what do you think about rescue?

I got an email from a Team 100 member, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Here’s an excerpt:

D:Hi Belle, I see a counselor/coach and talked with her about checking in with you daily. We had an interesting conversation about the persecutor/ victim/ rescuer triangle (a.k.a. the Karpman Drama Triangle) and the question I was asked was, “Are you using this as a rescue?” After considering it I realized the answer is “yes” and have since thought a lot about what this means to me right now.  I greatly appreciate what you’re doing and I very much enjoy your writing … For now, I’m replacing my old story of “I can’t change on my own” to “I am a powerful, empowered woman who honors and respects herself and who sets herself up to “win” every day.”  With all of this said, I respectfully withdraw from the daily e-mails.”

me: hi there, I totally understand … I see myself as more of a cheerleader. YOU do the work and I just stand around and throw glitter.  if you think that would be helpful, you can let me know 🙂 I can definitely throw glitter, and would be glad to. And hopefully I can do it in a way that doesn’t get in the way of your therapy.  hugs.

So here’s my question. What do you think about the idea of ‘rescue’? Can you see where D’s coach is coming from? Because I so respect what D is saying here.  But how do you frame what support is? Is it glitter? Cheerleading? Is it rescue? Is it putting something under the three-legged table? Or is it about how we ask others to support us?

What do you think?

[Note: Please be kind and thoughtful. I will gently edit comments that attack; I’m interesting in having a conversation. No shittiness allowed 🙂 can you believe shittiness isn’t in spell check?]


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I don’t see Belle as a “rescuer”. When someone is doing something destructive to themselves they are the only person who can rescue themselves. All the therapy, interventions, rehabs in the world won’t work it you don’t really want to make the change yourself. Once you decide enough is enough and you are ready to do the work only then will a support system work and Belle has one hell of a support system going. Belle gives me things to think about and way to cope with bad days. She gets it. I know there are some therapists who have had addiction problems but so many have not. I know they can be helpful but they honestly don’t get it either. If you never had that mind chatter at 10:00 at night telling you that you need more to drink how can you even imagine what it’s like.
    D, I hope you are successful in you fight against alcohol. I don’t wish this addiction on anyone, but please think twice about giving up support from someone who know exactly what you are going through.

  • So much good here. Every time I come by to read and see how you all are doing, I am uplifted and rejuvenated and reassured that there are still people getting/remaining sober and enjoying the journey too. I so love seeing all your successes. Congratulations to all who are making this life-affirming change in their way of existing. May each step we take lead the way to Peace.

  • I think getting sober is the first step (whatever it takes) and the second step is working on all the childhood dynamics, Karpman drama triangle stuff and patterning. If you are still drinking, you are not going to be able to see clearly enough to get free of any of your emotional issues… Seems like the therapist is putting the cart before the horse? Just my 2c.

  • To me, this is a classical philosophical type paradox. One that has arguments that could support either side.

    I see you, Belle, as a support system I choose to use. Your approach just happens to work best for me (via cheerleader who’s been there, gone through it, and come out better on the other side). You make it clear that you are not an therapist, or addictions counselor, or even a coach–just a cheerleader sharing things that have worked for you and others on this journey.

    I respect D and her choice(s), and it seems clear to me that you do, too. We are all different (thank goodness), but I think those of us that have struggled to put down the drink share a bond that people who don’t know/hear Wolfie’s voice can’t really understand.

    Blessings to D on her journey to make her own choices (I went through extensive counseling myself in my mid-forties off and on for a year or two to work through the horrors of my childhood, which I discovered led to a fair amount of drinking to escape emotional pain that I didn’t understand for a long time).

    Me, I’m sticking with you as as others have pointed out, you offer tools and solutions, and I choose whether or not to follow along.


  • I know that this is a very personal topic…we all perceive the world around us in a unique way, and certain things might look different at different times in our life. There was a time when I was younger that I probably would have been seeking rescue from my problems, blindly following someone else’s lead and putting that person on a pedestal. But as I got older, and my problems seemed more shameful and embarrassing (why can’t I just stop drinking too much??!!), I didn’t want anyone to know and I desperately wanted to figure out a way ON MY OWN to stop making the same stupid choice over and over again. After trying and trying, it was such a relief to find a community of people who had been hiding the same ugly secret, but had found acceptance, support, and a variety of tools for successfully dealing with it. No shame, no judgment, just a basket full of belief that I could overcome it just as they had. I appreciate every day that Belle brought us all together and has so generously shared her experience from her own DAY 1 until now. She never says, “do it this way and this way only”. She helps me ask myself the right questions so that I can figure out the best way for me to get there. That’s just my own experience, but I respect and appreciate D for following her own path. The beauty of this forum (and Belle) is that there’s room for every idea…no judgment, just compassion. How many places can you find that??

  • I don’t see what your doing as “rescue” I see it as someone who is reminding us and saying out loud that we are powerful and strong and that we can do this! Some of us forgot. Some of us couldn’t see, hear or feel this. Sharing your journey and those who are also working on being sober is a wonderful tool. Your glitter is amazing…how about fairy dust? Love and hugs Denise

  • I would say you are a support boat. I know you are right there alongside me but it is my legs doing the swimming! and would second Sharon in saying how vital that has been to me. sometimes you can see ahead better than us when the sea gets choppy.

  • I found this blogging community at exactly the right time. I had been contemplating giving up the booze for such a long time and I knew it was something I had to do. Signing up to the 100 Day Challenge is what kept me going. I still had to do the work. I still had to decide every day not to drink. I still had to live with all the shit going on in my head. Nobody else could do that for me. Being involved with Belle and the community has given me so much inspiration. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve tried new things, I’ve had fun and I’ve come across some amazing people. I’m now almost at the end of Team 180. Because of other commitments I haven’t been so involved. I’ve kept sober; I’m still doing it by myself, but it isn’t half as much fun. Belle and all the others make sobriety fun and something I want to do. Staying sober by myself is boring and uninspiring. I’m coming back to the Sober Party.

  • I don’t view this as being rescued by you and I’m a victim. I view this as – – –

    You, Belle, are 100+++ days ahead of me, blazing a sober trail (sparkling with glitter). I see me in you. I see what you are doing and appreciate hearing what you have to say. I’m using you to help me get to where I want to be. I’m not viewing it as you throwing me a life preserver ring, but rather supporting me in doing something that I initially thought was impossible and God-awful. You’re the one lighting up the sober direction and I can choose to follow it or not. You’re kind of like a sober parent.

    If I got any vibe from you that you were doing this for some other gain, I’d NEVER be following your blog. I don’t feel like a victim. I don’t want a rescuer. I get a weird vibe from people who try to rescue/save other people. I don’t get that vibe from you. Some might. And I think it is safe to say that not everything works for everyone.

    Don’t know if I interpreted your post correctly or not.

  • I think it’s up to the individual who is seeking support/help/whatevertheywanttocallit. You could throw the exact same glitter and sing the exact same cheer for both people but depending on what their mindset is and where they are on their journey, it could be perceived as rescue to one and support to the other. I think it’s totally individual. And, fwiw, I had to add shittiness to my spellchecker on my phone LOL!

  • We rescue (save) ourselves!! No one does it for us. Belle, to me, you are my cheerleader, pen pal, who is bright, funny and shares knowledge of what you’ve been through in order to help others. No man is Island, meaning that we don’t have to do this alone. I say we seek out and grab whatever helps us get through Day One or Day 100, etc. Actually, I feel that it is a little out of bounds for her counselor to throw that wrench into your Team 100 member’s thinking. I see a therapist and she is so supportive of what I am doing. I feel that reaching out and seeking support is a sign of Strength, not a sign of wanting to be rescued. Just my two cents is all………Hugs

  • It is great to see what happens with the elimination of alcohol and the clarity that it brings. Renewed confidence and self awareness that allows us to make considered judgement calls for ourselves. I think it’s fabulous. I also agree wholeheartedly with Hana. There is lots of support out there if wanted, but on my own personal search I’ve never found such kindness, such a lack of judgement and the willingness to invest time and care into strangers as I’ve found here, and from here, other beautiful sober bloggers. I feel blessed and thankful and covered in glitter. Belle, you might have to shove me out of this nest. Xx

  • Being accountable to YOU helped ME get sober and stay that way. We all use any method we can but if you hadn’t been there, online, asking me to check in and caring about whether I did or not , I don’t know if I’d be at 300+ days now. Keep on cheering.

  • I consider myself a very strong independent single mom that conquers the world on my own most days. I find it hard to ask for help with any aspect of my life. That is my own issue I am learning to deal with. I stumbled upon these sober blogs and Belle and feel I’ve struck gold. I feel hopeful and am waiting to join the 100 day challenge.
    I think if I viewed anyone’s friendship, advice, or support as a rescue for one moment, I would quit. I will see this support I have coming to me as a way to stay accountable, a way to feel that lift from others that I have needed for so long, a community, and a way to support my wobbly pretty screwed up 3- legged table.

    With that said, I too respect what this person shared. It’s insightful and I’m learning through every single person. And I’m grateful.

  • Hmm… I don’t think anyone using a sober blogging community is not doing the work of getting sober! I mean, I stay sober all on my own. It’s NICE to have Belle’s hilarious, wonderful rescue (relief, support, bench player coming in because my legs are tired), but… Belle and none of my sober blogging buddies are keeping me sober! All that being said, D expressed (her?)self very well, and I can see people changing and growing in sobriety and needing different things!

  • I got this from D:
    Hi Belle – Thank you for the heads-up. I just read the post. I feel it very important for me to stress that I was not referring to you as a “rescuer.” The way the Karpman “rescuer” info is posted makes it sound like that’s the reference. People can use things and experiences and other people as “a rescue.” In that scenario the person who is “the rescuer” is the self. In my situation it would be me using you/your support as a rescue. The operative word being “using.” I in no way am saying what you’re doing is bad or wrong or inappropriate for you or anyone. For me, I feel like it’s part of a larger life pattern of looking outside myself for help with changing things I can only change. The pattern was put into place as a child both with people saying to me things like ‘oh, you’re upset, have a cookie” or by my seeing and absorbing the people around me use things to cope or pacify or squelch feelings/emotion. I now find myself in my 40’s in a therapeutic type setting unveiling and examining these patterns and realizing I’m the only one who can make lasting change in my life. So, please understand I wasn’t pointing any fingers anywhere but at me and my own stuff.

    • Using and accepting help in a positive way is important.
      Isolating, or feeling you must be string enough to do everything on your own is lonely and tiring.

      I think have a Robert cheerleader is like saying, your sad, have a hug-I love you. No cookie reward required.

  • Hmmm…. I don’t see you as a rescuer in the above sense (AT ALL). I see you more as the ‘rescuer’ who shows up in an emergency, or a cheerleader/coach, imparting wisdom gleaned from experience. For some reason this makes me think of the bad car accident I had when I was 19. I ran a stop sign obscured by trees, and was hit by a delivery truck right in the drivers side door. All my car windows broke in on me, my door caved in, and the car flew into a yard nearly hitting a house, very scary. After the car stopped, I got out and was in shock. I thought maybe I was severely hurt as I was really altered. A young man was walking up the street when this happened, he ran over grabbed me, held me in a long hug, and told me repeatedly I was okay (which amazingly I was). He stayed with me and held me while I cried until the police came. Then the kindest officer drove me home and on the way told me that driving mistakes happen all the time, but most of the time we don’t get hit by delivery trucks. He said sometimes bad shit happens, but it’s more common that it doesn’t. These guys were both rescuers in the most positive sense, they showed up right when I needed them, and were so very kind and nonjudgmental. Anyway, obviously your work is very different, but I guess I have the same feelings about you as I did about them. They showed up when I needed them and even though the accident was my ‘fault’, they didn’t blame, or sermonize. They just said wow, you’re lucky to be okay, and everything is going to be okay. They didn’t have to offer that support, but they did, because clearly they cared… Oops, long story. Lol. Hope it made sense! Hugs, Hana

    • Just wanted to clarify, I meant I didn’t agree with the rescuer definition in Belles Karpman drama triangle comment. Not in the post itself (:

  • Hmmm
    I think you are an external accountability to some people. Anxiety often plays a role in this, and it causes us to look for outside validation or praise.
    You provide that in a positive and non threatening way.
    Most of us have tried being accountable to ourselves, but Wolfe is pretty sly.

    You help the victim became powerful over their own lives. I hope it makes you feel good to help, but I expect it also feels a bit sad sometimes when things don’t work out well for people and you never hear from them again.

    Is that what you were talking about?

  • [quote from wikipedia]:
    … the rescuer is the least obvious role. In the terms of the drama triangle, the rescuer is not a person helping someone in an emergency. It is someone who has a mixed or covert motive that is actually benefiting egoically in some way from being “the one who rescues”. The rescuer has a surface motive of resolving the problem, and appears to make great efforts to solve it, but also has a hidden motive to not succeed, or to succeed in a way that they benefit. For example, they may feel a sense of self-esteem or status as a rescuer, or enjoy having someone dependent or trusting of them – and act in a way that ostensibly seems to be trying to help, but at a deeper level plays upon the victim in order to continue getting their payoff.

    As transactional analyst Claude Steiner says: “the Victim is not really as helpless as he feels, the Rescuer is not really helping, and the Persecutor does not really have a valid complaint”

    • 1. The Karpman Drama Triangle is outdated, it is a theory from 1968: developed 46 years ago.
      2. It was used in family therapy to some extent.
      3. The rescuer in this paradigm is a family member or family-like member who has an interest in keeping the victim (boozer) needy (drinking).