You can be a victim, a hero, or a persecutor. The Karpman Drama Triangle describes how some people live in this trichotomy. The victim sees themselves as blameless. They desire to be loved no matter what.
The hero likes to be the rescuer, to be good. The persecutor likes to be always right.
The theory says that people who live in the drama triangle choose one or two favored positions. We live in one role and sometimes switch around, but the chaos protects us from actually dealing with the problem. There is no solution, only problems because the drama is the goal. The responsibility remains out in space, unowned. The internal conflict gets to be ignored because life is all about creating conflict and stirring it up in others’. There is no empathy, only absorption in the roles of the triangle. It feeds emptiness, and provides identity because the two people can jump from one identity/role to another.
I just recently was re-introduced to this concept. There are those who think that living in this triangle, particularly if someone is trying to break the cycle, that leads to divorce. I read that 75% of all marriages end because the woman asks for divorce. The majority of men polled said they had no idea it was so bad and were totally unable to change in time. Most of the time there were years of resentment and anger built up. There was a complete lack of communication and honesty.
It got me to thinking about my marriage and divorce. My first impulse was to point fingers and avoid responsibility. I tried to think of myself as blameless. (oops) I wanted to be safe and to be pitied. I will also admit that the understanding of my manipulation by assuming the victim role upset me and I thought of becoming the persecutor. I figured if I was right then I wouldn’t be the victim anymore. Honestly, then I thought if I took the higher ground I could become the hero. (I have always wanted to be a hero.) As I read about the triangle, I became a little more confused. I could see my ex and I running around the drama triangle with glee. I understood our need to avoid problems and pretend to be perfect. I could see how some of my responsibility taking upset that triangle. I was actually told once to stop taking so much responsibility. (I wonder if I was actually taking responsibility or was playing the victim.) I was so entrenched in blaming my ex-wife for living in the drama triangle, I forgot that it takes 2 to play the manipulation game. The triangle doesn’t work in isolation of relationship.
After thinking of that, I actually started thinking of myself as a victim of the triangle. I felt stuck in it. I decided to look at the painful reality of my responsibility. I decided to risk being honest. I needed to be honest with myself as well as those I loved. I vowed to not be too full of myself, or too empty. It wasn’t easy to really explore my inadequacies in my marriage, my parenting, my living. I had been ill equipped to deal with internal conflict, so I created it outside of myself.
Then I decided to look at respect. Respect of others and for myself. More importantly, I needed to learn respect of the journey and not the destination. I needed to respect confronting problems rather than ignoring them. I needed to say “No” and “Yes” when appropriate.
Finally, I needed to learn to make agreements that last. I needed to compromise. I needed to learn that problems are only solved together.
Its a process.