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People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

I cannot stand them!  Maybe it is my work environment where every participant has at least a crisis a day.  More likely it is my birth family who seems to create a drama or crisis where there rarely needs to be one.  I just have to vent to my common sense buddies here...maybe you can enlighten me on what I could have done differently...

 

My closest uncle passed away last week and the funneral was in NC this past Friday.  This is my mother's brother and they were close.  She would never be able to fly or drive to NC alone.  I had plenty of notice so I offered to drive up to NY and fly with her to NC or to fly up to NY and drive her to NC.  Whichever she preferred.  This was Tuesday.  We talked again on Wednesday morning about this and she was so upset I had to end the conversation because I could not understand her.

 

On Wednesday, She was still angry with HER family for changing the funeral from NY to NC so she stated emphatically to me more than once that she was NOT going.  I asked her again if she was sure and she said "no way" was she going to NC. 

 

After being assurred that she did not want to go, I told her Ed and I were driving down on Thursday, an 11 hour drive, to arrive in time for calling hours Thurday night and the funeral Friday morning.  She told me what a rough day Thursday would be for her but her friends were seeing to it that she was not alone and that she was going to be busy all day to keep her mind occupied.

 

Meanwhile, I called my NY brother and asked if he was going.  He told me repeatedly that since it was in NC he was unsure if he would fly or drive but that he was going one way or the other.  I offered to pick him up at the airport if he flew or if he could get a direct flight to one of the cities along the way we would arrange our schedule to pick him up to try to save him some travel time.  Everyone knew our schedule and we offered all the assistance we could to my mother and brother.

 

Wednesday afternoon, my mother gave me her full schedule for Thursday, stating that she was going to church to help with the festival preparations, then to PT, then back to church and not to worry that she would not be home until late afternoon.  Still all upset about the change from NY to NC and again, "no way" could she travel that far.  I promise to get her a Mass card and the program from the service and to tell everyone how sorry she was to not be able to travel. 

 

So we leave for NC early Thursday morning, not knowing what my brother was doing.  He never called back reagarding our offer.  I didnt try to call mom Thursday all day, watching the clock as we drove, knowing that she had church and PT.  Around three I called the first time....no answer, then four, then four thirty, no answer....at around 5 I got a call from the folks I hire to mow her grass and weed eat her ditch...they were worried that they had gone over Wednesday night to mow and her car was there but no mom....they kindly went back to check on her Thursday, still the car in the drive but no mom....they were concerned and called me as they didn't know if what to do.  I thanked them for looking out for her and began to call my brothers.....no answer either phone....

 

I finally reach my brother's cell phone and leave a message around 530.  By now we are at our hotel and getting ready for calling hours.  My brother calls me back and informs me that "we" are at the funeral home and will see us in a few minutes!  Evidently, my mother changed her mind on Wednesday evening and the two of them left for NC, stopping half way and finishing the drive on Thrusday.

 

Mind you, all of us were driving all day Thursday, in cars with cell phones.  Don't you think someone could have called me to let me know?  In the meantime, I got two other calls from grandkids who were worried about grandma as she was not answering.  Like me they had been told that she would be home and they were trying to call her to be supportive on a bad day.

 

This kind of inconsiderate behavior is nothing new with my birth family.  My father had been dead 9 hours before I finally learned from the hospice nurse that he had died.  Everyone was told but me. 

 

I told my brother at the funeral home that I was upset that no one had called me about her change of plans.  I try to keep my brothers informed about any health issues and care issues.  They never call me with news or information.  They make decisions without including me in the discussion.  Big decisions. All I get is "sorry" but things never change.  In fact, he tried to put it on me that I should have called him sooner on Thursday when I couldn't get through to her....I didn't even begin to get concerned until five or so because she had given me her schedule.

 

Needless to say, I was a bit distant from my birth family at the funeral.  I was glad to see my extended family who is so gracious and kind.  What is up with the inconsiderate disrespectful behavior in my branch??

 

So last night we get home from NC after 10 hours on the road.  We get things in and decide to go out for a bite to eat.  So while we are out to dinner they finally get home to NY and start buring up the phones here to tell us they arrived safely.  Burning up the phones! 

 

We are not home to get the land line.  I had silenced my phone and let my cell go to VM during dinner.  Well, the drama unfolded...!! 

 

They start leaving messages that our phone is out of order.....the long distance operator has no listing for us.....my voice mail doesn't work....my brother calls and begs me to call my mother .......  he tells me in VM that our phones are all screwed up ......seriously?

 

They are laying the foundation to cover their butts for not calling me over the change of plans last Thursday.  What a crock.  Ed calls my mother back after dinner and the VMs to let her know we are home.  She tells him again that they were so worried about us and had been calling and calling....

 

Everyone begins calling this morning to tell me again "I don't want to argue over this but your phones are all screwed up" how they tried and tried to reach us. There is nothing wrong with our phones.  Not mine or Ed's or any of the kids. 

 

Again, covering butt for last week.  I am so DONE with the drama.  As I read this, I see how petty and stupid this kind of behavior is.  It goes back for 50 years and is not going to change.  My kids are tired of the drama they bring to our lives. 

 

I don't want to paint myself into a corner and cut ties but I need to prayerfully find a way to distance myself from the drama.  I listened to it all summer when my brothers were on the receiving end of it (all summer) but when it is me getting it, it always becomes my fault and I need to just stuff it. 

 

What a mess!  I am in no mood to talk to any of them. ( Of course if I don't pick up the phone it reinforces their arguament that our phones are screwed up and they tried......blah, blah, blah).....Thanks for letting me vent....

 

What in the world could I have possibly done differently? 

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11 Replies
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Honored Advisor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

I wrote most of a long reply and left with Winn, before I could finish bit. How about leaving a VM message that says you are not taking calls this afternoon, due to resting from your long trip? Ask for emergencies only to be called to Ed's cell. That way, he can get anything truly important, you can say you will return any messages during the week.

That buys you both some peace and some time to compose your thoughts. Sometimes that helps.
Will share more thoughts later. It isn't you....
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Senior Contributor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

Definitely not you.  Sounds like it is well you are out of their area.  Distance can bring some comfort.  My mom is a definite drama queen; perhaps not purposely, but drama & high maintenance to be sure.  I'm considering asking the dr. for nerve pills.

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

First, please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your beloved uncle. I am glad that you found his family p be comforting to you in your shared time of need.

What could you have done differently? Nothing. You are the scapegoat, the pariah...welcome to the club!

I fully understand your quandary...have made my own mad dash from NC to central VA, so my lazy sister didn't have to haul her butt out of a chair and go find my MIA mother, who was no more than fifteen minutes from her office. Guess who had to get the State Corporation Commission to hop on Verizon, to fix my folks' phone that week, finally?

You need to tell yourself this:With this bunch, you will never win. You won't even end in a tie. All you can do is render respectful care for your mother, until they force you out of that role. This process appears to be in progress, as we speak.

We have talked about the commonalities of our upbringing before...and some themes never change. The main difference between you and me is that you haven't given up entirely...yet. You take your faith very seriously. I admire that, but am too bruised by hypocrisy - much of it that of my own birth family - and that seems to bring you solace. Maybe there is an answer for you in Scripture.

Meanwhile, I would consider how much of this is bad for you and your peace of mind. You know that drama is all some people have, and you have so much more, you simply do not need it.

I would not involve myself in offering any of them a ride, company on a flight, or even the time of day. They are all grown, and can obviously make arrangements for themselves. Let them.

My usual default is to act as though nothing happened...so they don't know they got to me. This robs them of the drama fix. When people don't get their desired feedback, they may give up aggravating you.

Sometimes, I have learned that the best thing to do, at least for a while, is as little as possible to engage some people. I am dreading the opening of the certified latter we missed on Friday, for this very reason...being involved with my family, for the 52 years I tried my best to please them was a waste of my time here on Earth.

They simply cannot be satisfied. Being sucked back into that vortex feels like drowning in a maelstrom. In that case, you have to save yourself. It is okay to let the ties that bind cease gagging you. You don't have to cut them, as my father did to me, but you can loosen them and let in some slack...

People who are doers are used to fixing things. LA, take me as Gospel on this: Some things just cannot be fixed.
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Senior Contributor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

I find it interesting how the word drama has become so widely used. I first heard it used in this form from my 12 yr old DGD last year.

 

Maybe you need to cut some ties here and let the brothers handle DM? That behavior was beyond rude. You have every right to be upset. Especially when you have so much on your mind right now. Sounds as if they are jealous of your life.

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Honored Advisor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

I think we forget that when everyone is fifty and above, you are dealing with patterns of behavior that have taken over half a century to construct. Changing a relationship is usually thought to take effort by both people in it. I used to think so, but I am altering the way that concept plays out in my life.

Now, I have decided that I can change my part of a relationship, and yield a different result, at least for myself. It is impossible to change another person. I can decide how much to engage or avoid, how much to ask or answer...in other words, I may not be able to change how I feel, but I can control how I act.

Other people can never truly know how you feel, they can only guess about it from your observable actions. I guess I never really thought about this much, which is sort of odd, given my professional training in education...lesson plan goals revolve around observable, measurable behaviors by the student.

Anyway, I have decided that since I am the only one who controls me, and everyone else is beyond my reach, i have to concentrate on my behaviors. That doesn't mean I have to eat crap or kiss bee-hinds, to get along. It means I don't hve to let myself get puled under anymore.

We will see if I can actually walk the walk on thus one, in a few. Weeks. That mystery letter I picked up this morning was a notice of annual meeting of my family's board of directors.

This was the occasion of my mother's ambush lat fall. Since we went 20 years or more without n" annual" meeting, and this is the second one in a year, I m sure something is afoot.

I have four weeks to dread it, then the actual event itself to endure. Mike and I had agreed to take a trip to his and Jenna's favorite mountain hunts, and that will have to be the week before or the week after, since Winn's other grandma has a trip that week, and I am set to keep him on her days, as well as my own.

I was really upset when I opened the letter this morning, as was Mike. I am trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally, so as not to get caught off-guard again. I know what my father laid out last year, before he died. It will be interesting o see how warped their interpretation has become since.

Can't delegate this one to counsel, no need to try. All I can do is refuse to be drawn into the fray. I am resolved to stick to the agenda, limit my interactions to it, and move to adjourn when it has been completed.

That is probably not a bad policy in general with some people. Avoid small talk, stick to the printed agenda, wrap it up and leave quickly.

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Senior Contributor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

Sounds like an excellent plan.

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Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

Thanks, gals. I intend to stay off the radar screen. You can't change people and, yes, patterns of behavior are ingrained. I have let them get away with this kind of behavior for way too long. I have too much on my plate to give this any more time than I already have. It felt good to write it all down and get it off my chest. The best thing is that I have broken this cycle of disrespect in that my children and I have a great relationship and great communication and mutual respect.
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Contributor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

Congratulations with your immediate family. Communication and MUTUAL respect is awesome.

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Honored Advisor

Re: People who THRIVE on DRAMA !!

LA, believe it or not, hearing a problem like this just helped me cut to the chase on my own impending miserable visit " home". I read your story, and with very minute tweaks, it all sounded too familiar.

Like you, I swore not to allow the dysfunction that defined my life for too long be our children's destiny. We probably made different mistakes, but my children knew unconditional love.

Weddings, funerals...the true colors come out when you are trying to cope. I got trashed less than five months after my child's passing. You got dissed while attempting to show appropriate respect for a man you obviously adored. I call it " kick me while I am down". Who needs that?

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