When I was drinking, I loved being the center of attention. I was the girl who stood up on a table at the bar singing and dancing. I was also the girl who started a fight over the smallest slight, real or imagined. When I got sober, I thought that all that drama would be over with. I quickly realized that it wasn’t that simple or easy.
As the old expression goes, “That’s what I got for thinking.”
I Still Needed Attention
It turns out that my alcoholism was not the catalyst for my behavior. It just exacerbated it. I used acting-out behaviors just as I used alcohol, as a coping mechanism. The only difference now was that I wasn’t using them in tandem anymore.
Recognizing The Signs
Wow! I had no clue how pervasive attention-seeking behavior really is. It bleeds into every aspect of life. Here are some behavioral traits to look for:
- Wearing revealing or unusual clothing
- Pushing someone’s buttons until they lash out at you and then playing the victim
- Dominating conversations
- Malicious gossip
- Falsely claiming abuse in a relationship
- Playing the martyr
- Making everything about you
- Sticking your nose into other people’s business to make it look like you are rescuing them from their problems
- Abusing your authority
Have you ever heard of the hypochondriac? That’s the person who always thinks they have some sort of health problem or the latest highly profiled disease. Munchausen, however, is when someone pretends something is wrong simply to be in the spotlight and receive sympathy.
What is particularly dangerous about Munchausen Syndrome is that it can extend to our spouses, children, or anyone in our care. Since they are not going to go along with the charade by pretending to be sick, a person suffering from Munchausen will make them ill, often by poisoning them.
An Addict And A Drama Queen
One of the most common behavioral traits of an addict is attention-seeking behavior. Once I recognized that, it was time for me to try to understand how it all works. I learned that my addiction to drama included other behavioral traits including:
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship insecurity
- Acting impulsively
- Feeling left out of any particular group or social setting
- Wanting instant gratification
- Believing my stress level was higher than other’s
- Antisocial behavior
Get Over Yourself!
I wish I had a year of sobriety for every time I heard that. The reality is, however, that it took me time and dedication to work through my character flaws. And until I did, I was still heavily affected by them. Attention-seeking behavior is just as just as ineffective a coping mechanism as alcohol or drugs are. What helped me get a handle on those traits and conquer them was:
- Stepping outside myself. The satisfaction I got by focusing on the needs of others was so rewarding, so positive, that my need for negative attention diminished.
- Stop letting other people define me. They simply are not qualified, because they have never walked in my shoes. Only I know how those shoes fit.
- Set reasonable goals. My sobriety was just the beginning, and I realized that if I can do that, I can do anything! I took it slowly, and each little success was another building block in my self-esteem.
Emotional sobriety was my ultimate goal, because I needed to learn to love myself. While everyone’s journey is different, don’t be afraid to consult a therapist to help you sort it all out. I am forever grateful for the help I received.
If you or your loved one needs help, contact us today and feel free to talk to us about addiction treatment programs at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.