As a child I was called a “drama queen” by my family. It was because my emotional range was never mild. When I was happy I was over the moon, when I was sad it was like my world was ending, I could fly into a rage and out of it again at the drop of the hat. I never felt anything by halves.
The depth and range of my emotions allowed me to excel at performing arts because I could put myself emotionally into a characters shoes and genuinely act the part. From the beginning I loved the theatre, and I always thought that it was my interest in acting that influenced my melodramatic style. Of course now I realise my dramatic flair was what led to my love of the theatre.
I abused my acting skills – particularly when I was getting into trouble or wanted someone to feel bad for me. With a single thought I’d put on the water works in an instant, turning the tables and becoming the victim. I learned that lying was infinitely easier for me because I could make myself believe the lie just through feeling it. I became a master at manipulating the emotions of others.
When it came to strangers and people I wanted to keep at a distance – I was a human chameleon, forever changing my persona to suit whatever “role” I decided to play. I created different personas for different situations, complete with names, backstories, and particular traits. When I went out to a pub or club, if a guy came up to me to talk – I was “Nicky from London”, or “Jade from New York” always “in town for a few weeks” just for business. I would make up some fancy career and even put on the relevant accent to enhance the lie.
Of course I look back now and realise I wasn’t a very nice person. I obscured myself in layers and layers of bullshit. It made it impossible for anyone to get to know me, to understand me. I thought it was to protect me from being hurt, but really it was to gain the upper hand so that I could make people bend to my will. I was an expert at emotional blackmail, at lying to get my own way, and just manipulating outcomes to benefit me.
Hindsight is a bitch – and I see now that none of this made me happy. It made me lonely and alone. I didn’t form true friendships because I couldn’t be myself, I couldn’t give people a chance to see me. I was selfish, and self centred, and spoiled because I was used to getting my own way. It was my way, or tears and tantrums until I got my way. I broke people. I’m sad to say it, but I did.
Sure I know some of my behaviour it wasn’t entirely within the realm of my control, but I still hold myself accountable and feel bad about the things I did. Since being diagnosed with, and treated for Bipolar, I have learned what self control is. I no longer manipulate people or use emotional blackmail to get my own way. I still hide my true feelings, but I don’t falsify them to upset others, or make them feel bad for me.
I can still be a drama queen, but I keep it mostly within the realm of my mind, or in story telling. I don’t play with people’s emotions anymore, I’ve grown up and abandoned using people as toys.