Drama Queen, Drama King
There are Dramas played out in nearly every family or relationship. Some are loud and dramatic, some are silent. When I speak of Drama I mean a specific way of relating – or better, not-relating - to each other. We all bicker sometimes, or a good row sometimes clears the air, and there is nothing wrong with that; it becomes difficult though if we are so full of resentments that we are unable to relate to others in an open and direct way. We start to play mind games: we try to manipulate, we play the blame-game, we try to make the other person feel guilty or tell them that, if they would behave differently, all would be better. In short, we don’t want to take responsibility for our feelings; we want the other person to be responsible for our misery. Here is a model that describes this destructive dynamic:
If we are in the position of the Persecutor (bullying, intimidating) we attack the other person, criticise them, blame them for the way they are, do or say things. In the Victim-position we feel hard done by, hurt, treated unfairly. If we are a Rescuer we always try to solve other people’s problems; we think that, without our intervention, things will go wrong and that we are more capable than others to do things “the right way”. Of course, we don’t stay in one position all the time; we move from one corner of the triangle to another. If a Rescuer is rebuffed they then turn into a Victim: “I only wanted to help” they might say and go away sulking, or they turn into a Persecutor and attack the rebuffer: “But you never do things right, you’re useless!”. Persecutors may feel that they are the Victim while they attack others. Victims may turn around and have a go at who they feel attacked by. You can see that this dynamic has many facets, but whenever we attack and blame one another we’re trapped in it. This may be done by sniping, needling or shouting, or it may happen in silence: we are secretly angry or contemptuous but we never dare to say anything and our relationships turn silent, distant or hostile when all the unspoken stuff builds up like a mountain between us. But there is hope: we can free ourselves from this endless vicious Triangle by taking responsibility. Which means: We stop saying “YOU did this, YOU are like that, etc.” Instead we could say: “I feel lonely, cut off from you. I feel resentful. I feel taken for granted. I need your help. I am grumpy today. I am sorry. I hate it when you talk down to me.” And we leave it at that. If the other person responds with anger we don’t start arguing. We might go and do something else and give the other person some space. The pull of the Drama-Triangle is extremely strong, like an addiction, and it’s hard to stay away from it. But if you persist your relationships will improve. Counselling can support you in this liberating endeavour.