Would I have ever guessed a broken dishwasher would prove to be a pathway to healing? Hard to believe in this day of instant gratification that I didn’t just run right out and replace my well worn, five year old broken dishwasher but thank God I didn’t!  We’re on quite a journey these days-so in transition.  In the past year we’ve been watching as Barry’s PTS transform into PTS-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into Post Traumatic Stress Growth.  I’ve grown with him.  My courses for my coaching certification have given me an avenue for growth I did not expect.  There’s been so much going on for me, it’s been hard even to slow it down long enough to blog about it.  I formulate a blog in my mind around a lesson I’m learning and another one comes so quickly on the heels of it I don’t have time to put it all into words, let alone into a blog.  But this one is so meaningful to me and from such an unexpected source that I have to share it even if it’s just for me.  Hopefully some of you will also find it helpful.

So what does healing have to do with the bottom of a dishpan?  It began out of necessity.  I’m trying to limit spending until I really get Healing Pathway on its feet financially.  As a result of the money therapy I’ve done in recent months (another source of a blog!) I’m trying to take some responsibility to come up with resources (read money) to contribute to the expenses of life around here.  So instead of expecting Barry to rescue me with a new dishwasher or an expensive temporary repair, I decided to get creative.  Here is the first clue to the healing-creative.

In this case, creative meant hand-washing the dishes.  Except for the usual too large for the dishwasher stuff, hand-washing dishes was pretty much reserved for when we went camping.  To regularly hand wash dishes for my crowd was previously an absurd waste of time.  When I realized our dishes were exiting the dishwasher dirtier than they went in, something had to change! Hand washing it was!  It started with a new sponge, a big spaghetti pot and a towel on the counter as a dish-drainer.  Nice warm water, lavender scented dish soap-not too bad.  I realized I much preferred clean dishes to the slimy ones I had become accustomed to.  But soon I realized that lovely lavender soap really wasn’t made for a sink full of dishes and the pot for a dishpan wasn’t working too well either.  I went internet shopping.  Two collapsible dishpans, my old favorite dish soap,  and a pack of dishcloths later, I was in business.  I even discovered the empty dishwasher racks made a perfect extra large dish drainer with no counter space needed.  The logistics had all been settled.

So what has this got to do with healing?  I’ve hidden two key words in the first paragraph.  Have you found them?  Rescue and Creative. Prior to my training, I never would have linked the two.  But they are integral parts of the biggest lesson I’ve learned in some time.  It’s a little thing called the Drama Triangle.  You may not know it by name but you know it by practice or by culture.  If you’re not seeing it played out in your life or environment you’re either blind to it, living on a desert island, or don’t have a television.  It is the classic fairy tale, short story, crime drama, love story…  These are great in fantasy and I love a well told tale.  However, I’m learning in real life, there is a much better way to be-another key word!

Let me explain the drama triangle through the tale of the Dishpan Drama. The Queen of the Castle found herself in a different role, a Damsel in Distress!  Such shame!  Such disappointment!  When she was trying to impress her guests with her fine culinary delicacies one couldn’t help but notice the slippery slime on the plates that looked like the pet doberman had tried to lick them clean. That mean old dishwasher was persecuting the poor princess! Normally the Damsel in Distress would cry out to her trusty Knight to rescue her from this horrible fate and beg, cajole, charm, or maybe demand a new one promptly appear! If this had been the way of things in real life, I would have missed an amazing life lesson and a deep healing.

Now as fun as that was to write, trite though it was, here’s how it really played out.  I got creative.  Instead of being a petulant child, a demanding nag, or a yes, damsel in distress, I got creative!  One of the books I’ve read as a result of my coach certification training has proved life-changing on so many levels I’m sure this won’t be the last time I blog about it.  (But be careful!  It’s a little like deciding to take the red pill in The Matrix movie.  You might not want to go back.) The book I’m referring to explains a new way of operating, a new OS of sorts.  Instead of the Drama Triangle with the principal characters of Victim, Rescuer & Persecutor, The Empowerment Dynamic* (TED) introduced new roles.

This might be best described with two diagrams. These are likely copyrighted so I’m not posting them but here’s the idea. If you draw it, you’ll remember. Draw two equilateral triangles.  Make them “upside down” with the peak at the bottom.  On the first triangle, label that lower point “Victim.”  Label the top left corner “Persecutor.” Label the top right corner “Rescuer.”  At the top of this triangle write “Drama Triangle.”  Now on the other triangle label the bottom point, “Co-creator.”  Name the top left, “Challenge/Challenger.” The top right is labeled “Coach/Helper.”  The shift in viewpoint between these seemingly identical triangle diagrams is life changing!  Name this diagram, The Empowerment Dynamic (TED)

Back to key word number one–creative.  The explanation of these two viewpoints is the subject of many more blogs!  For this one, the key is in the shift I made from victim–Damsel in Distress, to Co-creator.  I chose a new way and in the process creativity brought a very deep healing I would have missed.

Part 2 will unpack that! – Stay tuned! Meanwhile, bring some awareness to the triangles you’ve drawn.  Which most looks like your current operating system?  You’ve at least drawn them in your head.  Put them down on paper and reflect on them a bit and I’ll be back…


Terri Shannon Renfro is not a medical doctor or licensed medical professional. She is not presenting information to substitute the advice and care of your physician or other medical or psychiatric professional. Please see the about us section of this site for more information about Dr. Shannon-Renfro's qualifications. These blogs are for educational purposes only. The opinions expressed here belong to Terri Shannon-Renfro or the author quoted and do not constitute treatment in anyway. Dr. Terri Shannon-Renfro does not diagnose, prescribe or treat any medical or psychiatric condition.