Confessions of a Drama Queen

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.

A Peek into a Private Journal Entry.

I was looking through my notebook for something to write about (it seems writer’s block was upon me tonight). And I was reading a journal entry I had written last week when it was still school holidays and my children hadn’t returned from holidaying with their dad at his parents place in the country.

Whilst a lot of this particular entry contains rather embarrassing stuff that I would never share with anyone (which is why I write it in my private journal) there is part of it that I want to share. Clearly at the time I wrote it I wasn’t in the right state of mind (however that tends to be the only time I write in my journal).

But in this entry, even though I was having irrational reactionary thoughts – a part of my mind was still self aware that I was being moderately delusional. And even though it’s not really funny, the way I wrote down my train of thought kind of makes me laugh due to the absurdity.

Fuck I am losing my grip. I had thoughts before of not being here when the kids come home. Those thoughts then moved on to running away somewhere. And what actually went through my mind next was “Too bad I don’t have a current passport – I could buy a ticket to London and disappear”. Of course then I think “Thankfully I DON’T have a passport”. Then next thing I know I’m seriously considering applying for a passport just so I could do it. When I am considering shit like this in all seriousness – it is not a good sign. It is a sign I am cracking up.

It hasn’t been the only entry of this kind recently. The rest of this entry, and the others like it, are really too messed up to go into detail on. But lets just say I was on the verge of checking out of reality for a while. This isn’t the first, or last, time that I have had an irrational thought process like this. But sadly, in the past, I didn’t have that self aware part. The part that knew my thinking was irrational, and could stop me from following those thoughts into action. In the past I just used to follow my impulses for better or worse (usually the latter) without thinking about how this would impact the future.

Thankfully I now seem to have part of me that remains present and tethered to this world – even when my impulsive responses kick in. And for the time being this self aware part of me has a hold strong enough bring me back from the brink. It keeps me grounded. It also keeps me alive.

It’s times like these when I am actually glad for that “fracturing” of my mind into different aspects – because it means that my tendency towards internal conflict leads to indecision, and procrastination, and ultimately not following through on a lot of impulsive behaviour. The mood stabilizers help me not to get too extreme, so I can retain a modicum of self restraint. Even if the restraint isn’t a conscious effort, but rather simply due to those aspects of my mind failing to agree on a course of action.

They sit and argue it out, and ultimately I’m rendered immobile, until it washes over and I can think straight again. I guess it can be useful being a thinker rather than a doer.

Making my Heart Skip a Beat

As much as I sometimes loathe the fact that I feel things so deeply, there is a particular aspect of my empathy that I do rather enjoy. I love that it is strikingly easy for my heart to “skip a beat”. You know that excruciating and wonderful feeling where your stomach flutters, something in your heart twinges, and you shiver? Those physical manifestations of falling in love?

All I have to do for my body to produce those automatic responses is to read a romantic tale of two lovers in a novel, or watch a charming love story play out in a movie. I don’t have to try too hard to feel those feelings, I don’t need to actually have someone to make me feel that way. I can just engage myself in a story and physically feel all the emotions a character has. It allows me to live vicariously, to feel the depths of those feelings in a simulation, not needing to rely on real life experience. My imagination is so vivid – I can not only see the story in my mind – I can feel it in my body.

At times like these, I appreciate my ability to feel things so wholly and completely – body and mind. It’s not always pleasant, but these moments make it totally worth it. It reminds me that underneath my stoicism, my cynicism, my loneliness and my determination to keep others at arms length –  there is a hopeless romantic who is completely and utterly in love with even the notion of love. And the revelation that I am a hopeless romantic brings a fond smile to my lips. There is some sadness twinged within the smile, because I never truly forget how lonely I really am, but once in a while being a hopeless romantic is enough.

it also strikes me as funny that I am such a romantic – because outwardly not many people would really know that. I am not too fond of physical displays of affection directed towards me. I’m not really a touchy feely type – I have to be the right mood to engage in hugging and kissing anyone (even family). I’m more likely to wave and nod my head in greeting a loved one that I am to hug them.

And yet, and yet, I dream of exactly those things – of being held and being kissed, and walking hand in hand. Even though that germophobic part of my mind screams about the unsanitary and ghastly things that occur with the exchanging bodily fluids.  The thought of swapping saliva, or letting someone’s sweaty palms touch my skin actually repulses me. It makes my skin itch, and my stomach drop (not in a good way). But the closeness, the intimacy, That is something I paradoxically crave yet detest. I want it so bad, even though the thought of it makes my stomach whirl unpleasantly.

Funny how contradictory it makes me.