Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dealing with Drama

Something happened over the past year - fall and summer. I've changed a lot. I don't know what The Thing was that initiated this change. I don't even know if the change was a precipitate of a lot of things. But now, exiting the summer, I feel like I can describe the effects of what happened.

In the moment something upsetting is happening, I can be really affected by it. Cruel words rile me up and cut me down all at once. But give me 7 minutes to calm myself back down and I'll be over the negative emotions. That internal reaction, scary as it is, is no longer the center of my universe. I'll ask myself if there's validity to the comment and moved on to the validity of motivation in bringing it up at that moment in that way. And most often, I'll be laughing. Who says that? Like, who even comes up with such a combination of words? Who is so obsessed with someone to say something like that? Being able to laugh at someone trying to hurt me is an amazing feeling. Laughter is perhaps the greatest defense against someone trying to hurt you. If you want a good offense, just be kind to them. My grandmother used to talk about kindness heaping coals upon your enemies; I've finally experienced someone so caught up in their own hate that kindness and concern was seen as an attack.

I think a major effect of this internal change is that external drama is not my concern. For a few years now, I've disengaged with the dorm during finals week, accepting that natural cycle of insanity, anger, and accusation that pops up during finals and mysterious peters out once grades are posted. So I knew then that a lot of living drama is just silliness. But because I had never allowed myself to become to wrapped up that drama, my eyes were blind to the both the warnings and the fallacies of it. Now, I don't know if everyone has to go through dorm/apartment drama at least once; after all, I'd heard a million times 'don't live with your friends!' and knew the other person's pattern as a roommate. I'd warned others against living with the best friend or SO. I still went in to the situation, aware of the other person's record of strife. I was fully immersed in the drama. Like a frog in a slow to boil pot, I didn't realize how hot the water really was!  Fortunately, I did open my eyes to the fact that I didn't want to continue to engage.
I saw the cost and consequences of making the poor choice to involve myself in someone's personal drama.I also saw the cost and benefits of extricating yourself once you've invested. You CANNOT solve someone's drama. In fact, they may enjoy the highs and lows, the attention, that comes from creating, engaging, and regurgitating drama.


Internal drama is very much my concern. Anyone who knows my past would understand that I've dealt with difficult things at an early age. As proud as I am of how I dealt with things in my past, those means of dealing are no longer suited to my life. The way I dealt with a crisis as a 16 year old in foster care is no longer how I can deal with a crisis as a 21 MIT student, both internally and externally. The primary concern is riding internal drama out. I mean primary both in that it is the first thing that must be done and also primary as in the indivisible root of unpacking and dealing with internal feelings. I seem to have cycles in my mood. Each time I go through the cycle, the highs and lows get a little less intense. Finals are no longer as scary as they were freshman year. At first they felt impossible and unsurvivable. I cried after taking my first exam. Not so much from fear or sadness, but simply from the removal of so much stress from an unknown experience. Now I've learned what I need to do to make it through successfully (and without crying). Also, the panic related to the lows becomes less intense because I am learning that I will survive and recuperate from the lows. I am learning that I can ride out internal panic, fear, and anger to come back to an equilibrium to approach whatever is upsetting me.