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Book Study"Codependent No More" Chpt.8 Remove the Victim
February 18, 2007
4:11 pm
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mj
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What is a Rescue? Study the Karpman Drama Triangle. This is our pattern. This is what we do with friends, family, acquaintances, clients, or anybody around us. As codependents, we may do many things, but this pattern is what we do best and most often.

February 18, 2007
4:19 pm
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Rescuing and caretaking are synonymous. There definitions are closely connected to ENABLING.

The following acts constitute a rescuing or caretaking move:

Doing something we really don't want to do.

Saying yes when we mean no.

Doing something for someone although that person is capable of and should be doing it for him or herself.

Meeting people's needs without being asked and before we've agreed to do so.

Doing more than our fair share of work after our help is requested.

Consistently giving more than we receive in a particular situation.

Fixing people's feelings.

Doing people's thinking for them.

Speaking for another person.

Suffering for another person.

Suffering people's consequences for them.

Solving people's problems for them.

Putting more interest and activity into a joint effort than the other person does.

Not asking for what we want, need, and desire.

February 18, 2007
4:24 pm
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We rescue whenever we take care of other people. We may feel one or more of these feelings when we rescue or caretake: discomfort and awkwardness about the other person's dilemna; urgency to do something; pity; guilt; saintliness; anxiety; extreme responsibility for that person or problem; fear; a sense of being forced or compelled to do something; mild or severe reluctance to do anything; more competency than the person we are "helping"; or occassional resentment at being put in this position.

February 18, 2007
4:26 pm
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The triangle and the shifting roles of rescuer, persecutor, and victim are a visible process we go through.

February 18, 2007
4:27 pm
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Caretaking doesn't help; it causes problems. We don't assume responsibility for our highest responsibility OURSELVES.

February 18, 2007
4:28 pm
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Taking care of our children is not rescuing. That is an actual responsibility and is not the kind of unhealthy caretaking.

February 18, 2007
4:33 pm
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mj
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Giving to and doing things for and with people are essential parts of healthy living and healthy relationships.

We can learn to recognize a rescue. REFUSE to Rescue. Refuse to let people rescue us. Take responsibility for ourselves, and let others do the same. Whether we change our attitudes, our circumstances, our behaviors, or our minds, the kindest thing we can do is remove the victims-Ourselves.

February 18, 2007
4:39 pm
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mj
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On a sheet of paper detail all the things you consider your responsibilities. Now list what responsibilites belong to others in your life. If any of these responsibilities are shared, list what percentage you think are appropriate for each person. You may be surprised at how much inappropriate responsibility you have taken on and how little you have allowed others to assume. You may also find that you have been so busy with other people's business that you have been neglecting some of your true responsibilities.

If you would like share with us, some of your self discoveries from reading this chapter and doing the activities.

February 18, 2007
4:57 pm
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Exercise 1

Think of a situation where you know you have been a Rescuer, Victim, or Persecutor…you might have been all three at some time in the same scenario

Using that situation ask yourself the following questions:

What am I not doing?

What do I need to do?

Who is taking responsibility for whom? Who am I taking responsibility for?

Am I allowing the other person to take responsibility for themselves and their actions?

Who has the power? How do I know?

Have I agreed to more than I want to do?

Am I doing more than half the work?

Am I owning my power positively and appropriately?

Am I using it to set my own boundaries and take responsibility for myself and my actions?

What boundaries do I need to set up?

Am I using my power to take care of myself properly?

What am I feeling about this situation? What would I like to feel?

What action do I need to take to make sure that I deal with this in the best possible way so that it has the best possible outcome?

What else, what else, what else?

February 19, 2007
12:40 pm
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OK, today I get the Drama Triangle.

First we rescue by caretaking, then we persecute the person we took care of because they either didn't want our help, or our help was perceived as controlling. The books example made me laugh. We tear off our halo's and grab our pitchfork! Then we become the Victim. Sounds like me!

I wrote out the exercise above last night in regards to yesterday with hubby. Yep, I use this pattern alot. Now how do I change this?

February 20, 2007
9:08 am
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I am feeling alone here 🙁

February 20, 2007
9:09 am
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Please don't rescue me. Just needed to get it out.

February 20, 2007
9:28 am
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bevdee
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MJ

I only have a minute - but as for changing it? I don't believe it is going to happen overnight. I believe recognition is a huge part of affecting any change.

I can't chat any more - I am off to work. You have a good day missy.

Bevdee

February 20, 2007
9:36 am
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MJ

Pat yourself on the back for recognition!!

February 20, 2007
9:41 am
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Thanks Bevdee! You enjoy your day at work and life as well.

February 20, 2007
5:22 pm
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armyleo
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Hi MJ,

Thanks for getting the chapter started...You are not alone...I normally read the chapter on Tuesday's and start thinking about it, for the next day or 2...I do read what people write. Which helps me as I'm reading it on my own...

Thanks Again...

BTW - This chapter has alot of questions to think about and answer...

February 20, 2007
6:29 pm
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Rasputin
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Mj: Gimme some time to skim thru that chapter and I will get back to you.

Thanks for starting this chapter. It really helps us to monitor our progress and share our knowledge, experiences with others.

Later!

February 20, 2007
7:26 pm
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mj,

I liked this chapter. I tried to explain this triangle to a therapist that my husband and I were see, but she said she never heard of it.

I think I see/saw my mom do this a lot and thought this was a normal way of life.

She was constantly trying to rescue my father....and boy does it seem like he always needs to be.

I picked a spouse and have been doing the same dang thing. and it is depressing and so durn hard not to.

I questioned today if giving him a dollar for bus fair from my wallet instead of letting him take responsibility and go to a bank himself was a better idea.

He always has something...can't find his keys and we are all supposed to stop our lives...or his ID badge...well STOP BEING A SLOB.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

When I keep taking over for him just so he will go away and stop whining I only get bitter and persecute him in my head...then I get to be the victim, right?

I think that is why I want to be done with this relationship.

He acts like a child...he can't shower and brush his teeth with out me telling him he ought to.

That is not my job. If he wants to be with me...I require appropriate hygiene and responsibility.

He won't do it for me...and if I "make him" I will only end up the victim...no thanks.

No wonder I feel sad about this.

February 20, 2007
8:48 pm
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What I'm fixin to say? Is not to say I am anywhere near being removed from codependency issues. But I had made a little progress. I was able to spot a pattern very early on.

Then a little over a year ago, I hit a rough patch financially. I was considering moving out of state or taking a temp job out of state to make huge money and get myself out of debt. I would have had to find a home for my dog. I was very very down at this time, due to a lot of sad things that had happened to me in the 3 years before that, and then being in the position I was financially, I felt like I was crawling on my belly.

I was rescued
My friend offered to rent me a room, for a very low monthly amount. For the first couple of weeks, I felt great, such relief - not to have creditors calling and not have to worry about money, other than one monthly amount. And nice to have someone at home after making such a long trip each day from work. It took me at least an hour and a half each way.

But after only a couple of weeks, it became obvious that a whole lot was going to be required of me. I was reminded daily that it was not my house. She and her husband fought every day, or night, and often it turned a little violent. Things got thrown and it was loud enough for the dogs to run the other direction. It was enough to wake me from my sleep. Lots of little ways, and there was a power thing going on there. Since I had just moved in, I was not ready to move out, so I did every thing that was asked or demanded of me. I knew the game. It is intrinsic.

I was a rescuer - in that my money was helping her financial situation.

There was a situation with her husband that I was unaware of until after I moved in. He was on appeal for some internet child predator convictions and attempted sexual assault on a minor. (Triggers, triggers that I had not acknowledged at that point) She had paid bail, lawyer and appeals by credit card, and the interest on tens of thousand of dollars was astronomical. I was there to knock back a little bit of the interest. He lost his good job once his criminal record was discovered.

Persecuted- When I learned about then voiced my opinion about the nature of the crime and his continued use of child porn sites, I was told that if I had a problem with it I should leave immediately. That day.

Doing something we really don't want to do.
My role (and I knew it) was to listen to her rant and rave - alternately about her husband, against the judicial system, his mother, her ex-husband. Without commenting unless it was to agree with her. I did this, because of that very real fear of being put out. And - I still wanted her to be my friend.

Doing something for someone although that person is capable of and should be doing it for him or herself. I did all of the housework and many outside errands that could have been done by her or her sporadically employed husband.

Consistently giving more than we receive in a particular situation. I stopped buying groceries after a while, because they quit buying them once I moved inand would casually metion that they were out of... whatever. I could not make myself stop buying dog food - they stopped buying it when I moved in. I fed 5 dogs that were not mine, because I couldn't see those animals hungry. They even stopped the act of feeding them and left that to me. I fed those dogs every day for 9 months.

Doing people's thinking for them. I felt as if they had no brains!! I suggested everything to them from getting foodstamps for the unemployed husband to encouraging him to get his VA benefits for his psych meds, so she wouldn't have to pay for his insurance and meds. I showed her the wholesale stores, and how to compare prices. Then I felt real pissed off when they would not give me the credit for thinking of those things. Acted like it was his idea. Shit, he couldn't think past perving on the pc and webcam when she was gone! (OK - it still makes me mad!!)

Speaking for another person. I really wanted to !!! If I was in the house when their horrible arguments would start, they would try to pull me in them. I drew the line here. I refused to participate in this, but afterward, both of them would still try to get me to comment.

Fixing people's feelings. I became another person for her son when he visited. Miss cheerful. I was always *up*, positive, totally hiding my feelings (I like to think), and made the kid laugh. I distracted him from the fighting and the tension. Me and the dogs - we were a sideshow for this poor kid.

I was a rescuer
She's not healthy- diabetic, and when the stress of her trying to control him got too much for her, her sugar would skyrocket and she would pass out. He was unable to do anything for her - he would literally look at her lying on the floor with a glassy stare. I had to jump in and check her sugar, bark out orders to him - get juice, etc.

But - after she regained consciousness, he would glom on her and kiss her, and ignore me. I was angry that he would not acknowledge that I saved his wife's life. He was a real sick f**k, and I knew it, but I still wanted that recognition.

I made excuses for her, because of this illness. I made excuses for her that I will not allow for myself, and I am diabetic. I made excuses for her so I could tolerate my situation, and function in a role I was familiar with from childhood. And maintain the friendship.

After these fainting episodes, I would worry what would happen to her if I left. I still worry now that I am not in the house, because she doesn't take care of herself. (I know!!)

I was a persecutor -
I did a little of this power play myself. A few times, in the first 6 months, I let them know that I was now in a position to move, and ready to do so. (I didn't want to though. I really just wanted his second appeal to be denied, him to go to prison, so the fighting would stop and I could sleep at night. I really wanted to stay there and pay that low rent) Each time I mentioned leaving, there would be a short time with both of them trying to appease me. I have to admit, if I'm going to be honest, that the efforts they made at kissin my ass?? I felt kinda vindicated- seeing that they needed me there, and were willing to act right, if even for a little while.

I was a persecutor - every chance I got, I said humph or responded by some facial expression to a reference made on the radio or television to any child sex offender. I used to say Hey you wanna watch Dateline tonight?. Because I knew it made her uncomfortable. And I was angry. Mean, huh?

Putting more interest and activity into a joint effort than the other person does I'm taking some courses, and I started them with her. The first semester? It was great to have someone to study with - we helped each other. During the 2nd semester, her husband started studying for her! She explained that he felt left out, and it made it easier for her to have him study for her. We started the 3rd semester after I moved out and he went to prison, and she only wanted my test answers. When I did not give them to her, she panicked and her attempts at emotional blackmail kicked in full time, but I was adamant. I don't know what happened with her studying and tests- I don't care anymore. For a while, I was angry that she had bailed on me. On our studying. But, it was my idea, and I still really want it, so I decided to quit obsessing about how I felt she had failed me.

Her father asked me to live in his lake house, next door. (Not with him) This gives me privacy, but the pattern had been established. She told me her dad likes that I am here for her since the hubby is in prison and she is alone. He has never said this to me - so I don't know how true it is.

She feels entitled in demanding that all her needs be met by someone else. Her husband went to prison, and once he was gone, she really concentrated her efforts at achieving this through me. It took a couple of months of resisting her efforts. She doesn't ask, she states her need, and waits for me to volunteer. I used to do it, but I won't do it anymore. These demands range from simple things such as running an errand that she just doesn't want to do- to inappropriate things like running her son around town when he visits on the weekends (the daddy has custody) because she is expecting that weekly collect call from her husband and can't leave the house - to such outrageous things (to me) as helping her compose letters to lawyers in further attempts to appeal her husband's case.

From the exercise - Am I allowing the other person to take responsibility for themselves and their actions?
When I stated my boundaries, she almost completely retreated, and I would not respond, so her punishment was ineffective. Then for a while, each time she would come over here, she would bunt out a little zinger- some little insult. I just laugh at her when she does this, and she leaves the house quickly. She stopped doing it- for now. But she is doing her own errands and caretaking.

And from the exercise - What am I feeling about this situation?What would I like to feel? It has been 4 months, and I would not mind being friends with her, but it is not necessary to me. It is difficult for me to maintain boundaries each time she tries to overstep, because I am grateful for the cheap rent she offered to me that made it possible for me to get my debt paid off. And because I know her, her father offered me this house to live in and care for.

While I was there- most of the time, I was able to observe and SEE all the dynamics, but because of the family I was raised in, sometimes I was pulled into it. Unintellectually- emotionally. Despite all my learnin. I knew what was going on, but depending on the severity of my need, I was pulled into it.

Am I owning my power positively and appropriately? NO - not always.

At times, I forget all that I did in return and still feel that I owe her. I tend to do that in many situations. I forget my contributions and only retain why I should be grateful. I am trying to achieve balance, and perhaps this is the reason I wrote all this out.

Am I using my power to take care of myself properly? Yes, now that I have stopped obsessing about it. It took me a while, because, like it or not, I had become enmeshed in all of it. I still had a tiny fear that if she were displeased, I would be kicked out of her father's house. I found myself asking about the 3rd appeal, because I hate him so much, and I don't want him out. I really want to hear that he is injured in jail or prison. That's part of the reason I talked to her as much as I did- directly after I moved out. I let it go- the curiosity about the husband. Then I decided that if I had to move? It won't be the end of the world and I have moved so many times, I will take it in stride.

Once I let that go, I have been able to relax more, and sleep at night. Obsession is interesting, if I can study it from a distance. When it's me obsessing about anything, it's horrible.

I have let her know that I will be a friend to her, but I will not do things for her that she is able to do for herself. She is not a stupid woman, and I know that she realises the power has shifted - not to me, but it's not all to her. There is love between us, it remains to be seen what will come from that- with the new boundaries. It won't happen overnight, and there are sometimes still long silences between us- as each new boundary thing comes up. I like to think that the silences are musing and contemplation, rather than a wounded silence on her part. For me? I contemplate. Sometimes there is a wounded feeling, but I work hard to shrug it off. I'm getting better.

February 21, 2007
9:55 am
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mj
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Thanks everyone for sharing your recovery.

I am glad that we are doing this book study. Everyone has their story and it does help to know that we are not alone in sharing our experiences, strengths, and hopes.

Yesterday, I was bouncing off the walls. I couldn't self-validate. I needed someone to tell me I am ok. I wasn't feeling ok within my head. I need to practice asking for what I need more clearly instead of hoping someone will read my mind. I want to remove myself as the victim. I want to remove myself as the perpetrator, and I want to remove myself from the acts of caretaking. There is a healthy balance, that I guess is only found through awareness of our behaviors and practice.

I kept letting my head go to pass rejections yesterday. I showed up at my meeting because newcomers need to have a place to come to learn about codependency. I put up the signs and waited and read. My mind felt like a victim. My thoughts kept telling me it was my fault that no one comes. I had to keep reminding myself that was not true. One member was working, the other was out of state, and that I was where I am suppose to be. It was hard to keep my head out of the victim mode. I keep replay the tapes for my last Al-Anon meeting when the one member said "I don't need this shit today", the other leaving the room, and my sponsor snapping at me, "How do I know". I wanted to confirm that I am not likeable and that I deserve all that comes my way. Where the Hell did I get that tape? Erase. I am done with that tape. That is not true and I refuse to play it ever again.

Today, I have a job interview. I am suiting up and going to be who I am and that's good Enough. I need a job but at what cost? I will breathe deeply, relax, and just enjoy the process. That's how I plan on using my power today.

February 21, 2007
10:27 am
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Rasputin
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Good luck Mj with the job interview!I am keeping my fingers crossed to you. Yes you are likeable, loveable & precious.

Don't worry about those negative thoughts. We all get them. The best thing to do is to replace them with positive ones and to surround youself with warm and kind friends.

Have a delightful day!

February 21, 2007
1:23 pm
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mj
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Thanks Ras for the good energy! I love your positive vibes!

AG, I researched it online after reading it and found the questions I posted as Exercise one.

Here are some more to help us all too!

The Drama Triangle
by Steve Karpman with Comments by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.

Purpose: To promote the life script.
The roles of Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim are portrayed in psychological games.
Serves as a training ground for powerlessness.
Prevents psychological equality in relationships.

Will go on as long as someone is willing to be victimized.

Think if you will about a triangle. On each end are roles that we play in life. One is the persecutor, another is the victim and the last is the rescuer.

**If anyone in this triangle changes roles, the other two roles change as well.

PERSECUTOR - "It's All Your Fault"

Sets strict limits unnecessarily.

Blames

Criticizes

Keeps Victim oppressed

Is mobilized by anger

Rigid, authoritative stance

"Critical" Parent

TO GET OFF THIS TRIANGLE, MOVE TO CLEAR STRUCTURE

VICTIM - "Poor Me"

Feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed

Looks for a Rescuer that will perpetuate their negative feelings.

If stays in Victim position, will block self from making decisions, solving problems, pleasure and self-understanding.

"Dejected" stance.

TO GET OFF THIS TRIANGLE, MOVE TO PROBLEM SOLVING

RESCUER - "Let Me Help You"

Rescues when really doesn't want to.

Feels guilty if doesn't rescue.

Keeps victim dependent.

Gives permission to fail.

Expects to fail in rescue attempts.

"Marshmallow" Parent

TO GET OFF THIS TRIANGLE, MOVE TO CLEAR NURTURING

February 21, 2007
4:58 pm
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mj,

Thanks for the list...This makes much more sense...I'm still reading the chapter...but this puts it in easy, plain language

February 22, 2007
2:28 pm
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MJ--you have done a wonderful job summing up this chapter. Like army said--easy plain language.

I have been through all of these cycles. I have been a persecutor, victim, and rescuer.

Last week I had a chance to really see how much time and energy I spent doing these unhealthy things. I realized that it was more time than I wanted to give. While my husband was gone, I did so many things around the house. And I had so much more time to play and learn with the kids. It was amazing. It was the first time that I had had enough energy to get through the day in a long time.

Now that he has returned unexpectedly, I see the difference in my time and my mood. Pretty sad. I am trying very hard to stick to my guns and not rescue him from this mess he is creating. Hopefully, he will get the message and start fixing himself.

In the meantime I need to rescue myself and my kids.

February 22, 2007
4:01 pm
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Thanks everyone for sharing! Today I have only rescued 4 times. I didn't realize how much I actually do this until doing the work on this chapter. My goal is to stop myself when I start to do a rescue! I am glad everyone is finding this chapter so helpful too!

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