The Rescuer Role is ingrained in me. After decades of consciousness study, dedicated personal growth work, and most importantly, The Power of TED* work I teach and live, I still, sometimes, slide mercilessly headlong into my DDT Rescuer Role. How do I know when I'm there? It's obvious!
This past week, I prepared all the things necessary for my husband's hospital visit. His hair was trimmed and overnight clothes packed. His extra medical supplies organized and a list of medication for the staff. Two pharmacies were called to schedule prescription deliveries. Confirmation done with the surgeon's office about logistics. Instructions reviewed and last minute updates with support people. Most of these things he could have done on his own or alongside me but in my "I'm good at this; I know best how to do it; I'm efficient; etc." Rescuer mindset, I 'took over' and did them all by myself. All the while, he was doing things he wanted to do and I was making sure his needs were met.
And then there was me. In typical Rescuer fashion I put off taking care of myself. I was super focused on my husband's comfort and wellbeing with no plan for where I'd sleep while he spent the night in hospital, what I would do while I was waiting for the okay to leave, how/when/what I would feed myself or how I would take care of my basic needs in the time before, during and after his minor surgery. I put off doing things for myself, didn't ask for what I needed and didn't take advantage of time I had available to look after me. Why? Because, as so often happens at these times, I didn't make myself a priority.
And it isn't even so much that we Rescuers don't make ourselves a priority but that we just don't even put ourselves on the list! I don't need all the attention but surely I can give myself the time and respect to at least make sure I am nourished, rested and safe. I wouldn't want anything less for anyone else.
So why am I so inclined to ignore my own needs? Without dissecting this historical pattern it comes down to my overactive sense of responsibility to others and not believing on the most primal level that I am equal to the care I heap on my beloved husband. And of course he gave me a lot of praise for how well I took care of him which is something we Rescuers like whether we admit it or not. There is nothing at all wrong with what I did for him. In fact, it made both of our lives much easier to be well prepared. But what it also did was rob him of the opportunity to be engaged in the planning and the chance to see himself as capable. It created a lot of anxiety for me wondering how to manage especially given that COVID restrictions made navigating much harder.
So I look at this and see the pattern of putting off self-care which is something Rescuers do. There is a bit of a martyr syndrome here and sitting alone in the hospital lounge, eating out of a vending machine, I felt a hint of resentment that no one was taking care of me. In the many text exchanges with family and friends I gave only details of my husband's situation and mostly withheld any hint that I was having a hard time coping. And all of this played directly into the hands of the Victim. Now I have something to complain about - being overtired from not planning my rest and feeling bloated from eating food I don't normally eat.
This internal drama could have been avoided with a simple step into the TED* framework. Being in a Creator mindset would have allowed me to assess my needs alongside those of my husbands. We could have worked together to divide up the tasks or tackle them as a team. It would have taken very minimal planning to book a hotel room and pack my healthy foods. Defaulting into the Rescuer role is a well worn path. Recognizing it's negative impact keeps me alert to where I might serve myself and others better in the future.
With the benefit of looking back I realize that even in the moment, I knew I was being a Rescuer and could have stopped the cycle at any time. I often do and when I don't, the best way for me to learn and grow is to follow my friend's advice and be 'gentle not judgemental'.
Can you see yourself in this example? Or maybe you have your own story of how being a Rescuer diminishes your power to take care of yourself. I'd love to hear from you.
Ms. Daryl Wood, CPCC is a fearless champion of No-Drama Living and Inner Resilience.