Fabricating Drama

12 Oct

If all the world’s a stage, my mom’s death in 2008, played out as a tragedy. She was found dead on the streets of La Mesa with pills scattered around her. She died from acute intoxication of amitriptyline, a medication given for sleep and to calm nerves. She had just been released from prison, after doing time for her fifth felony DUI.

Her death was the climax of untreated depression and alcohol dependence. It was a terrible event in my life, but I had anticipated it as a possibility because she had made previous suicide attempts. I loved her very much.

After her death, events in my life became quiet. There was no drama. Nothing was wrong. No one was in the ER or in jail. No one was dead. To counter the surreality of this, I developed the nervous habit of checking things to make certain all was fine. I discovered my anxiety increased because things were suddenly calm.

When you grow up around addiction, the resulting dynamics often lend themselves to “drama.” Things occur that are only supposed to happen in the movies or on a depressing t.v. show. You work hard not to fabricate drama, yet you’re so used to it unfolding, you stay on guard for calamity nonetheless.

One time my mom didn’t answer her phone for many days. I was in my early twenties and came into work crying, thinking my mom might be dead. I had called the police to see if they could do anything. Eventually, my mom surfaced. Over the course of my tenure at this particular workplace, my mom disappeared a number of times. Because of this, my boss pulled me aside and said, “This is beginning to feel like the girl who cried wolf. You have to stop getting upset.”

So I followed her directive. I became numb. I sealed off. I survived.

To practice detachment, expressions like, “Your emergency is not my emergency,” became personal mantras.

The funny thing about the wolf story is that the wolf eventually comes. My mom died. The drama became a reality.

I try to be a serene, peaceful person who lives in the moment. I often tell myself, “The worst thing already happened. Nothing bad can ever happen again.”

Sadly though, if you’ve lived with this kind of life experience, sometimes the fear of loss is just there, hovering over you when the  stakes are high. There was a time when I didn’t fabricate drama. There simply was tragedy. And the weight of it lingers like smoke hanging in the air.

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