Hearing the Drama Triangle in action

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A guest post from “Laurie”:

We were surrounded by beautiful forest, and sunshine, and a blue sky on our drive to therapy last week. It takes about 35 minutes to get there. Inside the car was basically a dark, black, stuffy cloud of anger, hostility, and drama.

We got into a disagreement about something minor, I can’t remember what. He got testy and upset so I got quiet. I hate being trapped in a car while we are arguing. He asked if that was all that was bothering me. I said no but I didn’t want to talk about it right now. (I could tell he wasn’t a safe place to talk to about what was really bothering me. )

What was bothering me: He had, for the second week in a row, skipped our weekly check-in in which we talk about his addiction, any acting out that has occurred, the recovery effort’s we’ve both made etc. On the advice of our therapist I’ve agreed to try to let him be the one to bring the topic up so he can “practice using his courage.” The check-in didn’t happen. We were on our way to therapy and I hadn’t heard anything in a week, I was anxious about it. I was fearful of what I didn’t know. I was angry that he, yet again, can’t keep a simple commitment of once a week check-ins. It seems to me that keeping simple commitments would be a good way for him to show me he is trust-worthy. But, he was on edge and testy and irritable in the car so now was certainly not the time to express my anxiety and fears.

Enter drama triangle tactics from B.

I succumbed and told him what was bothering me. Just as you might expect, it didn’t go well. Within five minutes we were screaming at each other. He was pointing and cursing and there was no logic to be found. He would accuse and I would try to re-explain (loudly, and with lots of tears) and it would fall on deaf ears so I would try again (even more loudly, with more tears, and probably some cursing of my own) as he was cursing and yelling. After another couple minutes I stopped talking. I told him I was done talking until we got to therapy and I sat there and sobbed to myself as he continued to berate me.

What was interesting though is once I finally shut up I could hear just how illogical everything he was saying really was. I could hear SO CLEARLY the drama triangle at work. He tried for the first five minutes to pull me back in by persecuting me. When that didn’t work he switched to being the victim trying to draw me out into the rescuer role. That is when I really wanted to give in. I wanted to contradict his “I’m so useless. I’m such a failure. Clearly you don’t even love me at all since you aren’t disagreeing…” etc. I felt myself REALLY wanting to go in and “rescue” but I kept my mouth shut. Eventually he ran out of steam since I wasn’t talking, or looking at him, or moving, and we just rode in silence.

It taught me somethings, or rather, reminded me of some things.

1) Always trust yourself. When he doesn’t feel safe to open up to, DON’T OPEN UP. If I’d have kept to that prompting it would have been a much easier car ride.

2) When B is in addict mode, he isn’t behaving logically, and his arguments are not logical, and it is illogical to try and talk reasonably with him. It is only harming myself to try and reason with him in that state.

3) It takes two to make an argument. I can just stop. I doesn’t mean he is right. It doesn’t mean I am wrong. It doesn’t mean I am weak. It doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It means I am taking a break from the conversation because one or both of us are not in the right mind-set to have a productive conversation about this topic.

4) Listening can teach us so much more than talking.

I hate addiction. I hate this addiction. I hate pornography and masturbation. I still love B. I hope that my love for him can last longer than it takes him to get into recovery. I hope that my desire to stay lasts longer than it takes for him to get sober and get serious about making changes. I know I won’t just go back to ignoring everything for years like he wants me to do. I don’t know what will last longer, the addiction or our marriage.

You can read more of Laurie’s thoughts on her blog: