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Author Topic: How do you define not participating in the Karpman Triangle?  (Read 937 times)
zachira
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« on: March 24, 2020, 12:07:26 PM »

I have been reading up on the Karpman Triangle including the article posted on this site. I would like some feedback and stories on how members avoid participating in the Karpman Triangle and what are the responses they have used instead.
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2020, 12:30:30 PM »

To me it's more about watching my own emotions and reactions. Being pulled in isn't something we are always aware of. For me, it feels instinctual. My mother acts distressed or helpless and I feel the pull to do something about it.

It's interesting as I brought this into my own marriage. My H would act irritated and I would find myself in the middle of fixing things, soothing, making his feelings better- almost as if any sign of distress would put me on "automatic". As I learned to be more aware of my own reactions, I could see what I was doing sometimes as I was doing them.

With my mother, all she would have to do is act helpless and next thing you know, I am giving advice, doing things for her, consoling her. That was my role growing up. It felt normal to me.

Getting "off the triangle" means not reacting the same way. It means being able to soothe myself when in the presence of someone else's distress and not jump in to fix it- let them learn to handle their own feelings unless it is a danger to themselves or someone else. If your family member is angry or having bad feelings, let them deal with it.

Resist the urge to get into victim mode by triangulating with another family member.

In short, don't be rescuer, victim or persecutor.
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zachira
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2020, 02:03:35 PM »

Thank you Notwendy. Your response is very helpful. I am doing a lot of what you are saying by practicing mindfulness and working on radical acceptance. I am also doing what you and my therapist recommended, which is a form of mindfulness: observing how I am feeling inside when interacting with my family members with BPD and other people who are self absorbed. It is overwhelming at times how so many generations of my father's family get pulled into the script of the golden children can do no wrong no matter how badly they behave, and the scapegoats are rarely given credit for anything they do, and are constantly being criticized and blamed unfairly. I have been reading the Familylistserve, and my sister with BPD has posted all about how she yelled and swore at people that got too close to her in the park, and her bad behavior was applauded by the family. I would probably have said nothing to the people or if I did would have tried to be kind and understanding. My sister with BPD does these small nice things to look good and is praised to the hilt by the family. I prefer to do kind things for people without others knowing about it. It makes me feel so good to know that I don't need the recognition from others and what I am doing comes from the heart. I am starting to consider going no contact with all my father's family when all the legal matters are settled between my siblings and I which could take years or may never happen. I keep thinking of people who have lost all their family members through genocide and how they have taken the high road in being the best people they can be. I recently read about an African man who adopted a teenage boy and loves him as if he were his own son. I want to be like these people who have lost their families through genocide, and have chosen to be the opposite of the people who killed their families.
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2020, 05:51:15 PM »

Zachira and Notwendy,

The topic is of getting out of the Karpman Triangle is highly relevant to me as well.  Notwendy, I am attending to do what you have mastered - noticing my thoughts and feeling before reacting.  My being such a people pleaser and rescuer has made things infinitely worse. 

Zachira, if I recall correctly you too are going through an estate swindle.  If the legal issues you refer to are regarding the estate, there is a pretty narrow limit as to how long you have to file for undue influence or whatever the allegation may be. It depends on your state. If you or they have filed, then yes court cases can drag on for years.  It sounds like we are also in a similar place in terms of wanting to grow through the trauma rather than merely go through it. I have a Cambodian friend who was sent to a labor camp by the Khmer Rouge when she was seven and after escaping back to her family spent two years at a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to the United States.  She says she does not regret anything she went through because it made her who she is today. I'm definitely not at that point, in large part because I'm not the only one who has suffered horrifically from my sister's abuse.  Maybe I will never be there, but I agree that attempting to make it to the other side with our humanity and soul intact is a worthwhile goal. 
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2020, 01:04:47 AM »

I love what NotWendy wrote:

Excerpt
Getting "off the triangle" means not reacting the same way. It means being able to soothe myself when in the presence of someone else's distress and not jump in to fix it- let them learn to handle their own feelings unless it is a danger to themselves or someone else. If your family member is angry or having bad feelings, let them deal with it.

Resist the urge to get into victim mode by triangulating with another family member.

In short, don't be rescuer, victim or persecutor.

I have not shared my story with anyone in my town other than one friend, and after I shared it (I was vulnerable and released a little volcanic steam), I kind of regretted it, because although she tried to be supportive, she didn't know how.  She's my walking partner, and although she is aware that my relationship with my mom is pocked with challenges, she can't help me because it's not a shared experience, and just not in her realm of understanding or comprehension.  So I don't share my baggage with anyone other than my H (supportive), my T (supportive), and whoever chooses to read my posts on this board.  Perhaps I'm dead wrong, but I feel like sharing with anyone else is a super big risk with low opportunity for supportive reward.  The "plus" is that it also lowers my risk of falling into the triangulation trap.  I am truly fearful that if I were to share this stuff to someone without any experience of BPD, I could sound like the persecutor rather than the victim.  After all, mom has had enough smarts and charm to fool almost everybody her whole life (except for me, my dad, one sister, one friend, and possibly a male friend who is moving 1000 miles away in 1 week).  To everyone else, she is a charming quirky old lady.  So why would anyone believe me when I tell my story, since my truth is so different from their truth?  I just stay away from the risk.  That's one way I avoid the triangle. 

The other way has been to learn to adjust to mom's emotional discomfort, and not jump in to rescue as I have done my whole life (so well articulated by NotWendy).  Holy Moly that's been so hard to learn, because at first I felt like an evil horrible person. To let mom "sit with her feelings" and sort and suffer it out on her own was unthinkable.  To her it meant I didn't love her.  When I write it out like that, I can see how messed up that is, but my whole life that was my normal.  But I've very slowly come to see that is exactly what I must do.  And I've slowly come to notice and observe this is what "healthy" friends do with their parents and SO's, and they are still good people.  What a revelation. 
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Harri
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2020, 08:37:04 AM »

When I first learned about the Karpman drama triangle, I understood it in terms of the other person.  As in not getting drawn into their needs and not playing rescuer, victim or persecutor.

Over time, I came to realize that the Karpman Drama Triangle is really about me, my behaviors and how I play a part in the dysfunctional dance.  I can't get "sucked in" without allowing it to happen and it does not matter if I am responding based on what I learned growing up.  That may help explain my behavior but it does not excuse it and it does not mean I am not part of the problem.  It is easy to look at our role as a reaction or a response or a learned behavior.  I guess I am saying it does not really matter to me why I behave the way I do beyond understanding it so I do not beat myself up and so I can change it.  To change, to heal, to not participate?  We need to look at our behavior in isolation too and manage that.  To look at our role and see it as a function of someone else's behavior misses the point I think.  

The Drama triangle is really about how we add to or even create the drama.  

Have you read this article on the subject:  Three faces of Victim.  It tales a close look at how we, the "non", create our own drama triangles.

Quote from:  zachira
I have been reading up on the Karpman Triangle including the article posted on this site. I would like some feedback and stories on how members avoid participating in the Karpman Triangle and what are the responses they have used instead.
I guess I am saying it is about being true to me, knowing what my limits are in terms of other people, understanding my own behaviors and refusing to give away my power.  Not being on the drama triangle is more an attitude or state of mind.   Once I understand that I can respond in ways that are true to my values.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 02:46:54 PM by Harri » Logged


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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2020, 09:56:24 AM »

I was fortunate to work with a counselor who would not let me vent to her without "turning the mirror" on me. She would not allow me to take "victim" perspective in any of this. One could make the argument that being the recipient of abuse is a sort of victim, but her reply was that victim perspective does not lead to personal empowerment or choice.

Once she was certain that I was not in physical danger from the disordered people in my circle, her goal for me was to "stay calm in the storm". That meant they could be raging at me, yelling insults or false accusations, whatever. Keep the boundary: what is me, what is not me. Their feelings are not my feelings. We are all responsible for our own feelings and we can't control someone else's feelings ( this isn't about directly hurting someone, we can apologize for that if we truly do that).

Often the situation isn't about what we said, or did, or didn't do-- but their own interpretation of that. They might make meaning out of something that had nothing to do with us. We can't control that, what stories they make up.

This was a challenge to change from how I was raised to feel responsible for my mother ( and then other people's feelings).   It also helped to be around young children having a tantrum. If they want a candy bar, and you say "no, we will be having dinner soon" they will yell, scream, and even call us names. What do we do? Adults allow children to self soothe, give them time to settle down. We don't give them the candy bar, or try to do something else to calm them down. We also don't tantrum back- yell, scream or escalate the situation. This state of mind is what we need to get to with pwBPD.

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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2020, 11:45:58 AM »

That article was super helpful Harri.

I'm asking myself "how did I miss this article" on this website?

I've scanned these for it:

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS SITE   
Survivor to thriver program   
Building a Healthy Life Around a BPD Mother or Father
LESSONS   
SUGGESTED READING   

I'm wondering if there are other sections (apart from the above list) with information that I have not yet found on the site, or if I just somehow overlooked it in the library of information from the above list?

If in fact it's not in the above info, I would dearly love to know where it came from as that could indicate there is probably a lot of other helpful info I am missing out on.

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zachira
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2020, 12:02:39 PM »

Thank you for all your responses. It does seem that continuing to work on differentiation is the key. I like what Notwendy's therapist did. I now see that I have to keep focusing on what my feeling are and not take on the feelings of disordered people. This is relatively simple when the person who is mistreating me is not really able to harm me in significant ways, and it gets more complicated when I am feeling terribly hurt by the escalation of cruel behaviors by my siblings with BPD. I admire people who have kept their humanity and compassion in the worst of times, despite suffering horrible injustices that impact their lives forever. It is a lifelong challenge to be the best human being we can be, yet we win by not letting what others have done affect us more than taking out time to grieve through practicing mindfulness, which is different than staying angry.
Methuen's talking about not sharing with people that will not understand how she sees her family members is a big one. So many times, I just want to tell these people how I feel and most of the time, it just leaves me feeling more misunderstood. These people have drunk the koolaid of whatever the disordered person has told them or have not had the kind of experience to understand what it is like to be smeared by a disordered family member. One of the benefits of being part of such of a disordered family is I have learned not to be so taken in by people that others are immediately charmed by. I really look at the congruence between body language, words, and actions. This has lead me to attracting a lot of wonderful people into my life who are kindly honest about who they are, and treat me with respect and kindness. I have indeed found quite a few people who have family members with BPD, and we are able to support each other while making the focus of the friendship more about enjoying and validating each other, though we are there for each other from time to time when one of us needs to talk about our family member with BPD.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 12:11:04 PM by zachira » Logged

Harri
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2020, 12:15:29 PM »

Methuen we have an entire Library section and it sounds like you have not come across it before.  Go to the Page with all the boards listed: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php and scroll down until you see the words: Community Built Knowledge Base.  We have 6 boards under that Category that are full of articles on the behaviors, tools and skills, books, videos, research surveys, etc.  It is one of those boards that the article you asked about is located.   I have linked that several times before as well.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

If there is a particular subject you want more info on, you can use the search function.  For more info on that, click here: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=55641.msg545547#msg545547

We also have articles to read here: https://bpdfamily.com/
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 02:11:04 AM by Harri, Reason: fixed link » Logged


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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2020, 12:25:43 PM »

Missing NC,
Thank you for reminding me of the gift of gratitude. I know that I would not be the person I am today without all the trauma I have chosen to work through. I certainly  enjoy life more, and am able to have deep meaningful relationships and experiences because I have had to look deeply inside myself to understand how I am feeling which allows me at times to have extremely deep compassion for myself and others. For years, I have not had much interest in spirituality, yet now the calling is there to explore radical acceptance, Buddism, enlightment, etc., Having heartbreaking experiences can be the gift that keeps on giving if we allow these experiences to enrich our lives and the lives of others in meaningful heartfelt ways. Your story about your Cambodian friend makes me think of my neighbor. He is a war veteran and regrets many things he did during the war. He has dedicated his life to helping others, and indeed he is the nicest neighbor I have ever had. I can't help my disordered family members, and I can indeed continue to become a better person in my own right while giving love and kindness to others.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 12:31:50 PM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2020, 12:51:44 PM »

Harri,
Thank you for your response and the article. I do agree that we have to respond in ways that are true to our values. I used to be a person that a lot of people did not like because I often acted like my disordered family members. The difference is that I noticed that many people did not like me and worked on learning how to respond differently. At first, I tried the phony niceness similar to what my disordered family members do, and most people seemed to see right through the phoniness. Then I started to work on being authentically kind which is a life long goal, as we are never perfect or kind all the time. Now I look at pictures of my disordered family members and myself before I went to therapy, and I see a bunch of people pertending to be happy. Life is challenging right now, and I am working on being grateful that somehow I have the capacity to grow and change, unlike my disordered family members. I have to let go of being the victim, while feeling the hurt and sorrow at the same time. Deeply felt sadness and grief is what helps me let go of the anger and stop venting. There is relief from deep crying. I think the key is being vulnerable to feeling our deepest hurt feelings while feeling compassion for those that are cruel to us, because we all know at some level that how we treat others is an honest reflection of how we really feel about ourselves.
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2020, 01:05:38 PM »

Excerpt
Feeling “looked down upon” or “worth-less than” the others, the Victim builds resentment and sooner or later, retaliation follows. A natural progression from victim to persecutor follows.

This further explains to me why the "cycle of abuse" perpetuates itself.  Most people have heard that childhood victims later become "bullies" themselves, and victimize others.  So many factors feed into that dynamic, but I've never before heard it explained within the context of the Karpman drama triangle.

Excerpt
They may choose to emulate their primary childhood abuser(s), preferring to identify with those they see as having power and strength – rather than become the “picked on loser” at the bottom of life’s pile. SGP’s tend to adopt an attitude that says; “The world is hard and mean … only the ruthless survive. I’ll be one of those.”

So many times, I have wondered how and why my mom chooses to model some of her abusive father's behaviors and beliefs.  This helps to explain that.  The man was a beast, an animal, and occasionally a raging maniac.  I could never understand how or why she could hold him in any kind of esteem for anything.

Excerpt
SGPs often need a jolt of rage the same way other people depend on a shot of caffeine. It jump-starts their day and provides them with the energy needed to keep them on their feet.

This describes my mom perfectly.  I believe that she "gets off on" having a rage on others.  The last time she raged at me, I told her I believed that "every so often she just needed to rage at someone, but that it was not ok to treat people including me like that".  I did it in a calm voice and set a boundary.  It's probably just her anti-depressant meds that kicked in, but she hasn't done it since.  I know it will happen again though.  

Excerpt
Ironically, a main exit way off the triangle is through the persecutor position. This does not mean we become persecutors. It does mean however, that once we decide to get off the triangle, there most likely will be those who see us as persecutors. (”How can you do this to me?”) Once we decide to take self-responsibility and tell our truth, those still on the triangle are likely to accuse us of victimizing them. “How dare you refuse to take care of me,” a Victim might cry.

So this is the thing in my life that is causing me the greatest anxiety right now.  Mom is 83, frail, mostly a waif (an occasional mix of one of the other characters), and needy.  She has a history of falls, and is also showing signs of early vascular dementia or binswangers.  She is incessant in her message that I must look after her (passive aggressive approach).  I have learned a lot since the last epic crisis, and no longer jump in to "rescue" her.  I am doing her grocery shopping for her now, with Covid, but I see that as reasonable under the circumstances, and not rescuing.  H and I no longer do things for her that she can do for herself.  But I am terrified of the day that some critical event happens which results in her needing to give up her home and go into long term care.  I already know all the things she will scream at me.  For the daily problems, I am now able to slow my thinking down, and be rational, and thoughtful about how I respond to her, but when I think about the fateful day when the crisis comes that means she will need to go into a care home, I go into full panic mode, and the thinking stops.  This is exactly the point where I think I get stuck getting off the Karpman drama triangle. I want to get off, but the fear of the words that will come with that rage, paralyze me.  I could use a little "shove" to figure out how to move through that, and believe I will survive it, to move forward.

So I just heard my inner child speak those thoughts, and realized that was my victim mode voice.  

Huh.  I think I'm finally getting it (the triangle and my role in it).

OK.  So I think I am able to see that somehow I will get through that day, when it comes.  I have more tools and understanding now than I've had at any previous time in my life, so I've got this, right?

Time to get off the  Cursing - won't cause site restrictions at Starbucks (click to insert in post) triangle.

Excerpt
This doesn't prevent them from feeling highly resentful towards those on who they depend. As much as they insist on being taken care of by their primary rescuers … they nonetheless do not appreciate being reminded of their inadequacy.

This is a direct hit on how my aging frail uBPD feels about me, and how she was able to rage at me that her pain (from a fall in her back yard when I wasn't even there), was all my fault after I spent 4+ weeks doting on her every need.  I imagine it is for all of us who have challenges with aging BPD parents.

Excerpt
The very thing a Rescuer seeks (validation and appreciation) is the thing Victims most resent giving because it is a reminder to them of their own deficiencies. Instead they resent the help that is given.

Bingo.  Personally, I responded by withdrawing and going NC and then LC.  

The link Harri posted is so helpful, and so well-explained, with such meangingful examples.  Thanks for the link Harri.
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2020, 01:27:02 PM »

Harri:
Ahh!  So I've poked around that Community Built Knowledge Base, but clearly missed that article.  Clearly I should do lots more "poking around" Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) Smiling (click to insert in post)  The search link helps too. Thanks Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2020, 04:28:25 PM »

Quote from:  Notwendy
One could make the argument that being the recipient of abuse is a sort of victim, but her reply was that victim perspective does not lead to personal empowerment or choice.
Exactly!  Yes, we were victims when we were kids.  We are not kids.  We do have power, we do have agency now as adults, we just need to recognize it, accept it and change (I made that sound easy and I know it isn't).

Excerpt
I used to be a person that a lot of people did not like because I often acted like my disordered family members.
I can relate.  I think it is good that you can recognize how you were before you became aware.  It is important not just for us and healing from the past but in being able to change our own behaviors.  Kudos to you.   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)  It takes courage and strength to recognize this in us and to make changes.

Excerpt
I have to let go of being the victim, while feeling the hurt and sorrow at the same time.  Deeply felt sadness and grief is what helps me let go of the anger and stop venting. There is relief from deep crying.
Yes.  There is, sometimes, a delicate balance there.  Other times it is easy.  I tend to lean more towards shutting down the hurt and sorrow which is not healthy at all.

Excerpt
I think the key is being vulnerable to feeling our deepest hurt feelings while feeling compassion for those that are cruel to us, because we all know at some level that how we treat others is an honest reflection of how we really feel about ourselves.
Yes again.  I often remind myself that not that long ago I was enmeshed, caught up in the dysfunctional dynamics and practicing conscious and deliberate denial.  I am not saying all people do the latter, but I did off and on for about 10 years.  It helps me to remember all that.  It really helped with my anger towards my dad when he was alive and still helps with my brother.  I have mentioned before that things between my brother and I are pretty good but it is the result of a lot of hard work, compassion and differentiation.  I also know my brother is doing much of the same in return with me.  It is a choice and sometimes it is damn hard.  We have it easier in the sense that neither of us are as bad as we used to be.

By the way, I am glad you liked the article (you too Methuen!).  I have been here for years and there are still hundreds of articles I have not read.  Also, the article three faces of victim is hard to swallow for a lot of people, sometimes especially for PSI members but I know we can face the challenge as we all work on ourselves.

Excerpt
Feeling “looked down upon” or “worth-less than” the others, the Victim builds resentment and sooner or later, retaliation follows. A natural progression from victim to persecutor follows. 
Quote from:  Methuen
This further explains to me why the "cycle of abuse" perpetuates itself.  Most people have heard that childhood victims later become "bullies" themselves, and victimize others.  So many factors feed into that dynamic, but I've never before heard it explained within the context of the Karpman drama triangle.
Yes, seeing it within the context of the karpman drama triangle is an eye opener.  I can also see it in terms of co-dependent behaviors as well.  Give, give, give, resentment builds and then we get angry and lash out.  A lot of time blaming the other person for how we act. 

Looking at us in context of the relationship and how we respond is important for seeing how we react to certain triggers.  I believe though that we then must look at our behaviors in isolation to see what we bring to the table.  A lot of times I would come up swinging, ready to fight, sometimes raising holy hell.  Looking back, I can see how more often than not, I was coming up swinging and the thing I had to fight was my own stuff and the other person did nothing wrong.  That is what i mean when I talk about my own crap-tacular behavior (or at least part of it... I did plenty of other crappy things too!)

Quote from:  Methuen
So I just heard my inner child speak those thoughts, and realized that was my victim mode voice. 
I think we all have that voice.  The point, which you got, is to not act on it and not project it on others so well done M! 

One key thing to know about the Karman drama Triangle is that all roads, no matter where you start, end up in the victim role.  Another key thing is that often the drama triangles we are in are built by us.  That is okay too as long as we are aware *and* are willing to change and step to the center.   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. ~ Pema Chodron
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« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2020, 12:47:20 PM »

Harri,
Thank you for your thoughts on the Karpman Triangle. It certainly takes a lot of self awareness to stay out of the Triangle and sometimes maybe we will consciously be a part of it, when standing up to extreme abuse that is not to be tolerated. There are two kinds of anger: 1) Anger that masks sadness. The sadness needs to be felt to soften the anger. 2) Anger that makes us takes action and is protective. I think part of getting off the Karpman Triangle is recognizing what kind of anger we are dealing with. If what my family member with BPD is doing that is upsetting me is really not something that is a danger to my wellbeing, than I can feel sad that the person with BPD is acting the way he/she is, and not take their behaviors personally. If what my family member with BPD is doing is terribly threatening to my safety and sense of wellbeing, than getting angry can help to mobilize me to take the actions I need to take. With my siblings' deciding to take all my mother's things, I am torn between feeling sad for my siblings' terrible behaviors which is a reflection of who they are and not personal, and wanting to do what mom wanted which likely means hiring a lawyer and dealing with the ongoing family smear campaign. Hiring a lawyer makes me feel like a persecutor in some ways as there is a part of me that really wants to get even with my siblings. The ongoing family smear campaign against me lead by my siblings with various relatives participating can at times make me feel like a victim. I am working on welcoming the challenges, and  looking at my part in all of this. The Coronavirus Pandemic is really helping me to stay centered and see what is important. Certainly, I have a lot to feel grateful for, including that I am able to pay my bills now. Harri, I admire all that has come your way and how you are handling it. I do think you have been living a sort of personal Coronavirus Pandemic for many years, and you do not get sucked into the Karpman Triangle so easily because most of the time you have your priorities straight. The Coronavirus Pandemic is in some ways simplyfying my life and helping me to see what my priorities need to be. I have read that the key characteristic of a healthy person is that they feel gratitude for what they have. I have so much to be grateful for. I also have learned that there is more joy in giving than receiving. So many people need help right now, and I have much to contribute in helping others. So many things to think about and still so much to learn.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 12:59:19 PM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2020, 08:37:07 AM »

Zachira- I think you are realizing your choices. Hire a lawyer to get what you want, or to let it go. Both have consequences. A lawyer will include extending the conflict and some expense, but you might get what you want and also show that you will stand up for yourself. Letting go might lead to some peace and moving away from the conflict, but may lead to regret that you didn't try to get some things you wanted.


The discussion about power is interesting. As a child, my mother had total power over me. As an adult, her power was the result of my att, achment to my father. She controlled him and so by extension, had ways to manipulate me.

After he died, her power was through his possessions. She knew exactly what I wanted and so made sure I could not have them. At one point, I thought she was doing this to be hurtful. I think underlying it all was a fear of abandonment and a fear of losing her control over me. She knew I was mostly attached to my Dad. If I had what I wanted, then I might not ever visit or see her. While I don't think she is emotionally attached to me, I do think that idea is not appealing to her.

She would call from time to time using his things as a threat " I am going to give them away, throw them out...etc" or even "you have to come get them now" and when I get there she changes her mind and won't let me have them.

I actually was able to get some of the sentimental items later and I am glad for that. Eventually though, I realized I had to let go of my wanting them as much, as a way to be free of her control.

It's been odd to see how my mother has realized that what she was so used to doing doesn't work. She's used his things to threaten, manipulate, and I just don't engage. A very wise person advised me to continue to call her on a schedule, which I do as I chose to not go NC. This way she knows I did not abandon her. When I do visit, I don't discuss my father's things. I don't even know if she has them anymore. I want her to realize my visits are not motivated by that.

I was always afraid of my mother. It made sense when I was younger and smaller than she is. But  she is a tiny elderly woman. I am taller than she is. She can't hurt me physically. She can with her words. But I choose to not let them bother me. I also don't want to do anything to cause her harm or distress. She may not like my boundaries, but they aren't about her. They are for me.
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2020, 12:51:17 PM »

Notwendy,
Yes, I have two choices both which will have some painful consequences. My challenge is whatever I choose to do, I do not allow myself to get too emotionally overwhelmed, thus participating in the Karpman Triangle. I admire the choices you have made about your father's things and dealing with your mother. Certainly this is a process, and with time we can learn not to take so personally whatever our family members with BPD are doing that hurts us, and let them feel badly because these are their feelings. I think it is natural to sometimes get really upset when someone does something that really hurts, yet with time and awareness, how emotionally upset we are can be reduced in intensity and the amount of time. Even though, I have been upset by my siblings' denying me my mother's things, I have not been as nearly as upset when they made it clear to me they no longer wanted me to come for Christmas at my mother's house while refusing to give me a reason, and then going out of their way to call me and tell me one thing on Christmas Day: that they had gotten mom to say she did not miss my Christmas decorations. This is in spite of mom constantly crying on the phone about my not coming and how she would miss my decorating the house. I have come to realize that my siblings have a strong drive to be the golden children. My sister was a golden child. My brother was a scapegoat, and being an ally with my sister apparently allows him to consider himself one of the golden children. I believe my siblings think that if they get all of mom's things than that means they are the golden children. They are so out of touch with reality as mom made it clear many times she wanted us to peacefully divide up her things. Every day, I feel a little less angry, and just sad for my siblings who are so impaired. Yesterday I cried deeply with one of my best friends. It is a wonderful friendship, and we mostly talk about our passions and love of challenges. It feels wonderful to be heard and validated by my friend and you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 12:58:15 PM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2020, 01:34:31 PM »

Yes, you have to feel it and then, over time, let it go if you can. One of the tough ones for me was that my mother painted me black to her family members and they stopped speaking to me. Not only did I lose my father, but other relatives who I thought were my family.

I didn't know how to deal with this. If I told them the truth, then either I was a liar or my mother is. I assumed they would align with her. I didn't even see the point. So, I stopped contact with them, except for the few times I saw them at a family occasion where I stayed polite but distant.

It's been a few years, but recently one of them reached out to me and has made attempts to reconnect. One way I have stayed off the triangle with them is to not discuss my mother at all. They know that. Since they live closer to her than I do, they do give me updates about how she is doing. I want to know that. I just don't want to get into any drama or triangulation.

I think staying off the triangle has paid off in terms of- I think the truth will be apparent- even if it takes some time. They have spent enough time with her to suspect something isn't right. Then, they have also seen me on occasion acting calm and collected. Although they won't ever say it, I am wondering if they are beginning to put the evidence together and realize that she's probably the one with issues. But I am not getting into this at all- whatever they think- they need to figure out for themselves.

But I am not always calm about this. If I think about this, I cry. I have even at times cried in front of them if I start talking about my father.  To think these people, who have known me since I was a baby, would turn their backs on me at the time he died is still very hard to make any sense of. But then, so did my father at my mother's direction. It was shocking, I would not have done such a thing to any child, no matter how old they are if I am a significant adult in their lives.

I also suspect it is my mother who has initiated the connection. She didn't consider at the time that if she alienated me from the family, she also alienated my children. This is socially embarrassing to her. However, I also wonder if the connection is sincere. I would like it to be. I am being cautiously hopeful, but not ready to trust at this point.

So yes, cry - cause it is hurtful and grief takes its own course. I do believe truth prevails in time. You act according to your own values. Your family members have their own path of growth, whatever that is.
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2020, 12:54:50 AM »

the karpman drama triangle is probably the most fascinating thing ive learned about here. its transactional analysis, what drives us and motivates us in dealing with others.

there are a couple of takeaways that are really important to me.

the first is that we all triangulate, and triangulation is not an inherently bad word; it can be a positive step to take in resolving conflict. virtually every post that any of us make can be considered triangulation. in marriage counseling/therapy, you have a triangle situation.

when you have a drama triangle, however, you have two or more players pivoting around dysfunctional roles.

the second is that the way off the karpman drama triangle is to counter with a mature response:

Excerpt
If you find yourself embroiled in a Karpman Drama Triangle, resist the temptation to play the exaggerated role of the victim, rescuer  or persecutor  in which you have been cast (or have cast yourself), and counter with an action that causes your opponent to see their extreme position (without you telling them).

this is challenging to do in an emotionally mature way, because one could easily interpret "countering with an action that causes your opponent to see their extreme position" as sarcasm, as a non response, as tweaking them or getting under their skin...as anything that may not be helpful.

when what it really means, broadly, is be reasonable, be clever, be mature.
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« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2020, 02:33:14 PM »

IMHO, once removed hit the nail on the head. Emotional maturity can keep us out of a drama triangle. I’m currently avoiding them at work by not joining in on conversations that involve talking badly about others in the workplace. I simply keep to myself and do my job. But, that’s different from what you’re talking about. Avoiding triangulation in your situation is complicated because it’s always there. And as the scapegoat, you will always be on the short end of the stick. Perhaps this comes down to making difficult decisions. A lot has happened in your life recently that has ramped up the dynamic. Sometimes it can help to shift our thoughts from what others are thinking/plotting, to how we feel as a whole person with this one life that we have. It’s been a struggle for me to do this, but I’m trying to focus on the interests that I’ve given up over time because the trauma took over my life. Hunting, fishing, music, cooking, working out and strength training, etc. I miss myself if that makes sense. Trauma will send any person spinning. Trauma takes us far away from who we are. It also makes us vulnerable to triangulation. That’s one of the reasons why we got here in the first place. Getting out of situations like that is a very personal choice. Especially in your situation. You’ve been abused for decades by several people. It eventually comes down to a choice, zachira. Do you want to continue being abused, or do you want to experience a different life with the rest of your days? Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2020, 03:05:01 PM »

WTL,
I really wish I had the choice of going NC with the family right now. Unfortunately, I own some property with my siblings with BPD, and I am hoping to sell it so I don't have to see my siblings or do taxes with them anymore. I was mostly unconsiously holding onto this unrealistic hope of changing the dynamics with my relatives, and now see that no family scapegoat from six generations of scapegoating ever is anything else than a scapegoat. I have not decided what to do about getting any of my mother's things, and I am basically learning what my choices are while trying to not let it take up too much space in my head. I realize that my siblings will up the ante of cruel behaviors no matter what I do. I think part of their cruelty is a reaction to when I have responded to what they have done, and another part is when I have gone out of my way to ignore their behavior which is what I do most of the time now. One of the things I have learned about people with BPD is that they go through cycles of cruelly attacking their targets to ignoring their targets. Right now, I am being ignored by my siblings. My BIL has refused to return my phone calls, which is a first, and I really haven't done anything except say I would like to have some of mom's things. I agree with you the best thing I can do is move on with my life. I am enjoying my friends and in the process of creating my own family. I now know that radical acceptance is the path, as I can only make the best choices, and the less I have to do with the family the better whether it is interacting with them or letting them take up space in my head. My friends know some of what is going on with my family, though I have kept most of our interactions focused on enjoying our time together. Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, it is time to move on, and I wish I could be fully no contact with the family. I now find myself really wanting nothing to do with people who are like my family members and seeking out kind caring people which is a big step in the right direction. For most of my life, I was constantly seeking approval from people who were like my family members, a form of traumatic reenactment. I have gotten good at seeing who is who, and I believe there is some deep sadness now that I have gotten to a place where I can really see my large extended family for who they are, and there are some genuinely nice people in addition to the golden crowd that likes to smear the scapegoats, as a way to feel better about themselves.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 03:10:41 PM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2020, 03:33:02 PM »

Once removed,
I agree with you that the best way to not participate in the Karpman Triangle is a mature response. I am working on what a mature response is, and I am realizing that a mature response is very different when dealing with highly dysfunctional people. With my mature kind friends, we can give each other constructive feedback, and there are no hard feelings. We are there for each other. With my family members with BPD and those with NPD traits, constructive feedback can send them into a rage and spiral into a smear campaign of revenge. Many times, I have been the caretaker in my family, taking care of my family members' disordered feelings while stuffing my own. Stuffing feelings is not a mature response. I  believe we have to know who to share our feelings with, and who to observe our feelings with while trying to avoid showing how we are feeling which can be difficult with disordered indivuals as they can get very upset by just not getting the glowing look of approval they are craving. I think probably the best way of thinking of giving a mature response is to meet people where they are. I know I can be intimate with my friends, while I need to keep things extremely superficial with disordered people, and not let them know I disapprove of how they are behaving. If I am upset with how a disordered person reacts, than I need to self soothe with mindfulness. Thank you for responding and your constructive feedback.
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« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2020, 04:00:00 PM »

Notwendy,
Thank you is not adequate to express my apprecation at your latest very helpful response. My heart hurts knowing how much you have suffered because of how your family members have injustly mistreated you. It really helps me to know that while most of the time you don't let how your family members treat you bother you that much, that sometimes you cry about it. I have cried a lot over the abuse I have suffered, and crying deeply helps me to soften and have compassion for myself instead of feeling angry for long periods of time. I am often frustrated with the idea that at some point, I am supposed to be over being abused by my family members. It is a deep hurt that I feel keenly at times, though I am at the point, where most of the time, I am doing well. It is mainly the lack of safety and walking on eggshells knowing I am due for another round as long as I have any contact with the family. Like you, I have chosen to go as low contact as possible.
You have talked many times about different family members hurting you in different ways: 1) Being abused by your mother 2) Other relatives enabling your mother and believing what she says about you 3) Having a father who enabled your mother and sided with her. I have experienced in similar ways all that you have described. It is hard to know which hurts the most. My father sided with my mother and my BIL defends my sister. My mother is dead, yet while she was alive it still hurt to be mistreated by her. Now that mom is gone, I am able to love her for the many nice things she did for me, as she is no longer able to abuse me. The family smear campaign is shocking and hurtful, and it has gotten worse over the years, as more family members have joined in.
I am hoping to get where you are, mostly not share with other relatives about what is going on with my siblings. Talking about others is a form of triangulation. I feel that sometimes I need to briefly clarify what is going on with certain relatives who will support my siblings unless they hear otherwise. Then there are those relatives who would never believe what I have to say, so there is no point in explaining anything.
I also believe that truth takes its course. Since doing several years of therapy, I have matured a great deal and people like me more than they have ever before. I believe the quiet self confidence that I have most of the time has made my siblings extremely jealous, and it is why in the last couple of years, they have chosen to treat me so cruelly. Also therapy has made me more aware of my own feelings and those of others, so I am less taken in by the superficiality of some family members. My goal is to keep working on becoming more comfortable in my own skin, as I have found that being my best self attracts the best people and experiences.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 04:11:39 PM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2020, 07:23:22 AM »

This thread is so interesting and it makes me wonder why the Karpman triangle seems so different as it’s described on this board. I’m the mother of an adopted daughter w/BPD. She just turned 20, but has the maturity of about a 16 year old. As a parent of pwBPD I have actually lived as a victim of her Rage, verbal abuse, bringing dangerous folks around our property  for at least 6 years. I see how I would love in that roll until I count any longer then reverse it and become the heavy handed, mean perpetrator. Most the time my goal was simply to put the natural consequences in her lap, but when she can’t handle life and becomes suicidal, I jump into to rescuer mode.

I guess my question is : is the Karpman triangle different for parents of young adults or teenagers with BPD? A victim is a person without options. I tried everything (boundaries, Therapists, hospitals, letting her go to jail for legal violations, tough love), but ultimately, it was my responsibility to shelter, feed and raise this child-meanwhile being abused on a daily basis. We rarely discuss this type of thing on the parent board, but I really would like your thoughts on how this applies to parents with no choice but to be in these next to impossible relationships 24/7. Thank you.
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« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2020, 08:02:38 AM »

PeaceMom,
You are asking a really good question. I think the simple answer is that no situation is exactly the same though we can feel less alone when we realize others have similar challenges to ours when having a close family member with BPD. The dream of having an independent child who can function on their own often dies when we have a child who cannot function as an independent adult. The grief from this is life long, and something to be recognized and felt, not stuffed. I think the challenge of not participating in the Karpman Triangle is to be as mindful of your feelings as much as possible, staying present in the moment noticing how you are feeling inside especially when what your daughter is doing is upsetting you. I think much of the advice on this thread can be very useful to you while recognizing that you do not have the options that other people with family members with BPD often have, which is to give up on their family member with BPD. Great parents love their children, no matter what they get: including a severely handicapped child, either physically or emotionally. I admire how much you care for your daughter, and how you are doing your best to help her without letting how she behaves emotionally overwhelm you most of the time. Know that all of us with family members with BPD participate in the Karpman Triangle at times, and the end goal is to recognize sooner that we are participating in the Karpman Triangle, not to be perfect, as there is no such thing as being perfect all the time.
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« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2020, 11:53:09 AM »

Zachira,
I appreciate the validation that parenting a young adult or teenager with BPD comes with its own set of very unique challenges in that we can’t really choose to protect ourselves by going LC or NC at that time. Maybe I will go NC or LC in the future.
I related to what Harri said about children living in a house w/BPD parent being true helpless victims. I felt like a helpless victim while raising my DD, too. No options but to provide shelter food safety while having our hands chewed off while offering food.
Maybe the Karpman triangle is more about the perception (not reality) of being a victim when there are actually choices to escape? I know for a fact that about once a year, I’d attack back with hollering, mean words, slamming doors, storming out, ignoring.... this was actually me becoming a perpetrator, not just being one in my mind. And as for a rescuer, I have been an actual rescuer on 100s of occasions. Taking her phone out of her hands when she’s threatening someone, driving her to psych wards when suicidal, making her every meal at age 18 or she wouldn’t eat, etc. All the while resentment growing which ultimately lead to my theoretical victim mindset. This mindset seemed different than when she was raging screaming toxic words in my ear while driving her to school, I was truly a victim those days.
I’m really interested in getting out of these roles, but feel continually pigeonholed into them by parenting one who is in continual crisis, suicidal on a monthly basis and imploding. Maybe all parent carers of severe pwBPD feel this way. I get zero satisfaction from the victim mindset. It’s terribly embarrassing and I’m too ashamed to share it with anyone but my T. Any healthy friend would say “get the he** away from her, cut ties, she’s gonna give you a heart attack”. It’s a surreal existence for sure.
Thanks for allowing me to pop over here and learn from you guys!
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« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2020, 11:59:21 AM »

Maybe we never talk about this on the parent board because we all seem to be in the middle of trying to fix the plane while it’s flying. Usually we are in frantic crisis mode. We are trying to protect our kids while not being drowned by them. Hmmm
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« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2020, 06:51:14 PM »

Staff only

This thread reached the post limit and has been split and locked.  Part 2 is here: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=343832.msg13105490#msg13105490

Thank you.
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