Like the time I (who walked the straight, narrow and confining path of “good girl”) entered the home of my parents while they were away camping to find my younger brother rolling joints at the kitchen table.
What are YOU doing?!!!!
What does it look like?
Get that out of here! NOW!
To me, drama is the anticipation of a large scale emotional upheaval. My present drama drip feels like the moment you see someone who did you wrong in high school start sauntering across the room at the pre-reunion party looking like they are going to hug and kiss you. You want to be cordial and nice; but at the same time you still hate him and/or want to pull her hair out.
Then there was the time I tapped the shoulder of my 12 year-old daughter who was in an off-limits arcade when she was supposed to be at the skating rink. (She tipped me off when she forgot to take her skates. Duh.)
Let’s go, Elizabeth.
Uh oh. Am I grounded?
Actually, no. But I am taking away your hair dryer, favorite jeans and those two little Polo shirts you love.
When drama is coming, we have two choices – competing emotions, one appearing more enjoyable than the other. Which one deserves more energy? Which one will win out? Can you do nice/hate at the same time?
After years of normalcy, drama entered my life last Tuesday night, wedging herself beside me in my Knoll Bulldog chair. I was reviewing the invitation list for a November post-wedding celebration when assisted living called to tell me my 94-year old father was on his way to the ER with the paramedics.
Synopsis and state of my inner emotional life:
My only child is getting married next month. JOY
My 94-year old father is failing fast. SORROW
Now, normal days are gone. I’ve given up trying to assign a full stint of a day to any one thing. (Such as 4 days working; 1 day for dad immersed in the final chapter of life; 1 day full of joy for a new chapter in Elizabeth’s life; 1 day to brood about everything.)
Now I just divvy up hours. 4 hours at ICU when they’ll let me visit to hold my dad’s hand; 1 hour learning to navigate the land of healthcare; 1 hour for finding the right pants to complete my husband’s wedding day outfit; 3 hours for work; 2 hours tracking down circles of just-the-perfect color of tulle to hold the birdseed for wedding guests to shower on the bride and groom; 2 hours doing a food tasting of sushi for the November party.
There’s no shouting in this drama, only a loud internal dialogue during which I lament the coming of these two events at the same time.
Too quickly I move to solution. I’ll find a place between the feelings of joy and those of sorrow – a place to retreat and numb myself against two competing strong emotions. A safe place; a place to help me survive. I congratulated myself on the idea even as I was unsure how to execute it.
About 10AM this morning, something changed my mind.
I entered the ICU waiting room after being allowed a 15-minute visit with my dad, and the first thing I saw on one of the chairs (as if waiting for me) is the September edition of Bride’s Magazine. Someone mocks me, I think. But, I smiled.
Picking up the magazine, I realize my solution should be to fully embrace all that life is giving me, not to find middle ground to steel myself away.
Could what seems like drama really be two seemingly different experiences inherent in my life but joining up purposely? To be embraced simultaneously rather than separately? To be felt together rather than choosing one over the other?
Marriage and Death – Each has joy – for a shared life beginning and a final chapter in a long well-live life. Each has sorrow – sharing one’s only child after years together and losing a final parent.
If you see someone sitting in an ICU waiting room thumbing through a Bride’s Magazine’s, that’s me full of joy and sorrow. It’s my lesson to be learned, before possible full-scale drama pours forth.
Perhaps, there’s something in this story for you. Maybe not now but later – when drama visits you. Meanwhile, enjoy the normalcy of your life.