My Discovery: I Was His Tool


Finding out I was being used led me to search for my power again.

At one one point in any breakup I think we all feel like a tool. Discovering how we feel used or abused is actually one of the most incredibly profound moments in the process of healing. Why? Because for the first time we see with clarity our participation in the relationship dynamic or that there even is a “dynamic” to be aware of.

For me, it’s that I didn’t want to be labeled. I didn’t want to be like everyone else; I told myself I couldn’t have problems. I was supposed to be the one helping people. I was the one who was supposed to have it together. It’s not however, that I didn’t want growth. Quite the contrary. I am one to always be found in the self-help and personal growth sections of the bookstore. It’s just that for the most part it was research for OTHER people–my clients, my friends, my spouse–the people with problems. I was the journalist. I was the doula. I was outside of other people’s lives, looking in. I thought somehow I could gain mastery by watching or regurgitating other’s good ideas and statistics. I definitely didn’t want to BE a statistic. “Divorced-Single-Mother of Two” wasn’t supposed to be on my resume.

I’d done my fair share of reading up to this point. But mostly on how to fix my husband. I Don’t Want to Talk About it: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terrance Real. No More Mister Nice Guy by Robert Glover. Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. There was a theme happening.

It wasn’t until I was on the bathroom floor of my Divorce Doula’s office and I was crying in a puddle staring at a sticky note with Karpman’s Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer triangle that I realized I was very much “in” something and that something felt like shit. I was there to complain about the immense stress I was under to always save our finances–I felt like i always just had to work harder whenever a challenge came up because he would always “just do what he could do.” I didn’t feel like when challenges arose we faced them as partners but instead faced off with each other. She asked if it went on like this: I can’t pay the rent. You must pay the rent! I will pay the rent. You made me pay the rent.

I laughed and asked if she was psychic? No, she said I was just playing out the Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer role in the communication triangle. I couldn’t deny it any longer –our marriage was built on this freaking Triangle. And like all Love Triangles, no one wins.

At first it was an awful feeling. Like being caught as kid with my hand in the cookie jar. Like being in a tabloid. I was unconsciously doing a common thing. Something that could be labeled bad. A cliché.

Then a thought started to emerge. If I was unconsciously riding a wheel of well-worn dysfunction, if I was a cliché, then others had traveled this road before me. And what if those others might have tools that worked for them. I could not longer afford to be a tool to my ego. This left only one choice. To be an instrument of great love in my life. And for that I’d need a whole different set of equipment.

This article was originally published at my blog at divorce-doula.net. Reprinted with permission from the author.