January 13, 2018

I am a Recovering Emotional Vampire.

I am an Energy Drainer.

A joy sucker. An enthusiasm eradicator. I am an emotional vampire.

There. I admitted it. I really am “the worst,” or at least that’s what the countless articles I have read on the topic would have me believe.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, allow me to enlighten you: emotional vampires are exhausting people that effortlessly deplete energy. We are drama queens that constantly seek attention and thrive on our own self-professed victim status.

We suck the life out of you.

After scouring the internet for information on these vicious demons among us, I have discovered a ton of blogs on how to recognize and guard against emotional vampires. Although, there are hardly any on what to do when a person happens to identify (begrudgingly) with this malignant and toxic brood.

Based on what I’ve seen, there seems to be a preconceived notion that we actually enjoy making people feel diminished. But, as an emotional vampire, I believe we’re lacking awareness for ourselves and those we engage with.

It’s only in retrospect, after we’ve replayed the conversations over in our head, that we realize what we’ve done. It all started out innocent enough—but before we know it, heads are tilted, a neck exposed, and we drink until their heart rate lags, and they’re left nearly bled out and lifeless.

When we’re in “feed” mode, we’re really just isolating ourselves instead of connecting. After a particularly intense interaction, I don’t feel recharged, I feel guilt. I was seeking empathy and yes, validation, but all I’m left with is panic.

I condemn myself yet again for being a bad confidant. Immediately, I want to reach out to apologize for being an energy hog and failing to listen, but I just promise myself that I’ll do better next time.

But what if there is no next time? I have been “ghosted” by countless people that I blame for being fair weather friends, when I never brought them anything but storms. Seldom did I acknowledge the role that I played in my own desertion.

So we’ve seen the darkness of our ways and realized that we’re the problem; that we’re causing our relationships to suffer and fail, and if we are in fact victims, it’s only by our own doing. Now what? How do we stop sucking all the happy from every atmosphere we enter?

Yo! Pay attention.

We cannot fix a problem if we’re not first able to acknowledge that there is one. Which is why awareness is the first step in staking (figuratively, of course) our vampiric selves.

We can practice extending our focus out to others to read their overall vibe. Cue into their facial expressions, eye contact, the tone of their voice, and body language. Devote our attention to better trying to understand those we’re connecting with by actually, ya know, connecting with them.

There are times that I get so caught up with patting myself on the back for holding my end of a conversation that I completely check out of it. I’m thinking about the smart or witty thing I’ll say next ,that I miss the heartbreaking story that they just told about their childhood or pet—sh*t, I wasn’t listening!

Conversations should be two-sided. Engage by asking questions and hearing the answers. These people are sharing their most precious commodity with you—time. Show gratitude and respect for that by being present.

Let that sh*t go.

We all know the importance of relinquishing control and understanding that no matter how hard we try, we cannot control anything or anyone other than ourself. But do we really? I struggle immensely with this one.

I want so badly to be liked, but you’d never guess it by meeting me, because I’m not really all that nice most of the time; I’m guarded and controlling. I get to be the one who decides if you don’t like me. More often than not, I determine that you don’t in order to confirm that I am a misunderstood victim.

Emotional vampires tend to be pretty insecure people, desperately seeking validation. But there is a method to the madness. If we can control you, then you can’t really hurt us. Even if that means that we must try with all our supernatural might to convince you that we couldn’t care less whether we’re liked or not. Just as long as it’s our call.

It stings quite a bit to be someone that people could do without. There will be times when people say malicious things or don’t laugh at our jokes, because humans are not always nice. We cannot change that. Ultimately, the only thing that we can control is the version of ourselves that we present to the world so a cognizant effort must be made to not suck.

The road to connection is kindly paved.

When there is any validation being tossed around, I’m the girl flailing about, screaming “I’m open!” Despite my discomfort with compliments, I am not above a good pat on the back.

Actually, emotional vampires are all about approval. But because of our hyper focus on getting the acclaim for ourselves, we’re terrible at dishing some out. Paying compliments is one of the easiest ways to break our bloodthirsty habits.

However, don’t be surprised if you have to spend some time mentally head-butting that voice inside that pleads “what about me?” Keep at it—eventually your inner hellion will grow tired of skulking in the shadows alone.

For some time now, I’ve been trying the kindness approach, but it hasn’t always been well received. I feel exposed and vulnerable. I’ve wondered if it may be coming off as forced and therefore inauthentic. Regardless, I plan to keep at it as a means of breaking out of my coffin. This may be the “fake it till you make it” approach, but change is never gentle.

The thing is: we can do better.

It’ll take diligence, compassion, and understanding that we have to give love, in order to receive it. We’ll recognize that when we truly connect with others, everyone is left satiated. By inquiring about those we engage with and offering up compliments, we’ll become aware of those we share space with. We will practice being generous with kindness until we become seasoned, gracious humans.

Eventually, crosses will be lowered, garlic disposed of, and we will be welcomed into the sunlight.



Author: Johanna L. Vissman
Image: Flickr
Apprentice Editor: Micky Sedota/Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Travis May

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