Ever notice that drama is addictive? Drama is a force to be reckoned with. It is so compelling to some people that they cannot live their lives without it. Drama is exciting; it boosts adrenaline, and it can actually provide those who are addicted to it with the same kind of rush a drug addict receives from his/her drug of choice.
I’ve been thinking a lot about drama lately because I’ve known someone for almost 10 years who has been chased by the drama hounds the entire time I’ve known him. I’ve watched and listened as he’s gone through one destructive relationship after another. I’ve been there when he’s needed to cry the blues about women who use him; who make selfish and greedy demands upon him; who emotionally abuse him, call him names, and accuse him of behaviors I could never imagine him exhibiting.
A little backstory here. I dated this man briefly in 2005, and when I say briefly, I mean 2 dates. Two. The first date convince me I’d met Prince Charming. Handsome, well-groomed, incredibly well-educated, culturally literate, affluent, and he brought me a dozen of the most gorgeous silvery-mauve roses on our first date. We ate French-Vietnamese that night at the only French restaurant in town. I was petrified, after finding out he is Parisian, and listening to him talk about what American’s see as “true” french cuisine, that he would be terribly disappointed in this restaurant. Still, it was the only one in town, so tough – off we went. He loved it. Naturally. It was so expensive that I couldn’t even walk on the same side of the street where it was located for fear I’d be charged simply for the wonderful scents emanating from the place each time the door opened.
The wait staff was virtually invisible. He ordered in French, and I, being an incurable romantic and in love with the language, fell instantly in excited infatuation with him. We took a long walk afterward, drank excellent wine and ended the evening with me being dropped off at my front door and a simple good-night kiss. Nothing more – but oh, it was SOO much! (are you laughing yet?)
Date two: I was invited to come spend the weekend at his home, 50 miles away. Nothing hinky – just him cooking for me, a movie, good conversation and to bed in separate bedrooms. Well, it happened that way – only his 15 year old son was our chaperone…
Then he disappeared. Just evaporated. For two weeks I couldn’t get ahold of him and I finally sent him a flamer of an email. Well, it seems he’d been in a car accident, hurt his back and had just got home from a doctor appointment. He got angry with me for flaming him and I immediately defended by telling him I could have had absolutely no idea about the accident and he needed to back down, regardless his stress level, because if he’d thought to have someone notify me, he’d never have been flamed. Period. Oh. He never thought of that. Hmm. Is that a red flag? You bet. You have two dates with a woman, there is conversation indicating that you are entirely interested and your brain has been thoroughly engaged, and then you evaporate, get angry when the woman you dated flames you for non-communication and then admit to not even thinking about having someone notify her that you’d had a bad accident that totaled your car and put you in the hospital? He wasn’t in a coma, he was kept in the hospital for a couple of days but he’d been home and working the rest of the time. Not a word.
That was when I realized he steeps himself in himself. He didn’t need me – didn’t need a woman to inject drama – he had enough right then, and so he’d turtled up. So I backed away – took many steps backwards, actually. We’ve always been excellent friends and I’ve been secretly in love with him for most of the time I’ve known him. That said, not becoming involved with him was the one smart move I made with regard to men.
Fast forward to the present. I became his sounding board, his ear, a wheel of “why can’t I find a good woman?” cheese to his whine. For years we bounced our respective love life issues off each other. Sometimes we’d go months without speaking and then one day up would pop an email, or a phone would ring and there we’d be, talking for hours, and at the end, telling each other how much we love each other.
My relationships have involved narcissists. His have involved those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Very close cousins. His last relationship totally blew me away. It has boggled my mind to the point of wondering where my friend’s sense of self and reality went. He has been a member of one online dating site or another for the entire time I’ve known him. That’s how I met him. His last relationship, though, sounded like it was something from the mind of Stephen King. Now, I know how excitable and hyper my friend is, and I know enough to run things through my filters, and even taking those things into consideration, this was a horrifying situation and I was horrified that he’d allowed it to not only happen, but to escalate.
See, he met this woman online. She was lovely to look at. He, being male and very lonely, fell head over heels. She was quite kind to him at first – sheesh, what woman in her right mind wouldn’t be kind to him? He’s handsome, affluent, brings roses on almost every date, pays for everything, has exquisite manners, is well-educated and is genuinely and sincerely KIND. He can dance, cook, and he does his own cleaning. So my friend believes he’s found “the one.” He moves quickly and moves her into his home. She gets comfortable and the emotional and verbal abuse start. True to character, my friend reacted to this in one of two ways: he either knee-jerked or he stuffed. There was no in-between, because he’s spent his entire adult life with abusive women.
A year into this, she has a massive heart attack that affects her health so drastically she is now, three years later, given 6 months to live. Yes, I have compassion for her. No, I don’t pity her. She would have much longer to live if she wasn’t so obsessed with having my friend dance attendance on her that she refuses to quit smoking, take her doctor’s advice for specialized treatment (that my friend would pay for), thus prolonging her life. No, this woman would rather deliberately make herself ill when she felt my friend wasn’t paying enough attention to her, wind up in the hospital and then her doctor would call my friend and tell him he needed to “be there” for this woman. Meanwhile, she’s on her cell phone telling him what a rotten piece of shit he is for “making” her get sick again. So off he goes to sit by her bedside, only he brought the wrong book, brought flowers in a color she didn’t want, brought the wrong nightgown, didn’t wear the right clothes, and in general, didn’t grovel himself into a pancake-flat doormat so she could wipe her blackened soul on him.
Finally, he’s had enough. He can’t take it anymore. She suggests to him that she wants to live in another state. YES! Here is his way out! “Sure honey. I’ll buy a house there.” So he buys her a house there, they pack up her belongings, and she’s so self-involved; so certain she can control him completely, that she doesn’t notice that HIS belongings aren’t being packed – and doesn’t realize it until they are half way to the house he bought her. He moved her in, drove 13 hours back home…
And spent the next year being abused in email, listening to her rail at him on the phone, and being thrown into panic phase several times when she would call and say she was having another heart attack, heading to the hospital and he needed to get there FAST, if he wanted to say “goodbye.” Off he’d go to find she’d lied. He’d get angry, she’d scream at him for neglecting her (he bought her a house and pays all her bills for pete’s sake!), he’d get defensive, she’d scream some more, denigrate his manhood, and finally, he would cave because he couldn’t take it any more and apologize for things he’d never done, never caused and never existed outside this psycho bitch’s head.
And now, her doctors tell him this woman has 6 months to live. He believes he loves her. He doesn’t. He’s addicted to the drama she creates. He tells me he will be a basket case when she’s gone. I offered to help him clear out her house, but no, he has to do it all alone. Of course he’ll be a basket case. He won’t have her injecting chaos; he won’t have anyone left to “fix.” He won’t get the “feel good” of believing he’s doing something life-changing for another human being. His life will resemble something close to normal for the first time in his life and he won’t know how to act. He will be a lost boy. At 61, he will be like a lost child, sunk in a morass of despair, an exquisite several months of pain that will be one of his best works of art. He won’t allow anyone to help him – mostly because deep down, he knows he created the monster.
He says he hates drama but he knows he’s addicted to it. Hmm. To me that sounds like a heroin addict saying they hate heroin. I’ve known a few heroin addicts and they all LOVE their heroin, even though they know it’s killing them.
This is why I say that choosing to be this mans friend rather than his partner was one of the smartest moves I ever made, and I’ve made some really stupid ones with regard to my romantic life. I truly do love him very deeply but this is proof positive that love will never be enough. I have my own drama, but it’s definitely not enough to keep my friend’s addiction happy. Actually, if I allowed myself to become involved with him, my drama would disappear, since mine is centered around finances. And then I’d have Big Drama, because he would become bored. He would find a crisis where there wasn’t one. He would inject chaos where there was peace.
I believe I know why he does this. It has much to do with being made to feel responsible for the well-being of others at a very young age; for being provided a misguided definition of honor, and never being told it was okay to honor himself. He still hasn’t learned how to do that.
I love him. I can’t fix him. I’m not even going to try. The one man I’ve met who isn’t a full-blown narcissist and his other issues are so big that my capacity to love, which is huge, isn’t big enough to hold back the destructive force of his addiction.
Sometimes, when I look at him, I wonder “why me, Lord? Really? You made this lovely man, who is so kind and good to me, with whom I would love to have a healthy relationship and then, just as you break the mold you turn and say ‘oh, by the way, he’s got issues you ain’t gonna be able to deal with. So sorry.’” REALLY????
Really. And those are my thoughts today on addiction to drama and the Drama King in my life. He and I are living proof that it’s possible to love someone infinitely and not ever be able to live with that person. Ever.
I’ve stopped looking. I’m convinced I’ll be alone the rest of my life. With that in mind, I’m taking steps so I won’t need to depend upon anyone to take care of me. There won’t be anyone. The rest of my life is up to me – I do not believe there is a man of my generation (and even older!) who knows how to have a healthy, interdependent relationship with a woman, and I’m done investing my heart. I don’t like watching it squeeze through some man’s fist as he winds up to fling it hard against a wall. The splat sound is just too much anymore…