Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'd Rather Not Have to be Draped in Yellow Caution Tape

Drama seems to follow me. If I believed in auras, I imagine mine would be...interesting. I imagine swirls of brilliant purple and puce and vermilion trailing chaos in my wake, occasionally smoothed by a wave of pearly pink or sky blue.

I've sought this much of my life, truth be told. I like attention. I was an only child for some time, not only in my immediate family, but in my extended family as well as the general community. I was the adorable little girl everyone doted upon, and I ate it up. When my sister came along and challenged my status as Official Center of the Universe, I was Not Pleased.

It occurs to me that much of my search for attention, both positive and negative, has been rooted in deepset insecurity. I rarely felt good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, interesting enough. When I was dramatic, people paid attention. A small piece of the hole was filled, albeit temporarily.

The reasons why I felt this way are not simple. I cannot point at one person or event and say Aha! THAT'S why! A complex web of words and events and experiences and interactions trapped me. I trapped myself. I let the doubt whisper in my ear and lead me down a path of lies and manipulation and Drama Drama Drama.

Now, in the proper time and place, having a dramatic personality can be a Very Good Thing. In the classroom, for example, the ability to use hyperbole and excitement and dramatic flair can capture students' interest, bringing literature and language alive. Public speaking is exponentially better with a delicate touch of drama. Theatre, it goes without saying, thrives upon drama.

It's the personal drama that becomes excessive and damaging. Taking what could be fairly simple situations and blowing them up into massive events is the stuff of soap opera and tabloid journalism. For a large part of my life, I thought that worked for me. I was the Lindsay Lohan wannabe of my little bubble world.

I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather grace the pages of Time or the NEA Journal than the World News or Enquirer. I may not wish to fade into the background, but I also am tired of the endless games.

What does that really mean? I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin. And being comfortable and confident means that when I get attention, it needs to be for the right reasons and because I deserve it, not because I'm creating my own little Charybdis, sucking my nearest and dearest down into the chaos.

It also means altering the habits of a lifetime. It means going with my gut instinct of the best way to handle a situation, rather than diverting into secrecy, manipulation, and outright lies. It means being transparent about myself without exposing those who want to stay opaque. It means balancing on a thin line, and I'm still learning where each side lies. It means recognizing that something that I may not intend to be hurtful could be exactly that. Words only bring their own meaning to a point; the reader brings his or hers to the table as well, and that personal perspective colors and shapes the meaning of what I write.

So please excuse my mess. I'm still under construction. And the remodeling may take some time. Nothing too extraordinary--just a lifetime or so.

6 bits of love:

Kathleen said...

So well said!! Under Construction with you...

LoriM said...

Wow! Good one. Back in the 70's, there was a little pin which said "Please be patient - God is not finished with me yet." Actually I think it said PBPGINFWMY.

That's me, too.

Applauding you on your tough look at yourself,


Dad said...

Yes, very well said. I love you.

Arby said...

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
- James 3:5

You learned a great lesson about yourself. Nicely done.

Draft Queen said...

That's so weird to think about because I've always been the type to try and fade into the background but was continually forced into the spotlight of drama. I was the one that would refuse to take credit for the good things I did. I'm the runner of campaigns, never the candidate. The person behind the work of a business and rarely letting my name be uttered.

It's something I'm working on. Kind of. ;-)

Heidi said...

Have you ever looked at your enneagram type? I ask only because it is so illuminating of those dark places in the soul. My mother's found it very helpful in her spiritual work.

I'm an attention-seeker too, which, for an introvert, seems weirdly anachronistic but is not.

I'm a 4W5, by the way, and you know my MBTI type already!

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