation, seek to take a bit of theirs.
Even more demeaning to the human person is the awareness that with enough struggle, the person we’re seeking oxygen from, instead of personalizing and feeling threatened, will start fighting for their rights and the negative emotions escalate.
There is nothing more forceful than an insecure person who knows where to push the trigger of “you’re not good enough” in another and releases a surge of reactions that serve to bolster shame – an atmosphere of toxic fumes that engulfs every participant, creating a web of confusion.
To say that drama can captivate is one thing. To allow one’s soul to be captured by RD is yet another. For RD feeds on confused interpersonal boundaries by mixing the “I” with the “You”. There are no chairs on the stage of relational drama and people are constantly walking into each other.
This leaves me wondering, how can one be freed from the grip of RD? What happens to someone who plants the spear into the ground of his or her existence, who places a chair on the stage of life, sits in it and and simply says to the world, “I want to sit in my own chair, thank you very much. I don’t want to sit in yours or for you to sit in mine. I want a relational drama-free zone.”
To sit in one’s own chair, rather than weaken one’s power, actually expands it. And one begins to be freed.
Freed from blaming the world for one’s lack of power, from the advertising master that says wearing this perfume will attract hot men, from believing that the new body building routine will make one more attractive to women, from comparing one’s world to another’s, from the half truth that money will create happiness, from thinking that someone else is going provide salvation, from blaming someone for being successful and from relationships that build nothing but fast moving interstates enclosed by stone walls.
I may not be the best at it, but I have learned to sniff out RD in the same way a dog senses the coming of a stranger. Would that I could bark as loud.
If low self-esteem is the fuel for RD, then the water hydrant must be filled with self-awareness, self-evaluation, self-direction, self-soothing and ultimately, self-acceptance – born of flesh and human error but made whole by the ability to move beyond a power struggle.
It’s been called names – The Peace of Christ, Serenity, Enlightenment, to name a few.
I call it creating one’s own meaning given one’s life circumstances, playing the hand dealt, becoming self-possessed.
This attitude, while a narrow pathway, leads to peace and helps us navigate through gift of everyday living rather than script it, direct it, cast it, orchestrate it, star in it or write the reviews.
Life is a great play already. There’s no need to do any more than enjoy one’s own daily show in one’s daily chair – allowing everyone else to do the same.