During Fridays session, Celia was prompted to ask me, “have you ever heard of the ‘drama triangle’?”. My answer was, “no, but I feel like I’m right in the middle of it!”. I wanted to write a separate blog about this because I just KNOW so many people will relate so closely to it and… I’m right here with you!
If you’ve read my previous posts on this topic, you’ll know that I am empathetic to a MASSIVE fault and always put everyone else’s needs before my own. This brings me to the first part of the ‘drama triangle. Celia told me it starts with ‘the rescuer’. She explained that this position is commonly seen in people, like me, who try to take up less space and who are really sensitive to feelings of guilt when we don’t put others before ourselves. The example we used was when a patient arrived late for their appointment recently. Rather than tell her she was late and make her feel bad (my perception of what would happen if I had this conversation with her) and make her wait ages for another appointment as we’re totally booked up, I took her in late and lost a chunk of my lunch break. I wasn’t over the moon about it.
This leads on to the next part of the triangle which is ‘the persecuter’. Taking on this increased responsibility for others, over time, can lead to resentment of those for whom we take on the responsibility and a reduced sense of self worth. In my case it also makes me angry at myself for letting myself be walked over time and time again. It’s beyond frustrating.
The final point of the triangle is ‘the victim’. Once you’ve got past trying to save everyone and then resenting them for it, you start to feel sorry for yourself. Ahem. I think for me this is very closely linked to the previous point of persecution, the anger and self pity arrive mostly at the same time. I definitely go, “why me” or, “why do I do this to myself” which sounds as pathetic to me as it probably does to you. Meh.
In her follow up email Celia made an excellent point which has really got me thinking. By taking on responsibility for others, I’m denying them the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! If I allow late patients (for example) to still be treated and don’t even let them know that they’re late or that I’m putting myself out for them, how can they correct that? They’ll just think it’s ok to be late for me because I’ll just bend over backwards to accommodate it. The idea of having that conversation with them still makes me feel sick but this has helped me realise the importance of it.
Just knowing this is a ‘thing’, is a relief and being able to recognise it for what it is and seeing it from a different perspective could help this game to change.