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  • Helms Jarrell

Oh Lord, How? And How long?

I don't know how long we've been at this new routine and way. If feels like a long time and also not. Some days, most days, there'll be a length of time in the day that is easy, joyful, beautiful. Other times, a lot of times, it is blue, dark, fear filled.

I woke up fear filled this morning. I had a bad dream last night. In my dream, my youngest was his 6 year old self rather than the 9 year old he is currently. He was energetic and excited to play soccer. We were playing in a weird place. Something like an apocalyptic community school. The play space wasn't safe, but it was all we had. He was playing, and so happy and silly. And then he fell off a ledge. That's when I woke up.

In real life, and not in the dream, he screamed in his sleep last night. And for the past 3 days, he's taken a midmorning nap, which is not normal. And he's complained of a tummy ache and a head ache. I am afraid.

My growing up friend has been blogging and social media updating about parenting lately. Those that were following, me included, were tracking a storyline about her son's breathing treatments. Today, I woke up to the announcement that her son has COVID 19. The picture of the young boy looked so much like my friend. I am sad.

I have been reading, researching, talking, and brainstorming about all the ways we can decolonize, decentralize, work from a framework that is more mutual, all about solidarity. No matter how much I study, challenge myself, question my motives, try alternatives, I am a failure at creating an environment of mutuality in relationships. A long list of my relationships are one sided or off balance. I'm angry about that. I'm angry that I can't seem to figure it out. I'm angry that it seems like sometimes there aren't too many folks that are going out of their way to take care of me in the ways I go out of my way to take care of them. I'm angry that systems and structures have been so strong and in place so long that folks are apathetic, stuck, backs against the wall, in survivor mode, depressed, just trying to make it, and complacent. Just once, when I make a visit to someone, I'd like for them to say, "And how are you? What can I do for you? Is there anything you want me to be praying for?" [Clearly, if you're reading this, you don't exactly fall into this category and if you did say these things, I wouldn't take them seriously.- it is a vicious inside-of-me cycle that can't be fixed by external cues]

I attended Cathy Hasty's workshop on Karpman’s Drama Triangle and Grace Circles. I know what I'm doing is falling into the trap of Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor. Cathy gave a helpful metaphor. She said when you get into the trap of falling into the roles, when you notice it within yourself, look at it with curiosity. Observe what you feel, where you are when you feel it, where that feelings is in your body. Notice it. Allow the noticing to pull you out of its tight grip. Then, move toward a more nuanced, less tight stance of Shepherd, Prophet, or Mystic.

I texted my brother this morning. I mentioned my fear. He said this is a good time to meditate. I'm going to go and do that now.


Here are my notes straight from Cathy Hasty's training:

Karpman’s Drama Triangle- Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor. These roles, distortions, or trances are most obvious and active in systems under high stress, which includes all of us.

The VRP simplify and sistort the complexity of who we are and what the world is like. Function to predict and protect, yet they distort perception, decrease objectivity and create problems. People tend to develop a preference for and comfort with one trance, which defines their reality.

We might believe we’re playing one role and be perceived we are playing the other.

We want control, approval, and security. We cannot be a good caregiver when we are unbalanced in these roles.


We have anxiety about the unknown. There is more information in every moment than any one of us can absorb and process. Everyone has powerlessness and incompetence. Humans are created with marvelous complexity which includes suffering and joy, love and hate. The good of the complexity becomes distorted. The good attributes of shepherd, mystic, and profphet become distorted into trances and used for defensive purposes. Finitude is not sinful. We are finite. We need to eat, sleep, pray, to have comfort.


Curious rather than critical of myself and others.


When we feel powerful urges to be victim, rescuer, persecutor….see if you can soothe yourself so that we can be in a space of creativity and think outside of these roles. Between these roles exists some Grace Circles: Between Victim and rescuer is mystic/priest, Between rescuer and persecutor is the prophet, somewhere between victim and persecutor is shepherd role. Our work is to notice when we start feeling like we need to rescue someone and contain that until we find a better way to respond.


Shepherd serves to reassure others that they are not alone in the midst of threat and suffering. The shepherd surrounds others with protection, encouragement, and direction. The Good Shepherd, the mother Eagle Between victim and persecutor with touch of rescuer.


How do we support, strengthen self worth and self advocacy in order for folks to become their own rescuer?


Mystic- Healthy vulnerability, dependency, and passivity are essential in dealing with “existential” threats with suffering, helplessness and with frustration. The Lamb of God and the wounded healer, Between the positive attributes of the victim position and resuer. With touch of persecutor. Are we over identifying with the victim, taking our victim out and putting it in them?


Prophet- Combining the advocacy and compassion of the rescuer with the self definition and strength of purpose of the persecutor and a touch of the compassion of the victim.


When we feel ourselves moving into any one of these, we can pull ourselves gently back to the middle. We are never only a rescuer. It takes away the power of the person we are rescuing when we take that role on. Why am I feeling this? Have i got some anxiety that I’m not dealing with? Have I got some sense of powerlessness that I have split off and put on that person?


Mystic- gentle, vulnerable, aware of suffering, faithfulness, advocacy , clarity.

Prophet- compassion, self definition, strength.

Shepherd- servant, vulnerable, open, humility, compassion, helpful, self definition, power, assurance.






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