Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of essays about the voices in our heads. Click here to read the first entry, the bitchy little voice.
If the voices in our heads have personalities, then the uniform of the Drama Queen would be a vibrant orange jewelled muumuu, large glasses with smoky blue lenses and rhinestones on the stems, mounds of hair piled on top of her head, and high-heeled maribou slippers on her feet.
The Drama Queen glides rather than walks, speaks with dramatic pauses, and her long painted fingernails are never without large cocktail rings and a menthol cigarette burning at the end of a long gold holder. She is the center of attention, a force to be reckoned with.
In fact, you could say The Drama Queen was the alter ego of Auntie Mame, still eccentric and fabulous, but with a decidedly negative slant. Or maybe The Bloggess on a really bad day when talking to a mortal enemy. You listen to this voice because the style and delivery are hard to ignore.
The opening act
Recently I went to the doctor for my annual physical. I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary, just a mileage checkup. Since we’re traveling I do not have access to my regular doctor and instead went to one highly recommended by my new expat friends here in Thailand. Let me stress again, I had no fear going into this appointment. It was just one of those self-maintenance things you have to do, like getting a pedicure when your feet start resembling those of an elephant.
I was shown into her office and her first words to me were: “Are your eyes always that big, or is this new?”
At first I thought this might be some cultural misunderstanding, like the time the lady at the clothing store here told me I had to pay more for “jumbo sizes.” She wasn’t being insulting, just letting me know that Western-sized clothes cost more because they use more material than Thai-sized clothing. Or at least that is how Warren explained it to me as he hurried me away from the store.
The doctor went on to explain to me that this combined with some of my answers to her questions were signs of a possible medical condition we should check with a blood test. Like it was no big deal.
Drama queen, enter stage right
There’s no telling what kind of notations were going on in my chart: “Manic, bug-eyed Caucasian woman in jumbo clothes presents to the clinic for…” I tried not to act weird, but since I’m me, I couldn’t help it.
Blood tests were drawn, and I started walking back to the guesthouse.
This is when the drama queen really started her monologue
“You thought you were doing so well to lose those 30 pounds, but it looks like the credit for shrinking your ass goes to disease. Nice of you to try to steal the glory. Stupid of you to give up Diet Cokes on January 1, too, because you are going to need them when the weight starts piling back on…if they can cure the disease, that is.”
Increasingly dramatic thoughts about my potential disease flooded my thoughts. Halfway back The Drama Queen started getting really morbid:
“If you do die, what will Warren do? Will he cremate you here in Thailand and ship you back to the States, or will he carry you with him in his backpack as he continues traveling around the world? Will you have to sit there in the urn and listen to him having sex with other people? Of course you can’t really deny him pleasure and companionship for the rest of his life, can you? But seriously, there needs to a timeframe of mourning or that’s just gonna look bad for you.”
By the time I reached our street I had mentally written my obituary from the invasion of horrible disease I knew the blood test would find. I had a checklist of things to talk about with Warren regarding dying on the road if I could find a casual way to bring it up in conversation. It would probably go something like this:
Me: “So, if I die I just want you to know it’s fine for you to have sex with other people as soon as you are ready. Though I don’t expect you to enjoy it. Can you pass the hot sauce?”
I arrived back at the guesthouse sweaty, a little light-headed from lack of food and giving blood, and with a shitstorm of panic raging behind my bulging eyes.
Drama queen, exit stage right
Oh, no. This could not be good. I knew from experience that if the doctor contacts you right away it must be terrible news. I looked into the mirror that hangs over my desk at my bulging eyes and prepared for the worst.
“Dear Khun Betsy,
Please find attached.
Overall results are very good…”
Huh? What? Just like she dropped the quiet bomb of possible disease the day before, she stated my lab results like she was commenting on the weather. Everything was normal. Blue skies.
It was at this point that the voice went quiet. The Drama Queen sashayed off stage, calling for her assistant to bring her a martini while she touched up her makeup and lounged before the next performance.
I could tell you right now that my doctor led me on to think this was as bad as I made it out to be, but that would be a lie. I steamrolled over her gentle probing to create a drama where there was none. With this kind of talent I should be scripting reality television shows.
Instead of just waiting for the results before reacting, I spent valuable energy and time mentally composing my obituary (which, by the way, was heartfelt and witty, and would have had people laughing through their tears in remembrance of me). This was 10 steps beyond normal and a total cave-in to the voice of fear.
How does the voice of the drama queen work in your life?
- That little ache is probably the first sign of inoperable cancer.
- If this doesn’t succeed, you can kiss your career goodbye.
- He didn’t answer his phone so he’s obviously cheating.
How do you send the Drama Queen back to her dressing room?
Very much like we banished the Bitchy Little Voice:
- Change the messenger. Instead of a negative Auntie Mame, try to imagine Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island telling you those things. Can’t take it seriously can you?
- Tone does not equal authority, and you get a very different vibe hearing Rocket Man performed by William Shatner than you do by Elton John. Try your message in a less dramatic tone and see how differently you respond to it. (This could be the first time in history that Elton John has been out drama queen’d.)
- Evaluate your statements. Scientists call the voice of the Drama Queen “distorted thinking,” and this article shows 10 ways these fear statements play out plus strategies for countering them. Drama Queen, you’re on notice. We’ve got your number (specifically, #5).
Your Drama Queen is telling you to calm the voices in your head by liking our Facebook page. On this occasion, she’s right.