“You can’t save others from themselves because those who make a perpetual muddle of their lives don’t appreciate your interfering with the drama they’ve created. They want your poor-sweet-baby sympathy, but they don’t want to change.”
― Sue Grafton,
I write this post the day after the 9/11 memorial posts have flooded Facebook. Many of you know that 9/11 was a pivotal point in my attitude towards media, news and all the drama which surrounds such awful events. After witnessing the plane hitting the towers for the hundredth time on a news programme I made a conscious decision to quit all news media. I understand that some readers will have mixed feelings about my decision, but hear me out.
I am currently reading a book called ‘Don’t let anything dull your sparkle: how to break free of negativity and drama‘ which covers, amongst other things, the drama addiction. It discusses how traumatic events from the past may have triggered post-traumatic symptoms, including anxiety, weight gain, and addictions, and those addictions can cause some individuals to seek out drama in the form of highly stressful jobs, the need to keep up with dramatic news stories and horror, immersing themselves in celebrity gossip and the drama of others lives. It is interesting to read that the manner in which I currently order my life, and the changes I have made since 9/11 and since the break up of my abusive relationship, are the recommendations she makes. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m a little smug that I am already making the changes suggested but equally a little pissed that I have bought a book which isn’t giving much in the way of new information. That’s my philosophile personality disappointed.
There are always going to be stressful situations in our lives, we cannot help that, however, we all have a drama quotient and when we reach that level our bodies react negatively with the release of stress hormones and histamine reactions. I recognised a while back that my quotient is quite low, I do not tolerate loud noise very well and those YouTube videos regularly posted on Facebook where people have accidents or there is a lot of shouting and fighting, tie my stomach up in knots. I limit which friends posts appear in my feed and in the past couple of years I have also stepped away from some very close friendships, which were filled with drama and angst, to give myself the stress free space I need. Indeed, as much as I truly love members of my own family, I cannot ‘get involved’ in their current situations as they leave me feeling helpless and angry and impotent. That type of reaction is helping no-one.
In her book Doreen Virtue covers the scientific evidence that shows by merely watching drama unfold, such as that which happened in 9/11, or listening to dads war stories from Vietnam, can inflict trauma on the mind. Our subconscious is unable to differentiate between what has actually happened to us and what we have vicariously witnessed, subsequently our bodies will respond in a manner which is much the same as if we had experienced those tragedies ourselves. This is particularly true if these experiences have been in childhood.
This type of post-traumatic experience leads to an addiction with the need for drama, adrenaline and excitement in your life. Much the same as we crave and binge eat the foods to which our body is intolerant.
Many of us are addicted to busyness, and calm and tranquillity in our lives equates to ‘boring’. It has taken me many years to learn to live a much more laid back life, and even now I have difficulty with days where I have nothing ‘planned’, feeling as if I am ‘wasting time’. We were not made to live that way, many creatures spend much of the day eating until satiated and dozing, living a life of social interaction, sex and food, yet we yearn for all the extraneous activities and excitement that other creatures don’t. We binge eat, we fixate on sex in all its forms or we seek more and more adrenaline fuelled activities, why?
The good news for me is that much of the recommendations made by science I am already participating in. I eat well, I practise yoga (most days not all), meditate, I do not undertake strenuous sports any longer, which also trigger cortisol and stress hormone release, I prioritise sleep, I cuddle my cats and I make space to relax in warm baths and read books, these are my self-love practices. I have not read a womans magazine for almost a decade and could not tell you who any of the individuals featured in Grazia or Hello are. I hear about the major events such as Hurricane Irma and the terrorists attacks in Barcelona, do I fixate on them? no. What would that achieve? from my perspective, nothing, other than making me feel helpless and angry about a situation which I am unable to change. Do I feel like I am missing out because I don’t know that celebrity x broke up with celebrity y? no. I am enjoying my little part of the universe. I am being the best person I can be, I am making changes in my life and my attitude which will affect those I interact with, that is what I am doing with my life. A less stressed Abby is a happier Abby, which in turn makes my social interactions with others more pleasant for them and for me.
I cannot change the evil in the world but I can change my little part of the world. If we all did that then we could feasibly experience a global change, quietly, insidiously and discreetly making a difference. Wouldn’t that be an awesome thing?