Just a little disclaimer that this is kind of a mind dribble and probably something I should have saved for therapy.
When I was 16 years old, my parents, sadly, split up. But, strangely, I was kind of exhilarated by the idea of it.
Until that point in time, I’d just been living this boring old, drama-free home life. No adults were beating each other up around me. Or spending all the family money on the pokies. Or making me go to school exhausted every morning because I’d been running the family business all night. There was no risk of war on my doorstep. No death threats from offended neighbours. We were so far from any sort of child abuse happening in my home that I wasn’t even allowed to eat Froot Loops® for breakfast.
Life was safe. The family was functional. Two married parents and three smelly country kids. So I’m guessing that for me to have been so excited by the idea of having a broken home, well, I must have been bored.
The day I found out my parent’s marriage was as busted as Bridget’s parent’s marriage, I felt like I was finally being given the chance to live the life I was destined to live. Now I had an outlet beyond Barbies to play out the melodrama that looped in my mind. I could finally be in the dramatic Home and Away episode I had always wished my life was.
It was like I had a real reason to feel the turmoil of emotions that I was feeling anyway. I actually had something to do with this all this pent up tension and the thespian spirit that lived within.
What a time.
To be fair, I do think that while I was being charged by the drama of it all, I’d still have preferred that it wasn’t actually happening. I was observing real heartache emerge from all members of our officially dysfunctional family. Something I’d never really seen before. So beneath the excitement of being served this genuine pain and discomfort (which I could call my own), it was undeniably heartbreaking.
Hmm, so now that I’ve admitted all this to myself, and the internet, it’s starting to feel like something that could potentially be worth fleshing out in therapy at some point. For now though, I’m just going to further explore what a little dickhead I was.
I think that most mature adults with any idea about the psychology of a teenager would say that I was a drama queen. But I’d personally push it a bit further and say that as a person, not just an ugly teenager, I was a bit of a drama addict.
Because anyone who’s stimulated by the spectacle of divorce, anyone who gets an exaggerated sense of importance during family hardship, is clearly missing something in their lives. I mean, I had white witchcraft as a hobby, sure, but my parents splitting suddenly made me feel busy, responsible and involved. This tells me that my brain wasn’t getting dopamine from some better, healthier source. Maybe Froot Loops® would have helped.
During my childhood years I’d been quite disconnected from the harsh realities of life. Having a happy home life in a small and pleasant Australian country town meant I personally, had little to feel impassioned or concerned about. Aside from the times when Meg Kenny said nasty things about me in the schoolyard, life was pretty bloody good.
I truly believe that the human brain requires a level of discomfort and hardship to keep it stimulated. To keep it active. To keep it from getting off on sick and twisted things like family meltdowns. Without challenge, little losers like me just go looking for things to feed their need for drama.
Of course not everyone who grows up in a safe and comfortable environment, with few ruffles to their nests, turns into a drama king/queen. It would be a wild world if every single one of the truly privileged were relying on highly emotional family events to give them purpose. Wait, this might be what happens a lot of the time, right? I don’t know the data. But regardless of the drama data, there is definitely something to say for the absence of adversity in the lives of many of us.
I’m not here to privilege-shame nobody, but I do think it’s worth pointing out how lack of exposure to the real world can have unfortunate and slightly embarrassing consequences for the drama-monarchs among us.
People who don’t make the effort to appreciate the true hardships of most other people on this planet, lack gratitude and become self-indulgent. We become psychologically driven to create drama out of silly things.
Now, I get it, I was a twit. But just to try to put a slightly positive spin on the way I behaved, I’d like to put forward the idea that there was some positive, psychological, subconscious, brain tricking of sorts going on in all of this.
Hear me out.
Even if your “crisis” is just your parents splitting up; when you make a big enough meal out of it for your mind to feed on, your mind must start to think you’re pretty damn Chuck Norris. Your brain would be like, wow, that was a huge a problem to deal with, and you survived it, you’re a tough nut!
Then, when you actually have to deal with some slightly more serious problems in the future, your brain is better equipped to handle true adversity than the person who just stayed blissfully soft and ignorant, living with zero resilience and zero street smart 4lyfe.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to justify being such a teenage dirtbag.
Because things actually get weirder for me as a teenager. I was also intentionally hanging out with kids from far more troubled backgrounds than I. Just so I could see what it was like to live on the darker side of town. Plus I thought naughty kids were cool. These kids were doing drugs and having sex and punching each other. I also wanted to do that. I actively created opportunities for scary fighty girls in grades above me to want to punch me. Just to prove I wasn’t scared! And I could punch back.
Of course it sounds really weird and unhealthy, but in a way, I’m 100% sure it has made me a bit less timid of raging strangers on the street. I can also hold my own with a lot of different sorts of people. And importantly, I’m friends with some seriously diverse folk.
Anyway, what I really want to know is, how are each of us going to cope when the planet falls apart and we all have to go live on apocalypse farms?
Food for thought.
Oh! Before you go!
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