B. Shira Levine
Navigating new wilderness

Elul 3 and 4: no more drama

My a cappella group used to sing Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” a song I hadn’t even heard before learning the handwritten, and difficult-to-memorize, arrangement.  I identify with the song, which — even years after the group retired — starts playing in my head whenever I find myself dizzied by unanticipated and/or unnecessary drama surrounding me.

My drama quotient tends to be above average, despite that (1) drama makes me extremely uncomfortable (I am certainly not conflict averse, but that is something quite different), and frequently catches me off guard (wait — why is someone and/or why am I upset?!); (2) I can’t figure out what else I can realistically do to avoid it (in contrast to many of my other flaws, in which I have a very good idea what I could do differently and am just too tired or lazy to execute on it). In the past year, all facets of my life have had more drama than I want —

So “accounting” for my drama is going to be complicated, but probably interesting, right?  Dramatic, perhaps? Hmm.

Much suffering seems to arise from the tension between two conflicting desires, both very intense in me: on one hand, the desire that everyone be happy and fulfilled — loosely correlated with shalom bayit (peaceful home); and on the other hand, the desire to pursue tzedek (justice) and emet (truth).

In other words, I must speak my truth, particularly against injustices I perceived. I also really, really don’t want anyone to be unhappy, ever. These values are not realistically achievable at all times even without trying to reconcile them with each other… and I seem to have a particularly hard time prioritizing them correctly.  Also, regulating my emotions has always proved challenging in certain contexts.  Ergo, drama.

Since this is just the accounting part, I don’t have to write some glorious conclusion!  I love it!  But a couple of thoughts I have about next steps on this, just off the cuff —

Unwanted drama is a likely outgrowth of some of the other soul-flaws I have already identified or alluded to, notably rushing, multitasking constantly, not finishing a task before going on to something else, and lack of physical health (which adversely affects one’s ability to regulate emotion).  Working to address these will probably help me achieve a better balance here.  Often I escalate drama without intending to because my thoughts are rapid and I react instantaneously to things.  I have many times been baffled by someone interpreting an email or text I send as confrontational.

I would also like to focus on acceptance, and not needing to fix everything all the time.  Being a fixer is another related issue of mine that I may address in more detail separately.  I need to find a way to step back from my constant need to be creating or troubleshooting at all times.  This makes social interactions difficult for me. Much socialization is chit-chat or generalized getting-to-know-you.  Even though I care very much about my friends and others, I am easily distracted if there’s nothing to help out on.

Alright, that’s it — next up, floating!

About the Author
B. Shira Levine writes about Jewish spirituality and observance, parenting, intersectionality, and the U.S. and Atlanta Jewish communities. Views are her own and not those of her employer, synagogues, or any other organization.