In the newsroom yesterday a colleague said to me, “You seem so normal. I can’t figure out why you’re working here.” I had to laugh. It seems like my life has been filled with weird shit from day one. It’s the atmosphere I was born into – estranged families, famous and rich people always on the periphery, a hundred get-rich-slow schemes, and the dysfunction of addiction making it impossible to know from one moment to the next where safety was. One of the hardest things for me was that my father was like two people – he was a beloved hero out in the world and an abusive alcoholic at home. I never knew which was real and I spent most of my life vacillating wildly between loving him and hating him.
At his memorial service 10 years ago, a handful of people came up to me and said, “Your father isn’t really dead. He just went under deep cover on an investigation.” I know that they were in denial, and the strange circumstances of his life and his death made it easy to go down the road of pure fantasy – but it is a prime example of the signature drama that surrounded my father and our family.
Now my father has been gone for 10 – coming up on 11 – years. For a long time I continued to create drama for myself because I was so used to it. If things got too quiet, I would find (or create) a crisis. If things were going too well, I’d mess them up. All unconsciously of course. That way I could make it someone else’s fault.
I’ve learned enough in the last five years to know that I’m responsible for whatever drama I allow into my world. I can’t necessarily stop it from knocking on my door, but I can choose whether or not to open the door and let it in.
Today drama knocked. It was decked out in a party dress and heels and bright red lipstick and made itself look really inviting. The drama had done its homework and knew exactly what words I would want to hear. It pulled out all of its best tricks.
There was a moment when I was tempted to open the door. Instead, I said, “Give me a minute.” I called a friend who reminded me that I don’t need that kind of crazy drama in my world. And then she reminded me that I don’t owe crazy drama any explanation. I can simply say, “No.”
Today I was given a divine opportunity to remember that I am responsible for what goes on in my world. And no matter how inviting the crazy drama makes itself look, I don’t have to fall for it. My father got a chance to live his life, and he lived it the way he chose. This is MY life. I can refuse to indulge in the drama.
I am so grateful.