“Drama queen – a person (especially a woman) who acts as though things are much worse than they really are.” – Mirriam Webster dictionary
“Here goes the drama queen, again!”
Elita worked in healthcare as a nurse. She was single, 39 years of age and slightly overweight, but not to the point of needing to act on it. She was also the eldest child of her parents who had two other adult children, both boys in their middle twenties.
Elita had a friendly manner and was quick to put herself down at every opportunity. She talked a lot about her family and how important they were to her. When I asked what had brought her to my office, she replied, “Last night at the supper table, I was expressing my frustration with Ethan, my youngest brother and his irresponsible behaviour, and my father said, ‘Here goes the drama queen, again!’”
“Why did that bother you, Elita?” I asked.
“If you look very carefully…it was also…a compliment.”
“My father was saying I was over reacting to my baby brother’s blatant disregard for the law…that I was exaggerating the situation way out of proportion…I was really hurt by my Dad’s comment…I don’t deserve that, Ken!”
“Have you thought, being viewed as a drama queen, is only an insult, Elita?”
“I sure have…what else could it be?” she replied, her complexion revisiting the insult.
“If you look very carefully…it was also…a compliment.” I said cautiously.
“A compliment!” she hissed, her face reddening, yet again.
“Yes, Elita…a compliment! Families are balanced systems with each person counterbalancing a trait or behaviour of another member. It sounds like there must be members of your family who minimize Ethan’s behaviour…have you seen that?”
“Have I seen that?” she exclaimed.
“I sure have…like, for his entire life…he has been so irresponsible, so many times…this latest fiasco was just the last straw…imagine?…openly smoking dope in my parents’ home!” her face shocked again by her brother’s behavior.
“So, who has been minimizing his behaviour in your family, Elita?”
“What scares you about this situation?”
“That’s the part of this which is so crazy…it’s my parents…but mostly, my Dad!”
“If your parents are OK with it, and it’s their house,…why are you so concerned about it, Elita?”
“Ken, my parents have always been fairly conservative and traditional in their life, and so to see them put up with this behaviour is really bizarre…almost scary.” she replied.
“What scares you about it?”
“Ken, I don’t think my parents realize the implications if he were caught smoking pot in their home.”
“What specifically are you referring to, Elita?”
“Well, beside the health hazard to two seniors who have never smoked; there is the legal implications if the police arrived at their door; there is the public embarrassment for them among their relatives, friends and neighbours; and there is this condoning of his actions, which is implied, by not expecting him to act responsibly.”
“At first glance, it look like only a bad situation. But, there are no mistakes in nature, so there must be several benefits to your family’s situation and to you being called a drama queen! Have you seen that yet, Elita?”
“…you said it benefitted them, too!”
“Ken, I don’t see any benefits, to anyone. All I see is put downs and ridicule! Where are the benefits?”
“There are benefits, not just for you, but also for your parents, and even, for Ethan!”
“Where?” she asked, adamantly, her face a portrait of confusion.
“Let’s start with you. Can you see how you get to protect your parents and their values; by showing them your concern. This keeps them close to you. And, you also get to honour several of your own values, such as respecting the law and being a responsible citizen. And, this empowers you as a person, within your family, and your life?”
“Ken, I can see that. But, I also think my parents can be very naive at times, and I don’t want them getting hurt by Ethan’s short sighted behaviour. And, even though we seem to be moving toward pot legalization, it is still very illegal here…so, I do place high value on my parents well being…I don’t want it screwed up by my baby brother’s immaturity.”
“So, can you see how behaving like a drama queen, also gave you an opportunity to protect your aging parents?”
“Yes, I can see that now! But, Ken, you said it benefitted them, too! How did that happen?”
“Would that be useful for your Mom?”
“Let’s deal with your parents next. You said your Dad made the comment which often means your Mom was less supportive of Ethan’s actions. Is that true?”
“Yes, it is! I think she feels caught in the middle. I don’t think she approves of it at all, but, she is keeping her opinion to herself, to avoid further family conflict.”
“So, you Mom gets an opportunity to learn when to assert herself in her relationship to your Dad and your brother. Would that be useful for your Mom?”
“Would it ever! I have watch her my whole life give in to my Dad’s wishes, and then, regret it later. And I could see the frustration on her face…I think that’s part of the reason I was so angry at supper.”
“Elita, given that line of thinking, how does it also benefit your Dad, then?”
“Drama queens help us to set boundaries in relationships!”
– John Demartini, human behaviour expert
“… it would be a huge benefit to Dad.”
“Well…?” she paused and thought for a moment. Then, she said, “It gives him an opportunity to rethink the situation with the new information the drama queen provided and learn to set clearer boundaries with his youngest son, doesn’t it?” she said smiling.
“Would that be an important benefit for your Dad?”
“Ken, it has been an ongoing issue within our family…how he babies, his baby boy. I suspect he has lost a lot of sleep over Ethan’s behavior in the past. So, definitely yes, it could be a huge benefit to Dad.”
“Let’s consider how it serves Ethan next. How did he respond to your comments?”
“He tried to downplay them. He said there was no criminal record anymore for possession, just a fine, and it was a recreational drug, and it had medical uses, and those sort of points.”
“So, what were the advantages to him he got to hear your concerns about his parents health, their reputation and condoning his irresponsible actions?” I asked.
“Drama queens serve their family and friends…”
“Thinking back now, his initial bluster of arguments seemed to deflate after I mentioned Mom and Dad’s health and reputation, were being jeopardized. He actually didn’t say much after that. In fact, it was Dad who carried the conversation…not him!” Elita added, pondering her own words carefully.
“That sounds like he got to rethink his actions as well…maybe he learned something useful for his future, too!”
Elita looked away for a moment, then turned to me and said, “It looks like everyone got something useful out of my drama queen moment…very interesting really!”
“Elita, there are no mistakes in nature, so drama queens serve those around them. Drama queens serve their family and friends by providing three things: first, they provide learning opportunities to everyone who is present; second, their actions focus the learning for each individual in just the way most useful to that person; and third, they help us learn to honour our own feelings.”
“Hearing that Ken, makes me proud to be called a drama queen!”
“That’s why we all have drama queens, and drama kings, in our life…they serve us and our future!”
“No mistakes in life…just learning opportunities,eh?” she said, smiling.
“Drama queens enable everyone to learn the important role of emotions in human evolution!” – King Ayles, author
Until Next time…
Check out your drama queen experiences. Notice how they served those in attendance first, by providing important learning opportunities, second, by focusing the learning for each individual present, and third, by helping everyone to honour their own feelings.
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