Jun 26, 2013

My Relationship With Drama

I recently joked to a friend that everyone insists they hate dramaunless it's their own, and then it's okay. I was only half-kidding, and as soon as the words were out there, I realized I'm no different. I'm not some special snowflake who avoids drama, whether it's someone else's or my own. I sometimes grow genuinely tired of drama, but if I'm honest with myself (something I allow as infrequently as possible), I have to admit that I'm usually comfortable with it. Maybe I attract it. Maybe I even thrive on it.

I've been thinking lately about drama and boundaries and how the two are connected. Having been through a fairly tumultuous childhood with frequent conflicts and nonexistent boundaries, I'm primed to participate in friends' crises willingly, even enthusiastically. In these moments, I lose sight of how healthy boundaries might be far more helpful than burrowing into others' private lives. Even if I've been invited in, I don't need to become so personally invested.

In the context of platonic relationships, too much personal investment is costly and rarely pays off. While I love my friends and want to help when they are struggling, I'm beginning to realize that I needn't compromise my boundaries or theirs. I don't need to question every detail, or act all wise, or get all bossypants on them. I'm not very wise, for one thing. More important, that shit does nothing but hurt everyone involved. If a friend ends up making a choice I adamantly disagreed with during a crisis ("Don't take that crappy job!" or "Don't send that angry email!"), our friendship is likely to be pretty fucking awkward. At least for a while, and possibly forever.

Yet I don't want to swing to the other extremebeing distant or offering banal platitudes. Here is where I struggle to find that sweet spot between too much and too little personal investment. I'd like to be able to voice my opinions in a constructive way (as I wrote here), to be open and honest but also supportive and accepting.

Because I'm all grown up and I don't want to remain stuck in an unhealthy pattern that I've recognized, and now written about, I'm going to start working on that, pronto. I'll let you know how it goes.

An aside: I create my own personal mini-dramas, too. My family is leaving tomorrow for Minnesota, and rather than doing laundry and paying bills and thinking about packing (yes, just thinking), I'm writing this blog post. While I like to believe I function with grace under pressure, the reality is that last time we flew anywhere I was folding damp clothes into a suitcase while the taxi waited in the driveway. I have issues, man.