Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Impaled on a drama triangle

on November 14, 2011

Still awake far too late and have too many stressy thoughts rambling through my head. I need to get them all out!

We’ve had a difficult couple of months and any attempts to resolve it have gone wrong. Its all down to my dysfunctional in laws. Coming from a very normal family I find it hard to get my head round their behaviour.

Steven’s Grandma has moved into a residential home because of her dementia. Since moving in there a month ago, Steven’s Grandad has had major depression and has now gone into a care home temporarily himself. Their two daughters do not live locally so it is only Steven and his sister who are around (oh, and my 22 year old brother in law who everyone still thinks is 14 so is never treated the age that he actually is).

So far, Steven and I feel we have taken far more than our fair share of the care for them. This week we have:

  • Done his Grandad’s washing
  • Spoken to their solicitor and supplied information they needed
  • Arranged to attend a care review meeting for Grandma
  • Collected photos from home and taken them to Grandma (I made this suggestion to the rest of the family when she moved in there but I was talked down)
  • Been to check on their house, cleared the fridge, sorted the post
  • Attended a GP appointment with his Grandad
  •  Visited them 5 times in addition to the above
In all of this chaos where was my SIL?

This evening I was speaking to my MIL. She asked if we had a problem with my SIL. I decided it was easier to say nothing than lie or be honest. She read into my silence so pushed me on it. I very calmly told her that we are struggling and we feel we have no support from SIL. I said that recently when we have asked for help I have been told that things are very difficult  for her as she has two children.  I find this upsetting as my in laws appear to not notice that we also have two children. We both work (my SIL doesn’t) and we have very little family support locally (my SIL has a MIL who regularly takes her children for the weekend when they want a break).

I am so frustrated that  I want to scream. She is CONSTANTLY defended and her behaviour justified. Tonight I was made out to be the bad person. Admitting my feelings meant I was accused of creating an argument.  At times I know I am a door mat. I keep quiet and let people dump on me just to keep the peace. Situations like this occur and I understand why I rarely be honest when I feel people are taking advantage of me.

It was left that I need to communicate more with my SIL (she’s just as capable of using a phone). I was repeatedly told that we ‘all need to pull together and do our fair share of looking after them‘. I told her I know we are doing our fair share but not everyone else in this family is (this was interpreted as a dig at MIL – for once it wasn’t).  A few weeks ago I rang SIL to ask her to ring me as I was concerned and things needed sorting. Two messages, no response. At the time I told MIL about this. 5 minutes later the phone rings ‘YOU WANTED ME?’ She didn’t even say hello. Why bother to chase her when that’s the response that you get?

MIL and SIL have a relationship that I feel is explained beautifully by Karpman’s drama triangle. I heard about this a few years ago and it helped me make so much sense of their behaviour –

In every problem there are 3 roles and the drama triangle explains those roles. MIL and SIL have a strong buddy system. Currently MIL is the rescuer, SIL is the victim (they like to swap roles now and again) and because Steven and I have an opinion we are the persecutors. MIL defends her to the death. When SIL has upset us, MIL will defend her or just say ‘I’m not getting involved, sort it out yourselves‘. Turn the tables, there is a suggestion that Steven has upset his sister, he gets a phone call with a ‘how dare you treat your sister like that‘ tact.

Its been like this for years. One day I will learn to stop letting it bother me. Steven estimates it’ll take about 15 years for me to get to that point. Only 4 to go then. Part of me is really tempted to swear at them all and then go awol and do nothing to help. The human part of me struggles – I wouldn’t leave his grandparents in the lurch like that.

So, a self indulgent moany wingey post that will hopefully help me sleep. I may just lie and concoct a plan of nonchalant indifference.


One response to “Impaled on a drama triangle

  1. kathy says:

    Enjoyed your perspective Karen,

    Just wanted to share with you that there is another way to approach the drama triangle. Have your read David Emerald’s book, The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)?

    TED* offers the three alternative roles of a Creator (instead of victim); Challenger (instead of persecutor); and Coach (instead of rescuer). It’s a much more positive approach to life’s challenges. It has made a world of difference for me personally and professionally, and especially in my parenting. 😉

    Check out his website and let me know what you think. http://www.powerofted.com


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