September 11, 2005

  • “Many people live in a state of eternal drama and chaos, but think they can get away with it by mislabeling it as passion.”

    That quote doesn’t come from anybody famous– rather, it comes from a friend who has been an individual and couples’ therapist for a quarter century. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a rather “flip” comment, but I have since come to appreciate the basic truth it contains.

    I suppose I have the perspective of having spent a fair chunk of my life surrounded by other people’s chaos. Many of these otherwise good folks seem almost unable to function, unless there’s some kind of “crisis.” And if there sin’t an obvious crisis, in that moment, it almost feels like their subconscious goes to work on creating a situation that will create a new level of drama.

    I am not entirely sure where to look for the roots of “drama,” “chaos,” and “crisis.” Whenever I have been in the company of chronically chaotic people, it has always felt like their habits were somewhat narcissistic– the “purpose” being to create situations that “require” a bunch of people to “come to the rescue” because that person’s life has gotten out of control.

    One person I used to work with would start projects she often really couldn’t handle, often volunteering in what seemed to be the spirit of a good worker. But she would get 10% into the project, discover there were difficulties, and would then start to moan and groan and solicit help until everyone within a four-county area had been alerted, had had to drop whatever they were working on, so now (effectively) the entire staff was working on this woman’s project with her. From my personal perspective, the fact that she would mess up bothered me less than the fact that she always seemed to feel “entitled” to have everyone else abandon what they were doing, to help her. What was also annoying was that she always presented herself as highly “capable” and never would say “I might need help with this,” up front– but at the end would insist on full credit for having done “her” project.

    I realized that my friend the therapist was right when I overheard someone else with a “dramatic” life complain to a friend “I forget things because I get too involved. You just don’t understand what it’s like to be passionate about life!

    My ex used to “manufacture” chaos out of thin air, as an “avoidance maneuver.” By making sure certain aspects of our lives were always in a state of chaos and disarray, she made sure that certain things would never come to pass, because it would simply be too much hassle to deal with them. She “missed” many appointments because she “couldn’t find the right shoes,” then “couldn’t find her keys,” then “couldn’t find her glasses.” When there were events that included me, I always felt thoroughly manipulated.

    Yet others appear to use drama and chaos as ways to make themselves come across as “special” and “different.” It has usually rung rather false with me, perhaps because it seems so transparent– showing a fear that the person would somehow be less lovable, absent the constant crises. The irony, of course, is that it is this very thing that caused the person to be less lovable.

    I suppose I’d understand the whole “chaos and drama” thing if I could see that it clearly led to the person in question having precisely the life they wanted. But it seams that’s a rarity– in fact, I hear far more “woe is me” and moaning and groaning from chaotic people. As a group, they seem thoroughtly UNhappy with their lives– yet often thoroughly UNwilling to make any kinds of changes, in spite of the fact that they tend to put great strains on relationships and friendships– and end up lamenting the fact their friends “don’t return phone calls.”

    Is it insecurity that drives chaos and drama? Is it fear of rejection? Is it narcissism? Or is it simply a chaotic mind? And– as one of the least chaotic people on the planet– why do I often feel like I am a “magnet” for other people’s chaos?


Comments (22)

  • Why are you a magnet? Because! You’re calm and introspective and even-keeled and wise and centred and… empathic. That’s why. The chaotics are always on the hunt for the calms, so’s they can share their contentions. Fun, innit?

  • Drama, chaos…. all intense subjects and valid questions.  And being a magnet for them in other’s lives, well, maybe that comes with the HSP thing? 

  • I’ve always said I lack passion. Maybe it is just that my life contains less drama and chaos than most.

  • I don’t have drama or passion…it works for me.

  • |^^^^^^^^^^^^|VERY|
    |BEAUTIFUL TRUCK | ‘|”"”;.., ___.
    |_…_…______===|= _|__|…, ] |
    “(@ )’(@ )”"”"*|(@ )(@ )*****(@

    Once you’ve been hit, you have to hit 8 beautiful people.  If you get hit again, you’ll know you’re really VERY beautiful.  If you break the chain, you’ll still be beautiful in my eyes.  Hit whoever you think is BEAUTIFUL!

  • Now … on to the subject.
    (Which isn’t to say that being beautiful isn’t a wonderful subject . . .~grins~)

    I was labeled as BiPolar until my therapist met my husband.
    Later the therapist came to me and apologized, “Sarah, get rid of him, your chaos will dissipate.  But will you know what to do when there isn’t any more crisis?  You’ll have to deal with the Post Traumatic Stress of NOT having any stress.”

    I began laughing until I realized my shrink was serious.

  • Excellent points.

    My take on the drama/crisis thing is that it is too often manufactured, consciously or not, as a way of being interesting, fascinating, beguiling. Ultimately thought, it’s a lie, and the facade gets torn down very easily by those who know better.

  • I agree with CazzaC. The chaotics are drawn to the calms. I am like you. I spend too much time sorting out chaos that isn’t even mine. It is draining.

  • Well I’m a magnet for those type of people for SURE!  I often wonder what it is about me that makes them choose me; I thim perhaps its because I fix things so I’m constantly fixing their drama for them.  The other thing is those type of people (like the one’s in my blog today) they drain the life from me.  I really thought I was going to loose all energy if I didn’t get out of thier house Saturday.  As soon as I was away I could fill the life coming back in me.  I wonder can someone really do that can they really pull all the life out of you and use it for themselves?

  • ryc:  thank you, wish I knew how to “do” that?  ha!  ok, I’ll just “be”  … breathe

  • I used to be addicted to chaos. Now, I am addicted to peace. I just leave chaotic people right where they are at.  I don’t participate. I don’t respond. I don’t become involved. I detach. Thanks for the post. Great topic!

  • I agree with you………in part….some people do create chaos as a way to obtain attention….then there are people who are truly incapable of handling even life’s smallest challenges…..many feel like they’ve been polarized for the chaotic people in the world…I think they bump into everyone …….’til the next

  • My 19-year old son and his girlfriend of four years had (they broke up last week) a very chaotic relationship.  I cautioned him as much as I dared interfere about thriving on drama, and challenged him to find romance and thrill in the quiet, even moments of a deepening relationship.  I guess he found it exciting at first, compared to our routine, dull life, which he had no idea how hard I worked to reach that state!  I am hopeful he will return to his “roots.” 

  • I think it’s true that some people can try to call their drama “passion”, but I also think it’s true that not all “passion” is drama.  And there is always a grey area between two related concepts, and every one of us is different in our capacity to metaolize our drama/passion levels.  Great topic!

    You’re welcome, if you’d like, to come play my game

  • I came upon your site and I adore it. Thanks for keeping me entertained.

  • I also happened upon your lovely journal and love some of what you say!                               -Aaron

  • Hi!

    Yes, there is definitely a difference between chaos and passion. Passion is romantic, it has character and a literary flair. Chaos is well, just a mess. Out of control behavior, harmful actions, snotty noses. :)


  • The chaotic prove the saying well that what we truly want is what we end up getting.

  • Hi.

    I have a question for you and I hope I’m not annoying you at all by asking.  Are you from Denmark?  And if you are, can you tell me if there is such a place as Vonge?  And…   if I were to send an S.A.S.E. to Denmark to a friend so that he could write me back without having to pay for postage, how would I go about doing that?  I can’t find any information and I fear that sending him US postage would be pointless.

    I hope I’m not bothering you.

  • I think that sometimes people crave/create drama to feel that their lives have validity.  I am a passionate person…about many issues…but I don’t let those passions consume me to the point of overtaking my life.  (Which is rather difficult, at times, since I have a habit of obsessing about things.  All or nothing seems to be my motto…*sigh*)

    I once asked my mom, “If I didn’t talk to people, would I still exist?”

    I used to be very depressed, and it all boiled down to my feeling a lack of control in my life.  With drama, I could be a position to try to have control.

    Of course, I’m not afraid to ask for help or to start shutting down on tasks, when I find myself overwhelmed…

    But I’ve been attracted to men who seem very calm. I try to emulate them by not letting myself become to attached to the outcomes of everything in which I find myself involved.  That really makes a big difference.  And seeing that someone can be calm in the eye of a storm lets me draw on my own reserves.

    I’m much calmer than I used to be, thanks to even-keeled people like you.

    I love you…GFW

  • if your man says stuff tht aint confront him and he says ahhh i was just kidding…always implying that uyr looking for some other guy, when he knows ur into him…then when he just makes up lies and goes bazerk..then later apologizes and says do you hate me? i still love you…seems like things get normal and there’s potential, then boooom he does something else…just the craetion of constant drama…leaves you thinking you really did do sumthin wrong, when really u know u didnt!   but u just love them but know there crazy?  what is this kind of person?

  • @tired - If he is saying all those things that you know are not true, all the way to the other side of the coin and is ignoring you for day(s) on end and won’t speak…It is usually one or the other….

    You ask what kind of person is this?

    THEY ARE NUTS, plain and simple….been there and done that for 20 yrs of my life and out , thank goodness….it is so subtle sometimes that others will never see it or know it, but you do and if you know its happening, it will never change…and when you ask them to or point it out….they MODIFY their behavior for a period of hours or days to get you to put your armor down and then its back into the same routine….my advice: RUN, it will kill you in the end, emotionally or physically but no good will come of that…for that is NOT love

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