• julielenihan

The Drama of a Triangle

I am a therapist and support individuals in working through a wide range of issues. This is an article I wrote back in January, week two of mandatory home schooling, there was little hope of a quick end to the pandemic. The children have now returned to school and sitting now in my counselling room and looking forward at identifying a way to support clients who wish to go back face to face, I felt drawn back to this article, to the triangle and will reflect back on the placement of COVID in my triangle.

A common theme is the lack of importance placed on self-care, or a preference of mine and of many others self-love. Without it, our desire to help and support others hits a rocky road, our bodies and mind are unable to deal with our worries and pile other worries on top - there is little escape and we are setting ourselves up for implosion or explosion, which could in turn lead to many more health issues.

So where am I now, in my journey of self-love, as we end week two of mandatory home schooling and enter week three, with little end of that or the pandemic in sight?

I have been reminded, at certain points over the past two weeks of the Victim/Drama Triangle, which identifies the three points of dysfunctional interpersonal relationships. I wrestled with my emotions throughout training and found this supported me both in my self-love and by volunteering as a counsellor, both in a school and at a hospice.

Steve Karpman introduced and developed it in 1968, matching his theory with fairy tales. Normally the skeleton of the story includes a victim, a rescuer and a perpetrator. If we think of Jack and the beanstalk, the giant is the perpetrator, towering over the people, threatening to eat us all, Jack the victim at one point, the rescuer at others, with both his Mum, the cow seller and the bean stalk taking different points at different stages. In one modern movement on from this, with an adaption this Christmas on Sky One, we see the story after the fairy-tale when the giant moves into victim, he has no memory and is kind and helpful, and finally to rescuer, saving the day - then in the end they all live in harmony. The activities within the triangle ceased and tranquillity is the new normal. So how to find tranquillity and calm?

Home Schooling at times thrusts my family, the electronic devices and self-care back into the dysfunctional process, where everyone and everything scrabbles round to find a spot of the triangle, a spot of perceived strength. The triangle is not pleasant.

To be honest I've hopped into this on a number of occasions, when a child, or inanimate object has slighted me in some way, I fling myself into victim mode, sulking, pitying self and desperate for a rescuer to bound in and save me. Sometimes it is a child with a loving hug, kiss, or calming word, sometimes a reality check from my newsfeed or partner. I am of course not the only victim in the house, other individuals who share space with me can also jump into this - you do not love me the same, you hate me, I hate school.... There is a number of scenarios which I am sure have played out in a number of households. And trust me I am not always the Victim. Although I say so myself I make a beautiful rescuer and the cruellest of perpetrators. I am proud of none of these positions, but they are for moments a reality. It is at this time it is worth mentioning the link of one point of the triangle to the other, one does not exist in a vacuum. Each is reliant on the others:-

  • Victims depend on a saviour,

  • rescuers yearn for a casualty,

  • and persecutors require a scapegoat

Now my house is calm, tranquil almost, school is over, like the giant in the extension of the Jack in Beanstalk story we have moved on, we have survived. This is putting myself first #selflove,

I remember Brene Brown writing about a shitty first draft, sometimes when I find myself inside the chaos, overwhelmed and wandering how the hell I got into this space I find space, maybe on my run or in the shower - I reflect, I review - I write or imagine my shitty first draft, I vent to self. I look at projections, reasons, emotions, truths. What feelings were coursing through my veins? I have moved forward and reflection helps identify patterns within for discussion. I can accept help from others. I can remember pain and look with gratitude at the small wins. I find the adult within, identify any remaining trauma, support my shadow in being visible and move with kindness my subconscious to conscious. Most importantly I remember not to accept the invitation.

By making this practice part of me, it doesn't always go well, sometimes it’s messy and yes that's ok.

#selflove #therapy #askforhelp #mentalhealthawareness

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