I have been in counseling/therapy since October 2002. I started because the postpartum depression was severe enough that I felt insane. I was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety, ADD and PTSD. I’ve seen psychiatrists, hypnotists, marriage counselors and naturopaths. I have spent hundreds of hours going over things I’ve done, said, seen and analyzed what they mean. I’ve worried about things that haven’t happened and probably won’t happen to the point I’ve made myself physically ill. And through all of this I keep wondering when I am going to get “better”.
When our family hit a rough patch this fall once again we started counseling. I wearily joked one afternoon, “The family that goes to therapy together, stays together.” I’ve never been more fatigued than the last few months.
Through a series of amazing events and desperation for a miracle we found ourselves in a small room. With someone who I swear is a miracle worker. It took her two sessions to figure out our problems were deeper than the crisis that sent us there. The next time it ended with her and I alone in the room. She started speaking to me and I tried desperately to hide. I knew she was speaking the truth and it was terrifying me and I just wanted to run far away. And I couldn’t quit crying and she was so gentle but unwavering. Suddenly I collapsed. I was exhausted. I looked up at her and said, “OK. I need help. So tell me what to do.”
She wrote 2 rules of engagement on a piece of paper: Open, honest questions. Permission to give your opinion. I felt like she just took away all my control and I was not happy. If I can’t control the people around me, I can’t control what happens to me and that thought makes me want to crawl into a hole and die. But she kept saying how I need to let go so that I can gain what I want and I kept looking at her like she’s would turn my world upside down. I should have know that’s EXACTLY what she would do.
She sent me an article to read. “Better have the husband read it too.” I laugh…like he’s going to read a psychology article. The article introduces The Drama Triangle. It’s a model of interaction between parties involved in dysfunctional relationships. People move between the points of the triangle causing conflict. It’s a game…that destroys relationships. There is the victim, who needs someone to rescue them. There is the rescuer, who needs someone to rescue. There is the persecutor who let’s the victim know it’s their fault they need rescued. It’s usually started by the victim. Essentially, I’m the classic victim, the husband is the classic rescuer and we both take turns being VERY good persecutors. We’ve played this game for 24 years. The result is an unhealthy, dysfunctional family. And her solution: “Get off the triangle.” Like it’s that easy!
We read the article a few times. But how do we get off the triangle? It’s easier for the husband as he quit trying to rescue me years ago. But me? I’m struggling because I’m not sure what normal looks like and my anxiety keeps screaming loud. I have this underlying fear that if I don’t stay the victim, he won’t need me and we will fall apart again. As I walk myself through my thought process, with the principles of the drama triangle, I see just how ridiculous this all is.
So we go back to the room and she explains the triangle again. She draws another triangle, puts God at the top point and my husband at another and me at another. I look at her. No WAY God is on the drama triangle with us. No, she says, this is not the drama triangle. This is how it should work. And in the middle of this triangle she draws a circle and she writes “Imago Dei”. This circle, this is the image of God in us. When we start operating from the circle we will quit operating from the triangle. We have to leave the triangle so the drama will stop.
She gives more homework: Discover our personality type using the Enneagram tests. We are assigned to determine our own personality and the personality of the others in our family. The final conclusion is our household has a helper, peacemaker, achiever and investigator…and one who is a possible acheiver/helper/enthusiast. The husband was the most difficult (he’s the triune one) because he plays a role in our drama triangle which is not who he really is and we’re still trying to figure it out. Calvin was difficult but we finally pegged him. Bella, Gabby and I were easier as it’s our drama triangle that causes the most conflict in our family. The next step: we are leaving the triangle.
I wish I’d learn this about 20 years ago but I don’t think the husband or I would have accepted it. I’m thankful we’re learning it now. And our children…as she put it, “The split between who they are and who they have been told to be is not very wide.” As for the husband and I…that’s why I believe she’s a miracle worker. She has a HUGE job ahead of her…working through issues that all these counselors have never been able to work through before. But I have a feeling that if anyone can help us, she can. She is the one Abba can use to help us find our Imago Dei and finally leave this drama triangle.