I am a drama queen. There I said it. I don’t like it, but I said it. My therapist told me that once – what does he know. Although, it’s probably a safe bet that he didn’t say it with quite the same intonation or the way that I am saying it now, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t say “queen.” But I know that’s what he meant to say! I think his words actually were “drama addict.” Which is just as bad.
Drama addict. I can hear the words reverberating in my brain from decades past, “Don’t be so dramatic!” “Why are you so sensitive?” The truth is, I am very sensitive. I think most people miss that about me. They meet me and decide my quiet demeanor, or inward focus means I am aloof, harsh, cold or unfeeling in some way. But I’m not. In fact, I am the exact opposite, it’s just that there’s this small, innocent child part that is still very much alive, and still leery of the adults of this world. I love people, I love them deeply. I want to know them, connect with them, open to them, be open with them, and know I belong to them. My life is what is because of you. It’s my operating system – AND I am a drama addict.
I don’t even know if I know what that means, but it sure doesn’t sound positive or empowering. It sounds extreme. Like I make shit up just to get attention. I spend my time trying NOT to get attention. Unsuccessfully I might add. It’s a strange and surreal irony to not to want to be noticed and in the same breath want to be with people – to know their minds, feel their hearts and touch their warm skin. So much of life is balancing the impulse to separate and be my own, while being married to the urge to unify and belong.
Drama – I repeat the word several times out loud and it even sounds like what it is, there is a melody to the word, an energy when you say it. I try the same thing with other words, bread, pages, truth, flower… Maybe flower does work too. I say it again – flower, letting the words roll off my tongue, I can feel the life in it.
I can remember decades of flowers, picking them, giving them, planting them. The only memory I have of my maternal grandfather is planting a rose bush. I even remember making mud pies and mud cakes and decorating them with chains of daisies. My beautiful, delicious creations unsuitable for consumption! I still have the first flower a boy ever gave me – a Black-Eyed Susan, carefully pressed in my Confirmation Bible. Just saying the word “flower” takes me on an unexpected voyage that brings the word to life.
So it is with the word “drama.” But I think we have decided in our culture that drama means something unreal, or made up, or overly exciting and emotional. So, what does it mean to be dramatic? I would suggest that it is about being real. The root of the word drama means the presentation of a situation or the telling of a story in terms of some physical action and dialogue. Something we humans have been doing since our brains first developed the capacity for self-reflective thought. It’s an innate desire for humans to tell our dramas because storytellers know that within the story is wisdom and wit that fills the space between us and will always connect us to ourselves, to each other and to our world.
I was born into this life as a blank page — and will leave a full book with narratives of my experiences. The stories aren’t about what literally happened, but what I have made them mean, what I have made out of what happened, what I tell you, and what I will always remember – this is the drama. Ultimately the story is calling me to remember my true self – to be real.
Perhaps this is why we feel compelled to tell our story, to voice what happens to us. Because the longer I keep secrets, the more I wall off the pain of what has not been told, and the harder it becomes to heal the secrets and to know acceptance that can only come from being cleansed of everything false and extraneous. Therefore, the harder it is to be real. This is at the heart of my ongoing struggle to stay real.
Each story is asking me to find my way through the drama and tension of my suffering, to be shown how to heal, how to face that which scares me, to find the elixir of life that can only be tasted by the telling of the drama. The stories I tell today become the medicine that soothes the pain and brings the innocence of sheer joy.
So these are the confessions of a drama addict. But being this way has helped me listen to everyone, those closest and strangers alike, creating new stories yet lived, yet to unfold. You are my medicine, my elixir, my essence, and I am yours. So be a drama queen with me, I will listen, and we will heal, and live what is real.