Inspired by change, challenge and creativity

Bitter Drama


“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”   ~Martin Luther King Jr. 



In my job as an educator, I was also trained as a mediator.  This skill served me well in helping people resolve conflicts, or work out solutions to seemingly immovable dilemmas.  And there were many times, when anger, aggression and drama were played out on my doorstep at work.  I learned a long time ago that when confronted with these situations, it was best to not talk, but listen.


DSCN1928And when given the opportunity to talk, to then wait, count to 10 and ground myself.  Many times I would smile, and even apologize knowing it may not be my fault.  But in order to move forward the person in front of me needed someone to apologize.  It  was the least I could do to show empathy.


But the number 1 thing I knew that was important, was to not be aggressive, reactive or emotional.  It only served to escalate the situation.  I had to bite my tongue many times as there were things I wanted to say, but knew would serve no good purpose.  So I rose above the bitterness, drama and aggression and helped this person towards a resolution.


So you would think that when confronted with aggressive situations with loved ones, I could use all these wonderful tools to resolve the problem.  Well think again.  Because when it comes to family, all bets are off and everything you have learned seems to fly right out the window on a gale of emotions.


Drama is not new to families.  We all have it, and as we grow and move on with our lives, we usually can outgrow or avoid it.  And I am not sure which is the best solution, but I generally try to avoid it.  But family members know how to wound deeply with words.  They know just how to push your buttons, and before you know it you can be in a four alarm drama situation.


DSCN1388I have been thinking about these bitter dramas over the last several years.  I can almost predict them, and yet I seem to be helpless in avoiding or resolving them as they happen; only to feel angry and bitter afterward.  And once the bitterness comes, it roots itself inside me where I want to hold onto it feeling I deserve to be angry.  I was wronged.  And I ruminate over these situations rehashing them bringing up the anger over and over again.




Drama does not just walk into your life.  You either create it, invite it or you associate with people who love to bring it into your life. – Kameryn Mariee 



Now I know don’t look for drama.  I don’t even like Reality TV because, to me, it seems like useless drama that hits too close to home sometimes.  But I never thought I invited drama until I thought about those nasty bitter scenes that were played out with family.  After a few of these incidents, recently, I realized that maybe I was being an unwitting catalyst.


So what can one do besides avoid, plead or get in the trenches.  Instead I began to think of solutions I had not tried before.  Perhaps employing some of those mediation skills might serve me well.

And I have begun to listen more, try not to react (not good with this yet, but making strides), and definitely try not to judge.  And if the situation is treading on dangerous ground where I know I might feed it, I take a self imposed time out.


In the heat of emotions, I can lose all reason and slug it out with the best of them.  But I IMG_7692really do not like being in the midst of these bitter fights.  In the aftermath, I can reason why it may have happened.  But I am looking for better ways to not get into the drama or at least not feed it.


I have also realized, some people just thrive on drama.  Many times the anger isn’t even about me, and if it is, it is from an old script that I have since forgiven.  There is little I can do when someone doesn’t want to move on, or they want to displace anger towards me, so I have decided they can have their dramas without me.  It may mean I will not talk with this person for a while as time away is needed.  But it seems the best course of action.


I am also finding for my sanity that I am being clearer when lines are crossed and someone has gone too far.  For me it is important that I not be sucked into these bitter dramas that I do not own or want.  And I hope by being clear with loved ones, these can be avoided or shut down.  I am not naive to think they will go away completely, but I figure if I don’t play in these dramas, then maybe a new script can start to be written.




Note:   The flowers of St. John’s Wort pictured here are said to represent animosity.  An interesting thought as St, John’s Wort is said to help people with depression and boost moods.






I leave you with another thought about drama, anger and conflict.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

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  1. March 12, 2015    

    Oh dear Donna, sounds like big time drama. I think your thought process here is very logical, thoughtful, and reasonable. Like you, I really dislike drama and conflict and this was a great reminder to me that removing ones self in the heat of the moment is the best way to deal with those situations rationally. My heart goes out to you!

    • March 14, 2015    

      It is a difficult time when these dramas happen Karin.

  2. March 12, 2015    

    Donna, beautifully written. Lots of experience to back it up I know! You are so right that many people thrive on drama……it’s very hard to witness it at times…….count me OUT as well my dear. Life is too short and too precious…….x

    • March 14, 2015    

      Oh absolutely Catherine…thanks for your support.

  3. March 12, 2015    

    I just avoid drama that escalates, by leaving it or avoiding it all together. The other option is not play into it. I suppose is can be negotiated, and my profession requires much negotiation or mediation, but when tempers flare, no one is in listening mode. It is the flight or fight response. Most wanting to be right keep on fighting. Best to avoid these situations until things cool down and both parties have time to think things out before things are said where they cannot be taken back. Patterns of communication develop and get engrained in a relationship, and breaking those patterns is very difficult once established.

    • March 14, 2015    

      Absolutely Donna, I think you are correct in so many ways…avoid, leave and don’t play especially as those patterns are hard to break.

  4. March 12, 2015    

    I did one thing with my sister when we were having some conflict and it turned everything around between us. She died this last year, and every time I think about how close we became in the two years before she died, I am so very grateful.
    What I did was simple (but that doesn’t mean EASY). I called her and said that I could detect that something was on her mind, something was not quite right between us. I told her that I was calling ONLY to listen to her. I said I would not defend myself no matter what she said, that I was here to LISTEN. Then I shut up. In the next fifteen minutes, she told me things that hurt badly and I struggled to keep my aim. Then, because my sister was light-hearted and funny (and younger than me), she said “Okay, I’m done! Now everything’s cool.” And it was. She held no grudges. We never brought it up again, but we became so very very close. Now she is gone, but my courage payed off. We were friends until the end.

    • March 14, 2015    

      Oh Susan what an amazing, beautiful, insightful story. I have done this with some family but need to do a bit more…with others it will never happen or work, but maybe one day I will try it anyway.

  5. March 12, 2015    

    Oh Donna. Ouch. I spend too much time in very similar places. And how right you are that some people thrive on drama. A very dear friend falls into that category. If I respond to her criticisms I am attacking her. If I listen quietly, I am being passive aggressive. If I apologise (whether or not I committed the sin) I should have learnt better. She expected better.
    I can’t control her. I can’t change her. I can only work on myself. A perpetual work in progress.
    Good luck.

    • March 14, 2015    

      That is a hard one Soosie….and it is best, as you say, to just work on ourselves.

  6. March 12, 2015    

    Oh, Donna, you are so right — whatever skills we learn elsewhere in life never seem to work in our families! I’m fortunate to have a mostly drama-free family, but even in that gentle, humorous, loving setting it’s easy to replay old roles. Best wishes to you in being your best self and especially in avoiding those who enjoy turmoil for its own sake.

    • March 14, 2015    

      Thanks Stacy….yes I think we do replay old roles which is why I am not playing anymore.

  7. March 12, 2015    

    when people wonder why we have so many wars, I often point out how diificult it is for families to get along! An explosively honest post Donna – between ‘the stirrers’ and ‘the reactors’ in the family its hard to keep a cool head. Funny how our training goes out of the window when out of the office as it were 😉 p.s. interesting take on Hypericum – perhaps animosity is what makes us depressed

    • March 14, 2015    

      Oh yes I have both the stirrers and reactors in my family and it makes for quite a war Laura. I agree it is hard to have peace in the world when families are at war. I think you may be correct about the Hypericum too.

  8. March 12, 2015    

    Everything is so much more complicated in families because of all the history and emotions that undergird every interaction. I was once helping a married couple I knew get ready to move. It ended up that the husband and I went outside to assemble the car-top carrier for the car while the wife worked on something else inside. After we had been working on assembling the carrier for a while, the husband exclaimed, “We’ve been working on this for over half an hour and we haven’t had a single argument about it! If I were working on this with Louise [wife], it would just be one fight after another. Maybe I’ll divorce Louise,” he joked,” and marry you instead.” “it won’t work,” I replied. If we were married to one another, every single nut and bolt in this thing would have a symbolic value and we’d have to fight about each of them.” Trying to figure out how to remove some of the emotional baggage from interactions with loved ones is a big challenge.

    • March 14, 2015    

      Your friend’s husband must have been shocked at your answer….it is true that interactions with loved ones are always complicated and especially when there is so much history.

  9. March 13, 2015    

    Donna, this sounds painful, the dynamics in a family can be tricky to negotiate. I have seven siblings and mostly things are fine but inevitably there are misunderstandings and then one of us goes to ground for a while until things blow over. This year all of us are having a holiday together, with our partners and children to celebrate a milestone birthday, I have everything crossed for a successful trip.

    • March 14, 2015    

      Oh it sounds like you will have a lovely time together Julie.

  10. March 14, 2015    

    Very timely..can’t write about it, but I will take your suggestions…..Family drama is the most hurtful I find….

    • March 14, 2015    

      Oh you have had your fair share of family drama Michelle….I am finding more peace when I don’t take the bait and play.

  11. March 14, 2015    

    It really IS interesting that St. John’s Wort represents animosity, Donna. Wow. Who knew that! You sure seem to have your head screwed on straight about these family issues especially. Good for you to verbalize these truths because that means you’re that much closer to “being” the answer, instead of just knowing it. I bet you were really good at your past job(s) in education, too!

    • March 14, 2015    

      Thanks Ginnie. I had a few tears when I read your lovely comment about being the answer….and modesty prevents me from saying yes I was really good at my former jobs! 🙂

  12. March 14, 2015    

    I was sure that I left a comment…sigh.

    The conflict resolution tips that you use in your dealings with difficult individuals have given me some good starting points. It’s not that I have family issues…just something to put away in the back of the mind if it’s needed.

    Sorry Donna, I can’t see this light grey font very well…might just be my computer, but I am straining to see what I am typing here.


    • March 14, 2015    

      Glad you were able to get some pointers from the post Jen.

      Mine is not very light gray when I type comments so not sure if it is your browser. I did try to darken the comment box font anyway when you type but can’t. Sorry Jen.

  13. March 14, 2015    

    I do not like family drama. Sorry to say that for my extended family there is less drama and more long-term estrangement. With my own kids we have a much better relationship, and I really hope it stays that way. My best wishes for you as you try to handle dramatic situations.

  14. March 15, 2015    

    I’ve learned to realize that so much about what a person says is all about them and not at all about me. I am just the target. Even if their comments seem directed towards me, I try to ignore them to deflate the fight before it begins. But I, too, can be a fighter and have learned not to bite at the drama bait that is offered. Just because they going fishing for a fight, doesn’t mean I have to take the bait. It’s hard to sit in silence sometimes, but it often brings the best end.

    • March 15, 2015    

      I agree….and when I can’t sit in silence then I take my time out Tammy…definitely not worth biting the bait.

  15. March 15, 2015    

    I completely resonated with this! I find too it’s so easy to get hooked by the people who are close to us. Thanks for sharing your wise tips. As you point out, it’s going to take time and patience, but it’s wonderful to see you already making inroads here.

    • March 15, 2015    

      Thanks so much Sandra….I feel I am on the right path. And thank you for sharing this post!

  16. April 10, 2015    

    Donna, this was very interesting reading to me and I see lots of wisdom in your thoughts. Yes, I’d think that being trained as a mediator and knowing the tricks, it would be if not easy then much easier for you to deal with such situations with the loved ones… but the reality is that we play different roles in our lives – different at work and different at home – and family relationships are often quite difficult to manage as they can especially hurt us. And as you say, some people thrive on drama for whatever reason, and make us play different roles than we intend. I keep my fingers crossed for you to have strength not to let yourself get dragged into those fights which serve no purpose, just the agitation.

    • April 10, 2015    

      Such true and wise words Petra, and I couldn’t agree more Petra. I have learned my role in these dramas which has helped me to opt out now. Thank you for your kind comment….I continue to steer clear of the dramas I can see coming.

  17. April 24, 2015    

    A very apt article since I just walked away from a drama someone was dragging me into. I told myself that I wouldn’t allow her to win so I didn’t give her the opportunity to see my anger/hurt.

    • April 24, 2015    

      It is the hardest thing to do, but walking away and not participating saves us in the long run.

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