Unhooking from drama


one day at a time
I don't know about you, but one of the effects of everything I've been through over the past decade is a....strong distaste for drama. Today, I exit when the drama begins. Want no part of it. You got drama? I'm outta here.

Those anxious, gotta-have-it phone calls, everybody sitting around and trying to figure out: What are we going to do about _________?, lots of back and forth communication, what ifs, strong need to take action NOW or the world might end, shouting, tears, anger, fear.

At the base of it all is fear---an overwhelming fear---and it feels so awful, that fear, that we constant participate in drama to do...something...with that fear.

Only the whole cycle just perpetuates more of the same. Nothing changes, and we get more and more anxious, dysfunctional and....scared.

I've learned that almost nothing is an emergency. Whatever happens, unless blood is pouring right in front of me, I can step back and....wait. Usually, if I can muster the self-control to do that, a miracle happens.

The situation either just goes away (drama is likely taken elsewhere) or lo and behold...the person solves their own problem.

And...even when the blood is pouring...usually there are other people who can call 911. It really, and truly, doesn't have to always be me.

Take a look at this link to learn more...it's great stuff. I believe unhooking from drama because it is today just abhorrent to me is one of the fastest and best ways to peace. And peace is the goal.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Thank you, COM.

I agree that sitting with the feelings, reminding ourselves we do have time, puts us in a different place (not the rescuing/take charge/frustrated me place).

I can feel the "role" of it, if I can remain present to the feelings.

If we can remind ourselves to wait, not to do anything at all for right now, the situation generally unfolds with an unforeseen solution.

The kids see themselves differently when they have come up with it on their own. We see them differently, too. As capable people ~ maybe, as more capable than us.

That is what has been happening, for our family lately.

It is hard to do that ~ to wait and do nothing, or to say the stock phrases we learn here and do nothing. But over time, I think I am noticing something like an extra dimension of self evolving. This is the place where I have waited before, and it has turned out all right. It is like a little place of comfort for me, a place where I can mark the time and wait the crisis out. I think that might be the difference between that calm mom I am always writing about, always wishing I could be, and me.

Raised as I was, perhaps I rushed in too soon, when the kids were little. For sure, I did that when there was trouble.

I am trying to see it that way, when I am uncomfortIable with waiting and allowing the kids to develop the situation in their own ways.

It is hard, though.

It generally revolves around money or loyalty issues, and it is hard for me to just be me instead of leaping into the role of advice-giver me.

It helps me to understand that the scariness of out of control is my take on things, not theirs.

Brene Brown's "Lean into it, lean into the fear or the emotion." has helped me do this.

But it is still a hard thing.

Cleaner somehow, though. After a time of doing this, the world looks like a very different place. They say fear is contagious. It seems that this other response, this wait and see and trust in yourself to resolve the situation ~ that is contagious, too.

And that is a better place to stand, and a very real change in perspective, maybe for all of us.

That is an amazing change to have set in motion.



Well-Known Member
:)I hear you. I'm still in the middle of the drama part of it. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
When I disengage, it seems to enrage difficult child even more.
And difficult child's have way more energy than we do.
I'm watching and listening and emulating.


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thank you, COM. I needed to remember this today. Of course this is in no way as serious as a drug flavored drama, but Sis caused me a day of drama, at least in my own mind. I should say, I let her do it because I didn't have to react at all. Today I choose to go back to that peaceful place and let the chaos fall on the shoulders of those who seem to enjoy drama. She is back on radio silence after a slip up of a day...no contact, no reading her stuff, no responding to it, nothing. The beautiful Sound of Silence and letting go.


Well-Known Member
Thank you, COM, for starting this thread. I agree with you about the drama. I think I used to seek out drama...if all was quiet in my world I would leap into the fray of some one else's Difficult Child, or whatever other drama I could find...because I was GOOD at drama! I would HELP EVERYONE ELSE SETTLE DOWN. (hahaha)

I still do that.

I find that even as I disengage from Difficult Child, as I find those lessons helpful in my other relationships, still, I jump in where no one asked me to jump in to get my drama fix. I need to be more watchful for this.

This is the place where I have waited before, and it has turned out all right.

practice practice practice.
When I was younger I had a job where I had to sometimes stay up for 24 hours, or longer...the first time I thought I might actually die. The second time I though..well, I did it last time. By the 10th or 12th times, I started to realize...oh, it is most awful around 3 AM, I'm cold and my cortisol levels have dropped...by around 4:30, even with no other changes, I start to feel better. And then it is dawn, and although I am tired and foggy I am not dead or even insane. I became familiar with the rhythms, the crazy scariness of it went away, and it was ok.

the same thing happens with running. At some point in a long run I start to think...I can't do this. And then I think...oh wait, I usually feel amazingly better at mile xxxx...maybe I"ll just go on. And usually...I feel amazingly better at some point.

Other days not so much. But still...I know I can survive.
unless blood is pouring right in front of me,

I will tell you in my professional role that bleeding is overrated as an emergency. Ever drop a full quart of milk on the floor? it is a TON of fluid. When there gets to be that much blood on the floor you (or some one else) can call 911. Otherwise..not to worry too much. Unless the bleeding is audible. That we do take seriously.

Good morning to all.

It is foggy and brisk here. I still hope for spring one of these days.



one day at a time
I think I used to seek out drama...if all was quiet in my world I would leap into the fray of some one else's Difficult Child, or whatever other drama I could find...because I was GOOD at drama! I would HELP EVERYONE ELSE SETTLE DOWN. (hahaha)

I know I did. In fact, I was so unaware of my own behavior that when one of my good friends said...."you're always around during the bad times to help, but when times are good you kind of disappear"....I thought that was a compliment.


I was GOOD at other people's drama, and I would keep it ramped up as long as they would.

Because I was "solving" their problems for them. Miss Fix It. Just call me, I'll tell you what to do. Simple, 1, 2, 3, and your problems are solved.

Ugh. That is how I feel about that person I was then...now. Ugh.

This is where this comes in: I am so grateful for the alcoholics and drug addicts in my life because without them I never would have found peace through changing myself.

The first time I heard that said by the old-timers in Al-Anon I thought I had entered the loony bin.

Now I say it myself.

One of my dearest friends is "addicted to crisis" according to another friend. She and I used to ramp each other up. Now that I don't practice that behavior (much at all) anymore, I find that we don't talk as often. We can talk about problems but I don't get down and dirty with it. I don't think that is very satisfying to her.

When we change, other people don't like it, and that is often an unexpected consequence.

I will tell you in my professional role that bleeding is overrated as an emergency.

I love knowing this!!! So you have just broken down the last barrier for me! lol.

Remember when difficult child was stabbed? The police cordoned off the street, he collapsed in the middle of it, and someone called 911. Detectives raced to the scene, interviewing everybody, police sirens wailing....lots and lots of drama. I was later told all about it from multiple sources.

I got the call after he was already in the ER. I missed every bit of that drama (of course he caused more, later on).

And to think, he turned out just fine without my always-essential help (she says, tongue firmly in cheek).

Sometimes you just have to walk the path before you get it. At least in my case.


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Staff member
Drama is exhausting, isn't it? Hate it.

I was surrounded by chaos and drama for so many years I didn't know what it was like to live without it. This is a tricky spot for the parent of a difficult kid - there is a bizarre sort of "comfort" in the chaos, because it's all we know. Stepping outside that comfort zone into the drama-free zone is a scary place to be at first. We don't know what to do with ourselves, with our brains, when we're not reacting to the Crisis of the Moment. I had to learn a whole new way of thinking, and teach myself (with the help of a wonderful therapist) to step back when drama got stirred up again. I don't have to step into that Circle of Chaos. I can stay on the outside, and let things unfold/spin without me. I've learned to become a detached observer - my kids are adults. They don't need me to fix anything. They don't need me to tell them what to do. They don't even need me to approve of what they're doing. It's none of my business, really. Their problems are not my problems. When I step back and stay out, they figure it out on their own. And the more they figure it out on their own, the less then involve me. Win-win.

That sounds so good, so easy, when I write it down - but I still slip up occasionally. That's why I still check in with my counselor monthly or so, so she can kick my butt when I'm slipping. She's like my personal trainer, for my psyche :)

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
COM this is a great article. Thanks for sharing.

"Step Away From The Triangle"

It gives such a clear picture of how the roles are played out. I was always the rescuer. I'm glad I have been able to get out of that triangle, of course there are times when I feel I am being sucked back into it and can get very close to the edge. I actually think this can be a good thing as it keeps me on my toes and reminds me that I constantly need to work on and refine my coping skills.
One of my favorite sayings is; Not my circus, not my monkey's That simple little saying has been very useful to help me stay out of that triangle.

It's so important that we own all of our emotions, really feel them and process them not just react to them or ignore them.

I so love this site and the wonderful sharing that takes place.


Well-Known Member
I will tell you in my professional role that bleeding is overrated as an emergency. Ever drop a full quart of milk on the floor? it is a TON of fluid. When there gets to be that much blood on the floor you (or some one else) can call 911. Otherwise..not to worry too much. Unless the bleeding is audible. That we do take seriously.

Audible? Audible bleeding? :eek: Yeah...I think that might qualify as an emergency. Yeesh!

It is hard to not react to the drama. Jabber started saying long ago that if it's a real emergency, a hospital or a policeman will contact us. If he's able to call us himself, it isn't a real emergency. I try to keep that in mind.

Sometimes I even succeed. :rolleyes:


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Staff member
It is hard not to react. It takes a lot of practice. One thing that helps me is to pay attention to what happens when I don't step into the chaos -- and plug it into my memory banks for the next time. I get a panicked phone call and don't respond - by the next day the crisis is forgotten in my kid's mind. I get a request for money and say no - the "want" either goes away, or money is found elsewhere. Next time your Difficult Child tries to pull you in, try to remember a time when you didn't react, and what happened. It might make it easier to stay out!


Well-Known Member
Well, I'm not that good yet at doing nothing. I appreciate the good examples around here.

But I have learned - in part because of this board - that I don't have to react instantly. I have time to think, time to involve other resources, time to look after myself as well.


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It can actually be kind of amusing. Lil and I learned by accident that our son will quickly sort things out without us. Don't remember exactly what it had been about but we had told him one Friday that we would be incommunicado for the weekend. Of course, he ignored this and called us but Lil had either left her phone at home or had it on vibrate so we didn't get the message for several hours. She called him to find out that when we didn't react right away to fix it for him he sorted it out.


Well-Known Member
I believe the very first time was when he just HAD to have a ride somewhere. I told him sure...in two hours when we were done with whatever it was we were doing.

Two hours later he'd already gotten his ride from someone else and was back again.


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That's right! We had only been at the church for about a half an hour on a Saturday and still had almost 2 to go. He was SOOOOO upset that we wouldn't just drop what we were doing and come get him. I think he wanted cigarettes or some stupid crap like that.

Our "Incommunicado" weekend was the weekend of the leaky faucet.


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Our "Incommunicado" weekend was the weekend of the leaky faucet.

No. We went for the leaky faucet. LOL

I think the point that is becoming obvious here is there are SO many "emergencies" that, shockingly, can be handled without a mom or dad running to fix it.

Interesting article COM. Thank you for posting it. (My son is definitely a "pathetic" victim most of the time.) I need to reread it later and really take the time to think about it.


I'm still freaking out a bit over the thought of audible bleeding.


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Staff member
Thanks COM, that was a really good article.

I worked with a therapist awhile back on my part in the drama triangle. She told me,as this article addresses, that in order to remove yourself from the triangle, you have to own that you are indeed, all three roles, not just the rescuer, but the victim and the persecutor. I could at that time, admit to the rescuer, and MAYBE the victim, but the persecutor, I don't think so........well as she and I worked through it, I did have to own the persecutor, wow, it was hard to do that, it broke up my self perception into little pieces......I really saw myself as the savior, certainly NOT the bad guy. I did a lot of soul searching and finally owned my persecutor self....... and opened the door for myself to escape the triangle. And, as the years passed and I removed myself from the different triangles I was in, when I told the truth instead of lying or withholding or operating out of the "shoulds" I indeed was named the persecutor........interesting. When you don't play in the triangle anymore, but those around you try to pull you back, when you refuse to enter, or engage, you are then seen as the persecutor.

When we parents step out of rescuing our kids, they often act badly and see us as the persecutor. If we can stand tough and allow ourselves to feel that awful guilt, we remove ourselves from the triangle.............yet sometimes our kids stay and seek out other rescuers.

Another problem with the role of rescuer/enabler is that in society we are seen as the really good guy, there are a lot of accolades for the saintly characters we portray, it is a real heady title to give up. And, when you add mother in the mix, a saintly Mom who gives and gives and gives (and ultimately turns into a martyr for her kids).......it still looks really good in the world........it can be a position that hurts like the dickens but if looking good is the objective, and holding on to your false persona and not feeling your own feelings, than holding on to that position of the all giving mom can be a very strong incentive to NOT change.

Before I gave up my saintly position of 5 star enabler, I was given a lot of praise and acknowledgement for my giving. The problem was it just hurt so badly and it never changed, it was really bad to be that guy, on the inside I was dying a slow death. But, on the outside, I looked good. The irony for me is that, in giving up the enabling, not only was I not judged by anyone else (except for those I stopped enabling!!), I don't do half as much for others and I am still seen as a good guy AND I felt SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better.

It's hard to get out of that triangle. However, the result, as COM mentioned, is the distaste for ALL drama. Now I can see drama right away and I get the heck out of Dodge as quickly as I can. I can see it brewing........and I am outta there! Peace is the goal and if that is the case, drama has no place in a peaceful environment because it is entirely avoidable.

When we change, other people don't like it, and that is often an unexpected consequence.

I've lost some friends along the way because I removed myself from the rescuer role......I hadn't realized how deeply entrenched in that role I was until I got out of it........and then I could see the truth and when I stopped my behavior the connections started to dissolve......as you said, COM, it's not "satisfying" to them when there is no drama to engage with.

I think drama is a way we can feel like we're alive when we don't know how to feel our feelings.....the intensity brings us a sense of aliveness we can't feel otherwise........without all that drama, life can feel boring and flat, so we perpetuate it as ECHO mentioned.

I experienced a bit of that recently, where life was so darn quiet and uneventful that I would sometimes say to my husband, "is there something I am forgetting to do? Or something.............? I went a couple of months feeling that way.........now there are times I just listen to the quiet, recognize the moment and the peacefulness of it all...........and I feel so grateful and lucky that I am no longer a member of the drama circus.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I think the point that is becoming obvious here is there are SO many "emergencies" that, shockingly, can be handled without a mom or dad running to fix it.

And if the child (when, I meant when) the child solves the problem on his or her own, it is the child who grows in self-confidence and self-assurance. Trusting them to cope beautifully leaves a space for them to step into and become that person.

We have seen this with our oldest grand.

She may be struggling, but confidence in her power to rule her world has burgeoned.

Though it was hard at first to figure out where we stood, we are so proud of her, and of ourselves, for figuring out how to know when to help and when not to, now.