Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Games People Play

Being victims, we are all familiar with games. We have been trapped in our family games for so long they are second nature to us. We can get so caught up in them that we don't even realize that we are playing along. Taking our place, fulfilling our role, just as the game master intended.

Identifying those games and the role that we have played in them is not always easy. It's much easier to look outside our self and see the games that others play than to identify those that we participate in.

I think that's one of the ways that therapy works. There we have an observer who has no stake in the outcome of our family games to help identify the issues (or moves). Just as we may easily see other's games, the therapist can easily identify our behavior as part of a family's dynamic. It may not be in our best interest to be confronted about game playing so a therapist might avoid that. But by helping us to identify how we feel in a given situation and to see that maybe we have other choices than what we've been lead to believe can be most helpful in helping us to change such behavior and extricate ourselves from the family sickness.

In the comments on her post Out of my mind. on Kahless asked, RR ... The games are really hard to understand, "why?"

I think answer to that question lies in our closeness to the problem and in the fabric of our families. Each one of us is made from a little bit different cloth. The colors and textures are dictated by the specifics of our abuse and our family structure.

We have been raised with the idea that this is what family is about. The fabric that we see is an illusion of what they told us a family should be. It is only when we allow ourselves to see the threads that wove this cloth that we can see the lies and manipulations that have created the illusion.

As a person who really likes to get into my head and "understand" the whys and how's of things, it seemed like second nature for me to dissect my family cloth once I started therapy. I not only wanted to know the story of each and every thread, I wanted to understand why it was woven the way that it was. What the advantage was to them to spin it so? etc.

The end result was getting the roles within my family defined so clearly that I can spot their games a mile away. Before they even make their next move, I know what is coming.

I clearly understand that the family fabric is designed to present to the world as camouflage. How dense the fabric is directly speaks to the complexity of the secrets it hides. The number one rule of the game is at all costs the family offender is to be protected.

The most effective way to accomplish this is by attacking the victim. Keep the victim on the defensive so that she/he will expend all energy trying to be accepted within the family structure. An accomplishment that will never happen because that desperate need to belong is what keeps the victims focused on conforming.

Now, there are lots of variations on this. Each person has a different role to keep the focus off of the offender and onto other issues within the family. The family must still function within society so the entire family must assist in presenting the camouflage to the outside world. Each role is important in presenting a uniform fabric.

Should a family member quit participating in the family game, another member of the family will take over that person's role. Also, the other family members will do what they can to bring the wandering member back into the game. The only way the game can continue is by keeping the peace so the fabric is intact.


jumpinginpuddles said...

We are very aware of how our system can play games and are so acutely aware of it that its sometimes nearly driven us to suicide, on the other hand it frustrates our T because we are so clearly hounding ourselves we cant see how others are doing it to us.
For some reason we see game playing no matter whose doing it as always starting with us when in fact we dont start the game but have continued in it once started, once the game has stopped we look bakc and say oh well we were involved it must have been us because we are bad.
One of the things we are working on is stopping those games and the mnore we do so the more we can see how mad those game playing people are getting at us. We arent comign to the party anymore and are even saying you arent healhty and we arent getting involved with you anymore and we dont play those games anymore but i tell you its one heck of a painful discovery in our life a freeing one if you can see beyond it being your fault.

Rising Rainbow said...

That message that you play so loudly over and over is one of their messages. You are NOT bad!

You will never find a person more honest about assigning responsibiliity where it truly belongs than me. You may find others who understand it as well as I do, but no one who gets it better! So you can trust when I tell you it is NOT your fault, that even God would see it the same way!

You do not deserve the things that are happening to you. The fact that they have you convinced that you deserve this is one of their most powerful games. I sure wish you could see your way clear of it.

I pray for that for you every day. Because letting go of those misguided beliefs will be a huge step in your recovery.

Kahless said...

Yes, every single one of us plays games, whether we do it on a conscious level or not. I have been thinking of games since your last post and I think I have identified one which I play in RL at times. I am not proud of it. And I think it perpetuates my victim role. And I guess it is a manipulation. I sometimes play helpless so that someone else will stand up for me. (my partner) That way i can hide behind someone rather than having to do a confrontation (which I loathe) myself. Yet it abdicates my own personal responsibility which is wrong.

Kahless said...

Hi RR,
I wish you and your family and horses a fabulous christmas.

Lily Strange said...

I think that one of the worst things that happens to me is I turn back into a five year old when interacting with my father. It's sooo embarrassing when I think about some of my asinine behavior where my father is concerned! Thankfully I don't rage as much as I did before I was properly diagnosed as Bipolar and started taking Lithium, but the defensive posturing can be pretty immature and foolish nonetheless. I'm better about it but if I was to live to be 100 and my father was still around, I fear it would still happen!
Conversely, my father tends to act like a five year old when he doesn't get what he wants, and will harangue my mother until she tries to browbeat me or my brother into complying with his wishes.

Austin said...

Keep the victim on the defensive so that she/he will expend all energy trying to be accepted within the family structure.

This sentence here strikes me hard. I tried so desperately to be accepted in that family and when I realized it wasn't working I did everything I could to be as different as possible. It meant causing controversy when it wasn't necessary or making decisions that were dead against family approval for the sake of letting them know I wasn't part of them. It was all in an effort to be seen in a family dead set on hiding me away or using me for their own gain. Individuality in that setting, in a dysfunctional setting, is hard to find. When you have the inexperience of youth with you poor decisions can be made and the bigger picture isn't seen. Only now do I see the games and only now can I make informed decisions to behave differently from them.

good post,