“After all that I’ve done for you, this is what I get in return?!?!”
It’s a common quandary of a Rescuer, one of the three roles that form the Karpman Drama Triangle, with the two others being the Victim and Persecutor.
They comprise the model of energy dynamics that explains what goes on in human interactions, those involving conflicts, especially those that are difficult to resolve or follow the same pattern and cycle.
Conceptualized in 1968 by Stephen Karpman, M.D., the recurring pattern can also be found in an abusive home and dysfunctional family environments. The roles switch as the drama plays out and becomes a vicious cycle. A destructive behavioral pattern.
Abuse was a dominant theme in my family of origin. We repeatedly played out the roles in this drama — and we played them well! 😉
While I’ve had my fair share of taking on all three roles, it is the energy of the rescuer that had become so much more prominent for me in recent years.
I’ve looked more closely into this energy pattern recently as it relates to my living situation here at Sugar Beach.
As I shared in an earlier post,
“It was my unconscious desire to be the white knight saving the damsel in distress why I had — unknowingly — chosen to stay at this resort in Sugar Beach — despite all the toxicity in the energies in my midst. I thought I could help the owner and the rest of the staff get out of the rut that they’re in. I thought I could assist them to be more empowered. I thought I was fulfilling my mission by doing that. I thought it was one reason — the purpose — why I was led here.”
Because my growth and evolution is my focus and priority, I have been adamant to learn what I needed from all that I went through, before heading out to my next destination.
One excellent article that clearly illustrates how this drama plays out is “The Three Faces of Victim — An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest. For the purpose of this post and where I’m at in my journey, I’ll focus on the Rescuer role.
“Rescuers usually grow up in families where their dependency needs are not acknowledged. It’s a psychological fact that we treat ourselves the way we were treated as children. The budding Rescuer grows up in an environment where their needs are negated and so tend to treat themselves with the same degree of negligence that they experienced as children. Without permission to take care of themselves, their needs go underground and they turn instead to taking care of others.
[The Rescuer] often gains great satisfaction by identifying with their care-taking role. They are generally proud of what ‘helpers’ and ‘fixers’ they are. Often they are socially acclaimed, even rewarded, for what can be seen as ‘selfless acts’ of caring. They believe in their goodness as chief caretakers and see themselves as heroes.
Behind it all is a magical belief that, said out loud, might sound like,’ If I take care of them long enough, then, sooner or later, they will take care of me too.’”
But this seldom happens. We are only setting ourselves up for more rejection.
As Forrest points out, those that we are drawn to rescue are needy and “can’t even help themselves.” They have no capacity to extend any appreciation for the help they are receiving.
Sometimes, they even feel entitled because of their ‘sorry’ state. The epitome of ‘Poor-me,’ remember? So, how then can they even be there for us and appreciate our gesture of kindness?
They can’t, and they won’t.
Another article expounds,
“It may seem unfair to criticize rescuers or rescuing, but a closer look at the dynamics of the interaction reveals the inequities in the situation. Rescuers will always be left unsatisfied because, in attending to others, they neglect their own needs and eventually become burned out. This is a double blow because a prime reason behind rescuing is to get attention – and, more often than not, rescuers are rejected by the same ones they are trying to help. The rescuer is then left feeling like a victim of the other’s refusal, and unappreciated…The person being rescued is also left dissatisfied, because the rescuer’s unconscious message is ‘I’m OK, you’re not OK – you’re so inadequate I have to do it for you.’ From this vantage point, the ‘rescuee’ typically turns on the rescuer, thus becoming a persecutor, saying ‘Leave me alone’ or ‘See what you’ve done.’ Such role reversals are the basic strategy at work in all games.”
Narcissism + Emotional Void = Rejection
When we rescue to satisfy an emotional need, particularly to feel valued, we may come across as desperate for approval.
In an earlier post, I talked about the danger of narcissistic inflation as it relates to compassion.
When our need to fill in an emotional void in rescuing is accompanied by our propensity towards narcissism, this sends an unconscious message to the one we’re helping that they’re ‘incompetent and inadequate’ that we even need to do things for them.
Granted that the ‘rescuee’ recognizes the rescuer’s gesture and is, in fact, appreciative of it. Our message — albeit, unconscious — of pointing to the ‘rescuee’’s incompetence and inadequacy only repulses them. It may even discourage the ‘rescuee’ to extend any form of acknowledgment or appreciation for our kindness.
When we rescue to feel valued, and that doesn’t happen, we feel used and abused. Betrayed. We feel victimized.
From Rescuer, we now become the Victim.
We switch from ‘Poor you, here let me help [fix/do it for] you,’ to ‘Oh, poor me. They can’t even at least thank me for what I’ve done for them!’ 😦
The rescuer passes on their resentments to the ‘rescuee.’ They start attacking, spewing out their distaste for the ‘rescuee’’s apparent lack of appreciation for what the rescuer has done. They recount all the things that they’ve given. They bully. Intimidate.
From the Victim, they now become the Persecutor.
And so goes the drama and continuing saga.
Sounds familiar? Can you relate? What has been your experience with being the Rescuer or the one being attended to by a Rescuer?
😀 ⭐ ❤ ⭐ 😀
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