Twice in the last couple of years, it was suggested to me that I was an online “drama” queen. In both cases it was from people, Face Book “friends,” who had previously seemed to be very sympathetic and were making apparently sincere attempts to understand the struggles of those with SSA or who were actively LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) persons. And yet both used a common phrase (as well as stereotype) which is a severe and painful insult to those of us with that particular struggle. I am not sure if it was said deliberately or not, but I am betting my FB page that, had I been a straight male, even whatever differences we may have legitimately had would not have been expressed in that crude manner.
Informal. a person who often has exaggerated or overly emotional reactions to events or situations: You’re such a drama queen! You always have to have all the attention.
Frankly I am not sure what a drama queen actually is, but the above dictionary definition would indicate a person who deliberately attempts to drag others into their life’s “soap opera” on a regular basis. And we all have one or more soaps going at any given time. Each of us has stories or situations which would surprise or even shock those around us if publicly shared. Most of us, particularly by my age, have as well a past of one sort of another which we have paid for dearly on some level. For godly King David it was his adulterous affair with Bathsheba while she was still married to another, and the subsequent murder of her husband to cover his tracks. As a direct result, he lost the most precious and pure outcome of a bad situation, which was the child conceived of their illicit union. Although he prayed and even fasted, the child nevertheless died, and the affair with Bathsheba was forever then recorded as part of Sacred Scripture. Obviously not the planned legacy from what began as a simple act of lust (and bathtub peeping). And yet one of the most beautiful Psalms (51) came directly out of his experience. He was not being deliberately dramatic either—he was sharing the excruciating pain of his heart. And in it at least some meaning came into the otherwise valueless situation.
For me, I started out as an extremely committed Christian, first as a Catholic and then for many years evangelical, “saved myself” sexually for my then-wife and even at a young age (14 onward) began to share my understanding of the Christian Faith with everyone I knew, both friends and family—and sometimes to an extreme wearing of patience on their parts I am sure. But it was at that time in my life where I learned to “live life out loud.” Often I would force myself to share even when I did not wish to, knowing it might alienate those who I loved or whose loved I craved. I just felt, or believed, that I was called to do so. And so it was—and still is not an easy thing for me to do at times. I am far more private by nature than this blog may indicate or seem.
Was I a drama queen back then? Perhaps in their eyes I was. At very least I was thought of as a misguided fanatic of some sort to at least some, and yet had the respect of numerous others for being willing to take those very real risks to my relationships and to speak up.
Most of you who know my story (and if not here is a link to it):
Those who do likely see me as a somewhat similar person to how I was “back in the day.” While I have had many outward changes since then, including many backs and forth in my Faith walk, one thing I have always required of myself has been to be up front about those struggles with those around me. I suspect it still drives some folks crazy at times. And it of course hurts when that happens—we all wish to be liked, particularly by those who we respect and whose friendships we covet. But more than being liked, we wish for that respect—I know that I do anyway.
The online world can be icy cold at times. We may say something with one motive and it can be taken with another altogether by the recipient. Unlike “real time” conversations, we do not have the advantage or luxury to quickly go and correct ourselves, or to take notice of facial expressions, hand movements, or other non-verbal clues which may change the tone of ours (or their) words almost totally. Instead, the cyber-ink simply dries on the Face Book page, and what was said cannot be easily taken back. Or at all in many cases.
I think that may be what happened both of the times I mention here. Those knowing me on a face-to-face level find me downright boring for the most part, and that is the total truth. People at work sometimes ask me what my weekend plans are and I cringe before answering, because it usually involves cleaning the apartment and hopefully going to church. Perhaps on a particularly wild weekend I order in from Jimmy John’s or Domino’s too. I might too (not nearly enough I will hastily add) take some extra time for prayer or reading Sacred Scripture or theology. But, truth be told, they mostly have quit asking and I have quit volunteering the information. And yet the dizzying excitement which I just listed is what honestly fulfills me, causes me to be stronger in the Faith, and keeps me somewhere near sanity during the rest of the week.
Awhile back I wrote a piece (linked here)
regarding my more recent struggles and my ongoing commitment to the Faith. In it I acknowledged freely (not an easy thing to do I might add), that I had indeed “waffled’ during parts of the last couple years and expected it would take some time for certain people to once again gain respect me and my understanding of Christ and the Church—in short to trust me again. I get that. What I do not get is people not at least trying to understand the depths of some of those struggles.
Those who see me as “Mr. Drama” may not know the many hours I have spent the last couple of months repairing bridges with people who I may have hurt or confused in the process. In some cases those people had more or less written me off months ago and I am painfully aware of that, as much as anything by their silence. I suspect in the latest case of throwing the ‘d” word at me, the individual involved had already done so in fact. I do not really know. But I do know I was not attempting to involve her in my life’s soap opera, nor was I attempting to exaggerate, hurt, or diminish it for that matter. I just wanted her to understand that, if we were going to be friends, online or off, I needed some occasional input and not just the sense that she was lying in wait for me to ‘fall” again. And perhaps that was not the situation but when one hears nothing or very little, most of us tend to read between those soundless lines. I am moving too with so much caution these days that any lack of response or deleting of my posts (or simply ignoring them) probably feels a lot more personal than it might otherwise. And this is what was happening, I think. And when attempting to reach out and express that, it was then suggested that we go our separate ways due to my “online drama.” I realize my weakness in that I need to take such things less personally, but that does not mean I was deliberately manufacturing or feasting on feelings in order to receive attention. Simply not the case—at least in this case.
One significant point, and this is what I started out with in this short piece, is to please not ever refer to those of us from SSA backgrounds as “drama” persons or worse yet “drama queens.” It is just possible that, whether logical in your eyes or not, we may feel or sense things more keenly or take them to heart in ways you do not. Sometimes people tend to see the behavioral or lifestyle aspect as the only issue when dealing with SSA. But, as with most human conditions, often there are side concerns as well. And part of accepting people and walking with them in their struggles is to fully realize this. For example a person with epilepsy may have perfect seizure control but still fight strong depression due to medications that they take. Or, as in my case, that (perhaps to a fault) I tend to share each and every one my own life changes with those who read my writings either on FB or this blog. And it sometimes backfires.
My late mother once told me that I often “made myself vulnerable.” She seemed to understand that, because in many ways she was similar. I remember times when she spoke up in our small town about her religious beliefs or expressed honest questions, and it was during an era when that was simply not politically or otherwise correct. People gossiped about her as a result. She was asked to no longer teach Catechism to her 6th grade class as a further result. Instead of someone coming to her (such as the priest in this case) and sitting down with her to discuss her differences or confusion, she was simply written off. And in fairness to the priest, he may not have known the full situation. But in any case someone did. And that someone should have reached out instead of torturing her or penalizing.
We may think of the Amish as a religion which “shuns” those who fail their unbelievably high and legalistic standards, but truthfully most Christians do the shunning thing in rather spectacular ways. And in my experience I will dare to suggest our own Roman Catholic Church is pretty pitiable in this area still at times. And that is not “drama” Richard speaking. It comes from the genuine kind of pain which keeps one up at night. Ironically, in both the cases I mentioned, I suspect (although I will likely never know for sure) that the people involved slept well after their comments (and write-offs) to me. But I did not. And I wonder, as I wrote recently and linked earlier in this article, why we do not understand yet the concept of “seventy times seven” just yet.
We are not called to fully understand one another’s emotional make-ups, or to attempt to change them in that area generally. We are called to care that they are hurting. I am the first to admit I do not always do this well. I have more than once written others off who I later realized were trying to be there for me. But it is always a mistake. Even when the Church excommunicates, she leaves the door open for the person to not just repent but be reinstated into full fellowship. In other words, no one’s past—no one—should be a hindrance for their future. Consequences yes—but they are nevertheless full and equal brothers and sisters in the Faith. Even if they are “drama queens.”
- Remove Drama to Reduce Stress and Increase Energy (chris-griffin.com)
- SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN – with 488 to go… (catholicboyrichard.com)
- Encouraging Words of the Day – Vitamin for Spiritual Health (dailygistxtra.com)
- Take a Deep Breathe… and LET IT GO (ndlarusso.wordpress.com)