Sunday, December 20, 2009

Drawing the Line in the Sand

I don't do drama. Period.

I also don't do clingy, needy, passive-aggressive, or manipulative bullshit but that's actually beside the point.

I also have a great gut instinct. I know almost immediately upon meeting someone whether or not I will invite them into my life on a regular basis and assign them a major character role in my personal script. If someone is issued that invitation it is because they a) do not operate in a constant swirl of drama or b) they respect my boundary when I say "I'm saying no to the drama".

I'm a fantastic boundary setter. That wasn't always the case but I've honed that skill by practicing it frequently. Upon observing my fellow man, I've discovered it's actually a rather rare skill. Most people are so afraid of hurting feelings or feeling guilty, they'd rather just stay mum and take it out on the next stranger who cuts them off in traffic or flame the next dissenter on an online forum. I'm fairly convinced the rise in aggressive behavior in relatively anonymous situations...traffic, the internet, rudeness to service a direct result of our inability to set and hold firm boundaries for ourselves.


One of my boundaries is that I don't listen to smack talk. I firmly believe if you are going to say something about someone, you'd better be willing to say it directly to her face. If you aren't willing to do that should the occasion arise, you're smack talking. Inevitably, smack talking always finds its way back to its target and guess what then ensues? That's right. Drama. Hence boundary.

Also, I don't divulge my secrets. Sure, occasionally I do allow myself to disclose a confidence that's mine to share. I think we need to be able to do that if for no other reason than to just say it out loud so it doesn't make us crazy. However, the confidences I do share, while I would hope would remain a confidence, are ones that would have little impact on me in the long term and, save for perhaps some humiliation or embarrassment in the short term, are not harmful physically or emotionally to me or for anyone else I care.

There've been 2 people with whom I've shared all my secrets. One of them is at the back of the house right now entertaining the cat. The other died in September. I'm fully confident the cat handler would never betray my trust. I'm also fully confident the other took my secrets to the grave with him. That was the kind of guy he was no matter what transpired between us.

The fact is there is no reason for anyone else to know the darkness that lurks. I operate on the need to know basis and you don't need to know. If you think you do need to know, I question your motives. It makes me wonder why you want to be up in my drama.

None of this means I am not here to listen to the grievances, the frustrations, the doubt, the fears my friends have. I am busy but never too busy to stop whatever it is I'm doing to listen, to advise, to impart the knowledge of my experience, to soothe, to help, to make cookies, to give a hug, to lend a hand, to offer a shoulder, to offer up the couch for a night, to give a glass of wine and a hunk of cheese, to feed the weary of spirit with energy and light.

I ask for very little in return. I'm a low maintenance kind of a girl. Most of what I need, I provide myself in a variety of ways. That which I cannot provide myself, I ask from those closest to me. I ask once. If it can't be provided, I ask another. If no one can or will provide it, it probably wasn't necessary anyway. It's rare for me to accept offered help. It's rarer still for me to solicit help. I may sing and laugh for, with, and because of you. You may never see me cry for, with, and because of you.

It's because I am providing what I need for myself...because I am my own #1 priority...that I am busy - busy working, saving, enriching my life with activities, hobbies, and fun. And even though I am never too busy for a friend in need, what I am too busy for is to offer up the best advice I can give and then continue to listen to the same grievances and frustrations again and again because that advice is not followed. This, to me, feels like drama. I just say no to drama. Boundary. Respect it.

Recently, I said to a close friend, "It is your choice to either respect my boundary or not. It is my responsibility to hold firm. If your choice is to ignore the boundary I've set, the nature of our relationship changes." She respects my boundaries. She is a good friend.

My first semester in college, my Psych 101 professor, Hugh Whistler, gave the following description of why people go to therapy...

"People go to therapy because they do something over and over and get an end result they don't like. They want to learn how to do the same behavior and get a different result. Unfortunately for them, this one behavior will always lead to the same result and there is no hope of another outcome. People really hate therapy."

From this I learned something very important. I don't want drama in my life because I don't like how it feels. Since I don't like how it feels, I don't allow the cause of those emotions (drama) into my life.Boundary. Respect it.

All this to say these 2 things:

Drama. Just say no.

Boundaries. Just say yes.


Diva said...

*draw a square in the air*

Drama. Free. Zone.

As it is spoken, so shall it be done. *smile*

kk said...

Ever notice that folks who watch a ton of tv often seem to *create* drama in their life? I'm convinced that it has something to do with how tv shows often have a crisis of some kind every week... bah. Yet another reason why I threw my tv out in '91.