Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the drama that shapes us

Having managed a household for the past number of years and rented rooms out to numerous people, mostly single women, I’ve had my share of “household disasters.” Sometimes, the issues that have cropped up with the stove, the refrigerator and even the air quality have been dramatized to hilariously spectacular levels and their solutions were just as dramatic. I don’t think this is just a female thing because my brother was also involved in some of the more grandiose solutions usually. Like the time when he was going to build a frame of 2x4s to pin the washer to the floor so it wouldn’t sound like a helicopter all the time. The solution was a matter of simple balance.

Then there was the time when our old fridge was leaking water. I went shopping for a new one. I spent a weekend installing it, because the hole in the wall had to be cut larger for the new one to fit. We swapped everything from the old fridge to the new one and there was still water everywhere. We began to look more closely, and the conversation went sort of like this, “Hey, what’s this plastic water jug doing in the fridge inside a plastic bag?” “Oh, that’s mine. I put it in a plastic bag because the jug had a leak in it.” I laughed my head off and then I wanted to cry. Needless to say, I learned very quickly that one should not assume the problem and its solution are ever identified properly.

Then one time a new roommate was moving in who was allergic to absolutely everything, especially cats. There hadn’t been any cats at the house for 4 years, however, she was reacting to something. “It’s got to be the carpet!” everyone decided. We’ve got to tear out the carpet, hire someone to clean the air ducts and then shut all the windows and run the air conditioner/purifier. I was about to despair at the magnificent costs and work which all of this required and the vacation I would have to give up for it. However, I determined that we should wait a few days, purify the air with portable air purifiers and see if that does the trick. In a few days, it was determined that the allergic girl had the flu.

I look back on all the good times and the crazy times and realize they have formed me. I’ve always had a sense of group interpersonal expression and the need for balance within it. So, when there is “crisis”—when everyone is freaking out and being emotional, I feel internally compelled to keep my cool and be the voice of reason in those moments. And as I say that, I get flashbacks of injuries my siblings have incurred upon themselves. One Saturday morning my younger brother was using the skill saw outside. Suddenly he came screaming, crying and limping into the house. He was trying to hold shut a gaping wound he had just cut deeply into his upper thigh. The look of it sent a chill of terror through my whole body. I allowed myself one grimace before I had to kick into overdrive because I took one look at my mother who was wringing her hands and decided that wasn’t helpful. On the other hand, I do have my drama queen moments but I usually choose those to not overlap with other crises that others are involved in.

I have lived in settings where there was constant crisis all the time. So, I’ve become quite immune to needing to react. When others have crisis demonstrations, where the justifiability of it yet needs to be determined, I decide whether I can spare the energy for an emotional reaction or if calm collectedness or ignoring the perceived crisis is the better option.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about because you are always giving dramatic performances. Get off my blog! You make me tired….you…you energy vampire!

Clarifier: This entry was written a while ago, when I was weighed down by too much drama in my life. An extrovert would have done okay but I am an INFP and need my quiet time in order to function well. INFPs don’t like conflict either. Yet they will walk through conflict in order to defend principles and causes they believe in. My message here is not that I hate dramatic people. I find them very lovable. One of my closest girlfriends is a drama queen. We’ve been friends and also roommates 3 times. Her Mom is an alcoholic and a drug addict. The drama never quits with her mom. And she is her mother’s daughter and the drama never quits with her either. Yet she calls me her sister. I love her. We’ve had to work it out. It wasn’t always easy but we were honest with each other.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. Guess you have a point. May have been thinking too much about myself when should have been concerned with others, listening. Old habits are hard to break.

Not being the drama queen, BTW. Each time it was serious & meant. Just happened to change my mind later. Understand how you got the impression though. Guess it shows why I have to be in control. What happens when not is not pretty. I think you know what happened.

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