Tag Archives: Relationships

Drama only Belongs on the Stage

We’ve talked about toxic people in the past, you and I, and the toll they can take on you and your relationships. But when I asked my daughter for suggestions about this blog, she asked that I write about drama and the people who seem to enjoy creating it. It is kind of sad, really, that my 9-year-old is already picking up on this in others, but maybe that’s because she seems to enjoy creating it herself at times and that helps her to recognize it in others.

There are a number of different types of drama queens. (I use this term non-gender specifically, as there are just as many male drama queens as female – maybe more):

  1. The attention whore – This drama queen needs to be in the center of attention at all times. She always has an exciting story to share at the top of her lungs, so you couldn’t ignore her even if you tried. She is often extremely entertaining, so most of the time you don’t mind at all. She can be tiring over long periods of time, though.
  2. The chronically ill – I don’t mean people who are legitimately sick. This drama queen always has a headache or an upset stomach or a hurt foot or a sore back. You get the idea. There is always a complaint and she loves sharing it with you. It gets to the point where, instead of saying, “Hi”, you want to say, “So, what hurts today?”
  3. The pot stirrer – Ooooh, this queen is a sneaky one. She creates the drama behind the scenes. She tells Person A something about Person B and then tells that reaction to Person C. She then sits back to watch and see what happens. She doesn’t want to be involved in the fireworks, but sure enjoys the show.
  4. The exaggerator – I don’t think this drama queen even realizes she is doing it, but everything that happens to her is HUGE, at least when she tells the tale. Every date is epically good or bad, all disagreements are explosive, and all successes deserving of a parade. Her life is one of extremes which is exhausting to all involved.

If you see a queen, you don’t necessarily have to run screaming in the other direction – remember, sometimes they are fun. What you do need to know is with whom you are dealing. Know if someone in your life is a drama queen. It will help you to decide how best to interpret what she shares with you. Do you take it at face value or do you need to translate it through some anti-drama program to get the real deal? You may save yourself unnecessary time spent in an emotional wringer.

What do you think? Did I miss anyone? I’d love your suggestions about any underrepresented drama queens.

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The Pressure that is New Year’s Eve

Here I sit, just one day away from New Year’s Eve, trying to figure out what I want to do that night. Now that I am “older”, I can look back on a wide variety of New Year’s Eve experiences – the high school events where we pilfered booze from our parents or hit up older boyfriends to buy for us; college where I worked in a bar (and therefore worked EVERY New Year’s Eve for five years); grown parties where we could buy decent food, good wine and a decent night out; and, finally, as parents where we celebrate with other families with kids in the under-10 crowd. With all of these diverse experiences, there is one thing that stands out – the less expectations I put on the night, the more fun I had. The amount of time I spent agonizing over what to wear, where to go, what to eat and who to hang out with was negatively related to how I good of a time was had. (Am I the only one who has been through this?)

Have you noticed this? When you expect it to be “the best night EVER”, it rarely is. Every little letdown becomes huge somehow. So here is my advice to you. Make whatever plans sound fun to you – game night with friends, night out at a club, quiet evening at home – I don’t really care what it is, but plan it because it sounds fun as is. Don’t create this perfect fantasy full of perfect moments. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment. You evening doesn’t have to be perfect. Your outfit doesn’t have to be perfect. Your friends don’t have to be perfect. Your date doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be.

Someone may be rude. The food may be burnt. The bar will probably be too crowded. You could spill on your dress. Your friend may puke (gross). And you know what, you will have fun anyway. So, what am I going to do this New Year’s? I don’t think I have fully decided yet, but whatever it is – it will just be.

Choose to be Happy for the Holidays

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season – whether you celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas or Kwanza or Festivus or nothing at all. I hope whatever this season means to you and yours is wonderful. What I encourage you to do is to find something positive to focus on and put your energies there. Look, we all have things we could complain about – crowds in the stores, the materialistic nature of the holiday, greedy children, bickering family members, and financial strain – to mention just a few. You, my dears, have a choice – you can choose to focus on all of the crap or you can give your attention to the things that make you feel good (i.e., time with family, fun with the kids, awesome food, and festive atmosphere).

How you manage a situation determines how you will feel about it. You choose. Choose to smile at the other shoppers at the mall. Choose to remain calm despite parking lot gridlock. Choose to find pleasure in selecting gifts for friends and loved ones. You get to choose how you feel. Imagine the power you have – you get to determine how you will feel. Focus on crap and you will feel like crap. Focus on the happy and you will feel happy. Easy decision, right?

The Saga of Loud Breathing Yoga Man

I went to Yoga class on Wednesday – not an unusual occurrence for me, I tend to go fairly often, but this was at a different time than normal. I walked in, took a deep breath and lay down on my mat to relax because I had 10 minutes to chill before class started. I lay there with my eyes shut, thinking about nothing in particular, just feeling kind of psyched I had been able to make it to an earlier class. I was, overall, happy to be there. I heard the instructor walk into the room, noticed her adjust the lights through my closed eyelids and began to rouse myself to join the class. That’s when I looked around and…ugh… the moaner/grunter was there.

Crap. Maybe I’ve mentioned this particular gentleman before – if you’ve taken a yoga class in the past, you may have had someone like him there. He is the guy who, rather than “breathing as a community”, waits a beat and then moans/groans – loudly. Really loudly. Every time. The studio where I take yoga is a relatively quiet place – an instructor softly speaking, people softly breathing and one loud moaner/groaner. (Can you tell I react strongly to this guy?) Here is the thing – I saw this guy and my immediate reaction was F this, I am outta here. I wanted to leave. I had gone from peaceful excitement about taking class to annoyance/avoidance in one glance. Then I had a bit of an epiphany. This guy doesn’t get to take this away from me. He wasn’t going to ruin this for me. I started to (internally) make fun of his noises and found myself being entertained by his ridiculousness. (I didn’t make fun of him overtly – I was annoyed, not rude.) I just smiled to myself and moved on.

Too often we allow people to have too much power over our lives. Have you ever gone to work and discovered you were assigned to work with a less than desirable co-worker and allowed it to ruin your day? Have you arrived at a party and noted someone you really didn’t like had been invited as well? Did it interfere with your ability to have a good time? These people don’t get to interfere with your life like this. Find a way to turn it around in your head. If they are annoying, make it funny for yourself. Focus on the people who you do enjoy.

I am not saying I will deliberately be seeking this guy out so we can take classes together in the future. I still really find him annoying and he messes with my concentration, but if I happen to walk in and he is there, he won’t chase me out.

The Truth about Santa

I have may have mentioned previously that I have a 9-year-old daughter. She is still a professed Santa-believer (though we have serious doubts she is really 100% on board vs. afraid of how things might change). My husband and I have had frequent talks about how to have “the talk” with her about Santa and when we should have that conversation. We have (maybe out of avoidance) opted to wait for her to come to us. We answer any question she may have, but are not seeking her out to burst her bubble. We’ve come close a couple of times. She has come to us in previous years and shared what a friend has told her about Santa. We’ve never “lied” exactly, but we have sugar-coated the truth, each year coming closer and closer to confessing.

The most recent conversation had to do with the Easter Bunny. We were sitting at Easter dinner at my husband’s restaurant (he had to work that year, so he wasn’t at the table – lucky Bastard to avoid this conversation). We’re eating dinner, having a wonderful afternoon. Imagine us, surrounded by families and enjoying a delicious meal when my 9-year-old looks up at me with her huge hazel eyes and asks, “It’s really you and Daddy who put out my Easter basket, right?” I nearly choked on my dinner! She’d be an amazing detective – totally blind-sided me and caught me unprepared. What does a psychologically-trained professional like me do? Once I could breathe again, I said, “Why don’t you ask your father.” Seriously? Why don’t you ask your father? I totally dropped the ball (and then punted it). As far as I know, she never asked him.

Well, this year we know we are living on borrowed time. She is 9, almost 10. She isn’t asking us, but is making end runs at other trusted adults in her life. Just two days ago, she was in a dance class with her most trusted dance teacher, the divine Miss Erin and slyly asked about Miss Erin’s Elf on the Shelf and whether she moves it for her kids or if the elf moves on its own. This amazing lady reiterated what we had always told her – something about Christmas magic – and Charlie moved on. So, I know it is coming. What am I going to do?

I have decided to be honest. There are letter suggestions out there (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/163959242659866164) and I love, love, love the sentiments of this letter and will include many of them when I finally have this conversation. I will not be writing her a letter (though this definitely appeals to my desire to avoid a potentially uncomfortable, awkward, sad conversation). It is important for me to tell her that Santa is about the spirit of Christmas and even though (spoiler alert) Moms and Dads tend to buy the Santa gifts, Santa is still about the magic of the season. I would stress the importance of allowing the spirit of Santa and Christmas to remain alive for others. (Unlike my older sister who blew the secret when I was only four – I still bear the scars of that psychological trauma). I will explain to her that, like Spiderman, with great knowledge comes great responsibility – she is responsible for allowing the joy to continue for other kids.

Now comes to million dollar question – when am I going to tell her? Well, I am defaulting to “the next time she asks”. I have a strong suspicion she already knows (or at least has a significant gut feeling), but I will allow her to address this as she is comfortable. I don’t feel it is my role to push her to believe or not believe any more. I am going to support her wherever she is and answer her questions as they are posed. The selfish part of me is hoping it isn’t for a couple more weeks – I would love to have one more Christmas with Santa intact.

Maybe it is a Little Bit You…

We’ve all heard those break-up stories – the couple sit there while one looks into the other’s eyes and explains they want to end the relationship. They try to let the other down easily and say those five little words, “It’s not you, it’s me.” What is this supposed to mean? It means the person ending the relationship is saying they aren’t able to be in the relationship despite the fact the person being dumped is fabulous and wonderful and a perfect person/partner. Do they actually mean this? Well, maybe/maybe not.

Look, harsh reality here – sometimes it really is you. Hearing this can spare you from having to hear these words again and again. I want you to pay attention to patterns even when they aren’t totally obvious. Do your relationships with boyfriends seem to end when you try to get too close too fast? This could be important information! Do you keep getting laid off from jobs as soon as they have an opportunity to downsize? Take notice! Are you struggling to connect in friendships and end up excluded with little to no explanation? Consider the role you may be playing in these relationships!

If you don’t notice these patterns, you are doomed to repeat them. Ooooh! Another saying is especially meaningful here – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana). If someone tells you “It’s not you, it’s me” take a moment and think it through. Maybe, just maybe, it is a little bit you. This doesn’t have to be a painful reality – it is information you can build on to make your life even more amazing. Use it. Learn from it. Make changes as necessary and leave your ex in your dust.

Chivalry is not DOA

I know many people say chivalry is dead. I disagree. It isn’t dead, it’s just… different. When Jason and I first started dating, he never let me open a door. Like, ever. It became such a joke between us, that I “don’t touch doors”. We’ve been married more than 15 years and I still don’t. (Unless he’s not there because that would just be weird – me standing there, staring at the door). There is one other thing my husband does I don’t want to give up – whenever we walk outdoors, he always positions himself on the side of traffic. This is to protect me from a runaway car or crazed kidnapper, I suppose. I am completely comfortable with Jason holding the door open for me and shielding me from abduction, but am completely skeezed out when he tries to run around and open my car door for me. I’m not sure what it is about standing there waiting for him to open my car door that makes me feel like a complete tool, but I hate it. I know it makes no sense, but it works for us.

Chivalry is not just for those with male genitalia though – the definition of chivalry: the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms. Nowhere in that definition does it say anything about the person exhibiting chivalry having a penis. I know this assumption is based on the past, knights always being dudes way back when, but come on ladies, buck up! Chivalry is something we could all manage a bit more.

  • If you are walking through a door and notice someone a few steps behind you, stop and hold the door for them. Those few seconds will not destroy your entire day and maybe you will get a smile and a “Thank you” in return. (Side note – if you are approaching a door and someone stops to hold it for you, please, please, please, say “Thank you”. Seriously, drives me crazy when people sail through with an air of entitlement, “Of course you hold the door for me, you peon!”).
  • If someone nearby sneezes even if (or especially if) you do not know them, say “Bless You” (or if you aren’t religious say. “Gesundheit” which means good health). It is nice to acknowledge someone else’s sneeze (I’m not sure why), but just do it.
  • If you see someone struggling with packages and your hands are free, offer a hand. (Unless it is a creepy guy by a van – serial killer alert). Being helpful to other people makes you both feel good.
  • If you are able bodied and are sitting in a seat and you notice someone less able bodied and there are no more seats, offer them yours. What does “less able bodied” mean? This could mean a lot of things, someone elderly or sick or pregnant or traveling with little kids or who knows. If they seem less able to stand than you for any reason – get up!

Are there others I have forgotten? Suggestions?

Life Challenge: Showing Up

I was sitting at work the other day, nearly done for the afternoon, and all I could think about was going home, putting on comfortable clothes and vegging out in front of the TV. Totally reasonable, right? Here is the challenge – I had a bag packed so I could go to yoga on the way home from work. My daughter was at dance class for several hours and my husband was at work. I was free as a bird and knew, knew, knew I should be going to yoga rather than to the couch. The couch would make me feel terrible and would likely lead to me munching on a bunch of really unhealthy things that would make me feel even worse.

I had an epiphany. Showing up at yoga would be an automatic win. It didn’t matter if I completed a single pose correctly or if I burned a single calorie – just walking in the door made it a victory. Why? Well, it kept me off the couch and out of the fridge (for at least a few hours), it increased the chances I would engage in actual exercise (I was already there) and made me feel more productive overall (yoga vs TV). There are so many areas in our lives where just showing up is the most important part. What you do after you show up matters, but not nearly as much as getting through the door.

Have you had this experience? Let me think of some examples (in case you are too lazy to think of them yourself). Say you feel kinda cruddy and don’t really want to go to work, but aren’t really sick. Walking through the door is your victory. Ever felt like bailing on friends and hiding out at home rather than going out? Show up – you win. You get the idea, right?

Here is the amazing thing about showing up – you usually are really happy you did it. Once you get through the door, you are able to power through – you are able to get a decent workout, put in a full work day and have fun with your friends. Even if it is not fabulous, at least you went and you tried. I often will tell my husband to remind me (when I don’t want to get out of bed to go for a run) that a crappy run is better than no run any day of the week. Remember this – show up. The hardest part is getting off your ass and pushing through the door. After that, it all gets easier.

You Teach People How to Treat You

You teach people how to treat you. This is important enough that I am going to say it again – you teach people how to treat you. If you are frustrated because you feel like the people in your life treat you poorly, maybe it is time to consider why this happening. You are an active partner in their dynamic – what are you doing to perpetuate this relationship? It is critical you figure this out if you want the situation to change because you cannot change something you aren’t aware of.

You can (and should) set limits and boundaries with others. If you have a friend who cancels on you often or blows you off, it is perfectly reasonable to tell them this isn’t OK. Explain how this makes you feel like you aren’t important to them and your friendship doesn’t matter. You friend is given fair warning their behavior is not OK, if they do not change you have a choice. Accept the relationship as it is or leave it. This is 100% your choice and you are responsible for what happens after that. You can’t continue to complain if she bails on you, you’ve accepted her as is.

If you allow your boss to call you at all hours regarding work or to demand long hours of overtime or to belittle you at work or to overwhelm you with unrealistic workloads, you are indicating (even silently) this is acceptable to you. This is a tricky situation. You and your boss are not equals. It is more difficult to set limits with her since she can fire you. If her behavior violates the law your situation might be clearer, but this is often not the case. You can attempt to discuss with her what you are willing and not willing to do, but she may tell you to go pound sand. You then have a choice – accept it or leave. If you choose to accept it, stop complaining or get out. (Reference previous blog on this topic: https://psychobabblechat.com/2014/12/11/you-have-no-right-to-complain/ )

You teach your mother whether or not it is OK to show up unexpectedly at your house. You teach your loved one if it is OK to be out of contact for a few days. You teach your friends if it is OK to make “jokes” at your expense. You teach your boss if it is OK to publicly chastise you for your mistakes. You teach your roommate if it is OK to have regular parties at your apartment. How do you teach them this? By allowing the behaviors to occur (often). Notice a pattern here? When faced with a situation where you are not happy with how someone is treating you (no matter the situation), you only have two choices. Accept it or leave it. If you accept it you are telling the other person it is OK to continue treating you the way they are. You are teaching them how to deal with you.

You Have No Right to Complain

This is a wee bit of a rant. I apologize in advance if you are offended, but sometimes things need to be said anyway…

You have heard people say something like, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain”, right? (Don’t worry this is not a commentary about politics or people’s political participation.) Well, what does this mean? It means you can only complain about something for so long before people expect you to start doing something about it. If you don’t try to do something about it, you lose your right to complain. I see this a lot, both personally and professionally. (Heck, I am guilty of it myself sometimes).

  • You don’t like your job? Start working to find something else. Search the job listings. Get some additional training/education. Do something!
  • Lonely? Find ways to meet more people. Get a hobby. Go to church or temple or mosque. Online dating. Invest in getting to know people. You cannot wait and expect a great group of new friends to knock on your front door – unless you are really into Jehovah’s Witnesses. (If you are, cool, maybe they will ring the bell).
  • Think you’re fat? Exercise. Eat Less. Go to the doctor to discover if there is something contributing to your weight retention. Check yourself – are you being unrealistic about your weight. You may be fabulous the way you are.
  • Tired of being broke? Find a way to make more and spend less. Maybe you need a second job or a better budget. Consider training for a position that will pay you more. (If you don’t have a terminal rich aunt, you are the only one who can make this better for you.)
  • Bad relationship with your mother/father/sister/brother/friend? Work on making it better. Go to therapy. Talk things out. Consider moving on. Figure out what you need to do to find peace in this relationship.

Look, there is a certain timeframe in which you are free to complain – bitch and moan until your heart’s content. Get it out, but then you need to move on. It’s time to either accept it as is (without any more complaining) or do something about it. No one can tell you exactly how long you are free to complain, but once you have crossed that line, your audience becomes a lot less sympathetic and it is time for you to start taking steps. Have you ever had the experience when you have tried to keep bitching way too long and it felt like people began to turn on you? Felt like crap, right? Avoid this when you can – start planning on how to make your life better. The people around you will thank you and you will feel better, too.