I’ve been blogging on relationship issues of African American women for nearly a decade. One thing I have never quite been able to escape is certain black women addicted to drama, constantly prepped and ready for the next juicy tidbit of gossip and scandal. It would seem almost cyclical, like the phases of the moon. I’d get up in the morning, fire up my Facebook or Twitter, and find a flurry of tags ranging from small disputes to people outright questioning my “true motives,” tons of retaliatory YouTube videos claiming I am the Antichrist’s handmaiden.
Yesterday I lamented this out loud on a YouTube stream, and one fan made a comment that brought me to a halt.
The hypothalamus part of our brain is “a little mini factory … that assembles certain chemicals … PEPTIDES … into neuro-peptides or neuro-hormones that match the emotional state we experience on a daily basis. … There’s a chemical for every emotional state we experience. The moment we experience that emotional state, in our body or our brain, that hypothalamus will immediately assemble the peptide and then releases it to the pituitary and to the blood stream.” … The Peptide DOCKS onto our cells … and “changes the cell in many ways.”
…The science behind this Peptide phenomenon was fascinating, but what I found even more fascinating, and also disturbing, was that fact that: “We BRING to ourselves situations that will bring the biochemical craving of the cells by creating situations that meet our chemical needs.” That’s where the addictions comes in, emotional addictions, that most people don’t even know about or understand.
This gave me some insight about how I grew up. My mother thrived on arguments and chaos. Whenever she wasn’t around, me, my brother, and father mulled around the house, quiet and peaceful. Upon her return, the peace seemed to physically make her uncomfortable. She would nitpick and find fault in everyone, or get upset about something not being cleaned properly, blah blah blah. She wouldn’t be happy until she pulled one of us into her negativity and it became a full-blown fight. She would call us names, say awful things we would never forget. Then afterwards, she would be calm, while whoever was her latest victim was left shaken. She’d want us to “just get over it” and move on. After all, she’d gotten her fix, and she was all good.
I reflected on my romantic choices, and how for a time, I was most comfortable with men who found fault in me in some way, or who made me feel like I had to “earn” their love. Men who just wanted me for who I was were boring. I needed the “spice and drama,” but really, it was my brain needing that chemical fix of negative emotions that I’d become dependent on.
When you look around the black community, it’s so full of negativity and chaos. Many of us navigate in much worse family settings than I did, and even if we escape through education and career, the vestiges of that addiction to chaos rules many of us. Peace, happiness and contentment are “boring” to us. We are most stimulated by negativity–gossip, emotional abuse, jealousy, hatred of white people, fear of be persecuted and being discriminated against. It’s the reason why so many ventures fail, how friendships end…the need for chaos and discord. The everyday stresses of just being black and a woman feeds this addiction and keeps us in that comfort zone of chaos, and we often don’t even realize it.
But therein lies the cure, my lovelies. Recognizing your actions while they are happening, noting your heightened stimulus for negativity and acknowledging the truth of those feelings, starts you on the road to change. Being self-aware disrupts the neural pathways that feed the addiction, and over time, become weaker and weaker. Surrounding yourself with positive things, people and situations rewires the brain to being addicted to feelings of wellness, happiness and peace.