I got a call last weekend from an obviously distressed friend, who blasted me with a 30-minute, breathless tirade about her belief that her hubs and close friend were having an affair. My first reaction was to make a joke, because this woman thinks every female in town is hot for her hubs and whenever he’s “working late,” he’s getting his freaky on with one of her friends. To my knowledge, he’s never cheated on her, but that doesn’t seem to matter. She’s always sure, and she’s always pissed.
Every option I offered was stubbornly met with “If I see that bitch, she’s going to be sorry she messed with me and mine.” Attributing her intermittent female gang-banger personality disorder to her chronic off-the-charts stress levels, I spent the next hour in a futile effort to talk her off the ledge. Unfortunately, it became apparent that that’s not what she wanted. She seemed to be enjoying her victim role, and was milking it for all it was worth. I ended the call, and ultimately the friendship.
Drama Mamas (aka Drama Queens) are people who over-react and get intensely upset about any small encounter or setback. Catastrophe is always about to befall them. Their lives are a constant whirlwind of disasters and conflicts, magnified into histrionic dramas plastered all over Facebook and burning up their phone lines with anyone who will listen.
One of the best things about aging is letting go of drama. We’re at a time in our lives when we seek a calmer, more positive place in our daily lives and relationships. We zen our thoughts and feng shui our living rooms. We take jobs we love, instead of jobs we need. We become less judgmental. We downsize our homes, our cars, our material needs, reducing the burden of “too much stuff.” We have less, so we can do more.
Drama increases stress, ruins relationships, and sucks up time we may not have left. Drama Mamas may be longtime friends or even family members, but that doesn’t make them less toxic. If you’re feeling sucked into the swirling vortex of a Drama Mama’s life, it might be time to clean house. If it’s you, you just identified your new project for the next year.
Whatever the source, there are things we can do to decrease drama in our lives:
1. Don’t assume the worst. “Hubs is working late again. He must be cheating on me.” “My best friend doesn’t pick up when I call. She must be mad at me.” Maybe Hubs just a lot of work to do and Suzie is in the shower. It’s not always a grand conspiracy about you.
2. When faced with two possible explanations, assume the most positive option is true. “Hubs called my sister nine times last week. They’re either having daily phone sex or planning my surprise 60th birthday party.” Until you know otherwise, go shopping for a new party dress.
3. Believe half of what you read, and none of what you’re told. Remember the “Telephone” game when you were young? You all sit in a circle, and one by one, you whisper the same sentence to each other around the room. The last person then says what he heard, which gets compared to what the first person actually said. Hilarity ensues when everyone hears two completely different statements. The lesson here: If a rumor has gone through more than two people, chances are you’re getting a revised edition.
4. Keep things in perspective. Very few incidents during an average day signal the Rapture anytime soon. That guy that cut you off in traffic? Maybe he’s trying to get his sick child to the hospital. Maybe his mother just had a heart attack. Maybe he’s just a douche. But chances are, you’ll never see him again. Is it worth spending the entire evening ranting about?
5. Walk away from gossip mongering. It sounds juicy, and can even seem kind of fun, but gossip sessions are the epicenter of dysfunction and drama. Besides, if you don’t hear it, you can’t repeat it. Win-win.
6. Don’t post anything, anywhere online that you’re not prepared for everyone on the planet to see. Every day, there are horror stories about friendships and family relationships being obliterated because someone saw something on Facebook the writer thought they’d never see. Assume everything you post online will be seen by your parents, your kids, your minister, and the person you wrote it about.
7. Be the first to say I’m sorry. “An eye for an eye” might feel satisfying in the moment, but it won’t help you eliminate petty conflicts in your life. It’s not just about who’s right. It’s about who wants the relationship back.
8. Pick your battles. Is it really necessary to hurl public insults over a lost parking space or who saw that fabulous blue sweater first? Drama Mamas have trouble making distinctions between petty annoyances and true crisis situations. A snippy comment from a salesclerk elicits the same def-con level response as the idiot driver who totaled her new car. Learn to differentiate and save your emotional energy for what really matters.
9. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the women who just snapped at you in the grocery line, or the waiter who just rolled his eyes when you asked for more bread, just discovered that their spouse cleaned out the marital checking account and ran off to Bora Bora with the 19-year-old Swedish nanny. If you can’t think of what you did, you probably didn’t do anything, and it’s not about you. Let it go.
“Drama does not just walk into your life. Either you create it, invite it, or associate with it.” ~Unknown
To live a more peaceful life, weed the Drama Mamas out of your life whenever possible. If you can’t eliminate them, limit contact. People don’t automatically get to be part of your life simply because of shared DNA or matching sorority keys from 1989. Decide what, and who, you want in your life, and you will live more joyfully.