home | therapies | couples and families | How one woman learned to stop rescuing others and take care of herself

How one woman learned to stop rescuing others and take care of herself

The Drama Triangle – Rescuer

How one woman learned to stop rescuing others and take care of herself

I was 21 when my father died. He’d always been the main breadwinner, and my mum had always appeared to be fragile, and emotionally and financially dependent upon him. I remember thinking when we were told he’d passed away, that mum would never survive without him. Looking back, this was the beginning of some serious rescuing behaviour. I began to call her, every day without fail and visit up to five times a week. I recall even telling friends what a burden she’d become.

Many years later, resentful and tired of rescuing my mum (and others) I found myself in therapy. The Drama Triangle was a revelation. Just the simple realisation that never once did my mum ask me to call her every day was life-changing for me. I’d appointed myself as her saviour and then embarked on a journey – persecuting her for her (imagined) demands upon me and my time and then feeling sorry for myself when my efforts were never enough.

The true revelation came when, after learning how not to rescue (my automatic behaviour was difficult at first to resist, and it took many months before I can say that I began to do things differently), I could see my mum with fresh eyes. She wasn’t the weak, incapable person I had created in my head.

I will never forget visiting her house on a July afternoon to see her well-manicured garden, abundant with flowers, her cat basking in the sun. Neighbours were popping round, and she had a social network and friends who enjoyed genuine camaraderie and fun.

This had been going on all along, but it was only with my newfound perspective that I could see it. Out of my tendency to rescue, I’d seen an entirely different picture because it suited me.

Rescuing hadn’t been about ‘helping’ my mum, it had been about avoiding my grief. And yet while I was focusing all of my attention on fixing my mum, she was pouring her love and creative energy into cultivating a beautiful garden.

I was the one who needed (and got) help.

I’d love to say that our relationship is perfect now, but of course, it’s far from that. That’s life. What’s different is noticing when the drama creeps in (which it inevitably does from time to time) and having the awareness to step back and look at what’s going on. For me, this means asking, ‘why am I rescuing? What need do I deny in myself by focusing on someone else?’ 

The above account is taken from our new book, The Everybodies Guide to The Drama Triangle, and is available now to purchase for just £3.99 from Kindle, or directly from our website. 


Praise for The Everybodies Guide to The Drama Triangle 

"Due to its simplicity, the insights gained by having an understanding of The Drama Triangle can stay with people for life. This is because, once people see for themselves how they are acting out The Drama Triangle and its dysfunctional role with their loved ones, co-workers, friends, and strangers for that matter, they are less likely to respond using old patterns of behaviour. It is a great tool for helping us to raise self-awareness and can act as a ‘go-to’ model when we need to step back and analyse what’s really going on."

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.